For friends by friends – Bohemian, New York City, USA

Bohemian is an elusive restaurant. First, it doesn’t have a shop front. With its exterior wall all covered with graffiti and tucked behind a Japanese butcher shop, it’s easy to miss it. Next, you will need connections to dine at this Japanese fusion restaurant. To make a reservation, you need a friend who had dined at this restaurant and his/her name is in the registry. And if you think you can find the phone number online, think again. The owner is very strict that its phone number doesn’t get online.

It’s weird that a restaurant chooses to stay out of the limelight and open to a small group of diners. But Bohemian’s concept is logical and simple. The restaurant wanted to create a homely atmosphere for its guests. Hence, only ‘friends’ are welcomed to dine at Bohemian. The restaurant looks and feels like a Japanese home, and the whole place seats no more than 30 people.

Bohemian's Interior

First, the cocktails are impressive. I particularly love the Bergamot – a concoction of earl grey infused Greylock gin, pomegranate syrup, lemon juice, raw egg white and aromatic bitters. The powerful bergamot aroma hits me when I sipped this tea-inspired cocktail. The thick foamy texture adds another dimension to this spectacular cocktail. If you are an earl grey fan, you will definitely enjoy this alluring drink.

int Gold & Bergamot (Right)

For an introduction to what Bohemian has to offer, I would recommend the tasting menu. It’s rather reasonable at US$58. My friends and I ordered so much food that, on hindsight, we should have just gone with the more affordable tasting menu.

Bohemian's Exterior

One of Bohemian’s signature dishes is the Uni Croquette, which is mushroom cream croquette with fresh sea urchin. The fried croquette has a crisp shell and soft mushroom cream filling. It is very tasty but the fresh sea urchin really brings the simple croquette to the next level. But at US$13 per serving, it doesn’t come cheap.

Uni Croquette

The next interesting dish is the Farmer’s Fresh Vegetable Fondue. The raw vegetables are served in a flowerpot filled with crushed ice while the cheese fondue is kept warm in what I would consider as an essential oil burner. Every piece of carrot, cabbage, radish, bell pepper and cucumber is fresh and crunchy.

armer’s Fresh Vegetable Fondue

Being a huge bacon fan, I’m overwhelmed by the Double Smoked Bacon served with creamed mashed potatoes and honey toast. I love the thick, smoky and juicy bacon. The silky smooth mashed potatoes helps to even out the saltiness of the cured meat.

Double Smoked Bacon

Another dish, which deserves some mention, is the Miso Black Cod. The miso marinate enhances the freshness of the cod without overpowering it. The caramelised miso paste creates a think crisp out layer on the fish yet the meat remains flaky inside.

Another dish, which deserves some mention, is the Miso Black Cod

However, not all dishes are great. The Bohemian’s Washu-Beef Mini Burger is a disappointment. There is nothing extraordinary about it. The beef patty lacks flavour and is bland. As for the bun, it is just plain and probably bought from a wholesaler.

The Foie Gras Soba fails to excite too. To put it plainly, it’s just simple soba topped with a piece of expensive pan-seared foie gras.

Bohemian’s Washu-Beef Mini Burger

Thankfully, the Tonight’s Washu-Beef Steak fares better. With several cuts available for selection, the waitress recommended the Hanging Tender, also known as the Hanging Tenderloin. The red meat is served in small slices and the taste is very rich and flavourful. It is accompanied with lots of roasted garlic and potatoes.

Tonight’s Washu-Beef Steak

I would have dismissed Bohemian’s elusive nature as pretentious and a gimmick to attract more diners. But its five-year history is a testament of its concept and food quality. Having proven itself with a generally well-received menu and cosy atmosphere, Bohemian is a great place to hang well with friends over a great meal. This is actually what the owner wanted for Bohemian – for friends by friends.

57 Great Jones St, New York, New York 10012

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