With a name like Monsoon, a restaurant better make an impression. So when the owners behind some of Long Island’s top restaurants, including Prime, Tellers Restaurant, and Verace, decided to open their first Asian-fusion eatery, they pulled out all the stops to ensure their bold name choice was warranted. Since opening in 2012, Monsoon has made some lasting impressions. The New York Times called it “an exciting new entry in Babylon,” and Newsday gave it a four-star review and named it No. 1 in fine dining for 2012. The restaurant is housed in a stunning 1920s bank building whose gray stone is floodlit with dramatic lighting outside to match the equally dramatic decor inside. When customers enter, they find an elegant mix of reds and purples, sleek black wall art, and modern, dark wood furniture. The artistry of this contemporary decor is reflected in the menu, which features a blend of Vietnamese, Chinese, and Thai dishes artfully plated and made with bold, colorful ingredients. Executive Chef Michael Wilson, formerly of Verace and Prime, creates dishes ranging from lobster rangoon to miso-glazed black cod to grilled rib eye with shishito peppers. The signature-drink list also flaunts creativity with cocktails such as the green-tea mojito and the Babylon Express, which features Crop cucumber vodka, St-Germain liqueur, pineapple juice, and fresh lime.
Senses come alive when sitting on the plush red couches at Kasbah Hookah Lounge. The sounds of DJs spinning tracks sync with the rhythmic movements of exotically clad belly dancers roaming from table to table, weaving through clouds of aromatic hookah smoke. Customers can puff on more than 85 flavor combinations of the house’s 24 Starbuzz shishas, including classic options such as mango, or pairings such as honey, vanilla, and mint. The house also crafts their own signature blends for the five VIP flavors, including cinnamon toast crunch, which pairs apple, cinnamon, and banana. Bottles of wine and pints of beer accompany hookahs on the table, providing all of the fillers for a comfortable night out without having to lug around childhood teddy bears.
A resurrection of Al B. White’s 1939’s vaudeville landmark, the “new” Retro Lounge serves up a menu courtesy of executive chef Nilka Hendricks, best known for her work on season seven of Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen. Chef Hendricks' diverse array of palette-pleasing dinner dishes ranges from the grilled rib-eye steak rubbed with jamaican jerk seasoning ($23) to the zesty shrimp and crab enchiladas with saffron rice and a lobster bisque sour cream sauce ($14). At lunch, guests can build their own sandwiches from more than 50 different fillings culled from beasts of the land, sea, air, and soil ($4.25–$5.25), or gobble up a slew of salads ($6–$7.50) or gourmet paninis such as the Brooklyn Avenue, with veggies slathered in goat cheese, olive tapenade, and balsamic-honey ($6.75).
At Four, chefs prep fresh Long Island edibles, which are under the influence of Asian-American flavors and techniques. Lunch and dinner menus include wonders such as tomato and mozzarella flatbread ($12), and crispy calamari with mango chutney, banana chips, and jalapeno cream ($15). Entrees include complex servings of pan-roasted black bass with hearty veggies and warm truffle vinaigrette ($24 at lunch, $29 at dinner), and a 12 ounce NY strip ($17 at lunch, $38 at dinner) with enough fried zucchini, horseradish, and green peppercorn sauce to make a taste bud retire, take up golf, and spend more time with his saliva glandchildren.
It’s not often you see flavors such as Chilean sea bass in a teriyaki glaze and filet mignon topped with cilantro hoisin sauce on one menu. Those Asian accents on Italian and New American dishes weren’t lost on The New York Times reviewer of Chi Dining Lounge, who said "the restaurant pulses with life, and the food is just as vibrant." It’s largely what makes the eatery so unique. Even the brick-oven pizzas—most of which embrace pure Mediterranean flavors—also offer toppings such as kung pao calamari and fried chicken cutlets with bacon and ranch dressing. Almost in contrast to the menu's joyful variance, the dining room’s décor is elegantly simple. The well-lit space features earth-tone walls and booths as well as flowing white window drapes that glow as natural light streams through them. In the bar area, you’ll find a more intimate ambiance that becomes increasingly spirited as bartenders begin mixing signature cocktails and pouring 16 wines by the glass.
In 1997, Chef Hok Chin moved to New York City from Hong Kong, where he’d been in training with some of the city’s finest chefs since age 14. Though his culinary talents were already formidable, the ambitious young chef faced a hurdle he couldn’t simply spatula himself over: the English language. Undaunted, he headed back to work the humblest kitchen positions and scrabbled his way back to the top at establishments such as Tavern on the Green, The Mark Hotel, and most recently, La Caravelle. In 2010, the multinational gourmet teamed up with nightlife impresario Brian Rosenberg, and the duo’s new venture, Sugar Dining Den and Social Club, drove Joanne Starkey of the New York Times to rave, “The food is delicious—much better than it has to be—and the service is excellent.”
Something between a nightclub and a fine-dining establishment, Sugar immediately immerses its guests in a world of bright lights, pulsing beats, and an arrestingly modern architectural scheme that sets a decorative forest of tree branches beneath a looming vaulted ceiling. After a dinner of gourmet fusion cuisine, such as Pacific Rim skirt steak with green chili potatoes and hand-cut sweet potato fries with maple-chipotle barbecue sauce, the eating area transforms into a dance floor soundtracked by some of today’s most popular DJs. The cocktail list keeps the party rolling late into the night with charmingly titled offerings such as the Black and White Cookie and the Swedish Fish.