My first run-in with Private Social came just after the restaurant, helmed by Top Chef alum Tiffany Derry released its lunch menu. I noticed the noodles right away. Leslie Brenner and I had been begging Dallas for a proper Japanese noodle house, but it has never materialized. Perhaps a decent hot bowl of ramen for lunch would make for a decent consultation prize?
Noodles are serious business in Japan. There's ramen, the long, thin noodles made from wheat flour; udon, which are thick and plump; darker soba noodles, made from buckwheat flour; and others, too. Cooks stage for months just to get the chance to work with noodle masters, and then only work with a certain type. There's a compelling scene in David Chang's Momofuko cookbook where the young chef travels to Japan to learn ramen but accidentally ends up in a soba noodle house. Chang asks if he could also learn other noodles and the request drew the master's ire. "There is only soba," Chang is told. And then he's shown the door.
So it seemed a little brazen to toss a single ramen dish on a menu peppered with techniques from around the globe. PS offers French sauces and Chinese buns and a pastrami-cured Hiramasa, which is the Japanese term for amber jack, turned Kosher, apparently.
My soup turned out to be a bellwether for all my dining experiences at the restaurant. Components of my experiences were stellar, including that perfectly cooked egg, bok choy and pork belly, which were the most decadent soup additions I've had in some time. But other portions of my meals at Private Social lacked conviction, as evidenced by the soup's tepid temperature and the clumpy noodles at the bottom of the bowl. Fish dishes were over-cooked, pasta dishes under-cooked, and a composed cheese course for dessert really aggravated me.
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You can read more about my dining experiences at Private Social here and in this week's paper, but for now I'm glad to put the restaurant behind me. Dallas has much more compelling places to dine.