I was following Google Map on my way to Kiki’s and then suddenly got lost briefly because there was a Chinese sign at the location where the restaurant was supposed to be. Interesting… Isn’t this supposed to be a Greek restaurant? Well, this neighborhood is Chinatown after all, and the owner of the restaurant must’ve thought it wasn’t worth changing the sign to Greek letters. In any event, the restaurant got quickly packed and there were people who started waiting on the queue soon after my wife Jun and I, plus another couple, got seated (we showed up around 7 p.m. on a Friday evening). Greek cuisine is still an area I haven’t had a chance to fully explore (compared to, say, Italian or Japanese), but I can tell why Kiki’s is a popular tavern in this remote area of the city. The solid food offerings here is likely to please almost anyone who is at the table.
We started with a couple of spreads. Jun is always partial to tzatziki (the Greek yogurt dip with cucumber) so we ordered one here, along with fava (creamy golden split-pea puree topped with tomato onion sauce and capers). The favorite for our party, however, was the simple, smoky eggplant mash topped with crushed walnuts. The smoky feel of eggplant was quite addictive without overpowering in flavor. The Grilled octopus at Kiki’s, while simply prepared, was almost cooked to perfection in terms of texture, which is often hard to pull off at a restaurant. We also ordered spaghetti with shrimp and light white wine-tomato sauce, which turned out to be slightly more interesting than a run-of-the-mill tomato spaghetti dish in flavor.
The savory course ended with a large plate of mixed grill accompanied by hand cut fries and grilled pita. We had more mixed experiences here. By far the best meat items were lamb shops which were cooked very nicely without overpowering flavor while maintaining smoky feel; on hindsight, we should’ve just ordered more lamb chops instead of going with the mixed grill. On the other hand, loukaniko (orange peal flavor traditional sausage) and bifteki (classic Greek spiced ground-beef patty) were both over-seasoned such that we couldn’t get much out of the texture of either meat. For desserts, we shared the classic baklava (honey-walnut-filled layers of filo dough) and a massive shredded pastry topped with creamy vanilla custard, whipped cream and pistachios. Both were a little bit too sweet for my taste, although my sweet tooth wife didn’t complain as she savored every bite of baklava.
The restaurant doesn’t accept reservations so I highly recommend visiting early to get seated without long wait times. There are some interesting Greek wines (both white and red) that you may want to try to complement your meal. The hip atmosphere of the dining space, where the crowd was mostly on the younger side, makes Kiki’s an ideal place for a casual dinner with friends before a night out in nearby Lower East Side. Kiki’s is the type of no-frills place that I would love to come again and sample more dishes of Greece.
- Creativity: 7.0/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 7.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: 130 Division Street, New York, NY 10002
Telephone: (646) 882-7052