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Mr. K’s dazzling world of Chinese food

Alex went to Mr. K’s, and all we got was this this lousy photo.

There are over 45,000 Chinese restaurants in the U.S. and, according to Chinese Restaurant News, Mr. K’s in Manhattan is #4 in the entire country and #1 in New York City. That is an achievement hard to beat and when you visit Mr. K’s you understand why. Run by Johnny Kao and his family for over 30 years, Mr. K’s never stops to amaze with its exquisite cuisine, excellent wine list and truly outstanding service. There are numerous choices on the menu but in our view you have to try the dumplings (they offer several options, all are great). The shrimp dishes are mouthwatering good and Mr. K’s is also famous for its Peking Duck. Let’s put it this way – whatever you try, you will not be disappointed. Just remember: this restaurant is definitely not a five-dollar-all-you-can-eat-buffet. It’s an extremely stylish place to enjoy and savor the tastes from the Shanghai, Peking, Hunan, and Szechuan regions.

Mr. K’s
570 Lexington Ave, New York
Tel.: (212) 583-1668

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Aquavit – Nordic tastes with a twist

Aquavit’s Executive Chef Marcus Jernmark (Photo: Evan Sung)

New York Times two-star rated restaurant Aquavit is run by Swedish Executive Chef Marcus Jernmark from Gothenburg. He has recently been ranked 2012 Top 5 rising chefs in the U.S. and samandthedunes managed to meet him for an exclusive interview.

“I started working at Aquavit as an Executive Sous Chef in 2009 after my job as Executive Chef at the Swedish Consulate in New York.  There I got the chance to cook for celebrities, royalty, politicians and over 25 Nobel Prize winners and it was a great experience,” says Jernmark. In April, 2010, after only six months at Aquavit, he got the opportunity to take over the role as Executive Chef after Marcus Samuelsson’s departure.

To stand out among the many restaurants in Manhattan, Jernmark explains that Aquavit is not a traditional mid-town New York restaurant. “For example, we change the menu every day and I like to be spontaneous in the kitchen, play with new ingredients and see what happens,” he says.  One of the Jernmark’s signature dishes is “forgotten beets.” “Yes, I once forgot some beets in the kitchen and the next day I experimented and the dish tasted even better,” says Jernmark.

(Photo: Evan Sung)

You will of course find many traditional Nordic fares on the menu like pickled herring, gravlax but also beef, seafood and some exotic desserts (how about Artic Birds Nest or Raspberry Cylinder). “Previously we only had a four course prix fixe menu but now we moved to a la carte which makes it more approachable,” Jernmark explains.

Among the guests there are many celebrities, including First Lady Obama. “We try to be discreet so that everybody can enjoy a private moment in Aquavit,” says Jernmark.

After the interview samandthedunes tried the New Jersey Asparagus, Gravlax 37C, Charred Icelandic Cod and Seafood “Norden 2012” and we just loved the unique, modern and clean tastes. The presentation was superb. We were even offered their fine selection of Aquavit shots with unique flavors of cucumber and figs. If you are looking for a first class evening in Manhattan and enjoy seasonal Scandinavian cuisine with an experimental touch in a classy setting, Aquavit is the place you should visit. Chef Jernmark shows why he has been ranked 2012 Top 5 rising chefs in the U.S. and will make your dinner an unforgettable experience.

More news about Aquavit: A Michelin Star is Born!

(Photo: Evan Sung)

Aquavit interior (Photo: Evan Sung)

Asiate – on top of the world

Photo: Asiate

Located in the ultra-chic and ultra-expensive New York Hotel Mandarin Oriental, Asiate offers gourmet cuisine and arguably one of the best views, being situated on the 35th floor overlooking Central Park. Designed by Tony Chi who has dazzled with his contemporary and cool designs of hotels and restaurants worldwide, Asiate is grand without being overbearing; fun-looking without being kitschy. Don’t forget to check out their impressive wine wall with over 1,000 bottles to pick from.

The food is fabulous and can be best described as fusion with Asian influences. Try their Prix Fixe three-course menu with a nice selection of starters and main courses. If you are into shellfish, we would highly recommend the prawns as a starter and poached lobster as a main, you won’t be sorry – they are cooked to perfection and served with subtle sauces. To make a long story short, we loved Asiate, the food and the view will make us come over again. We hope that by then Asiate would be given a Michelin Star, we find it hard to understand why it yet doesn’t have one.

Photo: Asiate

Millennium UN Plaza Hotel – aiming for more stars

"-Weren't we supposed to have a picture of Danny Glover and Joe Pesci here?" "-Nah, Gone Fishin'."

This is a New York landmark (3 or 4 stars, seems to depend on who you ask, but the price is definetly in the 5 star range) centrally located with numerous bars and restaurants next door, popular with mid-level dignitaries who usually book in groups to attend this or that international conference. The UN building is across the street and Fifth Avenue is only a 15 minutes brisk walk away. Maybe it’s not the fanciest hotel in town by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly has a lot of charm and a style that is very New-York-ish. Rooms are clean and basic (nothing to write home blog about) and start at the 28th floor so you are always guaranteed a flabbergasting panoramic view of Manhattan. This alone is worth staying here unless, of course, you are afraid of heights. Lately, the restaurant Ambassador Grill downstairs is only open for breakfast but in the evening you can get some nice treats at the bar (hamburger, club sandwich, etc.). The bartenders are helpful and can brief you on the latest news, places to visit or where to indulge in a juicy steak.  If you’re lucky, Danny Glover or Joe Pesci might be sitting on the bar-stool next to you (according to our sources, this is one of their favorite hotels in town), and if it’s fancy enough for Hollywood stars it simply can’t be bad for us mortals either. Now, will it ever end up being upgraded to a 5 star establishment is a different question. Let’s see if Danny and Joe can pull some strings  or use their Lethal Weapon. 

Millennium UN Plaza Hotel
One United Nations Plaza
+1 212 758 1234

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