London-based restaurant group Rhubarb is known in the UK for being a catering company and the restaurant group of choice for destinations like the Historic Royal Palaces and other museums; Eater London calls them a “white label restaurant operator” — a company not necessarily with a reputation for original cuisine.
But here in New York, the company is clearly trying to change that: It’s brought on experimental former Momofuku chef Tien Ho to oversee operations at its new Hudson Yards restaurants. Wild Ink, a pan-Asian restaurant with a sprawling global menu and a view of the development’s centerpiece art, will be first to bust open tomorrow at on the fifth floor of the Shops at Hudson Yards. Another restaurant will come later at 30 Hudson Yards, right near the observation deck of the tallest building in the development.
For CEO P.B. Jacobse, it marks a bit of a return to his old stomping grounds. Twenty years ago, he lived nearby in Hell’s Kitchen; now, he wants to be parts of the changes at Hudson Yards. Wild Ink is one of the restaurants in the property with a view, and for food, Jacobse describes the restaurant as a “chef’s journey around the globe.”
Though Ho is involved in menu development, executive chef Peter Jin is taking the lead at Wild Ink. He most recently worked at Hotel 50 Bowery and Refinery Hotel, but he also spent eight years in Hong Kong.
Food is pan-Asian, with elements also pulled from England, Italy, and other parts of the world. It’s a slate of eclectic shareable options that evoke clubby restaurants of yore. Many snacks, small plates, and dim sum options are available, such as pork and waygu sliders, crispy mapo tofu, and a dish inspired by a full English breakfast, made with bacon, egg yolk, and a housemade ketchup. Larger mains span cuisines too, like a Japanese risotto made with shiitake mushroom dashi, while a take on a pineapple upside-down cake is on the dessert menu, served with ginger ice cream.
Drinks too dig into different Asian cuisines. Johnny Swet — previously of Grand Republic Cocktail Club, Balthazar, and Pastis — will be mixing cocktails made with Thai whiskey, black sesame-infused gin, caramelized miso sweetener, yuzu bitters, and other Asian-inspired flavors. Wine will also be a focus, with both old and new world offerings and also an 11-foot wine wall behind the bar. Glasses will range from $13 to $45. Sake and beer will also be on hand.
And like the menu, the vibe of the 90-seat space is geared a bit toward nights out with groups. Curvy banquettes fill the space, and fancy Lazy Susans top bigger tables. Designed by London-based Robert Angell Design International (Burberry, Savoy), it incorporates distinctly New York elements, pulling inspiration from Penn Station. Wild Ink is also one of the restaurants in the mall with windows, here overlooking the Hudson River and the sculpture the Hudson Yards Vessel.
But all that said, Wild Ink may not end up being the busiest Rhubarb project in the development. Later this year, the 10,000-square-foot restaurant and private events space on the top level of 30 Hudson Yards will go even harder on the extravagant views with an observation deck. The property is being marketed as a huge destination — and with views like that, people will flock no matter how the food tastes.
Wild Ink opens for lunch tomorrow at noon. After that, regular hours will be 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.