Jeffrey Chodorow’s back in town and his latest offering is sure to make waves
Life is never boring with Jeffrey Chodorow around. Whenever his global restaurant group, China Grill Management, opens something new there's always a bit of excitement. He's had his share of hits – glam destinations like Asia de Cuba in London and China Grill in New York – as well as some high profile stinkers (Caviar and Banana Brasserio anybody?), but there's always a buzz around them. Why, only last month Chodorow – financier turned restaurateur and reality TV star – caused a hugely enjoyable ruckus when he vented his spleen in a full page ad in The New York Times after the paper's Frank Bruni gave his high-concept, megaexpensive Kobe Club a critical mauling, and followed that up with his new blog, chod-o-blog. Nope, it's never quiet when Chodorow's about.
Who knows whether his latest venture, Suka at the Sanderson in London, will kickstart Chod-o-Gate round two? Suka (from the Malaysian for ‘Enjoy!') is born of the tried and tested collaboration of China Grill Management and Morgans Hotel Group (which can boast a great success in Asia de Cuba at St Martin's Lane). The real selling point, however, is its hot ticket, New York chef of the moment Zak Pelaccio.
Long-haired, trucker cap-wearing thirtysomething Pelaccio spent a gap year working in Malaysia and Thailand – a formative experience that clearly got his culinary juices flowing – before coming back to make top of the class at the French Culinary Insitute in New York and working stints at The French Laundry and Restaurant Daniel. Since Pelaccio went it alone with his Meatpacking District restaurants 5 Ninth and Fatty Crab in 2004 and 2005 respectively, his deluxe take on Malaysian street food and his gluttonous embrace of all things pig and offal-related have propelled him into the superleague.
His signature style will be in evidence at Suka, in dishes like Oyster Omelette and Slow-braised Pork Belly. Malaysian classics like Curried Crab Laksa, Hokkien Mee and Nasi Ayam, and luxury sharing platters of Foie Gras Panggang and Sarawak Peppered Ribeye will all show off his famed love of top notch ingredients (Nahm's David Thompson has, incidentally, given Pelaccio a helping hand in making the transition to UK suppliers). Pelaccio himself will be at the passe the first month and on monthly visits thereafter. His Aussie Head Chef Daniel Clark, formerly of Asia de Cuba, will hold the fort in his absence, aided by Mark Eggberry (Hakkasan, Taman Gang and Spoon) as Restaurant Manager.
Suka's an appealing restaurant, slotted into the ground floor in what was Alain Ducasse's spoon. Paris architect and designer India Mahdavi has given the space an upscale Wagamama-style feel, with light wood canteen tables, concrete pillars and covetable matt black lights.
There are 94 covers inside, with 76 outside once the terrace is complete.
It will be interesting to see how the Pelaccio-Chodorow package fares.
Chodorow has a track record here, while Pelaccio is an unknown quantity, one of the first American chefs to try his luck in London. The steep chod-o-prices (side orders of rice, £6, service charge at 15 per cent) – far higher than at Fatty Crab, even taking into account the exchange rate – won't help any; the critics' knives are out. Pelaccio's going to be hoping for a warm welcome but with Chodorow around, it's never that straightforward.
Where? | Sanderson, 50 Berners Street, London W1. 020 7300 1444, chinagrillmgt.com sandersonlondon.com