Koku in Armonk, NY – Asian Fusion and Chinese Dialects at Their Best from Fuzhou, China

There is a new restaurant in Armonk, NY. As a resident of Armonk, I am so delighted that I now have more options on Asian Fusion restaurants. Koku took over Made In Asia next to the CVS in town. The restaurant is modern with hip designs that are comparable to those in the City.  I walked in with my 12-year-old and the brainless hostess sat us right in front of the bar where it was loud and child-inappropriate. Of course, I declined and sat ourselves at the sushi counter and watched the actions.

The friendly sushi chefs were absolutely amazing behind the counters. I couldn’t figure out what language they were speaking and I decided to ask.

“What language are you speaking?”
“Chinese!”
“That’s not Chinese!”

I exclaimed in both English and Mandarin, the official language of China and Taiwan. They then quickly switched into Mandarin and conversed with me. They were speaking the Fuzhou dialect.  I am slightly surprised because the Fuzhou dialect is close to the Min Nan dialect which is also known as Taiwanese. Yes, I can also maneuver in Taiwanese. Confused, I looked up Chinese Dialects in Wikipedia… OMG. This is a moment when having the 5,000 years of Chinese heritage means the world. We really should be more proud as a people. Grilled squid with Teriyaki sauce. Although this dish was in the menu in the restaurant, it is not listed on their website. That’s unfortunate because it was excellent. It was done the authentic Japanese way. The squid was still tender. It was so good that my picky small human changed her opinion on the squid and ate a lot of it! She used to reject eating squids. Salmon roll. Respectable. This is also not on the menu. My new sushi chef friends decided to treat us and made this crab and guacamole appetizer for us.Nabeyaki Udon: Noodle soup w. shrimp, chicken, egg, fishcake & vegetable. Sadly, this is the only dish that under-delivered. The broth was too young. The noodle did not absorb any of the goodness from the broth.

The restaurant appears to be staffed by people, other than the bartender and the hostess, from Fuzhou. They are the friendliest bunch I have ever known in Armonk. They all commute from Flushing; one of the chefs moved from Virginia for this job. They were so eager to please and to make sure that we like the food. They were so eager to deliver high customer service. I don’t think I could ask for more from a restaurant. Koku has great pricing, excellent food, wonderful staff, and a lively atmosphere. Highly recommended it.

This was a completely opposite experience than my recent trip into Chinatown. There was no belittling of me, click here to read my Chinatown post.  Koku’s people are young, vibrant and want to do the best they can. Chinatown is of the past and Asian Fusion in Armonk represents the future!

This experience took place at

Koku
454 Main St
Armonk, NY 10504
Phone:(914) 730-0077

Zanni Restaurant in Armonk, NY: Napa-Style Italian Cooking for Brunch

There used to be cafe inside Mariani’s Garden in Armonk, NY, where I frequented with my friends. As we were getting together again, I realized that Mariani’s was out of business and in its place came Zanni Restaurant, a self-proclaimed Napa-Style Italian cooking eatery. My friend and I went for brunch one Sunday.

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The breakfast menu looked very similar to that of the cafe before Mariani was closed. Cannot tell why this is Napa-style cooking with the menu. But ok, I gave it a try and ordered a dish of nondescript scrambled eggs. The eggs were cooked to my liking, much better than what I would have done. They were fluffy and balanced.  Seasoned well.

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This is the Gardener’s Veggie Frittata, with tomatoes, onions, avocado, mushrooms and prima donna gouda.  My friend enjoyed this dish very much.

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Here is the breakfast menu.

In summary, the food was pretty good. The wait staff was attentive and courteous. The restaurant was newly remodeled. The dinning room where we sat had huge skylights which made brunch in a cold November seemed like the best thing in the world. The coffee was decent and the value is there for Armonk. Will definitely return to enjoy the food and my friend’s company.

This experience took place at

Zanni Restaurant
45 Bedford Road, Armonk, NY 10504
(914) 273-6700

Moderne Barn in Armonk, NY – Good Food, Pushy Staff

I went to Moderne Barn in the village of Armonk, NY recently for the first time. This restaurant is very close to where I live but in the four years since it opened, I have not visited. I pass by it everyday to get on the highway. I was deterred from going because the menu really was not very interesting to me. Too conventional and too American. Alas, I am glad I went because the food was not bad.

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My friend and I shared everything. Here is our Lobster Cobb Salad with romaine, blue cheese, bacon, tomato, pickles, avocado, croutons, and eggs. I loved the addition of pickles; my friend did not. The pickles gave it the sourness and crunch that contrast well with the lobster.

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Seafood Risotto with mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari, and tomato.  This was very delicious.  The risotto was cooked well.  The seafood was fresh.

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Cast Iron Brownie à la Mode with vanilla ice cream, and chocolate sauce. This was the best dish of the night! We loved it. The cast iron pot was a great idea. The brownie was a little crunchy on the outside, warm and sweet. The vanilla ice cream slowly melted because of the warmth from the cast iron pot. It was excellent!

