If you’re tired of all the restaurants that you normally hit up, here are some exciting new Asian-owned spots that have opened over the past year or so. From a sushi place on the Lower East Side with a great $68 omakase to a counter inside a Williamsburg bar serving Filipino food like lumpia and fried chicken sisig tacos, these are all places you should know about.
People keep asking us how to get a table at Bonnie’s, a Cantonese-American restaurant from Calvin Eng, a former Win Son chef. The only answers we give them are “persistence” or “sorry wrong number.” Think of this restaurant in Williamsburg as a party—complete with a large-format Long Island iced tea and a color-changing bathroom that behaves like a DJ’s closet—where you can enjoy the kind of comforting, umami-rich food you’d want to eat alone in your living room. We especially like the Kewpie-sloshed shrimp and walnuts, the wun tun en brodo with orange zest and parm, and the honker of a McRib made with sticky cha siu pork and hot Chinese mustard.
Matsunori on the Lower East Side stands out because of its reasonable pricing and casual feel. For $68, you’ll get 12 pieces of high-quality and decently-varied fish, plus an appetizer, a hand roll, and homemade mochi for dessert. Fish highlights include soft-then-crunchy needlefish and a crispy piece of eel with a tiny square of melted foie gras on top. Book a date at one of their five nightly seatings, and make sure to stop at September Wine & Spirits nearby for wine or sake. This place is BYOB.
photo credit: Jai Sang Ma
Jai Sang Ma
The team behind Mao Mao and the now-closed Lamoon has transformed Lamoon's old Elmhurst space into Jai Sang Ma, a colorfully-decorated spot that focuses on charcoal-grilled skewers and other street food found outside schoolyards around Thailand. About a dozen skewers are available (mostly for $2-$3 each), including one with pork marinated in condensed milk and honey and another with squid, garlic, and spicy cilantro and fish sauces.
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The menu at Nudibranch, opened by Jeff Kim, Matthew Lee, and Victor Xia (all Momofuku vets), seems like it was put together by someone blindly drawing cuisines from a pouch like Scrabble tiles. The food at this East Village spot is all over the place—and we’re into it. Meals here are prix-fixe, and for $75, you get to choose one course from each of the three sections of the menu. We especially like the seaweed crackers topped with raw scallops and the flat iron steak with crispy taro sticks, but it’s the creamy and crunchy cauliflower prepared three ways (roasted, puréed, and pickled) that we think about the most. If you’re a completist, bring a group of four and knock out the whole menu in one sitting.
photo credit: Menya & Izakaya
Menya & Izakaya
Ramen is the main focus at this spot in Park Slope. You can choose between set bowls of miso, shoyu, and tonkotsu ramen, or you can customize your own broth, noodle shape, and toppings. Appetizers, which include things like okonomiyaki and takoyaki, mostly cost less than $7. If you want to dine in, there are a few tables here that look a little like wooden school desks, so maybe bring a Heidegger book for some light reading during your meal.
photo credit: NYCRestaurant.com
After hosting cooking classes and dinner parties throughout the pandemic, Jaz Rupall, who grew up in Hertfordshire, England, decided to take things to the next level and open this restaurant in Hell's Kitchen. The menu is a British take on Northern Indian cuisine and includes things like chana masala, ginger yogurt-marinated chicken, and lamb biryani. Jaz also has a Happy Hour every day from 5pm-7pm.
photo credit: Mandalay Club
Myo Moe, the chef/owner behind Rangoon, has created a Burmese fast food menu inspired by the city of Mandalay in Myanmar with items like spicy pig head slaw, egg curry bites, and tamarind veggie stew with pumpkin and squash. You can order delivery or pick up your food from a takeout window in Long Island City from Wednesday to Sunday, 5pm-9pm.
There are a lot of fried chicken sandwiches out there, and, truthfully, most of them make us wish we were at Popeyes. The Indian fried chicken sandwiches at Rowdy Rooster (from the owners behind Semma and Dhamaka) on 1st Avenue and 9th Street are different, though. They’re crunchy, covered in yogurt and pickled onions, and they come on soft, buttery pao buns with five different spice levels—the highest of which is genuinely sweat-inducing. We hope more takeout spots follow suit and start serving Indian fried chicken, since the line to get a sandwich here can get pretty long.
This spot is inside The Breakers in Williamsburg—just find the neon "Order Here" sign over the window that looks like a coat check. Tito Papas is serving Filipino bar food like adobo pork belly bao and fried chicken sisig tacos, and they sometimes offer specials like Mexican elote bowls and ube tres leches. Check their Instagram for collabs and menu drops.
There are always new omakase options in NYC, but it’s hard to find spots that focus on high-quality, relatively affordable stuff. This place in The Market Line on the LES has a $30 seven-piece-and-half-roll special that’s just that: special (and not only because of the price point). All the fish you’ll try here is buttery, and the rice is seasoned with just a kiss of vinegar. There are also $50 and $75 sushi plates if you want premium pieces like sea urchin and fatty tuna.
