NYCReview

photo credit: Kate Previte

Ariari image
8.4

Best New Restaurants

2023

Ariari

Korean

East Village

$$$$Perfect For:Small PlatesDate NightCasual Weeknight DinnerDrinking Good Cocktails
Earn 3x points with your sapphire card

Included In

A meal at Ariari is like that one birthday when you got every present you wanted—including things you didn’t know you needed. Just when you think the next dish can't get any better than the last, you’re proven wrong. That sense of discovery never stops as you make your way through the menu.

This East Village spot serves food inspired by Busan, a city on the southern coast of South Korea. Unsurprisingly, seafood is the focus, but every dish is worth checking out. You’ll wonder if you’ve ever seen ingredients together like this before. The answer is probably no.

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Ariari image
Ariari image
Ariari image
Ariari image
Ariari image

The only part that sucks about this retro-looking restaurant from the team behind Atoboy and LittleMad is having to decide what seafood to try. As soon as you settle into your chair that looks like it's covered in brown vinyl from a 1972 Buick, your dilemma begins. Should you order the raw hamachi and rockfish lettuce wraps or the DIY handrolls with fresh sweet scallops? Perfectly-poached octopus with white kimchi or deep-fried soft-shell crab? Sweet and sticky sea eel or hot stone bibimbap with rich uni cream? These are all trick questions. You’ll keep coming back to this place until you try everything, so it doesn’t matter what you order.

If you have an aversion to seafood, no problem. Their meat dishes are just as special. Our favorite double feature starts with the juicy ground lamb stuffed in a fried Korean hot pepper followed by the hap-cheon soup. This mini cauldron of porky clear broth with various pig parts is placed on a flame so it’s kept simmering at your table. Wash it all down with a few of their creative house cocktails like the vermouth-based bori-cha with soothing notes of barley. A couple of those and you’ll bop your head a little harder to the bubblegum K-pop on the speakers and start greeting everyone who walks in along with the staff. (That’s a thing they do.)

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Ariari image
Ariari image
Ariari image
Ariari image
Ariari image

We don’t mean to be pushy, but find the next available table here right away and snag it—even if that slot is close to your bedtime. They technically take a few walk-ins, but unless you’re one of those annoyingly lucky people who actually comes out ahead after a weekend in Vegas, don’t show up without a reservation. When you do score a table and start making your way through all the fantastic dishes, you’ll realize that you can still find things to eat in New York that you’ve never had before. So go ahead and book your next few meals at Ariari because one visit won't be enough.

Food Rundown

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Scallop DIY Gimbap

We’d slurp these luscious raw scallops like they’re at the bottom of a cereal bowl (no joke). But they taste even better when you toss some in a sheet of crisp gim with apple kimchi and salted squid. Use the scallion mayo liberally.

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Octopus Sook-hwe

The octopus is poached just enough so that all the chewiness is gone and you’re left with a soft texture that you'd get with perfectly-steamed lobster. Seaweed vinaigrette provides some sweetness, while white kimchi and lime bring some tang. Do not skip this dish.

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Lamb Stuffed Fried Pepper

These big deep-fried green peppers stuffed with ground lamb look a little like egg rolls. We’d take these over egg rolls any day. (And we love egg rolls.) The pepper has a noticeable kick, but the heat is short-lived, and the perilla yogurt helps cool everything down.

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Fried Soft-Shell Crab

The best part about this dish is the fried batter. It’s crackly, airy, and a little translucent—kind of like a pork rind. When these crabs arrive, your six-year-old self who doesn’t like to share might make an ugly cameo. So just get a whole order for yourself.

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Glazed Jang-eo

This entrée is another deep-fried work of art. Every piece of sea eel and eggplant is slathered in a sweet and sour sauce, so the batter softens up quickly like it does in orange chicken. Some crispy radicchio and other greens are tossed in, so you get a little hot and cold in each bite. You instinctively want some white rice, but the dish works better with fresh veggies.

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Dolsot Al-bap

The flavor of uni doesn’t really come through, but this dish is still a winner. It comes with roe, a poached egg, and sea urchin cream that looks like a pastel yellow aioli. The hot stone bowl will crisp up the rice and dry out all the other ingredients pretty quickly, so you’ll want to eat this dish as soon as your server finishes mixing it. That won’t be hard to do.

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Hap-cheon Pork Soup

Nothing against Campbell’s and Progresso, but if you want some truly comforting soup, order this slightly spicy broth with tender pork jowl, stomach, and picnic shoulder. A flame is placed under the metal bowl to keep it warm at your table, giving off hot pot vibes. Rice comes on the side, so throw a bunch in your bowl to create some congee-like bites.

Ariari image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Omija Bingsoo

There are only two desserts at Ariari. You’ll probably think corn creme bruleé sounds more interesting, but this bowl of shaved ice is the way to go. It’s made with schisandra berries, and there doesn’t seem to be much sugar involved, so the fruit flavor really comes through. Our only complaint: not enough Asian pear jelly.

Included In

FOOD RUNDOWN

Infatuation Logo

Cities

2024 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The views and opinions expressed on The Infatuation’s site and other platforms are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of (or endorsement by) JPMorgan Chase. The Infatuation and its affiliates assume no responsibility or liability for the content of this site, or any errors or omissions. The Information contained in this site is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.

FIND PLACES ON OUR APP

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store