When the quality of chefs working at Hortus in NoMad come from legendary establishments like Per Se and Blanca, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you are in for an incredible meal. And that is exactly what me and my friend had when we visited this delicious and wonderful establishment last week where we got to experience their take on modern Asian cuisine.
Hortus, located at 271 5th Avenue, finds itself in the middle of several popular areas tourists and Manhattanites visit on a daily basis. They are a quick walk away from places like Madison Square Garden and smack dab in the middle of Times Square and Union Square.
The goal of Hortus, according to their website, is to reinvent what Asian cuisine is known to be in a beautiful two-floor setting. The atmosphere inside Hortus is very relaxed and calming, which falls into the category of how a lot of Asian or Asian-inspired restaurants tend to me. I happen to love these sorts of settings as the hustle and bustle of New York City not only happens on the outside but on the inside of some of the most popular eateries here and that can be annoying for some (hand raised).
Leading the helm are General Manager/Partner Suhum Jang (Per Se, Daniel, Jung Sik) and Executive Chef Seungjoon Choi (Blanca, Marea, Lowlife, Gammeok). Nifty resumes for both, right? They have turned modern Asian cuisine upside down in a New American style, infusing local and seasonal ingredients with contemporary flavors.
Hortus falls in line with what a lot of other spaces are doing now: shareable options. The menu itself is quite exquisite, as Chef Choi and Suhum really excel at several different types of delicacies which they put a brand new twist on things to really excite the palate.
They really turned me on to items that I really didn’t care for during most of my foodie adventures. Take for instance their Charcoal Grilled Eggplant, which came with minced pork, mozzarella and some pine nut bread crumbs. Eggplant has never been a veggie that I’ve enjoyed eating for the most part, however their grilled version of it really was super flavorful thanks to its supporting cast of pork, mozz and bread crumbs. Yum.
Same thing goes for their Yuzu Tare Angel Wing: Pork, crown daisy, glass noodle. Simple yet perfectly executed and made for one flavorful bite or two.
The shareable larger portions (although the starters can be shared as well) were Chicken, Pork, Beef and Seafood. All tempting, all different, all unique, but we decided to go with the Pork (braised pork belly, shiitake, bok choy). The meat from the pork was literally melting in your mouth and was wonderfully braised. Meats are a tricky thing to prepare in terms of getting it to be the right balance so you don’t under or overcook them, and Hortus got it right with this delectable entree.
A great way to end the meal is their Mango Rice Pudding, which comes with fresh mango, condensed milk and black lime. Once again: simple, small amount of ingredients, but they work. Overall I would give Hortus a 9 out of 10 and would definitely go back for more in the future.
For more information on Hortus, please check out their official website.