Around Christmastime, you can often find a particular British rock star hosting their annual holiday party among RedFarm’s family-style tables. On the night before the 2018 Grammy Awards, its West Village location overflowed with familiar music-world faces, eating dumplings and enjoying craft cocktails. Now, the farm-to-table Chinese restaurant, a low-key haunt for the celebrity set, is gearing up for its first-ever overseas location in London—opening this spring.
Developed by famed culinary insider Ed Schoenfeld, along with dim sum expert Joe Ng, Red Farm is a sophisticated twist on traditional Chinese takeout—with an elegant atmosphere to match. The new London location will continue to uphold this impressive reputation. To ensure quality control, Ng has traveled to London to teach his craft, while Schoenfeld has been hands-on with front-of-the-house logistics. The team will debut a striking decor that suggests modern urban rusticity with a menu that displays farm-to-table sensibility. It won’t, however, skimp on what has become the brand’s calling card: dim sum.
“The original plan was to start RedFarm as eight or nine take-out and delivery Chinese food spots. But once we decided we were going to turn it into a full restaurant, we believed that Chinese food in a rustic space was a smart way to move forward,” said Schoenfeld. The restaurant includes family-style tables, reflecting its farm-to-table ethos and fresh approach to standard Chinese. But its calling card is most definitely the dim sum.
“The hallmark of RedFarm has become the figurative dim sum,” Schoenfeld explained. “Figurative dumpling-making, the act of folding dumplings into shapes, figures, and animals, is a tradition in China and Joe has exceptional skill and craft.” His dim sum is world-class for a variety of reasons, he noted, one of which is Ng’s ability to create over 1,000 shapes, 150 of which are of animals.
With more than ten varieties of dumplings served regularly, RedFarm’s menu also contains several signature Chinese dishes, like “long-life noodles,” as well as a fresh take on classics like bacon and egg fried rice and BBQ’D pork belly. The “Pac-Man” dumplings, our favorites, are stuffed with various fillings and are both named and shaped to look like characters from the eponymous video game. The “Pastrami egg roll,” a nod to Schoenfeld’s Jewish heritage, is served with a light mustard dipping sauce. The soup dumplings are absurdly decadent, their delicate skins flavored with truffle shavings.
Attention is also lavishly paid to the entirety of the menu, not just the specialties. Each dish, from spring rolls to ramen noodles, is styled to give the diner an immersive experience. The restaurant also prides itself on its craft cocktails, curated under mixologist Shawn Chen. (The bartending staff also tailors drink selections to customers’ palates, asking what alcohol they prefer or flavor profiles they most enjoy.)
The food styling and design of the restaurant all come together to form a unique synergy, said Schoenfeld. This includes the family-style dining, which hasn't traditionally been very popular in the dining scene but here seems to work.
“At first, people weren’t so excited to sit at the long table because they didn’t know who was sitting next to them,” he explained. “Now, they spark a conversation with each other when each new plate comes out. Someone always asks what something is and they get talking. We’ve had experiences where we couldn’t get people to leave because they were having so much fun!” he said.
Aside from the lavish space and decadent flavors adorning the menu, Schoenfeld also explained the third key to his success—good hospitality.
“If you show up, we find a way to take care of you,” he said, detailing how he’s often a staple at locations, mingling with diners and purchasing drinks for those waiting to eat. “We want this to be a place where you can take a musician, a politician, or a family. We want everyone to be comfortable here.”