If you take a trip to Hawaii, you’ll almost certainly experience a few things: bright colors, volcanos, tropical cocktails, people wearing puka shell necklaces, and densely forested areas that may or may not be sets from LOST (they aren’t). Go ahead, reminisce about that one time you were in paradise.
And now, bring yourself back.
Because you should know that you’ll experience exactly zero of those Hawaiian things at Noreetuh, a new Hawaiian restaurant on 1st Avenue.
Instead, you’ll find a little, almost starkly decorated space that looks like a lot of other East Village restaurants. If you were expecting leis and floral patterns, there’s probably something for you in Times Square. But if you like raw tuna and pork belly, you’re going to like Noreetuh. If you like monkfish liver and uni, you’re going to like it a lot.
Because there are very few other Hawaiian restaurants in New York and this city requires three “thinkpieces” to fully process any new novelty, a lot of the attention surrounding Noreetuh has focused on “what Hawaiian food is.” As far as Noreetuh interprets it, it’s essentially fusion, with a heavy emphasis on seafood and Japanese/Korean influences.
The menu ranges from the mildly adventurous (a corned beef tongue “musubi,” basically a sushi handroll) to the “yes, your picky friend will eat this” (garlic shrimp over rice). Overall, the plates are relatively small and the flavors subtle - you won’t find anything too spicy or rich.
The restaurant has some quirks, like a Carly Rae Jepsen-heavy playlist, but it’s a spot worth trying if you like interesting food at a non-outrageous price. Also, don’t miss the wine list, which the restaurant takes pretty seriously - they’ll recommend something great. Just don’t come expecting a mai tai.
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Corned Beef Tongue Musubi
Spam musubi, essentially a flat sushi handroll with Spam as the filling, is a popular dish in Hawaii. Noreetuh swaps the Spam for corned beef tongue, with some peanuts and a green cilantro sauce thrown in. Adventurous as it sounds, it’s actually a pretty simple dish. Get one as a starter snack.
Monkfish Liver Torchon
Think of monkfish liver as the foie gras of the sea. The pink circle of monkfish liver comes on top of a sweet fruity sauce, with soft bread to put it on. Rich, creamy, and unusual - this is our favorite dish here.
This dish of silken tofu with salmon roe and uni is very pretty, and is also the kind of thing that makes a certain kind of food enthusiast freak out the way Phish fans do when they see Trey Anastasio on the street.
Raw cubes of tuna, tartare-style, with Macadamia nuts and seaweed salad. You want this on your table.
The fresh octopus comes mixed with potatoes and tobiko and somehow tastes like potato salad. In a good way. If you’re only going one for poke, do the tuna, but the octopus is worth a try too.
A simple dish of shrimp over rice with pineapple. The shrimp are very garlicky.
A creamy pasta with fish roe and smoked butterfish, almost like a seafood carbonara. Interesting, but also not a must-have.
Braised in pineapple with some greens and yams, you want this very tender pork belly.