Two CHOW editors on a caloric extravaganza exploring innovation, novelty, and deliciousness. RSS
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Lobster Whipped Cream and Metaphorical Fish at Annisa

Anita Lo’s Annisa in the West Village was a little fancier than we were expecting, with a simple, elegant interior (for more on all that feng shui, see the video below), dusty rose–colored velvet booths, and oversized vases filled with twisty branches. But it didn’t feel stuffy. Lo’s food gave a similar vibe: elegant but not overwrought. Unfortunately, our photos don’t really do the dishes justice: Using the flash in NYC restaurants these days is pretty much verboten, according to our dining companion that night, Rebecca Marx, writer for the Village Voice‘s food blog Fork in the Road. (OK by us, since it’s pretty embarrassing to be “that guy.”)

The appetizer of a “duo of lobster and corn” was probably our favorite dish. On one side of the plate was cold chawan mushi (savory custard) topped with lobster tartare and a scoop of shiso-lobster whipped cream. The other side, a thin rectangle of corn biscuit with lobster claw meat, thin, almost melted scallions, and a tomalley (lobster paste) sauce. It really showed Lo’s ability to combine influences from many cultures into a coherent dish that didn’t feel like it was trying too hard to be “fusion.” The food feels genuine.

Her fish entrées were also excellent. The miso-marinated sable came to the table on crispy tofu surrounded by a pool of sweet-savory bonito broth with seaweed and a layer of tiny red roe. The seaweed and roe drifted in the broth like it was a little ocean. A bit less metaphorical: the crispy sautéed bass served on top of creamed kohlrabi with bacon, with raw julienned kohlrabi on top. Nice to see kohlrabi get some love.

A few days after we dined at Annisa, we caught up with Lo to interview her and check out a new item she was putting on the menu: eggplant two ways. It’s a very summery dish, with different types of Turkish peppers stuffed into the eggplant and some yogurt and yogurt water (whey). Here’s a look: