A rare gem in Midtown East, WANO impressed us last Wednesday with their Kaiseki tasting menu. From their shaved truffle topped dishes and bright Japandi interior, WANO sets the perfect scene for a culinary adventure.
Kintsugi Omakase NYC, a sleek chef’s counter-style sushi “atelier” in lower Soho, recently upped their game by bringing on Chef Victor of Sushi Ko. To find out what the buzz was about, we stopped by this week to sample their new menu, which changes with the seasons for the freshest ingredients.
Chef Victor follows the traditional edomae (referencing the style originating from Edo Bay) style of sushi-making, but puts a modern twist on his art. He uses non-traditional, non-Japanese ingredients to flavor some of his dishes, and his close relationship with NYC fishmongers allows him to source the freshest, finest seafood available. The difference is palpable – one bite of Kintsugi’s Hokkaido Ikura (salmon roe) or uni and it’s clear how high-quality the ingredients are.
In addition to technique and ingredient excellence, Kintsugi Omakase stands out by its use of seasonal ingredients. Typical of new Nordic or farm-to-table style restaurants, Kintsugi brings flavors of the month to sushi, where most establishments would stick to the tried-and-true traditions. Since it’s autumn, our dishes featured a green apple puree paired with a smoked Sawara and apple cider, baby corn with crispy fried fish, and other winter seafood delicacies.
When I asked Chef Victor what his favorite season of ingredients was, he told us “fall and winter, because they have the weirdest items.” Weird as they may be, he prepared them to perfection – half the dishes were items I’d never heard of, and I’m a sushi aficionado. Host Ko told us they aim to “take your palate on an adventure you’ve never been on before.” This delectable adventure featured a codfish sperm sac (winter only), crispy fried Amadai (tilefish) with its scales (dubbed by Chef Victor as natural fish and chips), a pickled fish similar to the herring popular in northern Europe, and barracuda.
In addition to the sushi tasting, each menu option includes a handroll, the best miso soup you’ve ever tried, bruleed tamago, and a dessert (the current one is black sesame and ginger ice cream – a scoop of each). Finishing off the meal with these comforting plates was the perfect way to wind down from the experiential tasting. We also highly recommend the restaurant’s singular cocktail: a yuzu and violet syrup enhanced sake. I’d come back for this item alone; clearly the team at Kintsugi has the expertise to open a successful bar, if they wanted!
Dining at Kinstugi Omakase NYC is an experience that can’t be missed if you’re a foodie in this city. Their 10-person dining room, carefully designed by creative partners Ashe Yeung and Tim Madrid, feels intimate and sophisticated. But definitely not stuffy – Chef Victor’s lighthearted jokes and sarcastic commentary make you instantly comfortable with him, and we enjoyed hearing his descriptions of his craft while watching him expertly assemble each mouthwatering bite. We can’t wait to come back. Book your reservation at Kintsugi here ASAP!
Equality Now, an organization dedicated to advocating for the human rights of women and girls across the world, held their annual gala on Wednesday night at Gustavino’s. Under a backdrop of the glittering Queensboro bridge at sunset, poet Rupi Kaur won the 2023 Changemaker award and delivered an inspiring call-to-action speech.
Held on International Day of the Girl, the Make Equality Reality Gala celebrates the progress made toward a more gender equal world and all who fight for that future. To date, Equality Now has changed over 70 laws around the world. Since 1992, they have been fighting to achieve legal equality, end sexual exploitation and violence, and end culturally normalized harmful practices towards women and girls. The organization’s Director, Mona Sinha, told us the organization means a lot to her because “as a young girl growing up in India, [she] saw the discrimination firsthand,” and thinks that “the law is the foundation to securing women’s rights.” She joined Equality Now because she’s “more interested in systemic change that is binding and secure” than something that only lasts for a year or two. Tonight’s event is a way for Equality Now to “showcase their work in a positive, happy way, because it is very challenging work.
Rupi Kaur, who won the 2023 Changemaker award (given last year to the icon Gloria Steinem), is a poet whose work has transformed the lives of women and given voice to many who were previously unable to share their experiences. Her book, Milk and Honey, is among the top 10 banned books in the United States due to its discussion of sexual harm. She knows more than anyone how powerful our voices are, and how they “threaten those who are more than happy to take away those powers.”
