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What to Order for Dinner at KYU NYC

A meal at KYU should always begin with a snack or two, such as Krunchy Kale with nam phrik and togarashi

January 11, 2024

Beef short ribs / Photo: Courtesy of Kyu NYC

A groundbreaking concept, KYU was conceived by chef Michael Lewis, who studied under Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Eric Ripert, and his business partner, Steven Haigh, who left Zuma to open their dream eatery in 2016 in Miami’s Wynwood area. Now KYU is expanding after the duo sold their interest to Alan Omsky and Jordan Sayfie, who partnered with the English hospitality company Reuben Brothers. While the Miami location is being upgraded and a mezzanine added, it will open this winter, as will the Las Vegas KYU.

Dining room / Photo: Courtesy of Kyu NYC

With locations in Mexico City and New York currently open, I headed to the latter in NoHo, where chef and Eleven Madison Park alumnus Chris Arellanes has taken Asian wood-fired cooking to heart. A meal at KYU should always begin with a snack or two, such as Krunchy Kale with nam phrik and togarashi or classic shishitos grilled and flavored with yuzu kosho and cured citrus. With cocktails in hand—the Pink Puppy, concocted with Haku vodka, lychee, yuzu and Peychaud’s bitters, and the She-So-Spicy, with Milagro blanco tequila, cucumber, mint, shiso, yuzu and Thai chili—my guest and I decided to try the tuna crispy rice and the shrimp gyoza. Both were forgettable, but with a dining room packed with overjoyed revelers, we thought there must be better things to come. So we ordered more.

Tuna crispy rice / Photo: Courtesy of Kyu NYC

The stone-pot Thai fried rice, a favorite, comes with veggies, king crab or duck. We opted for the veggie, as well as the other must-have, roasted cauliflower with goat cheese and shishi-to-herb vinaigrette. These two dishes alone are large enough to satisfy, but we had to have more. Another famous KYU dish, and one Lewis was especially proud of, is the Korean fried chicken, fantastically crispy and laden with a perfectly spiced chili butter. We were tempted by the duck-breast burnt ends but saved room for the extraordinary beef short ribs (in a “Flintstonian” size), accompanied by Japanese sweet potato with buttered black sugar and Parmesan cheese. Whether you have room for dessert or not, you must try Mom’s Coconut Cake, an impressive four-layer butter cake with coconut vanilla cream and shaved coconut flakes falling like a dreamy winter wonderland.