Category Archives: Fusion

Essex Pearl

This place is incredible!

My wife and I have been dying to come here ever since we saw them setting up shop at Market Line soon after we moved in. It’s a beautiful seafood bar, done up really fancy as a place you’d love to just sit and have a cocktail, but also with open view to the kitchen and prep stations for all the delicious food.

We tried a lot of shit, so let me get right into it.

Raw littleneck clams topped with crispy shallots and a fish sauce mignonette. Perfect way to open up the meal. Pair this with their pickled ginger, shochu and gin martini.

Dry aged rib eye tartare, coarse cut. So tender and flavorful! The shrimp chips make for a perfect vehicle for mouth entry, and they add a great textural crunch.

Cumin lamb belly skewers. I really loved these. If you love cumin lamb noodles at places like Xian Famous, you need to try this. It’s LAMB BACON!

Tiger prawns. You’ll want to drink the sauce! This item was the whole reason my wife wanted to go, and it really delivered. It was her favorite dish (along with the hamachi collar).

Crispy baby octopus with Thai lemongrass curry and fried Thai basil. Ask for a small bowl of rice so none of that curry goes to waste!

The grilled pork jowls were next. This was probably my favorite of the meal. It comes with a lime pepper sauce that acts like a Carolina style vinegar BBQ sauce, almost, but Asian style as lime and pepper are common in places like Vietnam and Cambodia. It cuts the fat of the jowls so perfectly I can’t even describe it properly!

Turmeric dill hamachi collar. This is so delicious and large, it’s enough to share among two people. Light, flavorful, and amazingly aromatic.

Laotian ginger pork sausage over garlic noodles. WOW! The sausage is made in house and it’s so fucking good!

We washed it all down with this watermelon and lychee slushee. So refreshing and just the right amount of natural sweetness.

I can’t wait to go back and try the rest of the menu, especially their surf and turf!

ESSEX PEARL
88 Essex Street
Cellar Level
New York, NY 10002

Carla

I stopped in here with some of the guys from the Zooz electric bike club (for $150 off your bike, use code JOHNNYPRIME at www.zoozbikes.com).

We sat outside, but then it started pouring, so we went inside. The place was nice enough to let us put our bikes into their covered outdoor seating area to stay dry.

Anyway, I tried their burger. I wasn’t crazy about the pickled cabbage on it, but the rest was great. The waffle fries were perfectly crispy with a good spice seasoning on it, like Old Bay/cajun. The egg is unnecessary, but it didn’t make it sloppy or anything. Good crispy bacon, which I broke up a little bit for neater coverage.

I would definitely eat here again if I was in the area. The service was excellent, and the menu was unique. In particular, I’d like to try their pho and banh mi sandwich.

CARLA
2503 40th Ave
Queens, NY 11101

Emilia by Nai

Once again my friend Ruben absolutely nails it with his third restaurant, Emilia. Check out this quick video of some of the dishes we tried:

I can’t wait to go back and try more stuff. He is still in the process of perfecting the burger (he’s working on the bun), so I’ll definitely try that again.

Favorite items so far: artichoke with soy cured egg and crispy sunchokes, red snapper, and monkfish liver mousse.

EMILIA BY NAI
174 1st Ave.
New York, NY 10009

Kjun

Kjun is a Korean/Cajun fusion food concept that offers delivery service around NYC. They will soon reopen a physical location, but for now, the delivery is thoughtfully packaged, arrives hot, and travels well – nothing soggy, everything remains crisp that needs to.

We tried the fried chicken, ribs, and pork belly lettuce wraps. All were awesome. I especially liked the sides like the noodles and pickled watermelon rinds. Delicious food! Can’t wait to try their hanger steak dishes next.

Kimika

Most fusion restaurants are characterized by a big swing, and a big miss. The intentions are usually good, and the concepts make sense on paper, but at bat on the plate, they just don’t have the right swing. Kimika is the exception. Chef Christine Lau VERY successfully marries Japanese, and other aspects of regional Asian cuisine, with high end Italian cuisine. She knocks it out of the park! My wife and I went with another food-obsessed couple, so we were able to try most of the menu.

First off, excellent cocktails! I loved their take on an old fashioned.

To start, we snacked on a bowl of spiced olives, tuna tartare and wagyu + uni skewers. All fantastic.

This squash and sunflower pesto pizzette was an incredible expression of Asian + Italian – also very light and crisp. A great snack.