She engaged the room with her intelligence and charm, encouraging art for resistance despite censorship as a “beautiful act of rebellion against a world that undermines us at every turn.” Despite oppression worldwide, she assured everyone that “young girls will always find a way to survive; their resilience is unparalleled” and told us that “we as a community must find a way to empower them through all walks of life.” Director Sinha celebrated Kaur as a “real changemaker, because she has really changed the hearts and minds of the next generation in a way that is so meaningful and will really impact the future.”
Gloria Steinem told the crowd to keep fighting for progress and for the Equal Rights Amendment, and lauded 10-year-old Teela Samra for her passionate speech calling for gender equality.
The night was a beautiful celebratory way to “show the world that we can win, and we can change lives, and we can make a difference in a time when the world is pretty dark.” Equality Now inspired its guests and its wins this year, and continues to make a difference worldwide. Learn more about the incredible work Equality Now is doing here.
If you’re looking for a great meal or just a good time in the Theatre District, look no further than La Pulperia! A Latin-American fusion restaurant with a vibrant heartbeat, La Pulperia offers hard-to-find dishes and unique cocktail experiences. From their ceviche and steak to their incredible churros, a trip to La Pulperia will be a meal to remember.
Before I get into the details of my dining experience, here’s a little bit about the restaurant: La Pulperia opened its doors on the precipice of NYC’s COVID reopening, in March of 2021. It’s interior was inspired by pulperias (general stores in South America). With reclaimed wood and beautiful tiles, strings of romantic lights adorning the ceiling, and a generously stocked bar, designer Andres Gomez captured what feels as intimate as a memory. Well, an imagined memory, since I’ve never stepped foot in a pulperia.
Now, moving on to the food. Executive Chef Miguel Molina, who comes to New York from Guerrero, Mexico, is an expert on Latin and South American cuisines. His vision with La Pulperia is to reimagine classic Peruvian, Brazilian, Argentinian, and Mexican dishes to “create and plate dishes that are totally unique.” His experience with food stems from the most celebrated source: by his mother’s side. He helped his parents run their restaurant before arriving in New York in 1996 and working in restaurants throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn.
We started our meal with two cocktails courtesy of Mixologist Daniel Villanueva: the Parcero Old Fashioned and the Del Callao. Both arrived served in gorgeous, dry-ice smoke filled containers and were poured into our cups artfully. The old fashioned was mellowed out with simple syrup and chocolate bitters, and the Del Callao was refreshingly fruity but not overly sweet, thanks to the hibiscus.
For our meal, we ordered the Lobster Taquitos, Tuna Tartare, Hamachi Tostada, Skirt Steak, a side of Coconut Rice, and topped it off with Churros for dessert. Each dish was flavorful and succulent – the seafood items perfectly balanced with the other flavors of the dishes, from the lemon’s acidity to the avocado’s creaminess and the tostada’s crunch. The steak was perfectly cooked with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, and paired deliciously with the chimichurri sauce and salad. The coconut rice was creamy, sweet, and nutty – the perfect complement to a bite of steak or a mouthful of lobster. For me, this side brought the whole meal to another level. Finally, the churros – wow. The dulce de leche sauce had notes of chocolate and caramel, and the churros stayed fresh and crisp even after a few hours, when we had to finish the rest at home since we filled ourselves up too much on the rest of the scrumptious meal.
My experience at La Pulperia was nothing short of amazing, from the food to the service and the exuberant attitude of the staff. I can’t wait to return, and highly recommend it from a venture away from New York’s classic Italian, Japanese, and Thai restaurants. Good Latin food can be hard to find in this city, but La Pulperia is definitely it.
From the creators of the famous snail mucin repair products, cult-favorite Korean skincare brand MIZON debuted their first ever retinol line. MIZON is known for their skin barrier repairing, hydrating products, so hearing about a retinol line from them was incredibly exciting. Retinol (Vitamin A) is known as a “magic” skincare ingredient, fighting acne and signs of aging through increasing skin cell production. Through channels like Tiktok, awareness of and demand for retinol has skyrocketed. Many brands have added a retinol product to their line, and many consumers start slathering it on their faces without taking care to counteract for side effects like dryness, peeling, sun damage, and purging. MIZON’s approach takes these side effects under consideration already, by offering different concentrations of retinol (.1% and .3%) and combining them with skin-soothing ingredients like Niacinamide, Peptides, Shea Butter, and a supporting plant-based anti-aging ingredient, Bakuchiol.
