I love speakeasy bars in New York City that have secret entrances and charming space inside serving great cocktail selections. Obviously, it’s hard to keep a speakeasy in New York secret once you start making a name as an awesome hang-out spot; I still haven’t been able to visit the famed PDT, due to the fact it gets constantly mobbed by crowds day in and day out. On the other hand, the number of secret restaurants is far and few between. This year, for instance, out of over 120 places I’ve visited in New York , I can only think of Karasu in Brooklyn and dinnertable in East Village as the only “behind the curtain” spots. One place in the city out of this rarefied category that has been around for a long time now and been able to stay relatively under the radar is Bohemian in NoHo neighborhood. It’s a Japanese restaurant behind a Japanese butcher shop where you need a secret phone number to call for reservations based on referral from someone who already knows the restaurant and is on the restaurant’s list. It sounds circular, but you get the point on the air of exclusivity this place tries to convey. I’ve actually been to Bohemian a couple of years ago through my friend and liked the place but I wouldn’t say my dining experience was great. For the Christmas Eve dinner with my girlfriend, I wanted to see if this place has changed at all and decided to come for a second visit. Overall, I had a very satisfying meal.
The Christmas Eve special at Bohemian consisted of a $95 per person tasting menu, starting with fresh vegetable and fondue that is being heated right in front of you. The vegetable was incredibly fresh and I really liked the way the fondue added another dimension to the vegetable as it got hotter over time. My girlfriend and I were also in love with the sashimi selection that consisted of blue fin tuna, medium fatty tuna, tuna, Scottish salmon and sea urchin. All of the pieces had high level of freshness and awesome texture that I lamented the fact that there only two pieces each for the fish. Lobster mac and cheese that followed also had aromatic flavor without excessive level of heaviness, perfect for dipping with toasts that came on top.
The highlight of the meal, however, clearly belonged to the holiday meat selection. This assortment of washugyu steak, grilled chicken and Mongolian BBQ lamb chops was quite a sight to behold. I really enjoyed all of them. Steak could’ve used a tad less salt sprinkled on top of it, but otherwise the texture was spot on, chicken was also quite nicely cooked and I was quite partial to the sweet touch of BBQ lamb chops that were also grilled the way lamb chops should be grilled in terms of texture. Too bad the portions were a little too much for both of us (even though I was starving before the meal) and we couldn’t finish all of the meat. After the decadent meat fest, the desserts were somewhat more modest, a combination of raspberry sorbet from Morgenstern’s and chocolate buche de noel (think sponge cake) the latter of which was not overly sweet to my liking but I was beyond stuffed by this point so I couldn’t finish it all with my girlfriend.
As noted above, you need a secret telephone number and referral (feel free to send me a direct message if you want to check out this place) to get your foot at the door. The cozy space once you enter the secret door is quite fitting for a date night, although I wish the chairs were a little bit more comfortable. There is full bar with inventive Japanese-inspired cocktail selections that would go very well with your meal. Bohemian is the type of place I would want to go back more often if possible, with satisfying food along with the charming vibe of secret space that I wish I see more often in New York City. After all, we have way too many clubby, glitzy restaurants in the city, right?
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
Address: 57 Great Jones Street, New York, NY 10012
Telephone: Secret (Please PM me)