Sushi Ikumi in Soho

It’s been awhile since stumbling upon a neighborhood gem has been a mode of restaurant discovery. But now that the city is reopening, physically walking through neighborhood blocks and finding something interesting that is newly opened is more relevant. Case in point is my recent dinner at Sushi Ikumi, a small sushi restaurant that could not be more nondescript. I walked past the simple dark blue awning multiple times, not knowing a restaurant was there, and the absence of visible letter signage didn’t help, until that one day I happened to pay closer attention and saw diners through the window. I made dinner reservations soon after, and had an excellent chef’s tasting omakase. I went to Nakazawa a month earlier, which was also excellent, but Sushi Ikumi’s omakase surpassed that experience.

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Outdoor Dining at Carbone in Soho

Carbone, despite its proximity to my apartment, is the antithesis of a neighborhood restaurant. It’s expensive, exclusive and reservations are hard to come by. But now with the pandemic, it’s become a lot more accessible. Reservations are easier to get now that they’ve expanded their outdoor dining areas to include the sidewalk near Sadelle’s. It used to be the case that you’d open Resy and hope that you’d get off the waitlist for a certain day you wanted, but now when I look at the app, I can usually see availability on any day I’m interested in. And obviously, since it is winter, they’re wide open. Now’s the time to make this the neighborhood spot, if I didn’t care about my wallet or my waistline.

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Outdoor Dining at The Tyger in Soho

Someone (famous) said that NYC is a ghost town, but have they been downtown? There are no ghosts there, but lots and lots of people. People are eating outside in droves, masks and puffy jackets and all. In fact, there’s a bit of a scene again, with people being turned away by a host holding an iPad. The sceniest new entrant is the Southeast Asian restaurant The Tyger in Soho. As the name suggests, The Tyger is a stylish and bold restaurant, where the colors are bright and the flavors pack a lot of ferocious heat. It’s no kitty cat that purrs, The Tyger is a beast that roars.

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NYC Outdoor Dining: King in Soho

There’s something very elegant and thoughtful about the way the restaurant King in Soho does things. For some reason, I can picture a woman, perhaps an English major, carefully crafting the menu and making sure that each word really counts. This is why she would use the word onglet as opposed to hanger steak, giving this usually masculine sounding dish a daintier feel. And this is why the drinks on the cocktail menu never veer towards the overly dark and smoky. They are citrus-y and herbal, the antithesis of the Don Draper whisky. In fact, the attention to detail is paid even to the operational stuff, like payment processing. King is the only NYC restaurant with outdoor dining I’ve been to that has implemented a truly contactless checkout system.

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NYC Outdoor Dining – Lure Fishbar in Soho

Lure Fishbar has always been an anchor of Soho nightlife. The restaurant is usually packed any night of the week with glammed up downtown revelers. But how would it fare during this time of social distancing? From the looks of it, it looks like it has adapted pretty well. Lure really invested in its outdoor terrace and has designed a nautically-themed cabana that wouldn’t be out of place in a nice resort. If you remember the bar at the Maritime Hotel, it looks a lot like that. And that has been a real draw for the scenesters who fill the outdoor tables every night. NYC is not dead, as they like to scream in the newspapers. At least Soho isn’t. Just come to Lure, Fanelli’s Cafe, Raoul’s, Lola Taverna as examples of restaurants that are persevering in this pandemic. Additional proof is the sighting of one of Drake’s cars cruising down Mercer St. Drake wouldn’t go to a city that is on its last legs.

You go to Lure Fishbar to drink wine with some excellent sushi rolls. The universally admired appetizer has to be the shrimp tempura, which comes with this addicting spicy sesame mayo sauce. Every person I’ve talked to who’s been to Lure Fishbar seems to order the shrimp tempura and loves it. You can’t go wrong with any of the signature sushi rolls. If you want something cooked, they make a great burger. The Bash burger at their sister restaurant Burger & Barrel has won many awards and is currently offered at Lure.

But the best part about Lure Fishbar is that this scenic downtown atmosphere is very kid friendly. It’s not one of those snobbish places that welcome children with looks of horror. They have high chairs and children’s menus so that parents and children can all have a good time together. You can enjoy sashimi while your child happily munches on fries or chicken fingers, it’s a big win for everyone.

Lure Fishbar
142 Mercer St (between Prince and W. Houston St)
New York, NY 10012
Make reservations for outdoor seating here.

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