Category Archives: Fusion

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

Bang Bar

I finally had the chance to run over to David Chang’s “Bang Bar” in the morning before work to try their highly acclaimed breakfast crepes. I grabbed one of each: the smoked salmon and the mortadella with cheese.

The salmon one was nice, light, and refreshing with just the right amount of cream and acid to balance out each bite. The mortadella sandwich was delicious, but really salty.

I think when it gets roasted on the vertical spit (like shawarma), that heat intensifies the salinity. Not to mention that they probably season it on the spit too, which is just overkill. The cheese coverage, however, was “underkill.” There was just one slice of melted cheese on the surface of the crepe, so it didn’t really get in between all the chunks of mortadella. Oh well.

The doughnut was dense and pillowy, like a cream cake or something based in rice flour, perhaps. Just too bready, though it was moist and soft.

I wouldn’t go out of my way to make it here for breakfast again, but I’m glad I got to try this stuff anyway.

BANG BAR
10 Columbus Cir.
Third Floor, Unit 301
New York, NY 10019

Fat Rice

Fat Rice is a trendy spot in Chicago that serves up some interesting and unique Asian inspired dishes, as you can see by the various menus.

We started with the special octopus salad appetizer. This was really delicious and refreshing. Beautiful plate too, I might add.

Next up was their big boy, the “Fat Rice” namesake dish (Arroz Gordo). This is like an Asian paella: a cross between a hot clay pot bibimbap and traditional Spanish paella, with both European and Asian toppers like grilled head on shrimp, char siu pork belly, molasses and fish sauce seasoned boiled egg, curry chicken thighs, languinica sausage and wood roasted beef (like BBQ).

It was delicious. A few spots could have used some improvement though. For example, the pork belly could have rendered out a bit more, and the beef could have been less dry. But over all it was a really nice dish, and I’d order it again in a heartbeat.

This place has a bakery connected to it as well, so The Cake Dealer and I tried out a bunch of their stuff.

I won’t highlight them all, but we tried an interesting tea and spice flavored snickerdoodle cookie, a very unique marshmallow and seaweed rice crispy treat thing, and a purple potato cake. In addition to sweets and interesting coffee and tea concoctions, they also serve savory baked goods, like this Chicago style hot dog pastry, which was my favorite of the bunch.

I highly recommend this spot if you’re in Chicago. They serve great food and really inventive cocktails.

FAT RICE
2957 W Diversey Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

Brasserie Seoul

Brasserie Seoul is a Brooklyn French restaurant where Chef Park is using Korean ingredients to execute his dishes.

I hesitate to call this ppace fusion, since the menu is decidedly French. However I suppose the heavy use of Korean ingredients takes it comfortably into that category.

I came in with two other Instagrammers to shoot some photos of their popular dishes. Here’s what we had:

FIRST ROUND

Foie Gras Amuse: cherry puree and grilled grapes on brioche.

Oysters with Pork Belly: five spice pork belly and chopped kimchi dressing both east and west coast varietals.

Wagyu Beef Tartare: wasabi oil and Korean pear with pinenuts and quail egg.

That was really good. Probably my favorite dish of the night.

SECOND ROUND

Seafood Pancake: bay scallops, shrimp, squid and scallions with a ginger soy aioli.

Truffle Tteok & Cheese: rice cakes with three-cheese bechemel, white truffle oil, panko and gochugaru (a red pepper flake blend).

THIRD ROUND

Cod: jajang puree (black beans), gochugaru carrot reduction, wilted baby kale, and roasted sunchoke.

Kimchi Bouillabaisse: mussels, pollack, shrimp, baby octopus, fried tofu, rice cakes and cabbage kimchi.

FOURTH ROUND

Duck Trio: fried duck confit, breast, crispy skin and foie. More like duck four ways I guess. Blood orange gastrique with cherry puree and candied ginger.

Wagyu NY Strip Steak: black garlic, Korean sea salt, green chili puree and citrus cho ganjang (vinegar soy sauce). 7/10. This was a bit leaner than I expected from wagyu. The flavor was nice, but I’ve had much better prime strips at half the price (this will run you $80).

This steak came with roasted fingerling potatoes:

This place is pretty good. I’m not sure I’d hoof it all the way out to Brooklyn for a second visit, but the tartare, seafood pancake, tteok & cheese and duck dishes were all fantastic.