The “pasta” dishes are where you really see that marriage, though. This shrimp and prosciutto tortellini with mochi in a Japanese broth was probably our favorite bite of the night.

The crispy rice cake lasagna with Italian sausage was up there though, and I’m finding myself craving this as I write…

Even the vegetable selections are all beautiful mash-ups of Italian and Asian flavors, and all of them were great! Our favorite was the charred green beans with olive tapenade and prosciutto (first pic below).

The mains are pretty incredible here. We started with an amazing porchetta. Look at that crispy skin!

Then we moved on to a surf & turf plate, composed of spot prawns that were basted with uni butter, and a killer dry-aged steak with a pickled greens and wasabi spread.

So good! And easily one of the best steaks I’ve had in a very long time. 10/10 – it really brought the funk!

Dessert was also a homerun with the yakult soft serve (our favorite), tiramisu and warm mochi bomboloncini.

I highly recommend this place, and I can’t wait to go back!

KIMIKA
40 Kenmare St,
New York, NY 10012

Dolly Varden

Dolly Varden is a new cocktail bar and restaurant in the theater district that takes its name from an old trolley car that used to run throughout Manhattan and terminate in the area. Their outdoor seating even takes the form of the old railcar, which is pretty cool.

The indoor space is gorgeous. This place used to be one of the House of Brews locations (same ownership here; the other House of Brews is still open). They really did a great job on the remodel.

This joint was initially intended to be a cocktail bar, which is why you see such amazing drinks on the menu, like this Wooden Nickel, a mixologized version of an Old Fashioned, garnished with an ice rose.

I tried four cocktails and they were all dangerously delicious and slammable.

But once the pandemic hit and threw their bar plans into the wind, they pivoted, bringing on Chef Sean to cultivate a cheffed up bar menu that will keep people coming back for more.

We tried four of the apps on the menu:

Saigon Wings

Fish sauce brined, lightly breaded and perfectly crisped wings topped with pickled chilis and micro cilantro. Delicious.

Cornmeal Crusted Calamari

Lime sriracha aioli, mango salsa and queso fresco adorn these crispy delights. Similar toppings as the wings.

Back Ribs

Killer! Black bean sauce and sambal give this an Asian kick, and the crushed peanuts on top really bring it all together for a dynamic flavor profile.

Mussels

This was just a sample size portion that Sean wanted us to try, so expect more when you order. There’s bacon, kimchi and gochujang in the broth. These were really great! I wish we had thought to order the full size.

Next up was the burger.

The DV Railcar Burger is topped with tomato confit, melted white cheddar and marrow glazed onions. While that might sound like a heavy burger, it actually ate very light! Absolutely delicious.

Our other main was the Trees Major steak, which is my favorite cut of beef. It has all the flavor of chuck but with all the tenderness of filet mignon.

It’s very rare to see this cut featured on menus, but I think it makes for the perfect bistro steak, as it’s affordable, tender and delicious. Great for a steak frites dish. Here, it was topped with chimichurri and served with some lightly dressed greens. An easy 9/10.

On the side, we also had this fried maitake mushroom. This thing was awesome, especially when swiped with some of that saffron aioli.

I will definitely be back here to try more of Chef Sean’s delicious creations. I hope you can make it over there too, and help bring the theater district back from the brink of extinction!

DOLLY VARDEN
302 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019

Maypop

This joint delivered on some nice Asian fusion food down in NOLA. We started with a few bread specials; one stuffed with cheese and one was a spicy sesame biscuit.

There was also a nice amuse, which was a croquette of sorts, topped with a creamy foam.

The fried oyster dish was great, as was the marrow appetizer with lamb shank.

This spicy pork jowl dish was really awesome.

But the star of the show was this cornmeal garganelli in coconut milk alfredo with curried blue crab, spicy tomato red curry, lemongrass sausage, and basil. A possible best of 2020.

I really liked this gulf fish entree as well. Great crisp on the skin!

Dessert may have looked like a log of shit, but it tasted great. Chocolate mousse with toasted marshmallow and graham crumble. S’mores!

MAYPOP
611 O’Keefe Ave,
New Orleans, LA 70113

The Stand

Wyoming Whiskey teamed up with pitmaster Tyson Ho (from Arrogant Swine in Brooklyn) for a killer meal at The Stand near Union Square.

To get the juices flowing, we sipped on the Wyoming Whiskey bourbon as well as a cocktail made with Delirium Tremens and the whiskey. Very nice.

