Studio 151 Sushi in East Village

Studio 151 in the East Village is the sexiest sushi omakase you will ever experience, in the truest sense of the word. When I entered the space, I initially thought I was entering a nightclub. There was a line outside, we had to get vetted by a doorman, and then we walked through a dark set of stairs to enter the room. The room definitely is a vibe–there were posters of naked women on the wall, a DJ was spinning some tunes in the corner, and very young and hip people were having some drinks. The people watching was truly amazing. I was impressed to see a very diverse group of people really committed to wearing a “look” for their night out. But in the back of my mind, I was thinking where are we? Are we early for some sort of afterparty? Where is the sushi?? This is about as far away from the quiet and zen omakase atmosphere that usually marks most sushi restaurants.

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Mokyo in East Village

I was blown away by the food at Mokyo, a Korean / Asian small plates restaurant in the East Village. I wasn’t prepared to like it so much. In fact, I was ready to write it off as one of those dime-a-dozen East Village bars that cater to the young drinking crowd, where trendy Instagrammable drinks take priority over really good food. I was so wrong. I loved everything I ate–flavor AND style are prioritized here–and I can truly say it is one of my favorite restaurants in the city.

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Yellow Rose in East Village

There’s a little bit of Texas in the East Village, in the form of a newish Tex-Mex restaurant called Yellow Rose. The restaurant captures the saloon-like vibe of a low-key bar you would find on Austin’s Sixth Street somewhere. Walking in here and looking at all the dark wood paneling reminded me of something you would find in Frontierland. The food, though, is much better than anything you would find at Disneyland (although prices are probably similarly high). If you’ve ever had a hankering for queso and good breakfast tacos, Yellow Rose should be your go-to spot.

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La Cabra in East Village

La Cabra is a Denmark-based coffee shop that recently opened a NYC outpost in the East Village. It has all the credentials of a proper coffee shop – a commitment to sourcing the best beans, refining its roasting technique to maximize the beans, being mindful of the seasonality of the beans, etc. But what really brings me back repeatedly to La Cabra are the baked goods. I always look inside the display case, intending on buying just one pastry to bring back home, but then I end up buying two or three. The pastries are that good. There is a very minimalist Nordic aspect to them. They’re not cute sweet buns with smiley faces or beautiful cakes with meticulously pipetted icing. They’re straightforward in their visual presentation but there are subtle layers to the flavors and textures that make them very memorable. La Cabra is a coffeeshop first and foremost, but in my opinion, it is one of the best bakeries in New York City.

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Hip Korean American food at Nowon in East Village

Nowon, the new Korean restaurant in the East Village, specializes in a genre of food I like to call “Asian American” fusion food. It’s been popularized by the likes of Roy Choi of Kogi and Pot in LA, as well as Dale Talde, Chef Jae Lee’s old boss at Rice & Gold. Lately the trend in Asian food seems to be either elevating a cuisine (fine dining Korean at Atomix or Jungsik as an example), or to be super authentic and introduce a regional cuisine unfamiliar to American audiences (mixian noodles, Taiwanese noodle soup, etc). Asian American fusion food, though, truly mashes up the two different cuisines together. Normally the foundation of the dish is a familiar comfort food, like a hamburger, served with Asian embellishments like kimchi or gochujang. And of course it can go the other way around, like spicy korean tteokbokki rice cakes sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

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