BRASSERIE SEOUL
300 Schermerhorn St
Brooklyn, NY 11217

The Lobster Club

The Lobster Club is the newest venture by Major Food Group (The Grill, Parm, Carbone, The Pool, etc). What attracted me to this joint was their chili oil-, cumin- and Szechuan peppercorn- spiced tomahawk rib eye. You may recall my Szechuan strip steak recipe, where I used a similar flavor profile. Let me just admit up front that mine wasn’t as good as theirs, despite mine looking prettier and my crispy rice being fantastic.

Anyway, let me get to the meal already.

I started at the bar with a great cocktail called the Umeshu Highball: Japanese whisky, aged umeshu and sparkling water.

At the table, my wife had the Jasmine Blossom: Bourbon, plum sake, plum eau-de-vie and sherry. Garnished with a big slice of fresh ginger.

At dessert, we shared the Banana Goto: Japanese whisky, espresso, cacao and banana whipped cream. This went perfectly with our dessert, as you will see later.

The cocktails were all awesome, and I would definitely come back for a drink at the bar, for sure.

Our first course was sushi. This is an entree but we shared it as an appetizer. At $68 this is pretty hefty, but the quality was indeed top notch.

We shared the Sansho Octopus dish next. This was pricey at $28 for a single large tentacle, but it was pretty tasty, and served with some Asian style pickled radish and cucumber slices, as well as what reminded me of a chimichurri sauce on top.

Before the steak came out, they brought out this cool platter of sauces for the steak. None of them were really necessary, given the richness of the steak and the aggressiveness of the flavors, but a few of them went well. Namely, the confit garlic and the chili sauce.

The steak itself was a haymaker knockout punch of flavor. This shit is aggressive, spicy and there’s a LOT of it. You should take my 10/10 score of this with a warning: I happen to LOVE these flavors. The steak reminded me of the tingly beef noodles or the spicy cumin lamb noodles at Xian Famous. That is not everyone’s cup of tea! If you just want dry-aged beef, then go with the porterhouse here. This baby is minimally aged and it packs a wallop of interesting flavor.

The quality was great. Very tender, great cap size, edible fat. It was also cooked perfectly. If you want unique, then go for it. It’s $195 for 46oz (including the bone), and, as I said, it’s aggressively spiced. You may want to split it with three others rather than two just to give your taste buds a break.

The steak also comes with a pair of sides: blistered shishito peppers and grilled king mushrooms (my favorite kind). These were both excellent.

For dessert, we shared the Japanese Iced Coffee Kakigori. This is essentially coffee and cream flavored shave ice. A mountain of it, at that. It paired perfectly with the third cocktail I mentioned up top.

Overall this was a really good meal, but it was expensive. I probably wouldn’t go back, but I’m glad I did go. I needed to try that steak!

I came back here a second time to try the Szechuan steak again with some friends who convinced me that I should have it a second time. This time is was a bit tough. 7/10.

We also tried their porterhouse.

This, too, is pricey at $185. What I didn’t realize is that the flavor is that of sesame, in keeping with the asian theme here.

 

The flavors were nice, but again there was a texture problem. When you are paying this much for steak, they need to be perfect. 7/10.

THE LOBSTER CLUB
98 E. 53rd St
New York, NY 10022

Ms. Yoo

I was invited into Ms. Yoo to try their burger and help promote it on Instagram. I brought a couple of food photo people with me as well, so we were able to order a bunch of other stuff in addition to the burger.

Ms Yoo is essentially an American joint, but it incorporates lots of Korean flavors and ingredients into each dish that you really walk away thinking you ate a 100% Korean meal. I guess one could call it “fusion,” but it’s not pretentious and douchey like other “fusion” places can  be.

First up was this bowl of nori popcorn to get things started.

The salted seaweed adds a nice natural savory element to the snack.

Next up was the beef carpaccio. This baby was gorgeous, topped with watercress, edible flowers and a cured egg yolk.

Then we tried some mac and cheese made from rice cakes (tteok).

The rice cakes are the perfect texture and vehicle to drive a great, cheesy comfort food like mac abad cheese. This one was made with gruyere and cheddar, and had a panko crust.

This was absolutely delicious, especially since it had copious amounts of bacon in it. That dipping sauce you see there is made with tomatoes and kimchi.

