Monday, December 21, 2009

Asiate at Mandarin Oriental, New York:A star performer

Asiate at Mandarin Oriental, New York

80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street

New York, New York 10023

212-805-8800 <>

Walking into Mandarin Oriental's dramatic Asiate restaurant on the hotel's 35th floor, is like walking into an elaborate movie set in which you are the star.

The ultra-modern surroundings by renowned designer Tony Chi with its floor to ceiling windows gives a stunning view of the New York skyline, with Central Park and Columbus Circle below, taking center stage. The park view is echoed inside by a glittering tree-branch sculpture suspended from the ceiling. It is a magical environment that offers a feast for the eye. But that's just where the magic begins. Chef de Cuisine Brandon Kida is a true artiste, combining influences from his Asian-American background, incorporating fresh regional produce, meats and poultry and reflections of his extensive travels to create a unique brand of cuisine. His approach to cuisine is like that of a painter approaching a canvass with a palate of infinite invention and color.

As a wine connoisseur, my eye was immediately drawn to the wine wall, which stores over 1,300 bottles from the restaurant's extensive wine list. I was able to find a favorite from the Stag's Leap District, Fay Vineyard Cabernet, which I had the pleasure of drinking with the winemaker during a recent tour of Napa Valley.

Surprisingly, Asiate is not overly expensive. There are several pre fix options that accommodate the pre-theatre crowd at a very comfortable price point, considering the locale and quality of cuisine. I was on my way to the Met Opera, so my waiter hastened things along and I was able to enjoy my culinary adventure without feeling rushed.

All of my favorites were there and presented in stunning fashion. A first course of Buckwheat & Eggs, a signature dish, featured Soba noodles with Osetra Caviar and Wasabi Cream. The next course of Butter Poached Lobster over creamy White Polenta with Shimeji Mushrooms was another triumph of delicately balanced flavors and artful presentation. There is nothing so succulent as well-prepared lobster. It creates the flavor sensation the Japanese call Umami. It is a concept that Chef Kida understands innately, allowing him to lift it to the level of high art.

A simple presentation of house made gelatos with Fresh Berries was all that was needed in the dessert department. With the anticipation of a night at the opera, it was a delight to have a dining experience worthy of a standing ovation.

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