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Noreetuh

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128 First Ave., New York, NY 10009 40.727264 -73.985197
nr. St. Marks Pl.  See Map | Subway Directions Hopstop Popup
646-892-3050 Send to Phone

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  • Cuisine: Asian: Southeast, Eclectic/Global, Japanese/Sushi
  • Price Range: $$

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Photo by Tirzah Brott

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Official Website

noreetuh.com

Hours

Tue-Thu, 5:30pm-10pm; Fri, 5:30pm-11pm; Sat, noon-2:30pm and 5:30pm-11pm; Sun, noon-2:30pm and 5:30pm-10pm; Mon, closed

Nearby Subway Stops

L at First Ave.

Prices

$5-$25

Payment Methods

American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Special Features

  • Brunch - Weekend
  • Late-Night Dining
  • Notable Chef
  • Online Reservation

Alcohol

  • Beer and Wine Only
  • Sake and Soju

Reservations

Accepted/Not Necessary

Profile

Although the name sounds otherworldly and even borderline bizarre, Noreetuh, which opened in March on lower First Avenue in the East Village, is a New York restaurant of a very familiar kind. Like many notable joints of the Kitchen Slave era (Momofuku, Torrisi, the Spotted Pig, Roberta's, et al.), it’s located in a former borderland region of the city, once better known for tattoo parlors and smoke shops than for fine dining. Like at those establishments, the room is small (actually two rooms, each the size of a submarine galley) and the décor is relatively spare (brick wall, simple lacquered-wood tables). Like at those restaurants, the chef de cuisine, Chung Chow, is perhaps overqualified for such a modest operation (he was sous-chef a Per Se), and, as with many talented younger cooks, he’s abandoned the old haute-cuisine model to focus on the kind of seemingly simple, comforting food he grew up with.

Chow is a Chinese-American from Hawaii who lived for a time in Japan, which means his particular homage to the Proustian tastes of his youth is more convoluted than most. Hawaiian cuisine takes elements from Polynesia (roast pig), its immigrant culture (Japan in particular), and the good old USA (yes, the islanders love their Spam), and this odd grab bag of tastes and influences is sprinkled throughout the deceptively ambitious fusion menu at Noreetuh. There are taro chips touched with truffles and kombu chips seasoned with chile-lemon salt, and while you sip your ice-cold shot of shochu, you can snack on pots of silken tofu dabbed with fresh uni; helpings of tempura-fried mushrooms dipped in a thick, mayonnaiselike miso cream; and a popular island rice-and-seaweed delicacy called musubi, which Chow constructs here with corned beef tongue instead of the usual slabs of Spam.

Spam appears on the menu at this East Village restaurant, stuffed elegantly into pouches of fresh-made agnolotti and garnished in an almost comically gourmet way with spring ramps, honshimeji mushrooms, and curling bonito flakes. You can enjoy this inventive dish with rows of gently crisped garlic shrimp over rice, or rosy little wheels of monkfish liver that Chow sweetens with slivers of Bartlett pear and passion-fruit gelée. My serving of traditional Hawaiian poke was mixed with a little too much boutique Japanese seaweed, but that other great local staple, pork, is served in cool, jellied terrine form (it’s made with trotters); fried in bountiful, round Kalua pork croquettes (pay attention to the barbecue-style katsu sauce, which the kitchen sweetens with applesauce); and as a classic pork-belly entrée, braised to a lovely, sticky softness in pineapple juice and soy.

No single dish at Noreetuh (the word means “playground” in Korean) costs over $25, and if you’re not a pork fan, I suggest calling for the mochi-crusted fluke, or the Wagyu steak, which is cut in gently warmed slices and served over a salad of fiddleheads, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and dried shrimp. You can wash down this food with frosty glasses of Big Wave ale, from Kona, Hawaii; a variety of shochus and sakes; or an impressive wine-geek selection of mostly Continental bottles chosen by partner and general manager Jin Ahn, who worked with Chow at Per Se. Save a little bit of room, however, for the desserts, in particular the soft, dissolving bread pudding (made with sweet King’s bread from Hawaii and dappled with raisins), and the pineapple, which is served island style, with the stalk still attached and covered with a crunchy brûléed crust.

Ideal Meal

Pork croquettes and/or crispy mushrooms, garlic fried shrimp, pork belly or mochi-crusted fluke, King’s Hawaiian bread pudding or brûléed pineapple.

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