Friday, October 30, 2015

Nikai: Momofuku Bar & Cocktail Lounge

Located across from the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, those looking for a creative cocktail and quick dinner before the ballet or opera will find a warm oasis at Nikai, a funky space designed with retro leather sofas and low coffee tables as well as a stylish bar and handful of white-oak communal dining tables outfitted with comfortable Hiroshima arm chairs. Tucked away on the second floor of Momofuku’s three-storey glass cube, this Asian-style lounge with textured white-oak walls and textured ceiling is accessed through sliding wood doors that resemble traditional Japanese shoji screens. With it's high perch overlooking Zhang Huan's spectacular 33-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture 'Rising,' Nikai serves both classic and original cocktails, plus Canadian whisky, beer, sake and wine. While enjoying one of Jonathan Gonsenhauser's playful cocktails such as 'Stolen Dance', 'Death in the Afternoon' or 'A Date with a Peach', diners can select from Nikai's extensive menu featuring dishes from both Daisho and Momofuku Noodle Bar. Although no reservations are taken here, Nikai can be a quieter dining alternative to the bustling Noodle Bar, if you're lucky enough to grab a table before the crowds descend.

View from Nikai to Momofuku Noodle Bar on the main floor

The enormous Steve Keene painting entitled 'Rust Never Sleeps' depicts 
Neil Young and Crazy Horse playing Madison Square Garden in 1978

The sleek modern white oak interior of Nikai Bar & Lounge on the second floor of Momofuku

'Clouer de Genévrier' cocktail with gin, lillet blanc, dubonnet and rhubarb

'Rubus of the Rose' with raspberry, gin, cardamom and lime over one large ice cube

Shiitake Buns with hoisin, scallion and cucumber

Ginger Scallion Noodle with pickled shiitake, cucumber, cabbage and garnished with a sheet of nori

Momofuku Ramen with Kunan Farm pork belly & shoulder, fish cake and egg

Maple Root-Vegetable Stir-Fry with Sesame
Serves 8
Recipe courtesy of Momofuku 

1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 pound Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and sliced 1/3 inch thick
2 carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 parsnips, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/2 lb fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
1 cup fresh lotus root, peeled and sliced - about 5 oz
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup soy sauce
A few drops of toasted sesame oil
1 tbspn toasted sesame seeds
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a large ovenproof frying pan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, parsnips and potatoes and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.

Add the sliced lotus root to the pan along with the maple syrup and soy sauce, and cook the vegetables over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce becomes syrupy and the vegetables are glazed, about 8 minutes. Stir the sesame oil, sesame seeds and sliced scallions into the vegetables and serve immediately.

Milk Bar's Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 18 cookies
Recipes courtesy Christina Tossi, chef and owner Momofuku Milk Bars

1/2 lb unsalted butter, melted and just warm to the touch
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp nonfat milk powder
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
1/4 cup Maldon salt, for garish

Preheat the oven to 375°F. With a wooden spoon, mix the sugars together the melted butter and sugars until homogenous, about a minute. Add the egg and vanilla and stir until combined. Mix in the flour, milk powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and mix until evenly distributed. Form the dough into balls about the size of a golf ball and place about 2 to 3 inches apart on a parchment lined baking tray, and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown around the edges but still soft in the middle. Cool completely on the pan, noting that the cookies will fall as they cool.