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ISO an interesting, upscale Asian restaurant not by David Chang

  • lipoff Nov 22, 2010 05:17 PM
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Am meeting some a friend this coming weekend in Manhattan and she wants to (in her own words) go to "an interesting, upscale Asian restaurant not by David Chang". So no Momofuku or Má Pêche. (No prejudice here, I gather she has recently been to Ssäm Bar and wants to try something different).

I have a few thoughts (Buddakan, Shang, HanGawi, Chinatown Brasserie, Kyotofu and Yakitori Tatto among them) but was hoping for something new for me as well.

Any thoughts?

-----
HanGawi
12 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016

Chinatown Brasserie
380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

Kyotofu
144 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

Shang
187 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002

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  1. I really like Soto. The composed dishes fit your description (get anything with uni).

    SHO Shaun Hergatt has some Asian elements too...

    -----
    SHO Shaun Hergatt
    40 Broad St, New York, NY 10004

    2 Replies
    1. re: ChiefHDB

      SHO is about as un-asian as i can imagine.

      and i have a pretty broad definition of Asian

      1. re: thew

        Hahaha, fair enough. I was straining to give the OP some new recs....

    2. Hmmm, there's not a whole lot of upscale Asian in NYC to begin with and I assume you want more atmosphere than, say, NY Noodletown, but also good food that's worth the price. This can be tough unless you go with Japanese cuisine.

      But I wouldn't really call Kyotofu or Totto all that upscale in atmosphere. You should probably throw Lotus of Siam and Kin Shop into the mix although the former has been getting middling reviews here. I was terribly disappointed in Shang when I went, and would avoid it. I like Chinatown Brasserie during the day for dim sum, not a huge fan of the atmosphere at night. The non-dim sum dishes I've tried there have only been OK.

      Have you considered Kyo Ya?

      -----
      Chinatown Brasserie
      380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

      Kyo Ya
      94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

      Kyotofu
      144 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

      Shang
      187 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002

      Lotus of Siam
      24 5th Ave, New York, NY 10003

      1 Reply
      1. re: kathryn

        I was terribly disappointed by Shang as well, although I went when they first opened, and I figured I'll try it again at some point.

        -----
        Shang
        187 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002

      2. Woo Lae Oak, maybe?

        anyone been to DOB 111 yet?

        http://baonyc.websiteanimal.com/#/dob...

        -----
        Woo Lae Oak
        148 Mercer Street, New York, NY 10012

        DOB 111
        115 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

        2 Replies
        1. re: coasts

          haven't been - but what i was told about DOB - just hearsay - didnt conjure upscale

          1. re: coasts

            I actually like Woo Lae Oak - if you don't think of it as a Korean restaurant but a merely Korean-influenced restaurant, it's quite good. I will be honest though and say I haven't been in past few years, but when I went a few times the food was delicious, ambiance trendy but not in an annoying way, and the waiters were very, very cute.

          2. not as hip as the places you mention, but upscale chinese can be found at shanghai pavilion on the UES.

            from your list i like yakitori totto and kyotofu

            1. Matsugen? Morimoto? Megu?

              4 Replies
              1. re: small h

                matsuri!!!

                1. re: thew

                  EN and 15 East, also, and Asiate, although it's more "Asian" than Asian. I can't think of anymore M restaurants except for Menkui and Menchanko, and they aren't upscale enough. Alas.

                  1. re: small h

                    there's minca, but their ramen is icky

                    1. re: thew

                      Agreed. I've been looking for awesome seafood or vegetarian ramen in Manhattan for years. Either it's very well disguised, or it doesn't exist.

              2. I've liked the food I've had at Pranna, though it leans more to the Southern part of Asia and I haven't been since they've changed chefs.

                -----
                Pranna
                79 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016

                1 Reply
                1. re: JungMann

                  I was at an event at Pranna recently. The canapes were decent (seared tuna slices, chicken satay, sliders) but there was this awful chicken wrap that nobody liked. Also the sauces for their naan seemed odd, almost Greek? Did not pair well at all. The bread was also chewy and tough. None of the food seemed particularly South Asian in anyway but that may have been a fluke.

                  -----
                  Pranna
                  79 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016

                2. i really wasn't too thrilled by chinatown brasserie but i went for dim sum with my mother & sister one afternoon. i mean the food is good but it's just as good as, say, oriental garden's dim sum, for 3x the price.

                  hangawi is vegan korean, and i've been there twice. the first time i enjoyed it, the second time i found everything really bland. but it's a very peaceful, serene experience.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: selenster

                    I disagree that CN is as good as OG. To me, you can definitely taste a difference in quality of ingredients (especially shrimp) and how delicate the wrappers are on dumplings. Yes, it's pricey but justified IMO.

