Dining at Henry, the restaurant inside the Life Hotel in Koreatown, is such an unexpected surprise. The hotel is hidden from view on a rather drab and quiet stretch of 31st St, but its doors lead to the easygoing vibes of a supper club of another era. If you’ve ever thought about how it was to live in the old days of New York, where people would go listen to jazz in the days of the Harlem Renaissance, then Henry might let you travel back in time for a moment.
But just because the living feels easy doesn’t mean the menu is lazy. At the helm of Henry is Chef JJ Johnson, who made a name for himself at The Cecil in Harlem. He brings his brand of Afro-Asian-American cuisine to the Henry, which means breakfast will be something a bit out of the ordinary. How often do you see a bagel roti on offer with jerk cured salmon and za’atar yogurt? Or a collard green salad with red adzuki beans and coconut dressing? As the waitress described it to us, if your Aunt from the Caribbean decided to visit and was inspired by the sights and sounds of the city, then these are the interesting mash-ups that just might happen.
It’s easy to lose track of time here, since the vibe is very relaxed and inviting, and you could be content listening to the band for hours before heading back out to the hell that is Herald Square. And if you do choose to linger for longer, make sure you have the excellent sweet potato purple pie as a parting gift. It’s truly one of the best desserts in the city–I would definitely encourage you to take a whole pie home if the Henry offered it–and will make your stay that much sweeter.
Henry at Life Hotel
19 W 31st St (between Broadway and 5th Ave)
New York, NY 10001