Fusion is the fashion these days, but the concept is fairly fuzzy. It can just mean that an Italian and an Argentine got married and decided to share a stove. But if you’re lucky, it will really mean that some great minds with good cooking skills have pooled ingredients and techniques from different parts of the world to create dishes that are fresh and delicious. Extra points for serving them in pleasing surroundings.
That’s the case with Sachi, a stylish Asian fusion bistro that opened on Second Avenue in September with a talented crew in charge. The result is worth a detour.
Part of the restaurant’s punch comes from star power. The leading lights in Sachi’s kitchen are the pan-Asian masters, Pichet Ong and Andy Yang, whose New York restaurant Rhong-Tiam became the first Thai restaurant in the country in 2010 to win a Michelin star. Jason Walsh, a celebrity mixologist, concocted the drinks.
Sachi is loosely divided into a long cocktail bar, an elegant dining area lined with oversized red pleather booths (each able to accommodate six), a less formal section with more closely spaced smaller tables and an even more casual area along the front window, where you sit on tall stools at elevated tables. The furnishings are largely dark-toned California modern, but a hint of Chinatown glitz shines through in the occasional golden lion sculpture.
Happily, the house music pulsating in the background is at a level that encourages conversation. And the service is exceptional. During three visits, the staff were fast and friendly but also attentive and respectful.
For all that, of course, it’s the food that counts, and Sachi does not disappoint. Reflecting the great breadth of Asian cooking styles, the menu offerings are numerous and broad, as they tend to be at fusion establishments. There’s a dim sum selection ($7 to $10), for example, along with numerous types of sushi, sashimi and rolls ($3.50 to $16). Some are traditional but others are original — picture a “Texas” roll ($14) of fried oysters, barbecued pork belly, cucumber, shiso leaves and pineapple.
The fusion really gets going among the starters and main dishes. Standouts include the Shaking Beef (morsels of steak, tomato, onion and shishito peppers stir-fried until charred, $16), Lemon Duck (French-style, thinly sliced rare duck breast in a sweet sauce with Asian greens, $16) and Braised Short Rib Massaman Curry (a supertender deeply flavored boneless short rib, $16).
We also loved the Teriyaki Octopus starter (tender thick-grilled tentacles perched on a slab of sweet roasted yam $14), the Crab Shumai dumplings ($10) and a plate of three steamed Charsiu Duck Buns (duck chunks long-simmered in a hoisin-based sauce and stuffed into puffy steamed pastries, $8). The Oink Oink Oink Fried Rice (bits of pork and other treats embedded in fried black rice, $14) and Lemongrass Poussin (half a roasted baby chicken resting on a black rice pilaf, $14) were also tasty. But the starring flavors got lost in the Lobster Pot Stickers ($10) and the Eel Taco (tangy bits of eel tucked into a taco shell with cucumber slivers, $8).
The lunch specials are a particularly good deal. These are described as bento boxes ($10 to $13), though they are not served in the traditional wooden black box but instead on large square white plates. They combine a decent size serving of some of the regular menu offerings, accompanied by a bowl of miso soup, a vegetable or small salad, a few morsels of dim sum and pieces of California or avocado cucumber roll.
Sachi has plenty of seats at the bar; and the drinks menu is sizable and reasonably priced. It includes cocktails, sakes, plum wines, 16 beers ($6 to $10) and 18 wines ($30 to $65 a bottle, $8 to $14 per glass).
Sachi Asian Bistro is open Monday through Saturday from noon to 11:30 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 11 p.m. It is located at 717 Second Avenue between 38th and 39th Streets. (212) 297-1883
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Irwin Arieff is a veteran writer and editor with extensive experience writing about international diplomacy and food, cooking and restaurants. Before leaving daily journalism in 2007, he was a Reuters correspondent for 23 years, serving in senior posts in Washington, Paris and New York as well as at the United Nations (where he covered five of the 10 years that Sergey Lavrov spent in New York as Russia’s senior UN ambassador). Arieff also wrote restaurant reviews for The Washington Post and Washington City Paper in the 1980s and 1990s with his wife, Deborah Baldwin.