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RedFarm Brings Innovative Food, and Toilets, to Upper West Side

By Emily Frost | October 9, 2013 9:50am
 The popular West Village restaurant now has an Upper West Side outpost. 
RedFarm Opens on UWS
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UPPER WEST SIDE — The owners of RedFarm are as proud of their bathroom as they are of their eccentric cuisine.

The hip Cantonese restaurant, which first opened in the West Village and branched onto the Upper West Side this week, is the work of owners Ed Schoenfeld and executive chef Joe Ng.

Their new spot on Broadway at West 77th Street has a very similar feel to the original, which is known for its lines out the door as well as its futuristic Japanese toilet.

"It's fun to pee," said Schoenfeld, showing off RedFarm's Toto brand toilet, which includes a bidet and opens its lid automatically when diners open the door to the bathroom. 

But the dishes still take center stage.

"Joe wanted to serve food that is visually exciting and would be a turn on to Chinese customers, as well as American," Schoenfeld said.

"We have a lot of dishes that are very fanciful," he said, referencing Ng's "Pac-Man" Shrimp Dumplings or his Katz's Pastrami Egg Roll, a nod to the legendary deli. 

The new location has about 13 to 14 new dishes and will print a new menu each day to accommodate changes depending on what's in season and available at the market, Schoenfeld said. 

Ng is also experimenting with a shrimp ball that's shaped like a pear and contains beef on the inside, for example, as well as dumplings made to look like horseshoe crabs.

And while quality is prided, authenticity isn't something the duo worries much about. They're more interested in making innovative food. 

"People are very excited about Chinese food in general, and there hasn't been much innovation," Schoenfeld said. 

RedFarm's modern farmhouse decor — with simple dish towel napkins, whitewashed exposed brick and red check fabrics — is meant to put diners at ease and mirror the whimsy of the food, he said. 

Schoenfeld said he anticipates success but isn't sure the extent of the popularity of the new venture, which seats 80 people and is currently open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with dinner service expected to roll out at the end of the month. 

The restaurant's friendly, easygoing feel is expected to make it a neighborhood go-to spot, Schoenfeld said.

"We're not interested in someone coming just once — we're interested in creating relationships," he said. 

While the atmosphere is "rustic and comfy and casual," the prices are on par with more upscale eateries in the area. Dishes like Wild Rice Noodles with BBQ'd Duck Breast run $27 on the lunch menu, while a Flatiron Steak Salad costs $24.