I had the chance to try out MIZON’s new retinol line – both their Retinol Youth Serum (.1%) and their Retinol Youth Cream (.3%). I have to say, right on application, this was the best experience I’ve had with retinol. The serum is a lightweight, cooling gel that glides over your skin in a satisfying way and soaks in seamlessly. Where retinol can often be a thick, gloopy cream that pulls at your skin when applying, at least in my experience with dermatologist-prescribed tretinoin, this was anything but.
I applied the serum first and then moved onto the cream once fully absorbed. The cream offered a more emollient option that moisturizes as well as promotes anti-aging, but still thin enough to spread easily and gently on the skin.
After using these products twice a week for over a month, I’ve noticed smoother, brighter skin. My dark spots are beginning to fade, and while I experienced minimal peeling when I first started using the line, it was nowhere near the intense dryness and peeling I’ve noticed with other retinol products despite doubling up on hydration in both cases. The gentle yet effective retinol that MIZON’s range offers is something unique to the market at under $50 each, and I highly recommend these products based on my experience!
Cortina Health brings an exciting teledermatology subscription model to the world of skincare!
We recently got to test out an innovative new clinical skincare brand – Cortina Health. Cortina matches you up with a virtual dermatologist to get you a custom treatment cocktail to address your specific needs.
The model works like a breeze: you upload photos of your skin from 3 angles, you answer a few questions about your skin texture, moisture level, etc., and you’re matched up with a board-certified dermatologist within a day who will analyze your skin and prescribe a topical cream with clinical-strength ingredients designed to fight your skin issues. This part is all free! After you receive your diagnosis and prescription, you can choose to purchase a product monthly for $29.99.
I was matched with Dr. Riley Greene, who gave me a combination of “Hydroquinone 5%, Niacinamide 4%, Tretinoin 0.015%, Hydrocortisone 1.25% compound” to treat my acne scarring. All of these ingredients, I’d seen advertised by various brands at Sephora for their magical transformative powers, but it’s always at a lower dosage and strength to what Dermatologists are able to prescribe. I also knew what each ingredient was supposed to do theoretically, but I didn’t know what my skin specifically needed in practice, and I would try to pick items I thought would benefit me. Cortina changes the game here, because instead of me trying to figure out what I needed, a Doctor who’s been trained for years to figure out exactly what my skin needed, would do so.
I used my treatment plan for a month and saw a significant change in my skin. Not only did my acne scars fade away, but I felt that my skin was brighter and more firm due to the tretinoin in my cream. I applied the cream every other day at first to make sure my skin was able to adjust to the strong ingredients, and then worked up to using it daily. They definitely don’t skimp on product – mine lasted a month longer than expected!
Cortina Health’s mission of “democratizing dermatology and making it affordable and accessible for all income brackets” is something we at the Knockturnal can definitely get on board with. As the only all-inclusive teledermatology platform in all 50 states, Cortina is revolutionizing the skincare and dermatology industries with their unique approach to modern medicine. Getting a dermatology appointment can be difficult, time consuming, and expensive, but Cortina Health solves all of those problems. I loved the ease of experience with Cortina, and appreciated the medical grade products and results I saw while using their product for just a month. Highly recommend them to everyone out there seeking Dermatologist-level care at a fraction of the cost and time commitment – check it out here!
Designer Malan Breton makes his Autumn-Winter 23/24 NYFW splash with the evocative collection, Fantôme. Set inside the Lemán Ballroom in Tribeca, fashion-forward guests gathered from all corners or the city, and the broader world, to witness this ethereal show unfold.
Breton played with autumnal colors, textures and fabrics, and dramatic silhouettes to create a stunning collection. His designs centered on the themes of conscience, hope, night, day, and human desire, and were brought to life by an otherworldly score from Elfisio Cross. The runway was set up with 3 walkways, each lined on either side by two rows of chairs facing the center.
Models strutted down the central row first, before snaking up the right, then down the left, and finally up the central row. Once the show hit its full force, models and models following this pattern on the stage at the same time created a dizzying, sublime effect on the audience. You’d get a first glimpse and a design, and then a final look a few minutes later after you had a chance to fully take in the first – and witness a few more. The designs, illuminated by the complex choreography and the music, had the audience captivated.
Some of the most thematic components of the designs included a high heel with a stocking covering the shoe, in a variety of colors, and a matte leather fabric. One of the most striking designs featured a burgundy leather miniskirt and collared zip shirt, with horned shoulder pads protruding upward and outward. My personal favorite look was a strapless layered gold gown, with pleats at varying heights descending like a waterfall and a bow-like bodice.
