The NY Soup Exchange brews a daily selection of soups from a constantly revolving selection of more than 100 soup recipes, along with salads, wraps, burgers, and smoothie offerings. Perch under the mural of mammoth fruits and vegetables visiting the stock exchange and enjoy a pint of hearty soup such as the Chesapeake crab bisque ($7) or the Moroccan zucchini and couscous ($5.52) paired with one of the Soup Exchange’s smoothies, available in more than 18 flavors. Try a Phat Tuesday (strawberries, mango, and pineapple juice; $5) or compliment the dawn with a Rise and Shine ($6.50) blended with caffeinated coffee, skim milk, and vanilla protein powder. Each serving of soup comes with freshly baked bread and a piece of fruit.
Recalling the fast-paced urban atmosphere of Tokyo with clubby fluorescent lighting and a flock of black lacquered lanterns, the fish finaglers at Tanko craft a globe-spanning menu of excitingly presented Asiana. After forging a DIY centerpiece from appetizers such as chicken satay and pork- or veggie-packed gyoza, diners choose between hot Asian fusion entrees or a custom pairing of regular and specialty sushi rolls.
Dangling chandeliers and icy-blue and bright-orange backlit sculptures illuminate the dark-brown tables and booth benches at Zen Fusion Cuisine, where the wait staff drops off plates that meld the flavors of Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese specialties. At the sushi bar, chefs prepare signature Zen rolls with spicy tuna, mango, and soft-shell crab and hand-wrap rolls in soy paper much like they wrap birthday presents for their cats. In the kitchen, cooks fry lightly battered whole sea bass and drizzle it with Vietnamese sweet-and-sour sauce and enhance stir-fried twin lobster tails with Thai flavors of ginger, basil, and scallion. Diners sit amid fan-speckled wallpaper and Japanese-style screens and sip housemade Thai iced tea or cocktails from the brightly lit bar.
Set inside a small, charming brick building, Meridian Kitchen serves Asian and Italian fusion cuisine under the guidance of its chef, Gary Lanza. Lanza was introduced to the kitchen at a young age, when he stood on milk crates to fry calamari at his family's Italian restaurant in Greenvale.
His talents create an eclectic spread of dishes that include elaborate sushi rolls, pastas, and pizzas. Small sushi-bar plates, such as a spicy blackened-tuna taco, can preface peppercorn-encrusted skirt steaks or burgers laden with double-crème brie and sautéed onions.
Inside the 40-seat dining room, conversations bubble beneath circular chandeliers inlaid with faux candles that cast romantic soft light upon tables and food. Tall palms sprout at either end of the sushi bar, where patrons perch on high stools while watching the chefs perform their magic, pulling fish out of hats. For those who can't stay, Meridian to Go next door serves up entrees, paninis, and salads to be eaten elsewhere.
The culinary artists at Xaga Sushi furl comestibles from a menu that gives diners glimpses of sashimi sea legs and flirtatious fusion winks. During roll call, guests give shout outs to a Pink Lady roll ($12) and her mix of spicy crab, eel, avocado, and tobiko, all wrapped in a pink soy paper. Caribbean rolls ($12) sparkle with a regal blend of eel, spicy crunch tuna, avocado, and a four-tiered crown of caviar ($12). Those who prefer their aquatic life cooked may scale Xaga's Snow Mountain rolls of tempura shrimp ($11), and others toss black pepper steak cubes ($15) across tables like a game of meat dice in the alley.
Japanese and Thai cuisines share table space within the romantically-lit dining room of Aozora Restaurant. Plates of fresh sushi sporting bites of white tuna or giant clam sit next to steaming plates of pad thai or thai red curry. At one of the restaurant's hibachi tables, a large hibachi grill sizzles hunks of Angus steak or lobster tail. The space includes a large dining room and sushi bar, a separate hibachi room, and a separate private party room.