We started with a delicious Brazilian style elk tartare that was paired with a herbaceous frozen cocktail called a batida that featured the whiskey.

Then we moved on to a Filipino style BBQ quail with a smoked old fashioned. This course was awesome.

The smoked leg of venison was nice, tender and thinly sliced, served with Bengali spices and a fat washed whiskey sour.

Next up was nori wrapped rib eye and BBQ sweetbreads. An odd combo for sure, but the sweetbreads were my favorite bites of the meal. This was paired with a nori and mushroom infused Manhattan.

Dessert was a nice blackberry and vanilla ice cream pie/crumble with a swig of the single barrel.

I really dug this meal. Most of this is not available on the regular menu at the Stand, but based on tasting chef Harold Villarosa’s cooking alongside Ho’s cooking, I would go back for sure.

THE STAND
116 East 16th St
New York, NY 10003

Intersect by Lexus

This place has some great snacks and cocktails at the bar upstairs. They’re becoming well known for their interesting cocktail glassware.

My wife and I tried a bunch of stuff so let me get right to it.

COCKTAILS

1) Elementary, My Dear

This sweet and easy to sip Japanese whisky drink comes in a glass shaped like a pipe. It’ll go down fast so nurse it a bit.

2) Nemo

This cocktail is like an Aperol spritz without the ice, and comes in a blowfish glass.

3) Smoked Rum Old Fashioned

My favorite of the four we tried, this elevates the quality aged rum with a nice smoke aroma.

4) Black Magic Woman

Probably our second favorite, this well balanced and easy to slam cocktail is beautiful

SNACKS

1) Fluke Ceviche

Absolutely awesome. The perfectly seasoned and well balanced flavors make for a refreshing, cool summer snack. A top dish of the year.

2) Paella Croquettes

Warming, comforting, salty and spicy balls contrast with the cechive in this delicious hot snack that will have you drinking your fancy cocktails faster than you anticipated.

3) Tartare Tacos

There’s beef striploin in here but it’s a bit overshadowed by the dressing and accompaniments within the tartare itself. Otherwise tasty. A bit salty though.

4) Fried Chicken

These perfectly fried bone-in nuggets of breast meat come with a jalapeno cream sauce and a drizzle of honey. The flavors balance nicely and this is a great dish, I just wish they used boneless morsels of thigh meat instead.

5) Burger

This burger “intersects” Asian and American cuisines seamlessly with a perfectly seared beef patty that’s nestled in the folds of a warm sesame seed bao bun and covered with a miso cheddar cheese sauce and topped with pickle slices, pickled chili and crispy shallots. Lovely. Another top item of the year.

6) Cheesecake Donut

To be clear, this is a small ring of cheesecake that looks like a donut – not a donut with a cheesecake filling or something like that. It’s light, fruity and tasty. They also sell them downstairs at the coffee counter sans service charge if you want to try this on the go without sitting at the bar.

7) Melon Margarita Kakigori

This flavored ice dish is a hit with the locals passing by. There’s a little booth station beside the bar where you can get them on the fly. It was delicious, and we got ours “spiked” with tequila.

I definitely recommend this place. It’s a no-tip Danny Meyer joint, so expect a little sticker shock. But find comfort in the bill being the final number you see on your credit card (they don’t accept cash).

INTERSECT BY LEXUS
412 West 14th St
New York, NY 10014

Rabbit House

My wife picked up a Pulsd deal for this place that got us a six course omakase with three glasses of sake each for $89.

We opted to share six different glasses, one to pair with each course.

Yes, they do serve rabbit, and the theme of the restaurant definitely involves rabbits.

Before the omakase began, we were served a delicious, warm wedge of country bread with olive oil and pepper.

Prior to eating rabbit, we ate rabbit food. The first course was miniature crudite with a blob of miso paste, and an oyster shooter with wine jelly.

Next up, beautiful and delicious tuna tartare with fried lotus root.

Then we had this trio of beef tartare, cheeses and pork spare ribs.

After that, a yellowtail preparation that included both cooked and raw styles.

Then came the star of the show – the “trapped rabbit.”

This was pretty nice, and similar to a porchetta of sorts (rolled whole muscle cuts that are cooked, then sliced). It came with a side of dressed greens, colorful carrots and mushrooms.

Last was the black sesame custard. This was a tasty but not overly sweet way to end the meal. I enjoyed.

Over all this was good but not great. The Pulsd deal is definitely worth it, though, if it’s still available.

RABBIT HOUSE
76 Forsyth Street
New York, NY 10002