When the Time Warner Center debuted its restaurant collection in the early aughts, the most heralded venues, like Per Se, Masa, and Asiate, were exclusively prix fixe or tasting-menu only at dinner. Scoring a table often required hitting redial two months in advance. New York gastronomy, fortunately, has loosened its tie in the intervening 15 years, even in the most haute environs.
Every venue at Hudson Yards, a sequel of sorts to Time Warner, is a la carte and accepts walk-ins on a nightly basis. No one will be forced into a three-hour tasting here. That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. The restaurants are predominantly European: There are no tacos at Hudson Yards. There are no Chinese or Indian spots either, no venues dedicated to the cuisines of the world’s two most populous countries. And there is way too much Dover sole.
But if you work here or are just passing through, here’s a solid selection of what to try. Some are even quite affordable.
Vada pav at Fuku
This recreation of the Mumbai-based snack — a crispy potato dumpling on a soft bun — might be the single best item at all of Hudson Yards ($4.50). The careful cooking results in a crunch that’s as sturdy as that of a skillet-fried chicken. The dense exterior yields to soft spiced potatoes, while a mess of scallion sauce, fried garlic, and pickles conveys aroma and acid. And since there are no South Asian restaurants here, it’s good to see Fuku chef Stephanie Abrams responding with a delicious nod to what’s missing.
Gyro at Milos Wine Bar
The true highlight of Milos Wine Bar is the deep and generous selection of Greek varietals. There are over 80 wines by the glass, the vast majority under $15. But for solid nourishment, it’s hard to pass up on the $8 gyro; it’s a rare bit of affordable and nourishing rusticity in this mall dedicated to the expensive and the refined. A chef shaves crispy pork off a rotating spit and piles it into a pita with thick yogurt and tomatoes.
Raw blue crab with rice at Kawi
The Korean dish that is ganjang-gejang isn’t widely available throughout the city; Momofuku chef Eunjo Park gives it a high profile and elevated platform. The raw crustacean ($18) practically dissolves on the tongue like cold, maritime marrow, while a side of crab roe rice further amps up the richness.
Pinwheel rice cakes with Benton’s ham at Kawi
Park serves this mix of Korean and Southern sensibilities during lunch only. A spiral rice cake ($23) is pan-fried with chile jam and topped with Benton’s smoky mountain ham. The starch is soft and chewy, the jam is gently sweet, and the pairing of funky ham with olive oil somehow mimics the flavor of good Spanish Iberico.
Oxtail consomme at TAK Room
Thomas Keller blends beefy oxtail consomme with a strong dose of black truffles at his fifth-floor restaurant. The gelatins of the soup cause one’s lips to gently stick together, while the fungi is dialed up to such a degree it recalls Grant Achatz’s powerful black truffle explosion at Alinea. It is pure, concentrated luxury ($32).
Duck confit poutine at Belcampo
Like so many other dishes at Belcampo, this one’s an import from the West Coast locations. The kitchen takes duck fat fries, douses them in meaty gravy, and tosses in crispy bits of confit and cheese curds. It is a drippy, funky, salty, stretchy bowl of savory bliss. It will keep you nourished during a long shopping session ($18).
Churros at Mercado Little Spain
They are light. They are crispy. They need no improvement.
Liquid olives at Mercado Little Spain
The signature dish of Ferran Adrià’s now-closed El Bulli is available for just a few dollars at Mercado. A complicated trick of modernist cuisine allows the chefs to liquify green olives and encase them in thin membranes. They pop in the mouth, gently releasing their verdant, unctuous brine. They are a taste of avant-garde gastronomy at an accessible price.
Yuzu risotto at Wild Ink
This is a fine ode to Italy with nods to Japan ($25). Peter Jin lays soft maitake mushrooms over firm, yuzu-spritzed grains. The Asian citrus is dialed up to ultra-bright levels; it lightens the creaminess of the rice while the fungi keeps the yuzu in check with its deep earthiness.
Peach Mart’s black sesame sandwich
This is a very good convenience store in a neighborhood that truly needs one, though it’s on the fifth floor of a mall and easily a five-minute walk from street level. Should you encounter it while it’s open, the black sesame sandwich is a stunning elevation of a PB&J. Creamy butter softens the blow of the nutty paste, while citron jam brightens things up even further ($5). Note: Though it’s precisely the type of thing that one might crave at midnight, Peach Mart closes by 5 p.m.
Disclosure: David Chang is producing shows for Hulu in partnership with Vox Media Studios, part of Eater’s parent company, Vox Media. No Eater staff member is involved in the production of those shows, and this does not impact coverage on Eater.