The last time I visited Aska with my wife Jun (who was still my girlfriend then) a couple of years ago in the winter, there was snow blizzard on our way to the restaurant. We were heading over to Williamsburg from downtown Manhattan so obvious the ride wasn’t quite pleasant, but I was very glad we ended up making the trip anyway as the meal that we shared was one of the best we had had together (see my review from 2017 here https://kenscale.com/2017/01/11/aska/). In the quest (starting this year) to find restaurants that we would plan to go more than just once, I thought of Aska as one of the strong candidates. Of course, the tasting menu price at $265 per person (to be secured by $95 non-refundable deposit on Tock website) doesn’t make the restaurant a place to visit every day, but if the menu changes on a seasonal basis, I figured it could be one of those places that Jun and I can go three to four times a year (just like I recently designated Atomix as one such place on the KenScale All Star list). I’m happy to report that our second meal at Aska was just as memorable and I’m ready to give the KenScale All Star badge to the restaurant.
The tasting menu at Aska has certainly gone up in price (last time I had the 10-course tasting at the restaurant, it was $145 per person), but it was clear that chef Fredrik Berselius’s kitchen doesn’t settle or play safe even after the restaurant has gained accolades left and right. The plating, starting from the opening bladderwrak with blue mussel emulsion, and ending with the petit fours of “mignardises”, was just as thoughtful as last time, and the addition to flowers here and there greatly enhanced the visual appeal as well. If I wake up with a bite of potato cake with roe smoked in dried carrot tops and elderflower every morning, I will certainly start my day a much happier person. The razor clam with tiny slices of preserved black pine and cucumber was one fine piece of work, and the textural contrast between the caviar from Poland and the dried cabbage submerged in the sauce made from fermented asparagus juice was quite outstanding as well.
You don’t often see the tiny brain part of langoustine used in a restaurant, but that’s what the kitchen sent out, alongside the tail and claw meat; Jun thought the brain was a little too buttery but I liked its rich flavor. Following another outstanding dish of grilled onion and scallop and the warm Manitoba bread accompanied by butter and whipped pork fat came my best dish of the night, a perfectly poached hake with sunchoke; I was astounded by the silky smooth texture of the fish that was melting in my mouth and contrasted very well with the sunchoke’s texture. I don’t usually get quail for a meat dish because it doesn’t have the same satisfaction in texture that other types of poultry provide, but I had no compliant about the roasted bird (with a rather intimidating display of feet) with summer truffle. After the end of the savory dishes, the black currant tart with fresh cheese served as a nice palate cleanser before we moved to ice cream made from toasted hay and summer flowers that was quite a treat to end the meal.
Because getting a reservation at Aska requires the non-refundable deposit mentioned above and the restaurant is still quite popular among fine dining aficionados in the city, I would highly recommend advance planning to secure your table. There is full bar with rather esoteric list of wines (we really enjoyed a pinot noir from Oregon outside of the famed Willamette Valley that developed quite nicely in the air over the course of our meal) from lesser-known regions of the world. It was almost two and a half years ago that Jun and I had visited Aska, so we were greatly surprised by the greeting from our server who noted our previous visit; even chef Fredrik who we had taken photos together last time came by to say hi. I couldn’t be sure if anyone working at the restaurant remembered us (even though we were probably the only people that still made it to the restaurant despite the horrible weather outside last time), but the extra gesture of hospitality certainly helped with my impression of Aska even more. As we headed out of the restaurant, Jun and I promised our server that we will be back sometime in November. And we certainly will.
KenScale: 9.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.75/10)
- Creativity: 9.0/10
- Execution: 9.0/10
- Ingredients: 9.0/10
- Flavor: 9.0/10
- Texture: 9.0/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: 47 South 5th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249
Telephone: (929) 337-6792