1066 First Avenue
New York, NY 10022
(212) 888-8008

If Asian Fusion restaurants bring represent one thing, it's sexy trendiness (is that two things?), and Aja is certainly doing everything in its mortal power to be as sexy as it can be without having a fog machine and girls dancing in cages. Being a sexy restaurant is no easy feat in Midtown East (aka, Sutton). It's very residential and somewhat older demographically. Sure, Rosa Mexicano is right down the block, but so is a Food Emporium, a Bed Bath & Beyond and a laundromat.

Walking into Aja and the first thing you notice is... nothing. You can't see. It's pitch black. When your eyes adjust, you'll start catching a glimpse of the interior. There's a five-foot tall Buddha statue in the back, lit alternatingly by red, blue, green and yellow light, and fish swim in the floor in front of it. Moody trance-pop, like Air's Cherry Blossom Girl plays loudly overhead. The music was loud enough that everyone had to talk even louder just to be heard over it. The next thing you know, you're practically screaming at the girl at the table across from you. This was a Tuesday and Aja started emptying out at about 9:30 or so, but it stayed sounding busy for far longer.

The woman at the table next to me pulls out a flashlight to look at her menu. I've never seen that before. I hypocritically thought "how annoying" and then proceeded to take flash photos of my food. I'm a dick. The age range represented in the Aja dining room this particular mid-week night was all over the map. Kids eating with their parents (or their cool aunt and uncle) sat in one corner while a fifty-something sat in another.

Aja is Asian Fusion cuisine with a Japanese focus. The menu is very sushi heavy and it seemed to be what most people were ordering, including us. Sure, there's some Chinese-ish and some Thai-ish options for the raw fish averse.

Rose and I decided to share an appetizer and agreed on the Peking Duck Roll, shredded Peking Duck with a hoisin sauce in a spring roll type fried dough wrapper. We liked them. They were sweet, not even slightly fatty (I've had issues with fatty duck) and surprisingly filling.

It was blisteringly hot that day and though the sun had gotten on the train home, the humidity stuck around, like the annoying guy from work who tags along to happy hour and then drinks too much. To spite the heat, I ordered the Winter Roll; seaweed, salmon, tuna, avocado and roe with a spicy eel dipping sauce. I wasn't, to be blunt, terribly impressed. Every flavor seemed to be in competition with the others with no winner in sight. Unless, of course, you count that spicy eel dipping sauce, which completely overwhelmed everything and drowned out virtually all the taste in the dish.

Rose ordered the Triple Toro Roll, a spicy cucumber rolls with the alternating colors and flavors of tuna, yellowtail and salmon. She definitely got the better of the two (actually, it was a great roll) and I found myself sneaking pieces of her roll onto my plate more often than perhaps would be polite.

With a menu as varied as Aja's and a meal as small as this one was, it's impossible to present an opinion that has much value. I would certainly return to try other dishes.

Appetizers are about $10 each, entrees are in the $20s, big sushi rolls are in the upper teen$ and cocktails are about $10. I lost my receipt so I can't tell you what this meal cost. Somewhere slightly over $100.

Aja Asian Bistro & Lounge on Urbanspoon

You Might Also Like



The contents of this website/weblog are the property of its author and are protected under the copyright and intellectual property laws of the United States of America. The views expressed within are the opinions of the author. All rights reserved.

Readers are free to copy and distribute the material contained within, but such external use of the author's original material must be properly attributed to the author. Attribution may be through a link to the author's original work. Derivative use is prohibited. The borrower may not alter, transform, or build upon the work borrowed.

The author is free to change the terms of this copyright at any time and without notice. At the written request by the borrower, the author may choose to waive these rights.