There are two varieties of chicken wing: spicy gochujang and honey soy sesame. The breading was perfectly crisp. While I typically like spicy wings best, the honey soy sesame was my favorite between the two.

We also had some bone marrow, which came with a bacon kimchi onion jam. Yeah – wild!

There’s also a really unique and flavorful hot dog on the menu here, topped with a dynamite grilled jalapeño pepper.

And that’s homemade Korean pork sausage on a pretzel roll with some Yoo sauce to boot (a spicy mayo, I think). Easily one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Oh yeah and the burger! This beauty is 10oz of beefy goodness topped with American cheese, Yoo sauce, and a kimchi bacon onion jam that will make you mouth water for days after tasting it.

I’m really looking forward to going back and eating that burger again, actually. And part of the reason why is because I want this as an encore for dessert:

These are honey-butter chips, and they’re the closest thing that Ms Yoo has on the menu to a dessert at the moment (there will be a dedicated dessert menu in time). These are just fried root veggie chips, like taro, potato and sweet potato, but they’re dressed in a sweet, yet savory and spicy, honey-butter glaze that’ll blow you away. Absolute must try.

UPDATE 6/16/18

Had the delicious pork belly bossam. This is mandatory.

Also tried the flank steak. 7/10 – just needed more seasoning.

MS YOO
163 Allen St
New York, NY 10002

The Crimson Sparrow

I first became acquainted with The Crimson Sparrow when I hung out with chef-owner John McCarthy at a mutual friend’s party.

We traded social media info and kept up with each others’ food exploits online. I always thought his dishes looked so beautiful and sounded so delicious, but I wasn’t sure when I’d ever get to try them – John being up in Hudson, NY and me being NYC-based.

Well, it turns out that I was scheduled to go on a farm tour in Ghent, NY the weekend before the 4th of July. Upon checking out the map of where Ghent was, and planning how I was going to get there, I realized I would be passing through Hudson. I decided to make a small weekend trip out of this farm tour, and to bring my wife along.

It was a no-brainer, at that point, that I’d be visiting John at The Crimson Sparrow. We first went in for the tasting menu, late in the evening after we finished up that farm tour in Ghent.

I have to say… Chef John is doing some really amazing things here. He’s clearly inspired by Japanese cuisine; its preparation, its focus, its simplicity, its artistry. And while he does highlight a lot of Japanese ingredients, he’s also drawing inspiration from his local environs in the Hudson valley as well, and even dropping some overt hints of French technique and Korean flavors as well.

John has been all over the globe honing his cuisine. He used to be an attorney, but then ditched that for the culinary arts. He’s French trained, but he spent a significant amount of time in Japan absorbing all he could. He even did a 5-year stint with Wiley DuFresne at WD-50 in NYC before deciding it was time to press out on his own.

The Crimson Sparrow offers an a la carte menu, but the big draw for me was this multi-course tasting menu, priced at just $95.

I was eager to dig in when we arrived, just like how I’m eager to write about the meal now. I hope your mouth doesn’t water too much, because after I finish describing the tasting menu, you’ll have to stay tuned and read on for the incredible restaurant tour and daytime snack bites that I experienced the following day.

Course 1: Maitake Mushroom

This was crispy yet meaty, and had great flavors from the black truffle and lemon. The only thing I was hoping for here was maybe a flake of sea salt as a finishing item – maybe some nori smoke on that salt too.

Course 2: Yukon Potato

This Yukon Gold potato was shredded and fried to a crisp, topped with smoked egg yolk, cheddar and sea salt. This was essentially a creamy, smokey nest of potato chips. Awesome!

Course 3: Cucumber Crab

This dish reminded me of a really fucking delicious version of something like tuna salad, or crab salad, if you will. Really light and refreshing. I found myself wishing this was offered as a lunch sandwich on some nice, lightly toasted white bread with shiso leaf. I could eat that every day.

Course 4: Dashi with Purple Potato

The photo doesn’t do this dish justice. It was gorgeous. Purple potato, dashi broth, bonito flakes, and a nori aoli mix together to form a really refreshing cold soup. There were hints of miso and mustard flavors coming through as well. Nicely executed.

Course 5: Enoki Mushrooms

I love enoki mushrooms. These were treated simply and allowed to shine for what they are; cooked with binchotan (a kind of Japanese charcoal). They were dressed with soy and topped with shredded nori and sesame seeds. Perfect, really juicy, snappy like noodles, but textured and satiating like a meat protein.