Malan Breton is renowned for his career’s versatility, from his work as an actor, film director, costume designer, columnist, musician, and model. His work has been loved by glitterati such as Emma Thompson, Janelle Monae, Saweetie, Priyanka Chopra, Brenda Song, and more, to almost every award show you can imagine. He received four honors during Her Majesty the Queen’s 70th Jubilee Celebrations and is celebrated for his “experiential” fashion shows and his compelling red carpet looks. Those accolades shined brightly through his collection this NYFW, and we can’t wait to see what his next collection is and where his career goes from here!
On a wintery January day, we settled into a booth at a retro dining staple downtown, Soho Diner. I’d been once before for lunch, but had been dying to try out their brunch menu ever since.
I started with a big, steaming mug of matcha, and my dining partner ordered black coffee from the pot – both satisfying and warming in different ways. The matcha was creamy, concentrated, and smooth, and the coffee was the perfect hit of caffeine when all you want is that familiar cup. Whether you choose to opt for a simple drink or extravagant cocktail, make sure you begin your meal with one of their bar or cafe options!
We ordered a side of hash browns, their Fried Chicken Sandwich, and the Montauk Tuna Melt. The hash browns were insanely crispy – think of the satisfying crunch of a McDonald’s hash brown meets the layered texture of a hometown brunch restaurant. This is your go-to side if you want something crunchy and different to munch on between bites of your main.
Now onto the main event – I ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich, which features an iceberg slaw, pickled jalapenos, and cheddar on a sesame bun. A crispy, breaded chicken sandwich rarely disappoints, and Soho Diner took this dish above and beyond with the hint of spice and tang, and freshness of the slaw. I loved the flavors and for a late first meal of the day, this hit the spot of something substantial and indulgent.
Our second main, the tuna melt, was divine. A perfectly grilled tuna steak, tangy tartar sauce, and a bit of cheddar on an english muffin. What’s not to love? This was a fancy treat. I’ve had a million tuna melts with canned tuna, which can be excellent and are one of my favorite snacks, but a tuna steak is next level. I would recommend finishing this at the table while it’s hot and in its freshest form.
Soho Diner yet again did not fail to disappoint, and we can’t wait to stop by again to try the rest of their menu!
Earlier this year, we got to check out Plan Do See’s famous Bubusan and Azabu New York. On Saturday, we went back to Azabu for their premier dining experience. The bottom level of the restaurant boasts a world-class Omakase experience: The Den. Nestled into a quiet street in Hudson Square, the New York location of Azabu Sushi draws inspiration from its wildly successful Miami counterpart while bringing in elements of New York charm.
It boasts a new name, new menu, and new space: Azabu New York aims to transport guests to Tokyo’s Azabu neighborhood, known today for its laid-back, chic vibe but originally as a hub for merchants and traders.
The interior of Azabu New York’s space is inspired by Buddhist and Shinto aesthetic qualities, with calming, simple decor, a hidden sliding-door entrance, and Noguchi lamps. Architect Ian Bentley of NOISE was the creative mind behind the new design. The Den emulates Buddhist design and Azabu captures Shinto elements, with its soft blonde wood counters and touches of cobalt blue.
We stopped by their happy hour launch a few months ago to sample some cocktails and excellently crafted nigiri, and learn more about the revamped Azabu’s mission. Sake, white wine, and red wine were served in beautifully designed cups as guests attending the launch settled into the clean, cozy space. We loved that happy hour, and were highly anticipating the opening of The Den, their second concept location of the Michelin-starred omakase speakeasy inside Azabu Miami Beach.
Our meal at The Den was an expertly crafted experience, led by Chef Toshihide Terado, who has over 20 years of culinary experience across the globe. The meal consisted of a series of appetizers, a toro tasting, chef’s choice seasonal nigiri, and finished off with miso soup and dessert. We started off with a carafe of Suijin Junmai sake, which was served in ornamental aluminum cups designed to conduct and maintain the temperature of the drink. It was the refreshing palate cleanser I craved and kept reaching for throughout the meal.
