Newark Food Diaries #6: Prudential Culinary Experience Published October 30, 2018 | Laureen Delance
A display of the new and refreshed food options at Prudential Center. Photo by Laureen Delance
Earlier this month I had the honor of, to borrow a phrase from pop singer Ciara, “level up” my gastronomic experience. The Prudential Center hosted an exclusive tasting of several new menu options for premium ticket holders, offered an array of new wine options and presented traditional concession foods that had been optimized into dishes with a unique flair. These menu items were presented by Prudential Center’s Executive, Chef Jason Choate.
“We’re unveiling new concepts,” said Choate. “We spent all of the off season flexing our culinary muscles to ensure we bring the best dishes.” These very dishes are an eclectic yet diverse array of flavors, ranging from steak sandwiches to bao buns to ramen. “It can’t just be about the hot dogs and chicken tenders,” said Choate. “We’ve got a bigger responsibility by helping our ticket holders see that we at the Center are not just an entertainment destination, but a dining destination.”
Dining in this scenario goes beyond the dish. In addition to the standard arena area, Prudential Center also offers premier fan experiences like the Club Lounge, Luxury Suites, Party Suites and the soon-to-come luxury concept, The Lofts. It is through these ticket tiers that one has the opportunity to experience the extensive array of diverse foods.
I had the pleasure of tasting the newest dishes. I first began with crab cakes, that were lightly breaded. Coupled with a Dijon sauce, the combination of the crunchy breaded skin and the tender crabmeat was delicious. Though small in appearance, two crab cakes definitely provided some sustenance, but that didn’t stop me from continuing to sample the culinary innovation at the tasting. Next up was the steak sandwich, which was made with finely sliced steak meat and place on a bun. I was turned off by its medium well temperature, but I gave it a shot anyway. Several specially made condiments were on hand to compliment the sliced steak: blueberry aioli, a citrus based herbal mix (which could have been mistaken for pesto, but it was tastier), and horseradish. Of the three, I favored the blueberry aioli for its sweet yet tangy flavor, and the citrus herbal blend for its zesty-yet-fresh flavor.
Prudential Center is also offering a new selection of wines. Premium ticket holders can now buy wine by the bottle. Photo by Laureen Delance
I moved on to the bao buns: one with Asian pulled pork, and another with grilled chicken with cilantro seasoning. Now, if you recalled my review of Fukurow, I was not a fan of the buns. Though the bun at the Center was not as fluffy or have the same sweet kick as the bun at Fukurow, it confirmed that the doughy yet fluffy texture is something I am not a fan of in genera. The meat however, was delicious. The Asian BBQ pulled pork won over the grilled chicken with cilantro seasoning, but if I was a season ticket holder with premium seating in the luxury suite, I would order the pulled pork and accompany it with the bread that was offered with the steak sandwich.
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One of the most interesting dishes I experienced was the ramen. I just couldn’t wrap my brain around the idea of offering ramen as Bruno Mars or BTS performs. Between the fear of spilling the broth on myself (it came in a Chinese food takeout container, which I now know is called an “oyster pail”) and maneuvering the chopsticks around the noodle, could I really enjoy this meal?
One thing I can assure you I’d enjoy with my ramen meal is the diverse selection of wines. And as a premium season ticket holder, you can buy wine by the bottle. “From the hospitality standpoint,” said Olivia Cheng of Legends Hospitality, “no matter what concert or game is going on, wine does very well. And so, we ensure we provide a range of price points which makes its available for everyone.” The recent Bruno Mars concert served as a prime example, she said. “The selling was off the charts. It didn’t matter where their seating was.”
A look at the soon to come premium experience, The Lofts. Photo by Laureen Delance
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Cheng also revealed to me that all of the food is made on site. “No matter what you’re eating, all food is homemade and done at the Prudential Center,” said Cheng. “Everything is made here. All of our chef are true cooks, and we use local farmers to get the local Jersey experience.”
That homemade and fresh flavor was evident in every dish I sampled. The Center says they are working on making their venue the ultimate dining and entertainment destination to compete with the dizzying number of entertainment alternatives out there. If you find yourself attending a Devils game or concerts and should you decide to purchase premium tickets, I predict from based on the variety of new offerings alone that you will not be disappointed.
Special thanks to the Prudential Center and Legends Hospitality or giving us a sneak peek into their new menu.