Walking the line between Portuguese and Chinese cooking is new territory for Erica Ohrling, who’s taken over the kitchen at Macao Trading Co. (311 Church St.), Tribeca’s bi-level cocktail den and Macanese restaurant.
After starting her career in pastries at Vinegar Hill House, she swapped to the savory side as a sous chef three years ago at the Waverly Inn. “I was ready to take the role of executive chef,” says Ohrling.
To create her new menu — minus four favorites like the African chicken and mushroom-truffle croquettes — Ohrling was initially overwhelmed with ideas. “It’s almost like the possibilities are infinite,” she says of Macanese cuisine. “This is something a lot of people don’t know, but it was the first real fusion, you really have influences of both sides in the cuisine.”
The results range from natural parallels like the Arroz de Pato, a paella-like dish with duck confit but made with forbidden rice, black vinegar and charred scallions to a burrata with red pepper marmalade and a twist of yuzu. For winter, there’s the Braised Lamb Hot Pot with a bone-in shank seared with a Spice Road’s worth of aromatics, kabocha squash puree, spicy honey and toasted seeds.
As a popular spot for dinner parties, Ohrlingis also introducing some large format options, like a whole Peking duck (“It’s so grandiose,” she promises) and salt-baked fish — think a six-pound black bass.
When she’s not in her own party spot, we asked Ohrling where she likes to have fun.
Late-night spot:“I work in Tribeca, and I pretty much go anywhere that’s close to me. My friends opened this place called Mr. Fong’s in Chinatown — it’s just a bar, but it’s awesome. And if I go somewhere to eat, I go to Lucky Strike, which is right down the street. I’ll have a glass of wine, I’ll order the lentil salad or the burger, it’s an easy bistro." 40 Market St.; 59 Grand St., SoHo
Out-of-town guests:“I take them to Employees Only for the speakeasy aspect, and the steak tartare is amazing. Marlow & Sons in Brooklyn, I love how the menu changes every day and it’s always solid. They have a wonderful wine list, and it’s just such a cool space.” 510 Hudson St., West Village; 81 Broadway, Williamsburg
Under $10:“A slice of cheese pizza at Joe’s Pizza in the West Village. It’s just the best.” 7 Carmine St.
Hidden gem:“In my neighborhood, Greenpoint, there’s a great restaurant called Cherry Point. They just opened less than a year ago, they have a wonderful charcuterie board, the wines are delicious, it’s a really nice neighborhood spot. I go there like once a week.” 664 Manhattan Ave.
Catching up with friends:“Roberta’s is great for a big group of people ‘cause there's communal seating. I pretty much always order their Caesar salad, a pasta and one of the vegetable-focused entrees.” 261 Moore St., East Williamsburg
Instagram-worthy: "The first thing that came into mind probably because you’re not allowed to take any photos in the restaurant is the Waverly Inn. They have a lot of high-end guests. It’s really, really a special place.” 16 Bank St., West Village