Asian Station 82nd indulges diners with a sumptuous fusion menu that blends classic Japanese fare with modern and traditional Thai dishes. Chefs flaunt their creativity with specialty rolls that artfully envelop fresh seafood such as king crab, spicy scallops, or tuna, and they assemble entrees including tangerine beef and mango chicken that showcase light Asian flavors.
Though the restaurant flaunts an elegant, modern interior design, a sound system playing Top 40 tunes, a mounted flat-screen television, and a vast selection of sake all help forge a more relaxed atmosphere. Diners can eat in the main room or in an auxiliary dining room, where cushioned benches support guests looking up at the illuminated cerulean dome or walls adorned with oversize red and black squares left over from the painting crew's checkers tourneys.
"It sounds like an NYU student’s dream come true," Time Out New York said about Cafetasia, "a sleek eatery on 8th Street serving dishes for less than $10." Indeed, the eatery stands out as a Greenwich Village haven for patrons seeking an innovative dining experience that nonetheless manages to feel inviting and deeply familiar. This sense of déjà vu is most likely triggered by Cafetasia’s cafeteria-style wooden tables—imported from Europe one splinter at a time and reassembled here. These communal tables invite guests to share elbow space as well as a bit of conversation with their fellow diners, much like in a college dining hall.
And much like a dining hall, the menu emphasizes the power of choice by offering a spread of tapas-style small plates; however, the chefs' skills with pan-Asian flavors elevate the cuisine above any cafeteria buffet. Borders don't constrain the chefs' ambition, and they jump from Japan and China to Thailand and Vietnam as they forge their shareable plates. In addition to curries tinged with aromatic doses of basil, pumpkin, or roasted chilies, the menu features teriyaki-glazed chicken, spring rolls with a pineapple-vinaigrette dipping sauce, and ginger-kissed chicken gyoza, which New York magazine called "addictive."
Cafetasia's dining room's décor also aims for a balance between the modern and the familiar. Suspended electric candlesticks seem to float above the tables, casting their gentle light across the rich wooden walls and ceiling. A burnished Buddha statue and a leafy potted plant lend a bit of traditional flair to the restaurant's warm and inviting ambiance.
Lantern Thai crafts inventive and authentic Thai dishes, each elegantly arranged on crisp geometric plates, inside a cinnamon-hued space. Beneath circular chandeliers reminiscent of medieval candelabras, appetizers rejoin ingredients in tasty combinations such as the Lantern’s Angel’s shrimp fried in a coating of crispy angel-hair noodles served with honey-chili dipping sauce. A rainbow of curries sinks beef, chicken, and shrimp into vibrant broths flavored with complex spice blends, and iconic Thai dishes marry noodles and fried rice to bell peppers, pineapple, and meats or veggies. The lengthy drink menu includes three types of saki, lychee-spiked mimosas and mojitos, draft beer, and wine to wet whistles or grease bike chains in a pinch.
Taking its name from the ancient moniker for Singapore, Singapura exemplifies the international character of the cosmopolitan city-state with a blend of Malaysian and Thai fare. Like the tempting trails of potato-curry puffs left by merchants along the Silk Road, the menu unites faraway locales through food, serving up paneer alongside coconut curries and fried rice. Palates are tickled with the tangy notes of tamarind, the distinctive flavors of shrimp-paste sauces, and the fiery touch of thai chilies. Catered feasts deliver exotic spreads to weddings and banquets, enlivening celebrations with rice-noodle dishes and marinated meats kissed with lemongrass and kaffir lime.
Fresh, chilled fish crown the hand-cut rolls of sushi at Wild Ginger, where the Japanese delicacies comprise only a small part of the robust Asian fusion menu. Diners can stick to one cuisine or construct meals that pull from all over the East, beginning with an appetizer of edamame, moving on to aromatic platters of pad thai or takeout-classic general tso’s chicken, and sides such as Singapore-influenced rice noodles. Skilled culinary professionals hand-blend the restaurant's broad repertoire of sauces from ingredients so fresh that they regularly deposit coins into the kitchen's swear jar.
Chilly blue neon lights announce the entrance of ViV Bar & Restaurant, where chefs send delicate Thai fare into a lounge cast in sleek lights reminiscent of Bangkok’s evening skyline. Silver light fixtures shine a spotlight onto dishes of thai sausage fried rice and tender duck, pineapple, and bell peppers bathed in red curry sauce. From behind a marble bar, mixologists sling drinks that range from imported beers and sake to cocktails composed of fruit pulp, spirits, and not-from-concentrate ghosts.