Lamb ragù with fresh fettuccine, pork and chive dumplings, and fried oyster po’boys. Sure, we’re rattling off some of our favorite everyday foods, but we’re also naming three of the dishes you can learn to master, thanks to one of fall’s most anticipated arrivals: The Good Fork Cookbook.
From the beloved Red Hook restaurant, the book, which comes out next month, reads like a compilation of favorites from your coolest aunt’s kitchen—basically what eating at this Brooklyn staple is like, too.
“We cook what we want to eat,” chef Sohui Kim says. That’s how she and her husband, Ben Schneider, developed the menu when they opened The Good Fork 10 years ago, and it’s the mantra they still abide by today. It’s why a weekly ramen and sake night makes perfect sense alongside dishes like tagliatelle Genovese, a Berkshire pork chop, and bright-green risotto with serrano ham and a quail egg (see the recipe).
In an age when a sensational, attention-grabbing dish is practically obligatory, a restaurant like The Good Fork is remarkably refreshing. With no agenda except solid, simply cooked dishes that put a spin on the classics, The Good Fork isn’t trying to be something in particular—it’s just “a restaurant that feels like home,” the book’s introduction explains.
“For people who love Grandma’s art on the wall, it’s comforting,” Kim says. (She’s speaking from experience—the paintings literally come from the owners’ grandmothers.) This idea of sticking to your roots when it comes to design, not just food, “triggers something more than the traditional Edison lightbulb with the stark table,” she continues. “It strikes a chord with people.”
Among family memorabilia, a nautical theme weaves its way around the old paintings, and a golden, curved ceiling giving the impression you’re eating inside a ship—or, as Kim fondly remembers The New Yorker putting it, “inside a Stradivarius.” Outside, strands of lights line the backyard, where a statue of Buddha holds court next to a tiki bar built by Schneider, a carpenter by trade.
Somehow, this penchant for discord creates harmony in both front and back of house. The dumplings, for example, are non-negotiable for any table, which means on any given night, you’ll start your meal with a dish from the Far East and end somewhere in Italy over a bowl of pasta. Each of these dishes has a story—a reason for showing up on the menu next to its divergent neighbor—and nowhere is that more apparent, or touching, than in the green eggs and ham risotto.
Chef Sohui Kim.
“Right after I had my first baby, I was working on the menu, and I was reading a lot of Dr. Seuss,” Kim explains. “I want to say I saw it in my dream . . . I often wake up thinking about food, and I just sort of saw this green rice with an egg on it.” She brought the whimsical idea to the plate, adding rich risotto—in turn, bringing a taste of her home to the restaurant.
A decade later, it’s a testament to The Good Fork that this true neighborhood restaurant is still a bright beacon in Brooklyn’s ever-growing culinary landscape. As evidenced by Kim’s new, instantly popular Korean spot in Gowanus, Insa, it’s also testament to her fortitude that she’s not stopping anytime soon.
“It’s so opposite than The Good Fork that it’s actually funny,” Kim says of the new place. “I didn’t want to do ‘The Better Fork.’ I didn’t want to replicate it. [The Good Fork] is so tied to its community and tied to the space and to the decor, and, yeah, it’s the only place it makes sense to be.”
Even while diving deep into her Korean roots with dishes like bossam and buddae jjigae at Insa, Kim keeps rolling out the fresh pasta at The Good Fork, the roots she laid 10 years ago now stronger than ever.
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