One of the best dishes at one of Manhattan’s most esteemed seafood spots is chicken. And we’re not talking Chicken of the Sea. Oceana executive chef Ben Pollinger’s Chinese steamed buns ($14) are the big surprise on the bar menu. Even more unexpected than his touch with poultry: Pollinger makes the buns himself, by steaming, instead of baking, a basic bread dough. The spongy bun is flattened and folded over slow-cooked, five-spiced chicken, edged with a sour cherry sauce. The combo is a soft, slightly sweet, slightly sour bite with a lingering kick of heat.
Pollinger says he was inspired to create the dish after a walk through Chinatown one day. He thought the treats would fit perfectly with his bar snack philosophy: “You can eat them with your hands, while standing up, and they’re easy to share.”
Still, it’s wise not to miss out on the fish entirely, Pollinger’s forte at the sleek, glassy Midtown restaurant. You’d do well to try a lobster from 1 to 5 pounds ($39/lb), fresh from tanks flanking the kitchen, or, better yet, the whole fried pink snapper with curried yogurt sauce, cucumber and cilantro ($72), a dish for two served tableside. Pollinger earned three stars from The New York Times because of his skills with land-and-sea, which means there is absolutely nothing fishy about sampling the meaty portion of the menu, too.
120 W 49th St.