                  2. I'd say either Morimoto or Buddakan would both be memorable. The food at SHO is great but it's really French with Asian accents and it's out of the way.

                    -----
                    Buddakan
                    75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                    Morimoto
                    88 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: pdquinn

                      I really like Morimoto (have had dinner twice in the past 6 months, and was very pleased both times). Skip Lotus of Siam; I had dinner last week, and while the food is tasty, the prices are fairly high for tiny portions. I'm so disappointed since I've always wanted to try LOS in LV.

                      -----
                      Morimoto
                      88 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                      1. re: pdquinn

                        Morimoto has great decor and atmosphere -- try the chef's omakase bar if you can drop the cash. That said, the other dishes I had far surpassed the sushi.

                        -----
                        Morimoto
                        88 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                        1. re: kathryn

                          Agreed. I mean, the sushi is certainly fine, acceptable, above average - but if you're going for a sushi meal, go to specialists like Yasuda or Gari or Jewel Bako. For composed dishes, though, Morimoto is one of the best Japanese options in the city, however much hate he may get for being a TV personality.

                          I don't really do the omakase - I've done it, liked it well enough - but there are too many repeats to warrant doing it more than once. For less than that you can put together your own pretty spectacular multi-course meal - one cold app, one hot, a sushi selection of a few exquisite bites, an entree, dessert.

                          Also, I don't like omakases (or tastings in general) because when dining with a companion it's just more fun to order different things and share. To me, that's part of the joy of a meal, the "oh, you gotta try this!" moments - if everyone's got the same plate in front of them, it's just not as fun. There are exceptions, sure (the Kaiseki at Kyo Ya being the top one) but as a general rule I don't find them terribly exciting.

                          -----
                          Gari
                          370 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

                          Jewel Bako
                          239 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

                          Morimoto
                          88 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                          Kyo Ya
                          94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                          1. re: sgordon

                            The regular omakase or the chef's omakase bar in back? I think we spent something like $250 each for the latter and feasted on fugu, lobster, steak, red snapper hot pot, crab....

                            1. re: kathryn

                              You ate fugu? I've read that it's actually pretty bland. And to risk one's life for that?

                              1. re: Pan

                                there's really not much risk. every death from fugu in the last 50 years has been from a non-trained chef working it

                                1. re: thew

                                  But if it's bland, what's the point in any risk at all? Whereupon I asked Kathryn how it tasted.

                                2. re: Pan

                                  Don't know who wrote what you read, but one person's bland is another person's delicately flavored light-fleshed fish. Someone who appreciates the latter might enjoy fugu.

                                  1. re: Pan

                                    It was very subtle tasting and not something I'd really care to get again but it was fun to try. The best part was the fugu bones fried up like chicken in addition to the fugu sashimi.

                                  2. re: kathryn

                                    The "standard" omakase is $120/pp (or it was last time I was there) - they used to have different "levels" of it, but now I think there's only the one standard, and if you want to do more they'll come up with something on the fly based on your budget. I did the standard one. But one of our "make our own" multi-courses did wind up in the $250 neighborhood pp. For that price, I wanted a little more authorial control over my menu, didn't want to risk half the dishes being things we'd had before and were less than excited about.

                            2. Haven't been in a while but Shun Lee Grill was good last ime I was there. Pretty upscale and inventive while retaining traditional chinese elements.

                              1. I'd say Soto for the win. Creative, delicious, sublime. Go in and order everything with Uni on the menu, then round it out with a few more items, and you'll be wowed. You'll also have an empty wallet, yes, but if it's a meal worth a special splurge, they're incredible.

                                I don't really consider - other than the ramen and pork buns at Noodle Bar - the Momofuku empire to be terribly "Asian" - there are little inflences of Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisines here and there, but I'd consider Ssam Bar a "New American" resto more than anything else.

                                A few thoughts on the others...

                                Buddakan: tourist trap.
                                Shang: gave it a few tries, hated it every time. Don't know a single person who had a good meal there. Kind of sad.
                                Hangawi: fantastic, but you have to be in the mood - it's strictly vegetarian.
                                Brasserie: I'd just as soon go down into Chinatown to one of our better restos there - Oriental Garden & South China Garden tend to be the top recs, I like Fuleen's, Ping's, and Amazing 66 as well - the latter two have some detractors here, though. Hard to go wrong with either of the "Gardens" - though I wouldn't do Dim Sum at either, not really their specialties. For impeccably fresh Chinese seafood, OG is hard to beat.