Tasting menus can be polarizing. Sometimes, you sit for a few hours, drop a bunch of cash, and eat a parade of uninspired plates that make you feel like you’re in an exhausting meeting that you kind of want to end. You won't feel that way at L’Abeille, a place partially-owned by chef and Joël Robuchon vet Mitsunobu Nagae. The $180 six-course tasting menu is primarily French with some Japanese touches—and we especially like the foie gras crème brûlée paired with an onion ice cream and the perfectly-cooked tilefish with crispy skin that you’ll want to eat all by itself. The next time you want to surrender yourself to a two-hour dinner that involves very little decision making, L'Abeille should be at the top of your list.
photo credit: Forever Thai
The decor at this Thai spot in Bushwick incorporates a lot of greenery—including around the entire front door. The menu here has specials like squid ink fried rice with octopus and pad thai with lobster tail, but there are also familiar dishes like red/green/yellow curries, chicken satay, and pad sei eiw. If you come for lunch, you can get a set meal between $10.95 and $12.95 until 4pm.
There are a few other Korean spots on the LES, but 8282 serves anju and banju that operate in a different, more upscale lane. Yellowfin tuna tartar gets tossed in sesame oil, showered with grated egg, and served alongside puffed nori chips, and the dakgalbi kimchi-bap is one full crock of cheesy rice and tender chicken thighs. Portion sizes run a bit small, so the plates here should be split between two people max—but sometimes things are best shared with just one other person anyway. Scalding hot gossip, for example, and all the exciting dishes from 8282.
Diem Eatery offers a ton of teas and caffeinated drinks like cortados, macchiatos, and Vietnamese iced coffees, all of which will go nicely with this cafe's selection of homemade gelatos and sorbets (including some vegan varieties). This Brooklyn Heights spot also has some bánh mì (including two versions made with steamed eggs), beef jerky salad, and a few bún bowls.
photo credit: Protechnyc.com
The team behind Laut has opened a Southeast Asian spot near Union Square. Chard's menu is designed to make you think of late-night comfort food you'd find at hawker centers in places like Singapore and Malaysia. You can get starters like fries with sambal and salted egg aioli, as well as something called an api api burger made with a spicy, crispy chicken patty (with shrimp crackers on the side). Seating is very limited, so you'll probably want to get takeout.
Wenwen serves the sort of homestyle food you'd want to scarf down before getting horizontal on a couch to watch Forgetting Sarah Marshall for the 17th time. Nothing feels precious at this Greenpoint spot—instead, the Taiwanese dishes like the spicy 886 Noodle (think of a beef noodle soup without any broth) and the extremely tender braised pork belly with big chunks of cuttlefish feel nostalgic and comforting. Unlike Wenwen’s sister restaurant 886, it won't seem like most of the diners here have an NYU student ID, but this place still feels fun, especially when you see the bathrooms that could double as private karaoke rooms and the cartoonishly large Shyboy 4XL cocktail.
photo credit: Just Pho You
Just Pho You
Just Pho You is a Vietnamese restaurant on Broadway near 101st Street with two signature versions of beef phở (one with a big, bone-in short rib and the other with brisket, tendon, and more). You can also get starters like grilled pork with lettuce wraps and papaya salad with shrimp. Wan Chen, the owner, is also the president of Public Safety Patrol, which provides support for hate crime victims and speaks up for them when language and cultural barriers come into play.
photo credit: @omgitsbomb
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This Chinese-French place in Chelsea has a menu that seems to encourage dining with friends, as it has sections labeled “Small Plates” and “Dim Sum Tapas.” (Think portobello spring rolls, soup dumplings, and vegan pork buns.) You’ll also find larger dishes like noodle soup with prawns and cuttlefish, fried multigrain rice with Chinese sausage, and truffle beef with asparagus. A tasting menu is available upon request.
photo credit: HAND Hospitality
At LittleMad, you can add caviar, uni, and/or truffles to every dish, sort of like how you’d add parmesan crisps to a salad at Sweetgreen. But this place from the team behind Atoboy and Her Name is Han is actually pretty casual. The menu is full of French and Korean-inspired small plates that are meant to be shared. Want a crispy pig ear salad with (optional) Burgundy truffle? Or how about a mandu/chou farci mashup in a silky lobster sabyon with a big dollop of caviar? The correct answer to both of these questions is yes. Bring a friend, share a bunch of things, and be sure to get the bowl of rice packed with caramelized mushrooms and big globs of bone marrow. Maybe even add some uni.
After living in Brooklyn for more than 40 years, a couple decided to open this restaurant (their first) in Williamsburg. Most of the menu consists of Taiwanese dishes like lu rou fan, sesame noodles, and popcorn chicken, but there are also items like Japanese chicken curry and Sichuan-style dan dan noodles. If you're just in the mood for something sweet, they have a fairly large selection of bubble tea.
The next time you want both caffeine and Indonesian comfort food, check out Warkop in Hell's Kitchen. In addition to a variety of coffees and teas, this place has make-your-own Indomie instant noodle bowls with toppings like eggs, cheese, corned beef, and shrimp. You can also get starters like creamy cheese corn and fried tofu, which you can eat while listening to this restaurant's playlist. (Search for "Terbawa Suasana Sound Warkop Series: Warkop NYC" on Spotify.) Nothing on the menu here costs more than $7.