Now, here are some of the negative feedback on the restaurant. The staff was way too pushy. We arrived at 6pm for an early dinner on a Wednesday night. The restaurant was empty. But the staff was in our face, interrupting our conversations left and right, pushing us to order drinks, to order entrée, and to take the dishes away from us. Since the restaurant was empty, there were way more wait staff than customers. Multiple waiters came to bug us on the same thing. Unforgivable! Interrupting customers in mid-sentences.

Lastly, once the restaurant had more people, it was almost impossible to hear our conversation. The restaurant is set up beautifully but the architecture amplifies the sound.  All the conversations become louder than they are – like in the symphony halls.  The wait staff continues to try to kick us out while there were multiple empty tables right by us. I HATED that. We left before 8pm. Our dinner took less than two hours. The way the staff behaved was not cool.

Thumbs up on the food.  Thumbs down on the service.  😦

This experience took place at

Moderne Barn
430 Bedford Road
(Route 22)
Armonk, NY 10504
Phone 914 730 0001

Zero Otto Nove in Armonk, NY – My New Favorite Italian Restaurant

Zero Otto Nove in Armonk is one of the new restaurants by Robertos from Arthur Ave in the Bronx.  I was so happy that it came to my neighborhood this June.  Now I no longer need to drive the 45 mins into the Bronx to get authentic Italian food!  Last Thursday night, I brought 14 of my closest work friends with me to experience this culinary delight.

Oh!  Contrary to popular practice and belief, they will take your reservation when it’s a large group to spare you from hours of waiting, standing on your feet.  Their phone manners were not the best neither were their waiters.  The waiters seem to not hear when you call them nor are they flexible enough to take your orders when you are ready.  It was just a weird experience with their service.  They pushed a lot of wine on us… Coming from my wine background, I know how much margin the restaurant makes on these bottles of wines.

Just thankful that the food was good and I delivered on my promise.

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Polipo alla Griglia
This is one of our appetizers. For some in my party, this is the first time they ever tried octopus. It was grilled to perfection. The tentacles were still soft but slightly charred on the outside. Thanks to the reluctance of my friends, I ate so much grilled octopus that night. Hehe… probably the reason why I ordered it. 🙂

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Antipasto Freddo
Mortadella, sopressata, finocchione, capicollo, culatello, marinated eggplant,ricotta salata, green olives & spicy Sicilian pecorino. Could not really identify accurately what is what but everything was excellent on this plate.

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Polpettine, Polenta & Caprino
By this third appetizer dish, I was full. But the small meatballs were very juicy. I did not eat the polenta.. though it is one of my favorites.

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Mafalde con Salsicca e Provola
I have to admit that I did not sample most of the dishes below but my friends were all extremely satisfied with their selections.

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Chilean Sea Bass Marechiara
Can you imagine this fish at sea? Apologies to the vegan friend whose dish did not make the cut onto this article. Brocolli rabe and cheesed over cauliflowers just look awful in the photos.

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Orecchiette con Broccoli di Rapa
This was a popular dish at my table. Multiple orders! The almonds looked crunchy.

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Linguini al Nero di Seppia
A very yummy dish but apparently got beat by the pasta with truffles!

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Looks like Ravioli to me… Unfortunately, I did not get the name of this dish. It must have been a special. Who had this?

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Insalata di Barbabietole e Burrata
This was my entrée. The Burrata was divine. 🙂 Look at the balsamic dripping line. What a beauty!

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Mystery dish. Gotta ask my friend Mike what this was. My guess is that it is Vitello con Cotechino. Should have spent more time socializing at the other end of the table.

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Special – Lamb Osso Buco.
This would have been one of my options for the entrée if I had the room.

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Kind of difficult to tell from the photo which one of the 13 pizzas on the menu is this one. But I know the friend had a smile with this pizza.

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Special – This is the infamous pasta with truffles. Multiple orders at my table. Apparently for a friend, this was the best thing she has eaten since slice bread… Not bad but a little entertaining at the same time. Of the top of my head, I can think of some other items that are better than slice bread. Appreciate the enthusiasm though!

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Risotto alla Barbabietola e Brasato
Risotto! Exclamation!

There was so much food and wine all night.  After a while, I stopped keeping track of what was coming and who was eating what. At the same time, the restaurant was pretty loud so it made rather interesting disjointed conversations between you and the person not next to you. Not much better for conversations between you and the person next to you. It was a sensory overload night.

The entire table also ordered dessert. I ordered profiteroles and sadly I was disappointed. Should have gone for the lime sorbet to cleanse my palate.

Would I recommend this restaurant? Yes, for its food. But one should not expect to conduct a proper conversation since there is no audio insulation built in. Perhaps go at a quieter time and sit on its patio, looking up to the moon in the night sky. Reminded me of Italy.

This experience took place at

Zero Otto Nove, Armonk
55 Old Route 22
Armonk, NY 10504
Call: 1 914 273 0089