There are personal restaurants, and then there's Family Recipe.
Overseen by Akiko Thurnauer, this brand-new restaurant on the Lower East Side is unlike any we have dined at in New York. Thurnauer's vision is distinctive, and her food is outstanding.
Thurnauer trained as a graphic designer, so Family Recipe is thoughtfully conceived, from the L-shaped open kitchen to the seugi tokkuri, an imported wooden carafe from which sake is poured by the glass.
In a city where trends appear and dissipate in a blink, Thurnauer's food feels both fresh and timeless. She serves buns ($12.50) stuffed with pork belly, as so many do these days. Hers, though, are ingeniously stacked with cardamom-poached pear and shiso pesto, unlike the buns' of her peers.
Likewise, the roasted cauliflower ($11) seems familiar at first, until a sweet wave of shiso oil hits the mouth and lotus-root chips crackle in the teeth.
Other dishes are explicitly personal. A trio ($6) of deftly pickled cucumbers, beets and carrots is named after Thurnauer's daughter Alice, who lives for pickles. The brick chicken ($25) is a tribute to her father, the bird set on burdock purée and surrounded by house-made XO sauce.
In a city of 8 million people, this restaurant has no likeness.
Family Recipe, 231 Eldridge St. (at Stanton St.); 212-529-3133 or familyrecipeny.com
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