One of my favorite Japanese restaurant in NYC is Bohemian. Not only they have amazing food, but they have the best setting for relaxing, calm, cozy, and beautiful dining space. They are exclusive (referral-only) East Village Japanese restaurant, hidden behind a butcher shop. No open table reservation or walk-in allowed here. You either have to know someone who dined here personally, or, invited by the restaurant to dine here. By having this strict system, it is they created a place that is quiet, peaceful “hang-out” space for family and friends. I was fortunate enough to visit Bohemian in Japan as well (you can read my review here: http://www.foodlovergirl.com/bohemian-nishiazabu/), and it was really wonderful experience.
There is no sign or advertisement for this place, keeping it very secretive, which I love. After you pass the butcher shop with a cow, you will be going through a long ally. I actually have never been inside of the butcher shop…maybe I will check their meats out someday.
The long walkway with brick wall on one side ends with a frosted glass door. There is a door bell on the wall, and you have to ring the bell and let the staff open it from the inside. (It can’t be opened from the outside)
As soon as you walk in, you are transported to an oasis, a space of perfect tranquility. They only have around 22 seating, plus around 6 counter seats at the bar.
With this setting with limited seating, even when it is fully packed, you still don’t feel like you are in a crowded space. It is never going to be super loud, or people bumping into, or struggling to move around. For a larger parties of 4 or more, they have an area with sofas, so you are still able to relax and have a good time with your loved ones.
The bar is quite beautiful as well, and they have plenty of drink offerings, from sake, cocktail, hard liqueur… They know how to make a great drinks here.
And it does get full, I assume every night, as they book up on their reservation pretty quickly. Our reservation was the first time slot available, so we got there right when they opened, so we were the first ones to get there. I like to have that extra peaceful and relaxing atmosphere before it gets full.
They have a large skylight on the ceiling, so until the sunset, it is pretty nice and bright in the inside. After that, the skylight is lit up in warm yellow light, and the light is carried throughout the restaurant with soft, cozy hues.
We started off with couple of drinks. We ordered Bohemian Weekend ($14) and Indian Cooler ($14). The Bohemian Weekend is made with homemade organic strawberry syrup, rum, lemon juice, raspberry liqueur, cava, and lemon twist. It is a sparkling cocktail, and came in a very tall glass. Very tasty, great strawberry flavor, refreshing, and sweet without being overly sweet. The Indian Cooler is great for chai lovers. It is made with chai infused Bacardi Gold, crème de framboise, house made ginger syrup, lemon juice, club soda, and Masala tea powder. It was really good, solid cocktail. Strong, generous amount, and very flavorful. It is not as spicy as I thought, which was great. It had just the right amount of chai spice, smooth and refreshing.
They really have interesting, unique, and high quality drinks here. They are made to perfection, and I haven’t had a drink that I didn’t like from there. And since they have all types of drinks, you will be able to find something that will interest you for sure. We enjoyed both of these drinks for sure.
As for food, we ordered their Bohemian Tasting Course ($62/person). It is a great price for all that you are getting. It comes with Farmer’s Fresh Vegetable Fondue, Uni Croquette, Washu-Beef Short Rib Sashimi, Pan Roasted Branzino, Choice of Burger or Rice, and Dessert. In order to order this, it is required that everyone at the table orders the tasting course, as most of all other restaurants out there.
Farmer’s Fresh Vegetable Fondue is a fun dish. They get super fresh vegetables from a farm, and we dip them in a warm cheese… Each bite is met with super crisp veggie, and the cheese is really tasty also. It is so refreshing, great start to a great dinner.
They have lettuce, carrots, bell peppers, radishes, cucumbers, and grape tomatoes. They have the same amount of veggies on both sides, so you can share equally (unless you don’t want to…). The veggies are sitting on a huge bowl of crushed ice, so they are sure to remain fresh.
We finished that off pretty easily. When you are presented with extremely fresh, high quality veggies, with side of delicious cheese, they can disappear before you know it.
