Pearl & Ash is a cool, cleverly designed restaurant on the Bowery, but the main reason to head here is Richard Kuo, a Taiwanese-born, experimental chef who's got an uncanny sense of flavor combinations. Take tea-cured salmon with goat cheese, tamarind and seaweed, or pork meatballs with shiitake mushrooms and bonito flakes—however strange they sound, just do it. You've had plenty of mussels but Kuo's are different, plucked out of the shell and melded with hen of the woods mushrooms and bits of pumpernickel. Even vegetable sides, like long beans, are made more compelling by a crown of uni and chili. Brilliant combinations last right till the end with a Fernet-Branca ice-cream sandwich, a digestif and sweet treat in one delectable experience. Keep the restaurant in mind for parties and buyouts: An event team can plan cocktail receptions or seated dinners for as many as 60 guests.
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