                                A few other thoughts:
                                At the pricier end, Kyo Ya (if you can book the Kaiseki dinner - you have to reserve two days in advance - amazing), Morimoto (for composed dishes, not so much for sushi/sashimi - his "Oysters Foie Gras" are a thing of decadent beauty), and Kanoyama (incredible seasonal sashimi selection, pricey but worth it for a splurgey meal) can all be great.

                                For something a little different, there's Filipino at Purple Yam (in Brooklyn) or Kuma Inn. Double Crown also does some pretty interesting Asian fusion, and they've been pretty good of late.

                                -----
                                South China Garden
                                22 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                                Buddakan
                                75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                                Kuma Inn
                                113 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002

                                Amazing 66
                                66 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                Fuleen
                                11 Division St, New York, NY 10002

                                Kanoyama
                                175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                Oriental Garden
                                14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                                Morimoto
                                88 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                                Kyo Ya
                                94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                Double Crown
                                316 Bowery, New York, NY 10012

                                Shang
                                187 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: sgordon

                                  I agree that the momofuku restaurants are not very strictly Asian, other than perhaps in name :)

                                  In that vein I might suggest Degustation? Degustation has a lot of Asian influence in some of their menu items, and the atmosphere is much like a robatayaki or even a sushi bar, in that you're seated around a table facing the chefs.

                                  1. re: sgordon

                                    I love Kanoyama and Kuma Inn but neither is really upscale. And Kanoyama also doesn't take reservations on Fridays and Saturdays (not sure what day OP is dining).

                                    -----
                                    Kuma Inn
                                    113 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002

                                    Kanoyama
                                    175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                    1. re: kathryn

                                      True, I wouldn't call Kuma Inn upscale... got a little off base there. Kanoyama isn't upscale in setting, but they are in price - especially if you're making a meal out of the special seasonal sashimi.

                                      -----
                                      Kuma Inn
                                      113 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002

                                      Kanoyama
                                      175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                  2. Shang is noticeably better when Susur Lee is in the kitchen, but he is only there.. once a month? Unfortunately, I would say it is a risky proposition.

                                    Chinatown Brasserie has the best dim sum in NYC and no the dim sum at Oriental Garden is not as good.

                                    If you like Yakitori Totto, try Tori Shin. My last two meals at Yakitori Totto, the meat was overcooked. There have been complaints of undercooked meat and I feel at times the chefs are overcompensating for the people who are phobic of deliciously moist chicken and pork.

                                    I don't think of Kyotofu as particularly upscale, pleasant, small space but the quality of the cooking is rather middle of the road. I do like their dessert tofus quite a bit.

                                    Have you thought of Gyu Kaku? I haven't been there in a while but their ultra-premium beef was excellent and the experience is quite nice (midtown location). However, I do find that the cooking smells will cling to your hair and clothes much the way they do at Korean bbq restaurants. Kuma Inn also can be quite strongly odored.

                                    Matsugen is lovely for noodles and their black cod is luxurious. The space is open and minimalist with lovely service. In that vein 15 East is excellent as well. Sushi Yasuda is always, always wonderful. Or how about Phillipe, I can't vouch for consistency but the kitchen is able of producing good food.

                                    Hangawi is lovely and the experience is excellent but so very dear for plates of grains and vegetables. How about Vatan? Not every dish is a hit but some are quite good and the portions are limitless. The mural and seating are all very atmospheric, "fun" (not really upscale).

                                    Laut might be a good choice for the less ubiquitous Malaysian cuisine. Not exactly upscale but the service is attentive and the presentation is thoughtful.

                                    -----
                                    Yakitori Totto
                                    251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

                                    15 East
                                    15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

                                    Sushi Yasuda
                                    204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

                                    Kuma Inn
                                    113 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002

                                    Vatan
                                    409 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10016

                                    Chinatown Brasserie
                                    380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

                                    Oriental Garden
                                    14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                                    Matsugen
                                    241 Church Street, New York, NY 10013

                                    Kyotofu
                                    144 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

                                    Shang
                                    187 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002

                                    1. Kittichai never disappoints and should be sufficiently asian.

                                      I second Kyo Ya - an amazing experience. But not something you can do too often.

                                      -----
                                      Kittichai
                                      60 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012

                                      Kyo Ya
                                      94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Rizzobert

                                        If I were rich, I might well go to Kyo Ya 4 times a year. My meal there this past March was sublime.

                                        1. re: Rizzobert

                                          I've only been to Kittichai once and never went back because it was disappointing. But, that was years ago, so maybe it's better?

                                          To the OP - whatever you do, just do not go to Philippe (sp?).

