New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

A warm welcome to modern Asian fine dining with Hortus NYC

The Michelin-recognized Asian restaurant offers everything from sea urchins to bread pudding in its creative tasting menu.

Nestled in the heart of NoMad, a two-story restaurant marked by its stylish logo “H” radiates a vibrant ambiance. Hortus NYC greets its customers at the ground floor with a welcoming open kitchen — but upstairs, on Jazz Nights every Wednesday and Thursday evening from 7-10 p.m., is where the restaurant truly makes its impression, with New York City-based Asian jazz groups like Chika & Tatsuya and the Jinjoo Yoo Trio filling the restaurant with a relaxing atmosphere.

The OpenTable Diners’ Choice restaurant takes inspiration from the cuisines of several Asian countries, including China, Thailand and Korea. The Hortus Tasting Menu, for $70 per person, opens with the Hortus Royal Platter, waking the palate with chilled lobster tail, hamachi crudo — yellowtail sashimi with vinaigrette — shrimp cocktail and oysters. The striking acidity of the citrus dressing in the hamachi crudo quite literally echoes the taste of the sea.

Shrimp, lobster and oysters covered in tobiko served in an icebox.
Hortus Royal Platter. (Julia Smerling for WSN)

The Yuzu Bacon Rose Pasta, rigatoni coated with tomato cream sauce and adorned with candied yuzu bacon, is delicious, with the latter adding a unique touch to the flavorful meal. However, I would’ve preferred to have the yuzu flavor extend to the tomato cream sauce to complete the dish.

Yellow pasta with cheese and bacon garnish.
Yuzu Bacon Rose Pasta. (Julia Smerling for WSN)

The Wagyu Carpaccio was simply unforgettable. Torched right at the table, the A5 Miyazaki Wagyu melts in the mouth while the fried shallot, pickles, chives and scallions leave a cathartic crunch. It is drenched in a mixture of soy sauce and chili oil that brings a distinctive sweetness that feels like a much-needed and warm embrace. If I could only recommend one dish, it would be this one.

Thinly sliced pieces of wagyu beef with sauce.
Wagyu Carpaccio. (Julia Smerling for WSN)

The Sea Urchin shares the same sweetness with its soy-based sauce. On a bed of well-cooked chewy rice, the seaweed puree, salmon roe, flying fish roe, cured egg yolk and truffle complement the delicate umami of the sea urchin. Every bite is creamy and packed with flavor. Although I was expecting more of a modern twist, I appreciated the strive for authenticity of Asian flavor in the dish’s composition and presentation. Overall, it is a solid choice for the main course.

 Sea urchin over rice with truffle shavings on top.
Sea Urchin. (Julia Smerling for WSN)

The Duck is sauteed to perfect tenderness, accompanied by sweet potato puree, citrus tare sauce and arugula and fennel salad. The duck’s crispy coating consists of fried quinoa, fried garlic and fried shallot. The arugula and fennel salad, while decent, lacks the thoughtful character present in the menu’s other dishes — ultimately failing to provide a reimagining of more traditional yet equally refreshing sides such as kimchi or cucumber salad. There isn’t really anything to dislike about this dish in terms of taste, but the Asian element seems to be reserved for the citrus sauce, which didn’t have a strong presence in the main dish.

Thick duck meat slices with a green garnish.
Duck. (Julia Smerling for WSN)

The Yuzu Panna Cotta is a delightful way to end the night. The buttery panna cotta is in harmony with the tangy yuzu raspberry sauce and the butter crumble on top.

A raspberry sits atop layered butter crumble and vanilla yogurt.
Yuzu Panna Cotta. (Julia Smerling for WSN)

The Mango Bread Pudding took me by surprise. The creative combination of bread pudding and yogurt sounded questionable to me at first, yet as I kept eating, it began to grow on me. The rich flavor of the custard takes the main stage while the yogurt brings the mango back into focus.

The restaurant’s offerings were creative, but not groundbreaking. Every dish was delectable, but I wish the Asian personality was the centerpiece in every dish instead of a faint foil in some. This isn’t to criticize that the restaurant missed the mark on Asian authenticity — rather, Hortus NYC should define modern Asian cuisine on its own terms and create a strong narrative through its dishes. As an experience, the restaurant offers comfort. If you are looking for a delectable upscale dinner, Hortus NYC will not let you down.

Contact Katie Liao at [email protected].

Leave a comment
About the Contributor
Julia Smerling
Julia Smerling, Photo Editor
Julia Smerling is a first-year studying photography and imaging, and is one of WSN’s Photo Editors. She is from West Palm Beach, Florida, and you can find her writing poetry, overly obsessing about films, painting art on jeans and always having her headphones on. Also, she’s secretly Peter Parker. You can reach her on Instagram @juliasmerling or her art account @jul3sarchive (where mostly her mom hypes her up and likes her posts so please give it a look — it's becoming embarrassing at this point.)

Comments (0)

Comments that are deemed spam or hate speech by the moderators will be deleted.
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *