239 E 5th St (Cooper Square)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 979-1012
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Japanese
Area: East Village
If you are looking to be pampered, head to Ukiyo in the East Village. The restaurant, which is connected to Jewel Bako via a small passageway, is offering an exquisite dinner, both in flavor and design. Ukiyo, which means "the floating world," seems to emulate that thought with every bite. Chef Marco Prins, formerly of Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, has designed a menu that emphasizes French cuisine with Asian influences. The result is a meal that should not be missed. We explored the 5-course dinner and this is what we found.
A single razor clam arrives perched atop a stark white plate with yogurt cream and serunding, a grated coconut topping from Indonesia. It is followed by "Bread and Butter." But this is no ordinary bread. The potato onion Navette roll is a chewy sourdough served on a wooden plate. Alongside it is a small wooden bowl filled with Beurre Monte, a type of emulsified butter from New England.
As we waited for the next course to arrive, I couldn't help but notice that the open-air kitchen is a whirlwind of activity with mini pots being stirred feverishly, a mini fryer hard at work and hand blenders whizzing about. It's quite a thrill to witness the entire process.
The outcome is crab prepared two ways; one as a diced crab salad tucked beneath thin slices of radish and adorned with puddles of avocado cream, buttermilk and dill. Two tempura soft shell crab claws sit criss-crossed on top.
The pièce de résistance might just be the white avocado soup disguised as a cup of cappuccino with a dusting of nutmeg. Dip your spoon into this frothy mix and you will land bits of smoked salomon. It's unlike anything I've eaten before.
The thrills continue with halibut topped with dashi hollandaise and pata negra, a type of Spanish ham with asparagus. It's adorned with nasturtium leaves and bright yellow pansies. Beneath it is a layer of finger lime seeds that pop like tiny bubbles as you bite into them. It's followed by a parfait of foie gras on crispy rice, and a lamb dish garnished with morels, black garlic, bright green beans, pea shoots and ramps.
The finale involves two desserts. The first is a rhubarb compote with fresh strawberries, a scoop of lemongrass ice cream with white chocolate wafers on top. It's served in a large golden bowl making it look like a dessert fit for a king (and it probably is). Tea service brings two tiny desserts; a Sorrento lemon madeleine and a bowl of chocolate mousse with raspberries and crispy caramel. The tea is Genmaicha, a Japanese blend of green tea with roasted brown rice.
Ukiyo offers a truly memorable meal with impeccable service. The price of admission is a steal at $75 dollars (not including drinks or tip). An 8-Course meal runs $125. See more
Review By: Thomas Rafael