Discover more from Broken Palate
Dine and Dash
A new bar at Moynihan Train Hall and fine dining in the Subway below Herald Square are discovered by our friends at FOUND NY
This week our friends at FOUND NY — a twice-weekly newsletter for people with good taste in and around New York City — have discovered a new commuter bar at Moynihan Train Hall and a fine dining establishment under Herald Square and subscribe to FOUND here.
Even as the stretch of Broadway north of 23rd Street has come up in the world, Herald Square? Not so much. It remains one of the least appealing places in Manhattan, ranking just above its decrepit subway station. Yet there we were last week, taking the stairs down to Nōksu, which sits behind a black door with a keypad lock.
Before the descent, our primary frame of reference for NYC’s subway-vestibule eating and drinking establishments (excluding major transit hubs) was Siberia, a legendarily divey dive bar originally located in the 1/9 stop at 50th and Broadway. There was nothing “tasting menu” about that place, Nonetheless, it was top of mind as we typed in our secret code and unlocked the door to Nōksu.
Nōksu is the opposite of Siberia. Through the key padded door (the code changes daily) lies a sleek 13-seat black and white counter with plush bar seats. To the left, is a spotless open kitchen, where chef Dae Kim and team prepare a 12-course, seafood-centric, Korean-inflected tasting menu.
If you’re the sort of person who hears about a new $225 tasting menu and gets flushed, you should go to Nōksu: press-friendly narrative notwithstanding, this is a serious entrant into the upper echelon of NYC counter dining. (Among the best courses: an oyster swimming in broth with fluke and prawn, and surf clam, buried in hen egg custard, scallion emulsion, and caviar.)
Even if you pointedly avoid this kind of thing, perhaps Nōksu should be the exception to your rule. As a New York City restaurant, Nōksu is very good. As a New York City experience, it’s excellent. Stepping from a battered and bruised subway station tunnel into a pristine jewel box of a restaurant is not something you’ll forget anytime soon. (Also, “I had dinner recently in the Herald Square subway station,” a top-notch conversation starter in just about any situation.)
One missed connection: the discordant stream of ’80s pop and rock that didn’t pair with the youthful enthusiasm of Kim’s cooking. By course 12, we were ready to leave Steve Winwood behind for the evening. But that was okay, we had a train to catch, right outside the door, and back into the bowels of the city. –Josh Albertson
There’s a food menu at the Irish Exit, a new bar in Moynihan Station from the team behind Wall Street cocktail den Dead Rabbit, but at 5 p.m. last Wednesday, no one sitting at the bar was eating. This was commuter drinking, focused and efficient.
We circled the bar three times before finding a pair of stools, right behind the bar-top espresso martini machine. The gentleman next to us drank Guinness, Airpods in, his two iPhones facedown on the bar.
Per the bartender, the specialty of the house is “whiskey,” but we opted for the cocktail menu, which is elaborate in a way perhaps unsuited to drinkers with trains to catch. Still, our “Last Class Pass” and “Lost & Found” were mixed and served in the time it took for the ticker with cheeky slogans above the bar to reset.
Over our drinks, we discussed whether the gentrification of train hall drinking and dining — from tallboys in ice chests to a cocktail list conceived by the owners of a former “best bar in America” — is progress or encroachment. Verdict: Maybe a bit of both. –Josh Albertson
→ The Irish Exit (Moynihan Train Hall) • daily from 10 a.m. to midnight • 421 Eighth Ave.