The second course, Uni Croquette, is actually a mushroom croquette, with huge Uni on top. It comes super hot to the table, so be careful not to burn your tongue! The croquette is in perfect round shape, crunchy on the outside and super creamy in the inside. The amount of Uni is rather large, and very fresh, high quality.
The Uni has a little sea salt on top, and it gives that additional flavor that makes this dish work perfectly in harmony.
Next up is Washu-Beef Short Rib Sashimi. They are thinly sliced, high quality beef, lightly grilled. Comes with pickled daikon and marinated garlic, wasabi, and lemon. It also comes with a dipping sauce. The meat is so tender and soft, it melts in your mouth! You can eat it as is, or put a little wasabi, a slice of garlic and have the together to add extra flavor. The meat itself has great flavor, so you don’t need anything extra, but added garlic and wasabi does make it more interesting. The lemon also gives the refreshing flavor as well. “Washu-Beef” is a type of wagyu, or Japanese beef, of very high quality.
About this time, we were getting a bit full. When the Pan Roasted Branzino came to the table, we were surprised of the size, it was huge! It looked so amazing, we were so excited to dig in! It comes with seasonal veggies from a farm, and they were just fantastic. The fish was cooked perfectly, with the right amount of seasonings. The veggies were super tasty, everything from potatoes, mushrooms, Brussels Sprouts, and everything else were such delight. And the garlic was grilled to perfection as well, almost becoming a thick paste, we spread them over whatever we were eating and it was great! Incredible dish.
At this point, we ordered more cocktails, this time we got Bergamot ($14) and Mint Gold ($14). The Bergamot is made with Earl Grey infused Gin, home-made pomegranate syrup, lemon juice, organic egg white, and Angostura Bitters. It was beautiful just to look at, with the peachy color bottom and white top, pretty ombre color. The egg white top was very creamy and velvety, the drink itself had a great flavor of Earl Grey, perfect drink for a tea lover. It was the best drink we have tasted here, so far. The Mint Gold is made with Bourbon, house made ginger syrup, fresh mint, lime, club soda, and homemade candied ginger. It was sweet, refreshing, with carefully muddled mint leaves, super tasty. This is their take on mint julep and dark & stormy, and they have done a wonderful job. It also have lots of crushed ice, so the longer you take drinking it, the less strong the drink will become.
For the Choice of Burger or Rice we chose the different ones so that we can taste them both. The “Rice” is a Sashimi Rice Bowl, with Japanese cucumber pickles, tosa-zu jelly (a type of vinegar, made into a jelly form), and fresh sashimi of kanpachi and tuna, and my favorite, Ikura (salmon roe). It was rather small bowl, but after the Branzino (and everything else), I was relieved to see the small size. The sushi rice underneath all the goodness was also really tasty. They only use the high quality ingredients here. It was great from the first bite the last. So fresh, delicious, a heavenly dish.
The “Burger” is a Bohemian’s Washu-Beef Mini Burger, and comes with fried potatoes. It has huge, juicy beef patty with pecorino cheese and Sautéed Onions. It was so good and flavorful, and the potatoes were amazing as well. It was larger than “mini” and smaller than regular size. The patty was packed with flavor!
The Dessert was Yuzu Panna Cotta. It was so nice and velvety, light and creamy, delicate and sophisticated. Not overly sweet, just the right amount of sweetness. Great yuzu flavor, refreshing and nice way to end the wonderful dinner.
What you get here at Bohemian is not only the delicious food, but the whole experience. It will be one of the best dinner experience in the City for sure. To dine with the ones you love, at such relaxing, tranquil space is great, but to have such high quality food and drinks just take it to the next level. The server of this night was not very friendly or nice, which was disappointing… but you can’t always have the best server each time you visit. Our previous visit was even more fantastic because our server was a warm, kind, friendly person who welcomed us with big smile. I can’t wait to go back for some other dishes that they offer, as they have interesting and amazing menu outside the tasting course menu.