                                          -----
                                          Kittichai
                                          60 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012

                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                            Kittichai recently got a new Chef - Ty Bellingham - who's revamped the menu and kitchen significantly. They used to import their curry pastes from some place in Thailand but now he's making them from scratch daily, and it makes a big difference. They've really upped their game since he took over.

                                            -----
                                            Kittichai
                                            60 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012

                                            1. re: sgordon

                                              Thanks - that is great to know. I thought the room was lovely, and have enjoyed having a drink outside several times.

                                              1. re: sgordon

                                                I'm happy to hear Kittichai has a new chef - I always thought, what a lovely place, too bad the food isn't that good! Perhaps now the food will be as good as the ambiance!

                                          2. Wow, thank you all for this bounty of replies. I never expected 40+ replies to a simple question from a visiting hound!

                                            So I actually ended up having three dinners this weekend, each at a place that could be described as "an interesting, upscale Asian restaurant not by David Chang."

                                            The first was at Peking Duck House, on 53rd St. The restaurant does feel a bit stodgy, although in a slightly charming sort of way. There was a mixture of young, well dressed Asians, and an older crowd, and there was a large private party full of well-behaved children in the private room towards the back.

                                            The Peking Duck itself was fine, although nothing particularly special. The pancakes weren't particularly thin, and the cucumbers needed to be chopped much more finely. We couldn't seem to get duck soup without ordering the "Peking Duck Meal", although they gave us the carcass afterwards which made great soup in my friend's apartment a couple days later. The rest of the menu did not look so appetizing, but we pulled out a few gems. Vegetable steamed dumplings were surprisingly good, filled with a nice mixture of well chopped vegetables. Sautéed noodles were surprisingly rich, and sautéed Chinese broccoli (清炒芥藍) was done just right. Most exciting was that the "fish fillet shanghai style" was actually a fairly unusual Jiangzhe dish, consisting of fried fish slices wrapped in seaweed. This wasn't the best rendition I've ever had, but I've rarely seen this dish on any menu in the US.

                                            On Saturday I did visit Lotus of Siam, and I have to say, it was just fantastic. Service couldn't have been any nicer to us, and each dish was better than the next. I've been to the Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas many times, and it is true that they aren't yet quite up to that extremely high standard, but this is certainly the best Thai food I've had on the east coast. It's a different restaurant than SriPraPhai, which is also quite good.

                                            The nam kao tod (crispy rice) was just sensational. As good as in Las Vegas, and as good as the best versions I've ever had. We had it without the (pork) sausage, and it didn't seem to be missing anything at all. The nam prik (spicy dip) was a little less good. I was expecting something different (more finely ground), but it was certainly ferociously spicy which was very gratifying. Tom yum soup was just fantastic, with a delicious mix of spices and flavors, simultaneously cooling and hot. The best dish of the evening was a chicken yellow curry. The meat was perfectly cooked, the bamboo shoots among the best I've ever had, each bite was filled with depth and complexity. The $36 hanger steak wasn't quite right. The meat looked beautiful, but the ends of the meat, which still had fat on them were much better than the middle, which was too lean. The dipping sauce didn't add very much at all. The meat was grilled well, but I think either they need a different, fattier cut of meat, or the meat needs to be marinated for much longer. The sticky rice with Thai custard made for a killer dessert. My DC found her Riesling, said to be the driest on the list by the glass, to be too sweet, and my calamansi cocktail seemed amateurish. Anyway, overall Lotus of Siam NY was a winner in my book --- definitely an upscale, hip, Asian restaurant, not by David Chang, with terrific food.

                                            I've been to Kyotofu a few times, and always had mixed experiences. I almost relegated them to a dessert-only destination for me. This time, however, almost everything was excellent and I didn't even have time for dessert. Chicken meatballs were moist and flavorful with a nice honey sauce that wasn't cloying, the tsukemono with the bento box (excellent value for dinner) were excellent, the mushroom salad was refreshing (and I am no mycophile), curry arancini tasted Japanese despite the unusual provenance, but the best of all was the yellowtail nigiri. This was at once traditional and non-traditional. Excellent, high quality hamachi was well-cut, and laid out on cylinders of citrus-dill rice and topped with an espelette pepper oil. On the other hand, the kobocha soup was a bit gimmicky, and the chicken tofu "burger" was as dry and flavor-free as ever, and a virgin cocktail, which prominently featured passion fruit was just okay.

                                            All in all, three memorable dinners. I am eager to return to Lotus of Siam. I am also eager to return to a David Chang restaurant. =)

                                            -----
                                            Peking Duck House
                                            236 E 53rd St, New York, NY 10022

                                            Kyotofu
                                            144 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

                                            Lotus of Siam
                                            24 5th Ave, New York, NY 10003