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Kuma Inn

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Kuma Inn


Address: 113 Ludlow St
City: New York, NY
Zip: 10002
Phone: 212.353.8866
Map: Map
Cuisine: Filipino
2nd Cuisine: Tapas/Small Plates
Area: East Village
Entree Price: $10-15
Takeout: No
Delivery: No
Payment: Cash only

Review:

Chef-owner King Phojanakong is still serving up some seriously tasty morsels easily washed down with sake. King, who grew up in Stuy-town and went to Bronx Science, opened Kuma Inn after stints at Daniel, Bouley, Danube and The Grocery. He was about to take a job at Chez Panisse when he found this second floor space on a lonely stretch of Ludlow. It was a risk—no street signage and a sleepy, dark block—but he decided to hang up his own shingle and try his hand at a unique brand of Asian fare, an amalgam of the food he grew up on—his dad is from Thailand and his mom is from the Philippines. We began with some sake, poured into Lucite boxes set on saucers. The sake is poured over the edges of the cube, overflowing into the saucer, as a symbol of hospitality. As we drank, and slurped, we ordered up a slew of food from the tapas-styled menu. First came a plate of plump steamed shumai filled with wasabi spiked pork ($5.50), and then a platter of sautéed spicy Chinese sausages ($7.50) sliced into oblong circles so they are easily swished through a Thai chile lime sauce that King makes using a mortar and pestle. King's version of Tonkatsu ($8)—a Japanese fried pork cutlet—shows off his training at Danube under Schnitzel Man, Kurt Guttenbruner. The pork is pounded down so it is lean and thin, and then gets shallow-fried to a golden crunchy crisp on the outside, but it remains moist on the inside. It is sliced into slivers and drizzled with a soy-mirin glaze and served on a warm bed of watercress salad dressed with lime butter. This Asian-spiked pork schnitzel is comfort food at its most simple and most effective. Another bottle of sake was opened, and we plunged our chopsticks into a tangle of Bihon, a silky Philippine rice noodle dish, tossed with mushrooms, hunks of soft pork, bits of sausage, and bean sprouts. Then came a crispy whole red snapper with Thai chile mango sauce. We made quick work of it, leaving a sparkling clean cat-ready fish bone in less than 15 minutes. I love Kuma Inn and that King, well, he can cook!

Review By: Andrea Strong


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