All Soho House general managers and head chefs keep up to date with their local food scenes by going on ‘date nights’. Here, Ludlow’s GM Soraya and new head chef Corwin head out on the Lower East Side
Soraya Larson, general manager
This “date night” was the first for me and Corwin since he was promoted to head chef after doing a great job on our Asian space, DuckedUp.
We went to Ms Yoo on the Lower East Side. It’s run by Esther Choi, a former sous chef of mine, who has already opened places in Williamsburg and Chelsea Market. She’s a woman, about 31 years old, which I think is awesome. We chose it because members who come to Ludlow aren’t necessarily looking for the same things as at other Houses: the meatballs, the mac ’n’ cheese. They’re more the under-27 crowd, who like an Asian flavour profile, the small-plate style.
It was great hanging with Corwin. I’ve only been at Ludlow six months, but he’s been here from the start. At work he’s super serious, focused on cooking, so it was nice to chat over drinks. We talked shop, our plans going forward, but also some personal stuff, love lives and such. What we do on a normal day, where we travel.
The guy who greeted us was probably a manager but he wore jeans, had tattoos and a cute apron. Super downtown.
Ms Woo does Asian-inspired cooking with an American vibe. Gastropub, bar snacks, small-plate style. Good, simple things, from bone marrow to Korean-style hotdogs, but in truth it’s more of a bar crowd. On the night we went it was very quiet, but Lower East Side people don’t go out until like 8.30pm and we showed up at 7pm. It’s a beautiful bar though, especially at night when it lights up. I had an I MS YOO cocktail (they all had cute names) then some wine.
I’m inspired by the light bites, bar snack vibe: definitely a format I’ll be looking to develop more at Ludlow. A couple of things were a little oversalted, but it’s a new place. I’m not one to complain in restaurants, actually. I’m easy. I know how it is from their side.
Corwin Kave, executive chef
I didn’t know it was going to be such a bar-crowd place. I showed up hungry, and left hungry, but I guess I’m used to that. When you’re around food all day you get used to not eating.
We had some nice snacks. A very simple edamame thing. “K-pop shrimp”, which came in a good, crispy rice-flour batter with a sweet and spicy sauce. Market greens with soft tofu. The kitchen was out of the only main dish on the menu when they opened, which isn’t great, but they were very pleasant, passing samples of drinks around the room. Very attentive.
We are looking to take our food in a more Asian direction, but there’s not a huge amount of crossover between Ms Yoo and what we do at Ludlow House. I guess our evening crowd, when there’s music on, prefer smaller format snacks. They seem to be curating a cool bar crowd, which is very Lower East Side. But it’s still good to get out there and get a beat for the new places, see what’s going on in the area.
Like me, I guess, Soraya can be pretty serious at work. “On task”. Hanging out with her was great, to have some drinks, let the conversation go where it goes.
I left with the impression that Ms Yoo was a restaurant having some challenges; things not on the menu, stuff coming out of the kitchen incorrectly. But then again, it’s a new spot.
What I took on board heading back to Ludlow was how on point they were with hospitality, being kind and gracious. That stuff costs literally nothing, and goes a really long way at a neighbourhood joint like this.
Interviews by Andy Hill