Course 6: Soft Shell Crab

I had a bad experience with soft shell crab when I was younger. The crab I had was too far along after molting, and some parts of the shell were no longer soft. They were like shrimp shells, and it grossed me out. But lately I’ve been dabbling more into soft shell crabs, because I know they can be really good. Here at The Crimson Sparrow they are excellent. It’s lightly batter-fried and served with a mizuna corn kimchi sauce. There was a nice citrus and pepper-spice pop to this dish. Extremely soft shell, great fry batter.

Course 7: Abalone with Pine Nuts

This dish isn’t on the regular tasting menu. Chef John brought it out special for us. I’m so grateful that he did, because this fucking thing was one of the best dishes I’ve ever had in my entire life. I don’t say that lightly either.

Chef John first sous vides the abalone with pork belly and dashi. The pine nuts are pressure cooked with liquid from the bacon and abalone sous vide broth. Are you fucking kidding me? Then an abalone liver and squid ink emulsion is put on the bottom of the plate before serving (the black bits in the photo below).

This dish had such a nice buttery, savory, meaty flavor, and the pine nuts were like farro or barley in texture – like an “ancient grain” kind of starch, or beans. Truly amazing.

Course 8: Shrimp Dumplings

The broth/sauce here was killer: lemongrass, ginger and scallop. Really smooth and rich, and the dumplings were perfectly cooked, like excellent seafood ravioli.

Course 9: Hamachi

These slices of Hamachi exhibit simplicity and Chef John’s respect for the protein, while the cabbage, shiso, shiso oil, nori oil and yuzu broth demonstrates complexity of flavor and John’s extremely impressive skills as a chef. This dish represents exactly what he is doing here at The Crimson Sparrow: simplicity and complexity in the right balance.

Course 10: A5 Wagyu Picanha

Picanha is a Brazilian cut of beef, but it’s the same as “top sirloin cap” here in the states, only with the layer of fat left on that we Americans usually trim off.

This dish was not on the regular tasting menu either. The flavor was wild. It’s beef, but it tastes more like foie gras. It’s very rich in flavorful, oily fats. That large layer of fat can still be chewy, even on A5 Wagyu, but at times you can take it down because it gets so soft.

This beef hailed from the Miyazaki prefecture, which is known as one of the best in Japan for producing highly marbled beef. That little pile of magic dust on the side? Kalamata olive salt. So nice.

Course 11: Pork Belly Congee

This was really tasty. Congee is rice porridge. This one was made with porcini mushrooms and chili oil in the mix, aside from the delicious and tender pork belly. This is perfect “pick-me-up” comfort food right here.

Course 12: Aged Strip Loin

Obviously I loved this dish. It was served with ssamjang (Korean black bean sauce), dressed fresh soy beans and endive.

Here’s what the full plate looked like:

Palate Cleanser: Amazake

This amazake is a young sake made with fermented black and white rice and sweetened with ginger. It was creamy, sweet, slightly bubbly, and really delicious.

Dessert: “American Psycho” on a Plate (that’s my name for it)

This beautiful Jackson Pollock / Patrick Bateman mash-up of plating artistry is a sponge cake with blue- rasp- and mul- berries. There were notes of citrus or yuzu, and even avocado cream in the anglaise. Those beautiful red splatters were done with beet sauce.

Okay so that covers the tasting menu. The next day we came back when John was a little less busy to hang out with him a bit. He gave us a cool tour of the restaurant and kitchen.

Here’s the outside:

The bar is outfitted with some cool things that John salvaged from the property when he first purchased it. Part of the property used to be an old Packard auto shop, and another part was a bakery.

The main dining room is gorgeous. It’s outfitted with some antiques that John either found on the property (like the lamps), or items for which he bartered with local antique shop owners to obtain (like the wine cart).

This part of the property was actually a bakery at one point, and this room was the inside of the massive oven. The table was custom made to accommodate the 9 inch floor slope from one end of the room to the other.

A more private room for larger parties is also available to customers.

The kitchen is housed in the space where Packard used to wash and detail their cars. Those windows you see on the right are massive, and there’s a strip of cool bar stool seats where diners can sit and watch all the kitchen action.

John also showed me the Wagyu strip loin that he’s aging in the walk-in. I think this hunk of deliciousness has been going for over 100 days.

