Digesting Hudson Yards

What to eat at New York’s glitziest new mall.

Ranch-to-table meat company Belcampo’s 100-day dry-aged grass-fed burger and duck-fat fries. Photo: Marvin Orellana/New York Magazine
Ranch-to-table meat company Belcampo’s 100-day dry-aged grass-fed burger and duck-fat fries. Photo: Marvin Orellana/New York Magazine

When Thomas Keller “curated” the Time Warner Center’s Restaurant Collection 15 years ago, the notion of jaded New Yorkers and gawking tourists riding mall escalators up multiple flights to fine-dining destinations with no street presence seemed outrageous. Now, 30 blocks south and two windblown avenues way west, that development’s brand-new sister project, Hudson Yards, makes the Columbus Circle shopping center’s culinary ambition look quaint. Between the seven-story Shops and Restaurants complex and José Andrés’s 35,000-square-foot Spanish-cuisine theme park next door, on a skyscraper-sprouting stretch of Tenth Avenue from 30th to 33rd Streets, there are 1,600 seats waiting to be filled, and that’s not counting all the fast-casual counters and pastry shops and coffee bars and ice-cream stands and the colorful riot of quick-serve kiosks in Andrés’s food hall. From familiar “fine-casual” (Sweetgreen, Shake Shack) to terraced duplexes, from extra-aged grass-fed cheeseburgers to roving carts stocked with Champagne, bespoke martinis, and hot popovers, the city’s new food hub requires some advanced navigational skills and a big appetite. Here, the most compelling new–to–New York reasons you might consider heading west (and up).

José Andrés Reps Spain (and Eggs) With a Supercolossal Food Hall and a Spanish-American Diner

Mercado Little Spain, 10 Hudson Yards

Arroz a la cubana at Mercado Little Spain. Photo: Greg Powers

You might know him better for his hunger-relief work (and his feud with President Trump). But Andrés actually leads a Washington–based restaurant empire. He also has a thing for eggs, which will feature prominently at the Spanish Diner, one of three restaurants and 15 kiosks he and the Adrià brothers (Ferran and Albert) are opening in stages at Mercado Little Spain on the ground floor at 10 Hudson Yards. “We are the best egg cooks in the world, with the exception of Jacques Pépin,” says Andrés, speaking on behalf of Spaniards everywhere. Proof will come through dishes like arroz a la cubana, a greasy-spoon plate of rice, tomato sauce, sweet plantains, bacon, and fried eggs that would not look out of place among the offerings at Joe Jr. on Third Avenue. “The average family in Spain eats it once a week,” he says. “I grew up eating it. We would die for this.” Unlike the wood-fired paella, seafood conservas, chocolate y churros, and vermouth drinks scattered around the brightly tiled market, the dish represents a seldom-seen side of his native cuisine. “It’s very un-Spanish but totally Spanish,” he says. That’s a concept omnivorous New Yorkers could understand.

Milos’s Wine-Bar Annex Will Pour 100 Greek Wines by the Half-Glass

Milos Wine Bar, 20 Hudson Yards, fifth fl.

Costas Spiliadis, owner of Estiatorio Milos, has spent his career making the dining public take Greek food seriously (and pay dearly for the pleasure). Now, with the opening of his first wine bar, down a spiral staircase from his sixth-floor restaurant, he’s doing the same thing for Greek viniculture. Four-ounce pours of everything from Assyrtiko to Xinomavro accompany a variety of meze: the classic spreads; wood-oven-baked phyllo pies; gyros and souvlaki; tartare and sashimi. And an adjoining Greek-yogurt bar dispenses the real thing, strained through a cheesecloth and topped with honey.

David Chang’s Peach Mart Is a Momofukian Riff on an Asian Riff on an American Invention the Convenience Store

Peach Mart, 20 Hudson Yards, fifth fl.

