Openings: Kyu NYC is the Extravagant Splurge We Need Right Now
As we attempt to return to some semblance of a normal social life, what’s not often mentioned is that not only did the global pandemic shut down thousands of restaurants around the world, it also scaled back hospitality industry ambitions. After all, in such still uncertain conditions, who would be bold (crazy?) enough to open the sort of lavish “destination” restaurants that before were a regular feature of life in the major marquee cities?
The recent arrival of l’abeille in New York’s Tribeca was certainly encouraging (can you say $270 pre-fixe?). And now, just several blocks north in SoHo, an outpost of the glamorous Miami pan-Asian eatery Kyu (voted Time magazine’s Best Restaurant in Florida in 2017) has just opened its very stylish doors. Most thrillingly, everything about the place screams 2003 optimism and indulgence, a reminder of the time before taxidermied hipsterism took over the interior design conversation. Indeed, Corbusian concrete finishes are contrasted by Versailles oak wood floors, and prodigiously high-ceilings beget a 20-foot tall mesh metal curtain dividing the lounge and dining room. A striking aesthetic crossroads of Europe and Asia prevails throughout.
And the food? Well, considering the gastronomical heft of Executive Chef Chris Arellanes‘s menu (he previously did time in the exalted kitchens of Per Se and Eleven Madison Park), it’s actually a little surprising to see it open with a bit of cheeky humor. But sure enough, the first section is titled Snacky Snacks, which sounds like something Cartman would be eating on South Park. But it’s doubtful that everyone’s favorite cartoon sociopath would be dining out on $34 smoked bone marrow w/ marinated herbs and miso toast, or even $20 crispy pork belly steamed buns.
From there, the headings are helpful adjectives, pointing diners to favorite taste/texture inclinations with descriptors like Crispy Crunchy (pork gyoza bonito, smoked truffle ponzu, pan-seared or fried), Chilled and Refreshing (grilled octopus, hearts of palm ceviche, red onion), or Fresh and Bright (chicories, yuzu, caramelized mirin, pecorino sesame breadcrumbs). Veg-heads also get their own and very well rounded selection (everything from maitake mushroom, w/ smoked pumpkin miso and pepitas to charred sunchokes w/ parmesan cream and togarashi lime), and there’s a Wood Fired section with king crabs and a $205 Wagyu tomahawk.
The Kyu Experience let’s you trust the chef to take you through an evening of culinary wonders for $190 ($140 vegetarian), and it’s precisely the sort of splurge we all deserve right now, after twenty-five months of being told that restaurants were too dangerous to even be in. Though gathering your best epicurean friends for an evening of elevated Snacky Snacks sounds pretty great too.
In fact, Kyu is exactly the restaurant we need right now. At 5700 square feet, and with its opulently sexy atmosphere, it represents the sort of extravagant fabulosity that just twelve months ago seemed as if it would never return to our lives. Think of it as sybaritic therapy.