Chitown Foodies need vetting of list for special dinner tonight!
Husband and I tried to get into Momofuku Ko last week for dinner tonight, of no avail. WE need an upscale but not stuufy restaurant with a great ambience, i.e. candle light, or small interesting space, just no huge spaces or spaces too minimalist, please. We love sushi and any Asian food....staying in soho but will take cab. What they told us at the hotel: 15 East, Jean Gorgoes (too touristy in a hotel so prob not for us but love the menu), Kyo Ya, JEwel Bako (bad now that chef went to 15 East?), Elettaria and Ssam.
Please help--open to new suggestions, too! No Italain or French, though, please!
Kyo Ya is an authentic, somewhat off the radar experience that if I were in town from Chicago, would be high on my list out of what you listed. Of course, I love Jean Georges and wouldn't call it "touristy" but agree w/ others that it doesn't sound like what you are looking for, being a spacious, formal restaurant.. 15 East is very small, and I think very good. Elettaria might also fit the bill, though depending what table you get it can be cramped and somewhat noisy, too.
I would personally go and wait for Ssam Bar, and not worry too much about how cramped, stripped down or loud it was (because it will be all three), because it is also something you won't get in Chicago, and is probably as exciting as anything going in NY restaurants right now, even though it's not that new. [Editorial comment] It seems that all that anyone in New York wants to eat right now are hamburgers, pizza or something from Momofuku. Out of that lineup, IMHO, something from Momofuku is an easy bet :)
I would scratch Jewel Bako. Past its prime is, I think, the general opinion.
Jean Georges touristy? No way! But the cuisine is French, albeit with Asian influences, and the room is not small.
Devi's Indian cuisine is excellent, but while the decor is unique, the space is huge.
Jewel Bako's former sushi master *is* now at 15 East. The restaurant is divided into two spaces: the sushi bar and the restaurant. Both are fairly small spaces, but the decor is minimalist.
Elettaria is the most unique restaurant on your list. That would be my first choice for all the points you listed. Monday - Thursday they offer a prix-fixe. While in contrast to seal I find the Indian food in Chicago to be better than what one finds in NYC, Chicago lacks seriously upscale Indian. Devi would be a great place to try for that type of cuisine and they should have a restaurant week menu. Alta is great, but you have iterations on the same theme in the West Loop, some of which are better than Alta.
MAS Farmhouse, really great dining experience without all the hoopla surrounding the name (yet). The manager used to work at Blackbird in Chicago. He's got a beard, it's Michael or David I can't remember, real nice dude.
We had the tasting menu 2 weeks ago and they threw in an extra course and a desert to boot.
39 Downing St, New York, NY 10014
Many of NYC's upscale dining spaces are large, minimalist, modern. Sounds like you want something more cozy or brasserie like. I'm thinking you won't like JG (it's kind of modern in its decor, not really all that cozy), ditto for Jewel Bako, Ssam Bar is cramped but not cozy or comfy and has loud music.
Also you're asking for a table for tonight? In a few hours?
Let me start off by saying that I love Ssam, and you will not find anything like it in Chicago, but great ambiance it is not. Shame, especially if you love pork. Btw - can you bring me a sandwich from Al's and the steak course from Alinea? ;o)
There is some great sushi in NYC to be sure, especially Yasuda, and if you can get in, you will not be let down.
As a suggestion, I find the Indian food in NYC to be far superior to that in Chicago, and one of my favorite places fits your needs very well. Look into Devi:
It is a beautiful room, with great drinks and great food and also different from what you find back home.