Peach Mart’s wall of snacks. Photo: Melissa Hom

Unless you wish to incur the wrath of David Chang, don’t call kimbap “Korean sushi.” As the Momofuku founder has made clear in a recent Instagram post, the two rolled-rice foods utilize different seaweeds, different rice seasoning, different fillings. Kimbap is not only a point of ancestral pride for the Korean-American chef but a chief attraction of his new Peach Mart, Chang’s homage to the convenience-store chains of South Korea and Japan (Family Mart, Lawson, 7-Eleven) located next to his fine-dining restaurant, Kāwi. As the shawarma-inspired Bāng Bar is to Time Warner Center’s Momofuku Noodle Bar, Peach Mart is to Kāwi, providing a cheaper takeout alternative for the Hudson Yards hoi polloi. The team makes the most of the tiny space, stocking the walls with bags of gummy candies and chips and puffs in beyond Frito-Lay flavors like caramel-corn matcha and wasabi-tempura seaweed. And behind the counter, a contraption sheets rice onto seaweed and rolls tubes of kimbap in varieties like tamago, fried chicken, and mortadella-and-cheese. Of course, one uncontested specialty of most Asian convenience stores (and new American restaurants inspired by them) is the neatly composed, prepackaged squishy white-bread sandwiches, and so it is at Peach Mart: Japanese milk bread, crusts trimmed, filled with things like potato salad mixed with a Kewpie-Hellmann’s mayo blend and spiked with jalapeño peppers, or a chicken-katsu sandwich stuffed with fried farce tailored to match the bread’s precise measurements. There are snacks, too — walking-around mall food like pork jerky and corn-dog-ish “superdog bites.” It’s a smart if slightly subversive move: The developers of Hudson Yards claim to have created New York’s newest neighborhood, and what neighborhood doesn’t need a convenience store? Read more here.

Kāwi’s Eunjo Park Has 25 Pairs of Scissors at Her Disposal

Kāwi, 20 Hudson Yards, fifth fl.

Eunjo Park. Photo: Andrew Bezek

Kawi is a play on the Korean word for “scissors,” and that tool will be put to good use at New York’s latest Momofuku restaurant. It will be deployed by executive chef Eunjo Park, known as Jo, a 32-year-old South Korean native who immigrated to Philadelphia when she was 12, and who was inspired to pursue cooking professionally after mastering such Americana as baked chicken and apple dumplings in home-ec class. “I learned about American culture through the food,” she says. That led to cooking school and stints at Daniel, Le Bec-Fin, Per Se, and Momofuku Ko, then to Korea, where she worked at Gaon in Seoul and staged for a month at Netflix-famous Baekyangsa Buddhist temple. All these influences meld at Kāwi, where Park makes her own rice cakes and snips them tableside (that’s where the scissors come in). We asked the chef a few questions about her formative food experiences and current cravings.

What food reminds you of your childhood?
Soybean stew. You can make it with shellfish, meat, whatever you want. It’s what my mom made, what my grandma made, and what I make now at home.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Black olives, the ones that come in a can. After my family moved to the U.S., I’d see kids in the cafeteria at school put them on their fingers, and I thought it looked so cool. And then I tried some and I was like, “This is so terrible.”

What’s your favorite non-Momofuku restaurant in New York? I love Xi’an Famous Foods. I always order No. A-1, cold-skin noodles. I order the tiger salad separately and put them together.

What’s always in your fridge? Noodles and my mom’s kimchee. She’s very serious about her kimchee; she has a dedicated kimchee fridge.

Why did you go to Korea to cook?
When I was working at Ko, I did get inspired by Korean food, but all I knew was my mom’s food. I wanted to learn more about the roots of Korean cuisine. Now I cook Korean for my mom.

Michael Lomonaco Is Letting His Hair Down

Hudson Yards Grill, 20 Hudson Yards, fourth fl.

Porter House Bar and Grill’s Michael Lomonaco always seems to be having more fun running a restaurant than everyone else. Now he’s really cutting loose with a big-boothed American brasserie and a casual menu that channels some of the eclectic spirit of, say, the original Blue Ribbon on Sullivan Street. Sample dishes: grilled pizza, fried oysters, pimento cheese, sushi, gumbo, and a French dip.

The Dallas-Based Department Store Has Its Own Cookbook

Neiman Marcus, 20 Hudson Yards

Quick-serve Cook & Merchants is sourcing snacks and salads from Maury Rubin’s City Bakery. Photo: Courtesy of Neiman Marcus

Neiman Marcus’s first Manhattan location occupies three levels at 20 Hudson Yards, each equipped with a pit stop: Cook & Merchants on five sells the store’s cult cookies plus City Bakery’s salads and sandwiches; Bar Stanley, on six, serves cocktails and comfort food like tortilla soup and pot roast; and the seventh-floor Zodiac Room is the place to go for de rigueur department-store salads, popovers served hot from a roaming cart, and afternoon tea with all fixings.

The British Are Coming

Wild Ink, 20 Hudson Yards, fifth fl.

Wild Ink represents the maiden transatlantic voyage of Rhubarb, a London-based caterer and restaurant group. Here, in a fifth-floor room at 20 Hudson Yards with a bamboo ceiling, lazy Susans, and a view, chef Peter Jin (and a dim sum chef recruited from Buddakan) serves up crab mac ’n’ cheese wontons, celery-root yakitori, and seared cod with bouillabaisse and steamed buns. Next year, Rhubarb and culinary director Tien Ho will unveil their 101st-floor restaurant and event space, which takes 60 seconds to reach by elevator.

