Niko, a new restaurant located on the second floor on 170 Mercer St, has potential.
The mini all-star crew consisting of a Yasuda alum, Hiro Sawatari, Coby Levy, of the former Charles, and Josh DeChellis, also the chef at La Fonda del Sol came together pretty good for their first opening night.
I was there with two others and we sat to have cocktails at the bar. The bartender was cool and not uptight. The place was cold. Heater not working? The decor is cool, on the simple side with grey ropes traveling along the walls and ceiling. They had this odd looking spiky, what look like shelves hanging from the ceiling as well.
The food was really good. My friend ordered the Soy Burnt Octopus (watermelon radish, macerated cucumber & kiwi). Octopus was fresh and very tender. The flavors combined very well together.
The Steak Tartare (rough chopped creekstone beef, soy cured quail egg, horseradish, japanese pickles) was delicious. I liked how they used the quail eggs as the binder. This dish also came with rice crackers.
The Tokyo Crispy Chicken (skinless bell & evans chicken) to me were crispy, moist little nuggets seasoned extremely well and served with two sides of sauces, one which reminded me of a honey mustard. My friends said it reminded them of a regular fried chicken from a corner chinese take-out.
We asked our server to tell Hiro that we'd like an Omakase for three. We received Chu-toro, big eye tuna, king salmon, and shima aji (yellow tail). Very fresh, and very well executed.
Dessert was their Mochi gratis which looked like a small mound of dough. This chewy dough looking dessert turned out to be great. It's very cold and the sweet flavor just balances off fantastic.
The service was great for their first night. Some front of the house people did look a bit up tight and stiff, but other than that it was a nice experience. They topped it off with a complimentary choice-drink from the bar apologizing for the cold dining room. Nice.
La Fonda del Sol
200 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10020
170 Mercer St, New York, NY 10012