Have you tasted all the sushirittos and poké bowls there are in the city? Are you tired of the same Asian fusion dishes? Luckily, in a city as diverse as New York, different types of cuisines are always being mixed together to create unique experiences for everyone.
For those looking to take a culinary risk, there are plenty of fusion restaurants to try out across the five boroughs. These eateries are incorporating different flavor profiles and cooking techniques to serve up unexpected blends of well-known dishes, like Matzoh Ball Ramen and Kimchi Bouillabaise. Here are 10 of New York City’s most surprising fusion restaurants:
10. Shalom Japan, Jewish-Japanese
A collaboration between chefs Aaron Israel and Sawako Okochi, Shalom Japan opened in 2013, on 310 South 4th Street in South Williamsburg. A husband-and-wife team, Israel and Okochi wanted to highlight their respective culinary backgrounds while simultaneously celebrating the blending of the two cultures.
Visitors are enticed by the restaurant’s New American cuisine, which takes inspiration from the chefs’ Ashkenazi Jewish and Japanese roots. Some of the most alluring menu items offered include the Matzoh Ball Ramen and Okonomiyaki with sauerkraut, pastrami, and bonito flakes. According to the Shalom Japan website, the inventive plates are designed to be shared among diners within this cozy, casual restaurant.
9. Calle Dão, Cuban-Chinese
Calle Dão opened in New York City as an homage to Havana’s Chinatown (El Barrio Chino), once Latin America’s largest Chinese community, which occupied 44 square blocks during the late 1870s. The blending of the Chinese and Cuban communities have given rise to a unique type of cuisine. However, visitors don’t only come for the food and the drinks; they stay for the ambiance and laid back atmosphere.
Calle Dão’s two locations — on 61 West 23rd Street in Chelsea and 38 West 39th Street in Midtown — ooze old-world Havana charm, with white-washed walls, wood paneled bars and ferns hanging alongside Chinese artwork — all meant to transport patrons back to El Barrio Chino. Some of the enticing dishes include the Smoked Short Rib and Chinese Broccoli with La Mian noodles in garlic hoisin sauce.
8. Thursday Kitchen, Korean-Spanish
You may know East Village’s Thursday Kitchen on 424 East 9th Street as the place that serves Capri-Sun cocktails (and for the impressive line that forms before it opens). But it’s much more than that: its chef and owner, Kyungmin Kay Hyun, has a passion for worldwide cuisines and the cultural relationships between foods of different regions. With her South Korean background, love for Spanish food and training in French cuisine, Kay Hyun gave birth to Thursday Kitchen.
The immensely popular restaurant specializes in what Kay Hyun calls “New Korean” cuisine, offering Korean dishes with a European twist, and done in tapas fashion. Must-tries include the Kimchi Paella and Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos with smoky gochujang, pickled pineapple, hazelnut crumbles, and scallions.
7. Bistro Petit, Korean-French
Image courtesy Bistro Petit
From the outside, Williamburg’s Bistro Petit on 173 South 3rd Street looks like your typical French restaurant, adorned with a blue awning and a red door. But if you step inside and take a look at the menu, you’ll notice something a little different: from Kimchi Bouillabaise to Korean Beef Bourguignon, Bistro Petit offers an interesting menu of modern French cuisine with North East Asian influences. Even the cassoulet has some hints of Korean spices!
Chef and owner Sung Park was born in South Korean, but has worked in Japan and Hong Kong, and under famous French chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Park’s diverse background explains why he continuously experiments with adventurous flavors in his recipes. As for the restaurant itself, it’s a tiny space with a kitchen that’s actually bigger than its 12-seater seating area.
6. Macao Trading Co., Portuguese-Chinese | Malay
The dishes at TriBeCa’s Macao Trading Company on 311 Church Street feature a unique blend of flavors from the East and West, ranging from Southeast Asia and Africa to Europe (flavors that were picked up along the trading route between Macau and Portugal). Offering “a true journey of the taste buds across the continents,” the restaurant takes inspiration from the gambling parlors and opium dens of 1930’s Macao, which means it also boasts a mysterious and exotic vibe.
