Hortus NYC, located in NoMad Manhattan of NYC, is a newly opened restaurant with an interesting concept to reinvent modern Asian cuisine in New American style for dining, infusing local and seasonal ingredients with fresh and contemporary flavors. Hortus, meaning garden in Latin, is the idea behind the restaurant with its main emphasis focusing on freshness. The theme of the garden run evidently through the interior décor and design and is apparent from the moment you enter the restaurant.
Upon entering, you are greeted with a huge and tall plant, practically the size of a small tree, located right by a wall of two sets of door-like objects with a unique geometric pattern across them. It feels as if a different realm to a mysterious and magical garden is right beyond those doors. However, guests are then guided down the long ramp to one of the four distinct areas: first-floor bar dining, second floor main dining room, sun-lit lounge, and outdoor garden dining. Along the way and throughout the dining experience, you will sense an industrial feel, and with the modern interior design, it instills a romantic aspect into the ambiance, thus enhancing the overall dining experience. There are also artificial green plant walls at a lot of locations, even in the restrooms. The minimalistic design of the lighting right above the bar dining area visually become plants that grow (hang) in this garden.
“It starts from the ground up – we pride ourselves in providing a menu that delights the palate while celebrating sustainable and seasonal ingredients.”
To start, there is a raw menu consisting of oysters, scallops, shrimp cocktail and king crab. Or you can order the Raw Platter, which has it all, absolutely fresh and great to share amongst a group of three to four people. There are several hot and cold appetizers to choose from on the menu. The Crispy Sea Urchin, uni served over fried seaweed paper topped with lardo, is an absolute surprise. The fried seaweed and lardo shed some of its warmth to the sea urchin, thus rendering it even more smooth than usual but still sweet and creamy, basically melting right away. However, the fried seaweed paper gives it a crunch, adding a layer of texture in each bite. The Bone Marrow Mussels is served with a bowl of mussels in a bone marrow broth. A wooden ladle and bowl are provided to make sure that a spoon of bone marrow broth with some Szechuan pepper oil accompanies each bite of mussel. The broth is relatively soothing to drink but also gives an additional spicy kick to balance out the sweetness of mussels.
Under the To Share portion of the menu, the seafood option consists of steamed cods, scallops, mussels & shrimps, Thai basil and kaffir lime. The seafood is superbly fresh and cooked just right. The broth it comes with for this dish is absolutely different than the appetizer. The side of Grilled Onigiris complemented the seafood dish very well, and when eaten together, it adds an extra layer of aroma and taste to every bite of it. You will find yourself drinking the broth nonstop or soaking up the broth with an onigiri.
Throughout the meal, Hortus provides an extensive list of wines and drinks to accompany every mood or dish to make sure all goes right and that the dining experience is enriched significantly. To finish it off, they have an amazing Rice Pudding topped with fresh mangoes, mango syrup, condensed milk and black lime.
The idea of the garden and its connection to freshness is strongly shown in Hortus NYC. From the four different areas of dining to its interior design to everything cooked and served, it definitely portrays the layers of a garden from bottom up. All guests entering are like plants awaiting to grow and blossom from this garden. And through that, Hortus grows.