When I visited the original Aska at an unassuming dining space inside Williamsburg’s Kinfolk Studio several years ago, I instantly knew I would love this restaurant. At that time, I had yet to get enough exposure to the taste of Scandinavian cuisine that stresses freshness of ingredients, clean flavor and minimalistic aesthetics, so the dining experience at Aska was certainly a revelation. When chef Fredrick Berselius decided to close shop about a couple of years ago, I was therefore devastated. Thankfully, chef Berselius promised to come back in a new location, but the new opening of Aska 2.0 has been delayed for a long time until it finally happened last summer. I’ve been yearning to visit this new location in southern side of Williamsburg to see how it has evolved. On my recent Saturday visit, my girlfriend and I had to brave through the heavy snow, coming all the way from a Broadway show in Manhattan. Was it worth all the trouble? Absolutely! I’m so glad that Aska has come back, even better than its original form.
On my first visit, I was pleasantly surprised by the use of novel ingredients and techniques inspired by the nature of the Scandinavian region. Compared to the original location, I would say Aska 2.0 has matured tremendously with more imagination and ingenuity and turned into an awesome dining destination in the city (no surprise the restaurant received two Michelin stars on the first year it re-opened). Compared to the tasting menu that never passed $100 per person in the original location, the new Aska offers two pricier options (19-course option for $215 per person and 10-course option for $145 per person), but I wasn’t complaining. If the first Aska was a nice introductory course to Scandinavian cuisine, the new location is an advanced graduate studies course, with so much more technical sophistication and boldness in experimentation. Every dish stands out on its own. Maine oyster was a nice start to the meal, and the next dish of grilled onion and Finnish caviar looked deceptive simple but so marvelous in the complexity of flavor that I was desperately scooping for the leftover caviar to make sure that I have it all.
The “lichen” dish consisting of chanterelle mushroom and preserved pine shoots was another beauty, with rich, aromatic broth from mushroom seasoned with chanterelle vinegar that was simply wonderful. I’ve had outstanding beef dishes last year, but I don’t know if any of them can top the 120-day dry aged ribeye accompanied by preserved black currant and salted plum. The ribeye was more or less perfect in its juicy, tender state, and the seasoning was toned down just to my liking so that I can savor every single bite of this astounding piece of meat. Desserts certainly didn’t lag behind either in terms of creativity of the kitchen. Fermented blueberries and milk sorbet made for a nice combination to clean my palate, but I can’t stop thinking about the one that came after, a bowl of birchwood ice cream accompanied by caramelized pine mushrooms. The clean, delightful flavor of the dish was such a joy to savor that I would love to get a taste of it at least once every week. We finished our meal with two delicious bites of chocolate “truffles” inside a little bowl that looks like a bird nest and finally woke up from this blissful meal.
Aska requires advance reservations by purchasing tickets through Tock, so plan ahead and purchase these tickets. Unlike the casual vibe of Kinfolk Studio that is flowing with artists and local Brooklynite hipsters during daytime, the dining space at Aska 2.0 has seemed to matured as well, with minimalistic Scandinavian vibe and an air of tranquility and serenity that I found a lot to like, especially for a dinner date with my girlfriend. I didn’t see any cocktail menus, but there are a lot of carefully sourced wine and beer selections (make sure to start your meal with a glass of aquavit, and Aska has a bunch of house aquavit selections too). I’m glad that Aska has made this glorious comeback. Chef Berselius (who graciously agreed to take post-dinner photos with me and my girlfriend) really knows how to push the boundaries in his culinary vision that is inspired by nature of Scandinavia. I would love to come back soon!
- Creativity: 9.5/10
- Execution: 9.0/10
- Ingredients: 9.5/10
- Flavor: 9.0/10
- Texture: 9.0/10
Address: 47 South 5th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249
Telephone: (929) 337-6792