Its signature Eurasian cuisine includes dishes like the Five Spiced Lamb shank served with kabocha squash, bok choy, red chili oil; the Crispy Whole Fish with wok fried coriander long beans, and the Macanese Lobster Noodles.
5. Goa Taco, Worldwide
The “tacos” at Goa Taco are emblematic of their creator, Duvaldi Marneweck, a native of South Africa, who has worked in various restaurants across the United Kingdom and Australia. With his diverse culinary background, it’s no surprise that he infuses flavors from India, France, Mexico and Italy to create his signature tacos.
What makes Goa Taco unique is that it uses parathas, a fried dough originating from India, instead of a tortilla shell. Must tries include the slow roasted pork belly taco (with pickled red cabbage and chipotle mayo) and the lamb shoulder marinated with achiote paste from Oaxaca (served with tzatziki and an eggplant salsa). Before the rise of two brick-and-mortar shops in the East Village (101 MacDougal Street) and Lower East Side (79 Delancey Street), Goa Taco was a stand at Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg.
4. Wangs, Southern Soul-Asian
Wangs Fried Chicken, located on 671 Union Street in Park Slope, combines Southern soul food with Asian flavors. The dishes are served from a take out window on a quiet street, where patrons can enjoy their comfort meal on outdoor benches.
At Wangs, fried chicken comes in a variety of different iterations: one is brined for 24 hours in Southeast Asian spices before being breaded and fried in the Southern style; another is eaten in a Vietnamese-style bánh mì. Sides include collard greens served with Chinese sausage, ginger and garlic; and mac & cheese with cheddar, fontina cheese, fried onion, and gochugaru bread crumbs.
3. Lolo’s Seafood Shack, Caribbean-Cape Cod
Celebrating its fourth anniversary, Lolo’s Seafood Shack on 303 W 116th Street in Harlem aims to bring coastal comfort to New Yorkers by serving up specialties like Belizean Conch Fritters and Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches. Headed by chef Raymond Mohan and restauranteur Leticia Young, the restaurant is essentially where “Cape Cod meets the Caribbean.” It specializes in dishes that have a burst of island flavor, including Caribbean street foods as well as New England classics like Snow Crab Steampots.
Standing as a seafood shack, Lolo’s is an “ode to Caribbean beach vacations.” It seeks to create a “transportive” dining experience for visitors with its colorful interior, island-themed decorations and affordable prices.
2. Flip Sigi, Filipino-TexMex
Self-described as the “original Filipino taqueria,” Flip Sigi blends Filipino flavors with TexMex dishes to create unique tacos, rice bowls and burgers. Chef Jordan Andino integrates his personality in both the dishes and the restaurant: menu items are written on skateboards, walls are adorned with graffitied murals, and some members of the staff even wear Hawaiian shirts. “I wanted to create a fun joint that celebrates Filipino cuisine in a casual taqueria style setting, easily resonating with people of all ages, no matter what city or country they come from,” said Andino about Flip Sigi.
Dishes to taste include “L.A.E. Me,” everything bagel topped with langonisa (a type of spicy sausage), American cheese, and a fried egg, as well as tacos topped with bok choy or chicharonnes. Find Flip Sigi in two locations: 525 Hudson Street in West Village and 1752 Second Avenue in the Upper East Side.
1. Dawa’s, Himalayan-New American
Located on 51-18 Skillman Avenue in Woodside, Dawa’s is a small family owned restaurant, headed by chef Dawa Bhuti, her father, Ngodup, and her uncle. Although not exactly a fusion restaurant, the cozy eatery does offer a dual menu of New American brunch dishes — including pancakes and baked eggs — as well as authentic Himalayan tribal cuisine, inspired by the flavors of Nepal, India and Bhutan. The family team hopes to introduce visitors to the flavors of their home region with dishes like beef momo dumplings, bhutanese style slow cooked pork, tibetan pulled noodles in bone marrow beef broth (with sliced beef and daikon) and the pan fried skate (with chipotle mayo and fingerling potatoes).
Inside the small restaurant, mismatched chairs and tables help to make the place feel homey and rustic. The menu changes seasonally as the team utilizes locally farmed ingredients that supports both farmers and artisans.