At Qi Thai Grill, the kitchen's creativity shines especially brightly in the signature Qi Pad Thai. That doesn't mean the chefs have spurned the classic noodle dish crowned with crushed peanuts. They serve steaming plates of that, too. Their signature style is just a little different?saut?ed vermicelli noodles come wrapped in an egg-white crepe, and the dish is studded with seafood ranging from sun-dried shrimp to calamari, and finished with fresh mango?plus, of course, the classic crushed peanuts. Like the two versions of pad thai, the rest of the selection carefully balances creativity and classics. For every cast-iron pot of ginger-steamed Chilean sea bass, there's something a little more traditional, like a coconut milk curry.
UFC’s lightly fried, thoroughly crispy, delicately sauced Korean-style fried chicken has been both praised and profiled by the New York Times and New York Magazine. Fresh cuts of meat fry in oil free of trans fat and cholesterol, pulling out the fat in the skin and leaving each piece without the build-up of grease that makes American fried chicken so difficult to properly throw. The resulting crunchy exterior gets doused in a coat of one of four sauces, including traditional Korean soy garlic or tangy American barbecue mustard.
Fat Buddha lures revelers in with regular drink specials and anchors them in place by filling their stomachs with dishes from a mouthwatering, Asian-inspired menu. Amid an intimate bar setting, friends gather around tables to savor a sampling of small plates, including bacon-wrapped shrimp with sweet and sour sauce ($8), flank-steak skewers ($8), and bulgogi korean barbecue with gochujang sauce ($12). Large dishes of pan-seared duck ($12) delight dinner-minded epicureans, and an entrée of black cod with a sweet miso glaze ($12) swirls taste buds in a sharkless sea of flavor. Side dishes, such as pork and shrimp shumai dumplings ($6), spicy kimchi ($3), and chili-pepper fries ($4) join forces to create meals with variety, much like eating directly from a piñata.
Purple Ginger infuses a menu of classic Thai dishes with a smattering of pan-Asian offerings. Appetizers including crispy coconut shrimp and lamb satay with sweet chili sauce preface steadfast entrees of pad thai, pad see ew, and black pepper squid. Japanese fried ramen brims with peppers and mushrooms, and Indian and Malaysian curries boast piquant spices. Sandy wood paneling flanks minimalist dark wood tables, and vintage-style light fixtures illuminate large photos of New York City. In the dining room, tropical fish paddle through the clear waters of a tank. Toward the back of the eatery, bartenders mix classic and specialty cocktails and pour from a large selection of sake.
David Chang is a bona fide culinary superstar. The young chef has not only been recognized by Bon Appetit and Food & Wine magazines—he’s also been named one of the Time 100 and a GQ Man of the Year. Everything he touches seems to turn to gold, except you can eat it without affecting the commodity markets. Noodle Bar is the first of Chang’s award-winning Momofuku restaurants, a New York standard bearer since the day its doors opened in 2004. Ramen, seafood, pork buns, and whole fried chickens (they come in pairs, one southern style, one Korean style) are served for lunch and dinner, and a late-night menu satisfies the afterhours crowd. Diners round out meals with imported and craft beers, liqueur-infused slushies, wines, and sake, or with the rotating flavors of soft serve that comprise the Momofuku Milk Bar.