Wylie Dufresne—the trailblazing chef who opened wd~50 in downtown Manhattan a decade ago—has recently expanded for the first time in his storied career, opening a casual concept in the East Village called Alder. Inside the tavern-like spot, Dufresne and executive chef Jon Bignelli play with the notion of pub food by using innovative techniques to remix iconic dishes. They also redefine the American barroom by drawing inspiration from NYC’s mishmash of ethnic culinary offerings. “At Alder, many cultures are coming together on the plate, which I believe is very emblematic of what New York City is. It’s not one group, one ethnicity; it’s truly a mashup,” Dufresne said when I spoke to him for a story before the restaurant opened.
Of particular interest—and deliciousness—is Alder’s amped up version of “pigs in a blanket.” To create this highly addictive snack—which happens to be a perfect accompaniment to any and all types of alcohol—the chefs roll compressed hot dog buns around Chinese sausage (lap cheong), toast the outside, and top the snack with spicy Japanese mustard and sweet chili sauce. Get this: The buns are compressed using a pasta machine (genius). The cinnamon-inflected, heavily spiced, slightly sweet Chinese sausage is a bit more exciting than a frankfurter, and the pungent Japanese mustard and sweet chili sauce are suitable accoutrement.
Though Bignelli was a bit cagey when I grilled him about where he sources his Chinese sausage from, he finally admitted that the place is located on Hester Street in Manhattan’s nearby Chinatown. My best guess would be Sun Ming Jan, which sells a variety of Chinese sausage and cured meats including a dark reddish-brown duck liver sausage. If you’re anywhere near Chinatown, we suggest you hit up this sausage storefront as well as the already packed Alder.