The few courses were a delish spread of crab salad, a mackerel preparation, squid and mantis shrimp. Each was bursting with flavor, both sweet and savory, and watching the careful creation of each dish took eating it to the next level. The nigiri portion of the Omakase began with a toro tasting: Akami (lean tuna), Chu-toro (medium fatty tuna), O-toro (fatty tuna) came out prepared with real wasabi, soy sauce, and sudachi (japanese lime). We had about 4 more pieces of nigiri which all blew me away, but my favorite was the Sanma which is also a type of mackerel. We wrapped up the meal with my favorite course of the night: uni rice topped with salmon roe and more firm uni. Decadent, creamy, and briny, this dish combined two of my favorite seafood items into one delicious flavor profile carried by the rice. After those amazing courses, we had some light and fluffy japanese omlette, comforting miso soup, and finished off the meal with the most juicy melon I’ve ever had.
Eating at The Den is an experience that treats all the senses, and it’s clear to see why the original Miami location earned a Michelin star. I loved all the dishes and the Chef’s explanations, and can’t wait to try more of Azabu New York’s offerings.
A new line of K-Beauty products is always a reason to get excited! MIZON just released their Phyto Plump series, which helps encourage youthful, hydrated skin using collagen. The line is vegan, and heals skin irritation and decreased elasticity using “Tremellan-MC Extract (known for suppressing free radicals, increasing the synthesis of collagen and moisturizing deep within the skin), Brown Algae Complex (known for retaining moisture, being high in proteins and suppressing inflammation) and D-panthenol (a provitamin of D-pantothenic acid that provides deep and long lasting moisturization, heals irritation and abrasions and improves luster and shine).”
I tried out five products in the range, the Toner, Serum, Day Cream, Night Cream, and Eye Gel patches, over the last month to see how they reacted to my skin.
First, I applied the Phyto Plump Collagen Toner right after cleansing my skin. While it was still a bit damp after drying, I poured a few drops of the toner into my hands and patted it into the skin. This toner feels almost like an essence, with a slightly thicker than water consistency. It feels luxurious and locks in the moisture, definitely leaving my skin looking plumped up and hydrated. Since I have normal skin and it’s not quite the dry winter season yet where I live, this toner was all I needed to quench my skin in the morning before I put on my sunscreen and makeup to head out the door.
Sometimes, when I wanted more dewy plumpness, I reached for the Phyto Plum Collagen Serum. It’s designed to “provide a dewy finish without the stickiness” and is lightweight enough to use during the daytime – it sinks right into your skin and feels like a more concentrated, thicker version of the toner. I noticed that my skin stayed hydrated and dewy all day when I used this product, and provided the perfect base for more “harsh” skincare treatments like retinol in the evening.
The next set of products in the line are the Phyto Plump Day Cream and the Phyto Plump Night Cream. Both incredibly hydrating, these products are well suited for dry skin or for winter routines. The day cream was unique because of its gel texture, yet it’s not a lightweight cream. Most gel moisturizers aren’t hydrating enough for dry skin, but this one will give you the cooling, non-tacky benefits of a gel cream while still providing the ample hydration for dry skin. The night cream is incredibly emollient, and almost feels like an overnight mask. I love using this to seal in my skincare treatments and make sure they’re at their maximal effectiveness, and then waking up with baby-soft, hydrated skin.
The final product in their Phyto Plump line is the Phyto Plump Gel Eye Patches. This was a new product for me in the rotation, since I’ve only used the single packets before for special occasions. The cooling slice of silicone sits comfortable under your eyes whether you sit back and relax or go about your other tasks, which is incredibly convenient for those on the go. I loved using these before heading out for the evening to meet friends for dinner or to an event. They leave your under eyes brightened, refreshed, and of course: plump. The patches left a nice layer of product even after I took them off, which left the perfect canvas for blending concealer seamlessly for a night out. I found these patches so fun to use, since they were outside my daily routine before I tried these products, and I might have to add them back in!
MIZON’s new Phyto Plump line is available on Amazon as of November 1st, and they also have lightning Black Friday deals:
- MIZON Snail Repair Intensive Gold Eye Gel Patch will be 37% off and MIZON All in One Snail Repair Cream (75ml) will be 25% off on November 25th from 8:35 AM PST to 8:35 PM PST
- Prime Exclusive Discount – MIZON Goodbye Blemish Soothing Gel Cream, Goodbye Blemish Fresh Toner, Goodbye Blemish Pink Spot, Cicaluronic Moisturizer, Collagen Miniature Set and Niacinamide Smoothing Body Lotion will be 20-35% off November 24th through November 28th, for prime members only.