John has a rooftop herb garden as well.

That day we also tried some light snacks in the outdoor garden seating area – a gorgeous space.

This is a pork bun. Really nice flavors, and that pork was stewed to perfection.

These soy beans are similar to the beans on the tasting menu that came with the aged beef dish, but served on a giant shrimp chip.

Also, they serve crisp Orion beer for just $5. Great to sip while enjoying a sunny day on the patio.

 

I think that about does it. You guys need to check this place out if you’re ever in the area. I’m dead serious when I tell you that this was the best tasting menu omakase style meal I’ve ever had, and that abalone dish… Holy shit man. Ask for it when you go.

THE CRIMSON SPARROW
746 Warren St
Hudson, NY 12534

The Norm at the Brooklyn Museum

The Norm is the restaurant inside the Brooklyn Museum. I was recently invited in to try their burgers and to help promote them on social media.

The space is gorgeous here, and it truly fits with the nice artwork and artifacts on display in the museum.

I browsed the menu while drinking a bloody Mary. This was nice and savory, and had just the right amount of spice to it.

The burgers were delicious. The first one I tried was “The Norman.” Topped with cheddar and bacon, and some house made pickles, lettuce, tomato and onion.

The second one was an interesting Japanese fusion type burger. The patty contained mushrooms as well as beef, and it was glazed with a teriyaki sauce, and topped with caramelized onion,  pickled daikon and carrots.

I also tried the pho flavored ramen. This was an interesting fusion of Vietnamese and Japanese soups. The Sun noodles were perfectly cooked, but the addition of too much fish sauce muddied the flavors that were cooked into the broth with the various cuts of beef.

It definitely smelled like pho though, because of the herbs. The soft boiled egg and flank steak on top were also perfectly cooked, like the noodles.

This ramen was indeed tricky. My wife and I both liked it enough to finish it – even after crushing two burgers with fries – but we were perplexed by the competing flavors within. Not bad by any means, just different.

I think the mushroom burger embodied the same feeling, only we loved that one and the ramen we just liked. I’d definitely go back to try more stuff here. They do a great job, and are definitely thinking outside the box.

THE NORM
at The Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Pkwy
Ground Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11238

Alice’s Arbor

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED

Alice’s Arbor is a true farm-to-table concept in Brooklyn by Dimitri Vlahakis (Motorino, La Gamelle, Esperanto). They use products sourced from 13 local purveyors, and fresh pastries and bread from sister restaurant La Gamelle.

The menu features breakfast all day, like this hanger steak and eggs that I had for brunch:

That’s a great meal for just $15. The steak was a perfect medium rare with a nice crust on the outside. The black bean sauce was unique and delicious. 8/10. Eggs were exactly as ordered, and the paprika-spiced potatoes carried a nice comfortable heat.

They also offer signature sandwiches like the Banh Mi Croissant (braised chicken or pork with daikon, carrot, cucumber and jalapeño). We went with pork:

This reminded me a lot of the Thai dish called larb as posed to a classic banh mi. It was savory, pungent and flavorful like larb, only in sandwich format. The croissant was an interesting choice for the sandwich. It ties back to the French colonial and Vietnamese roots of banh mi, but there’s just something about a classic baguette that holds up really well  to the juiciness of these kinds of sandwiches. The flavors were great, but I ended up using my fork and knife to take this baby down. That said, I’d still eat this again for sure.

There’s also an exceptional selection of dinner entrees from the wood-burning oven, like Sullivan County Farms Trout filet over green beans and roasted fingerling potatoes in a lemon brown butter sauce, topped with almonds and capers.

Other favorites include the unique, customizable Mac & Cheese with spiral pasta, cheddar and goat cheese bechamel topped with toasted breadcrumbs (with optional add-ins of pulled pork, truffle oil or jalapeños); or the popular brunch items like crab hash with poached egg, lemon Hollandaise and greens.

Daily happy hour specials from 4p.m.-7p.m. include $5 for draft beer, $6 draft wine, $2 off well drinks and $1 oysters. Awesome deal!

The interior evokes cabin-esque ski lodge decor, perhaps from the northwest: An upcycled vintage vibe with aged brick walls, repurposed wood paneling and driftwood branch light fixtures. Very cool.

I definitely recommend hitting this joint.

ALICE’S ARBOR
549 Classon Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11216