Into every Hopper’s life, a little rain must fall. But while we have been on hiatus, the City’s fusion food offerings have proliferated apace. All the better. A dedicated hopper is one who rejoins the throng with an eager heart, empty stomach, and keen eye. We brought all three to Bari, a relatively new place delivering Korean plates under heavy Japanese influence. Would that all neighboring countries shared such secrets and delights with each other.
The space is bare, nearly cavernous, the better—perhaps— to focus on a sprawling menu and diverse drink offerings.
Much has transpired in the lives of these two dedicated Hoppers, so it was fitting that we start with two brisk cocktails and a leisurely review of the menu, between rounds of catching up and comparing notes.
The Bari martini is a fairly robust departure from the classic mainstay, but its combination of gin, cucumber, basil, ginger, lemongrass, and lime juice made for a kind of boozy hit of salad in a glass. The “signature cocktail” menu leans toward fruity, light concoctions, occasionally shot through with a muddled jalapeño. The well-edited sake list similarly plays with flavors that can cool or bite.
We started with the salmon noodles—a tightly wound bouquet of soba topped with chunks of raw salmon, watercress, and a beguiling sprinkle of flying fish roe that served to break the smooth noodles with their definitive, crisp pop.
Our next move was an order of the Korean-style chicken wings in soy garlic sauce, the meat brined and juicy and the crunchy cartilage yielding under tooth. While Bari, which means bowl, is no izakaya, the work of fusing diverse flavors from multiple points of view is in evidence here just as it is in the Japanese gastro pub. For us, we were right at home, snacking on the wings and catching up in true Hopper fashion.
Though Bari identifies as a “Korean-new American restaurant”, its Japanese influences are clear. We finished up the night with a pair of ikura sushi—the salmon roe. The two pieces arrived, flawless and gleaming, enrobed in crisp nori. Perfect.
A charming young couple on, presumably, a date, wrapped up their own night, the gentleman leading the woman out with a gentle hand on the small of her back. Such is the inevitable finish of Bari—a brash, strong start in a welcoming space that woos you slowly, luxuriously, to a delicate finish.
417 Lafayette St.
New York, NY
Monday: 5 pm – 11 pm
Tuesday – Thursday: 5 pm – 11:45 pm
Friday: 5 pm – 12:15 am
Saturday: 11:30 am – 4 pm/5 pm – 12:15 am
Sunday: 11:30 am – 3:30 pm/4:30 pm – 11:00 pm