In the backyard of a friend's bar in 2008, AsiaDog cofounders Mel and Steve started testing the culinary limits of the hot dog. They wanted to give the street-food staple a twist that could not be found inside any pushcart. That twist came in the form of ingredients that were a mainstay of their mixed Asian backgrounds. The spicy zing of kimchi. The crisp crunch of daikon. The delicate saltiness of seaweed flakes.
These experiments ultimately gave rise to AsiaDog, a casual eatery that infuses hot dogs and sandwiches with Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese flavors. Using beef, organic beef, chicken, or veggie hot dogs as the foundation, the staff piles on toppings such as Chinese-style barbecue pork belly, crushed potato chips, and Japanese curry. They also encase corn dogs in panko breading or kimchi pancake batter, making each hot dog extra comfortable before it’s eaten.
Making international cuisine accessible to everyone requires a willingness to adapt recipes without sacrificing distinctive flavors. Kori Tribeca aims to transplant the foods of Seoul to Manhattan, and the New York Times praised its success in creating a menu that is "up-to-date and appealing to Americans but tied to Korean traditions."
Not only do iconic ingredients such as kimchi and Korean-style short ribs populate the menu but the pages also feature authentic cooking techniques. Bibimbap—a mixture of rice, sautéed vegetables, and proteins including pork belly, grilled eel, or organic tofu—arrives at tables in a sizzling stone bowl that continues to cook the dish tableside while diners enjoy the sounds and aromas.
The dining room takes a similar approach, melding small yet prominent aspects of Korean culture into a thoroughly modern setting. A handful of Korean musical instruments and three panels of Eastern Asian artwork adorn the walls. These accents add a distinctive character to the room's otherwise sleek combination of white brick work and black high-backed booth seating.
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.
At the center of the platters of miso-soaked steak, intricately marbled Kobe-style short ribs, garlic shrimp, and fresh veggies that crowd any given table at Gyu-Kaku sits a yakiniku grill, ready to bring all these flavors to life. At more than 700 locations worldwide, parties choose from a cornucopia of ingredients, tell their servers how they'd like them marinated—in sauces ranging from the strictly traditional to basil pesto—then begin searing their feast over the smokeless gas grill. New York magazine admired how "dominoes of harami skirt steak, marinated in sweet dark miso, turn caramelized and succulent on the hot grill." If protein overload looms, there are stone bowls of bibimbap and ramen to add balance. Patrons can wash down their meals with super-premium daiginjo sakes, sweet Japanese plum wines, and Asahi Super Dry beer, known to enhance its imbibers' deadpan witticisms.
The New York Times once praised chef Jung Sik Yim's rare "talent for forming entirely new patterns" with his cooking. A glance at the chef's New Korean menu confirms his creativity; witness such entrees as crispy pork belly in a spicy mussel broth, short rib in cucumber salsa, and Korean seaweed rice with quinoa. The chef prepares dishes like an artist prepares a masterpiece, arranging bright colors to form something beautiful that, like the Mona Lisa, would be ruined if you covered it in salt and ketchup. The food isn't the only appealing sight at Jungsik; the restaurant also hosts a gallery that displays artwork representative of modern Korean culture and customs.
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.