Wild Ink’s crab mac ’n’ cheese wontons. Photo: Evan Sung

Queensyard, 20 Hudson Yards, fourth fl.

Grilled cheese-and-truffle toasties, venison Scotch eggs, walnut curry rice pudding. Must be another London-based restaurant group that has set its sights on Midtown West. In fact, it’s D&D London, the same folks responsible for the British brasserie Bluebird at the Time Warner Center. Here, the idea is to make you feel like you have an open invitation to an imaginary British friend’s well-appointed home. The space is very loosely divided into the communal-table “Kitchen;” a casual café that morphs into a wine bar at night; a regular bar; and the “Dining Room,” which serves proper British supper dishes like rack of lamb and whole-roasted duck, and overlooks the Vessel. All this and a roving gin-Martini trolley.

Thomas Keller Tackles Ebinger’s Blackout Cake

TAK Room, 20 Hudson Yards, fifth fl.

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It may come as a surprise to casual observers of Thomas Keller’s career, but the seven-Michelin-star super-chef wasn’t born with a silver whisk in his hand. He started at the bottom and worked his way up. His first restaurant job as a teenager was washing dishes at the Palm Beach Country Club. He told Charlie Rose in 2005 that standing on a milk crate opposite the Hobart, loading the racks, and watching the plates emerge spotless 45 seconds later was magical and gratifying. It was a formative experience and one that comes to mind as Keller prepares to open TAK Room.

The 180-seat restaurant is a return of sorts to Keller’s early days, a tone poem to mid-20th–century American fine dining, what he calls updated Continental cuisine, and all the retro-elegant appurtenances that go along with it: gueridon service, Champagne carts, live music, classic cocktails, sweeping staircases, and working fireplaces. So while it’s unlikely that Keller will be scrubbing pots and pans for old time’s sake at TAK Room, don’t be surprised if you see him tossing a Caesar salad tableside or carving the occasional rotisserie poularde. He’s been known to do that at the now-closed Napa pop-up Ad Lib and also at the Surf Club Restaurant in Miami Beach, both of which served as out-of-town trial runs for TAK Room.

Who knows? He might even present some lucky guest a slice of the chocolate-pudding layer cake you see pictured, above. The K+M Dark Chocolate Layer Cake, as it’s officially known, has been five years in the making. The prototype originated at Ad Lib. It was tweaked and refined at the Surf Club, and now, after a final zhushing up and recontextualizing in tribute to the late great Brooklyn bakery Ebinger’s, it’s ready for its New York debut. Why this particular dessert? “It was common to see a grand slice of layer cake during the time when Continental cuisine was first introduced to America,” Keller says. “As we did with all of the dishes at TAK Room, we used this as a chance to explore culinary history. We searched for examples of classic dishes around the country and for a bit of New York history; the Blackout Cake stands out as the quintessential layer cake of that time.” Was it hard to create? “We did not create it. It was given to us from history.”

Belcampo Wants You to Eat Better Meat (and Less of It)

Belcampo, 20 Hudson Yards, fourth fl.

Clockwise from left: Belcampo's "Drive-Through" double cheeseburger, Cobb salad, and charcuterie. Photo: Michael Wiltbank.
Clockwise from left: Belcampo's "Drive-Through" double cheeseburger, Cobb salad, and charcuterie. Photo: Michael Wiltbank.

Can a former vegetarian from Palo Alto sell New Yorkers on the eco-friendly, humanely raised, 100 percent-grass-fed-and-finished burger? That is the goal of Anya Fernald, the co-founder and CEO of Belcampo, a sustainable-meat company with 25,000 acres of certified organic ranch land located at the base of Mount Shasta, California. Like its sister branches in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the first East Coast Belcampo only serves meat the company raises itself and processes in its own slaughterhouse; unlike them, thanks in part to the proximity of Citarella at Hudson Yards, the usual full butcher case is replaced by a smaller fridge filled with grab-and-go bone broths and sausages. The counter-service menu runs the protein-packed gamut from beef tartare to steak-frites with duck-fat fries; even the salads (bacon-kale Caesar, lamb shawarma) are liberally seasoned with meat. As is the case in any nose-to-tail, whole-animal operation, burgers utilize trim that would otherwise go to waste, so don’t expect any boutique blends. Fernald might be fighting an uphill battle in a town besotted with corn-fed beefsteaks, but even those still skeptical of grass-fed beef’s flavor and texture may find Belcampo’s burger options intriguing: a fast-food-style “Drive-Through” double on the low end, and a 100-day-dry-aged half-pounder with raclette on the high.

*A version of this article appears in the March 18, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

What to Eat at Hudson Yards