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May 27, 2008 11:59 AM

Asian fusion for casual business dinner

I'm meeting some colleagues in town from Zurich for dinner. They requested Asian fusion. They enjoyed China Grill their last visit. I was thinking of Le Colonial this time. The sound level can get a bit high in both places, depending on where we get seated. Downstairs at Le Colonial was relatively sane the last time I was there; upstairs, especially on a Thursday night, can be pretty loud, based on my experience.

Any suggestions for good Asian fusion food, nothing super pricey, fun atmosphere and preferably a midtown location?

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  1. Le Colonial is fine, but I feel like it's a little "tired." You may want to consider Boi on E 44th street (i think). Or maybe Riingo, which is more like Japanese Fusion.

    4 Replies
    1. re: egit

      You're right, Le Colonial is a bit tired. Riingo's on-line menu looked pretty good. Curiously, has the place listed as "contemporary American". Hate to be so picky but 45th and 2nd is such a "schlep" from me (52nd & 6th).

      Any thoughts on Vong or other places more in the 50s?

      1. re: uwsgrazer

        Hmm.. not sure I'd recommend Vong. I haven't been there in many years but lately I haven't heard/read anything good about it. While it may not be my favorite place, I think TAO may fit the bill for what you're looking for.

        1. re: uwsgrazer

          vong is terrible and the set up is kind of weird

          tao is ok, but obviously very loud

          maybe geisha house. i'd say morimoto's as i actually like some of the food there, but its kind of far from midtown. i'm not a fan, but alot of fusion fans tend to like mr. chow's

          1. re: uwsgrazer

            IMHO- I liked Vong, was there last year. The Foie Gras with Mango and Ginger, Lobster with Tai Sauce were my favorites. I recommend the black plate to sample all the appetizers. The room is exotic and you can get away with dressing in neat jeans.

            (As far as what is written- I sometimes get the feeling that 16 year old restaurants aren't beloved as much; LeBernardin withstanding) I would recommend Vong very easily.

            Wherever you go-HAVE FUN :)

        2. What's your budget when you said "nothing super pricey"?

          4 Replies
          1. re: kobetobiko

            Good question. It's a business meal that will get expensed but in the current environment the tab will come under greater scrutiny, especially since it will only be with colleagues, i.e., no client entertaining. It would be good to keep things under $50 per person. I guess drinks, tax and tip will have to be extra.

            A couple more things that could be relevant. The request was for no sushi so it would be best to avoid a place with a lot of sushi items, even if there's other non-sushi stuff (don't want to make it seem as if the request didn't register with me). Also, I think it will only be three of us in total so some place that doesn't depend on a lot of sharing would be best, even if we all decide to share anyway.

            Thanks for any ideas!

            1. re: uwsgrazer

              Hi uwsgrazer,

              Not sure if I am helping but as you know a lot of the Asian fusion places in midtown tend to be pricey (like Tao, Nobu, etc.) Gyu-Kaku in midtown may work for you. Not very fusion but it's fun to cook your own food. There are a lot of izakayas in Midtown, like Sakagura, Hagi, even Yakitori Tottos or Aburiya Kinosuke, but they are not really fusion (actually quite authentic). The reason that I throw them out is because I think they are still fun for foreigners (can't imagine izakaya being common in Zurich). Plus on weekdays a lot of Japanese business men also eat there so you guys won't be out of place. Caveat is that they can be noisy (get noiser as it gets later at night). Food itself should be ok within your budget.

              If you can extend beyond midtown, then there are more options: LAN and Le Miu are really Japanese fusion food and they both are quite quiet during weekdays. You can even try Chinatown Brassarie if Chinese food works. O Mai for Vietnamese.

              1. re: kobetobiko

                Thanks, kobetobiko. If nothing else I have some great ideas now for future places to try one day!

                I agree with you about venturing away from the more standard places. Gyu-Kaku sounds like a fun idea. I don't think I've ever had Japanese bbq. Is it similar to the set-up at a Korean restaurant? Are the diners left to tend to the cooking, or does the wait staff keep an eye on things?

                I've been to Sakagura and really liked it. I have a couple of reservations, though (actually, three, in that I don't think I can get reservations (the other kind) for tomorrow night). I don't remember what the bill came to in the past but my impression was that things can add up pretty quickly. Also, one of my colleagues is probably not a light eater so I wonder whether he will find enough "substantial" dishes to satisfy him.

                1. re: uwsgrazer

                  Hi uwsgrazer,

                  Japanese BBQ is similar to Korean BBQ in set up: the grill is at the center of the table and you can grill the meat yourself. The sauces used to marinate the meat are different from Korean BBQ. For Japanese BBQ, it is usually just plain salt, with garlic, or with miso. Some with soy-based sauce. Meat tends to come in smaller plate (like 6-8 pieces per plate) and cut in smaller size. There are usually more vegetable options for grilling (some directly on heat, but most are cooked in a foil over the grill), whereas in Korean BBQ most vegetables are served as banchan and in other cooked dishes (at least that's my impression).

                  Gyu-Kaku is fusion in the sense that there are a lot of appetizers, salad, and rice bowls that have Korean and Western components. For instance, they serve a variety of bibimbap and there is kimchee stew and so forth. They also have some prix-fixe set dinner for 2 / 4 which may be easier for your group if you don't want to think to much about what to order.

                  Here is the link to their menu.


                  I agree with you on Sakagura that the bill does add up quite fast, especially when you start drinking all the sake.

          2. My pick for Asian fusion would be Asia de Cuba (237 Madison.) It's Asian and Latin. Their calamari salad with hearts of palms is still one of the best things I have ever eaten in New York.

            The atmosphere is definitely upscale trendy, but prices aren't over the top. Entrees are mostly in the 20-30 range.