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80 Good

A Chinese-American, Hawaiian-raised, former Per Se chef at this modest operation abandoned the old haute-cuisine model to focus on the kind of seemingly simple, comforting dishes he grew up with.

128 First Ave., New York, NY, 10009


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Chung Chow is perhaps overqualified for such a modest operation (he was sous-chef at Per Se), but, 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. Instead, Spam appears stuffed elegantly into pouches of fresh-made agnolotti and garnished in an almost comically gourmet way with spring ramps, hon shimeji 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. Poke includes pork 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. 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.

Adam Platt

What you need to know

Insider Tips Sign up for wine dinners, which have included Truffles & Vintage Wines and Louis Jadot wines.

Recommended DishesPoke; corned beef tongue musubi; Spam agnolotti; bread pudding.

DrinksSake/Soju, Beer and Wine

Noise LevelCivilized