Shuka: An Oasis of Old-World Mediterranean Flavors
New York's MacDougal Street is well-known for the colorful and diverse history embedded in its buildings and (current or previous) residents. For example, Bob Dylan had his first NYC gig at "Cafe Wha?". I've also got some sentimental connections to this street. Steph and I started dating in November 2011 after we had dinner at La Lanterna di Vittorio. Also, my favorite bar (The Up & Up) is located on this street.
In September 2017, Shuka was born from another restaurant under the same ownership called Hundred Acres. At Shuka, the chef, Ayesha Nurdjaja, has curated a refreshing new menu of Mediterranean flavors. Additionally, the venue has been revamped to showcase more natural light, royal blue accents, and a garden-like ambiance.
Within ten seconds of looking at the menu, you'll know you're in for a treat. Just take a look at it. The cocktails look crazy dope. I've never had a mezcal cocktail with arak, an anise-flavored distilled drink, or a vodka cocktail with muddled fennel seed and celery bitters.
Then, you'll look at the food menu and see a variety of charred, spiced kebabs to choose from, fresh dips of harissa labne (yogurt cheese) or whipped feta, and even a Shuka Feast ($52 USD per person) that includes a whole selection of chef curated dips, starters, and kebabs.
For my visit, I had their brunch with my friend Elaine. It was good but I don't think I had the full experience yet. I'll be back for more!
The dining area at Shuka is quaint and feels very Mediterranean with the blue hues and floral accents.
It's also very well-lit. I'm not sure what the ambiance is like at night but, for brunch, it's energizing, especially after a late night out.
I got the Lamb Burger with Whipped Goat Cheese, Lemon, Lettuce, Pickled Red Onion, Fried Egg, Fries.
The lamb itself could have been a bit juicier. It seemed like it had dried out a bit. That's why I'm really glad I got the extra fried egg supplement. The whipped goat cheese was probably the most prominent flavor here but it was delicious. I could have eaten 2 of these. [$19 USD + $2 for Fried Egg]
Elaine got the Pork Adana, which is basically a long, hand-minced meat kebab that has been charcoal grilled. It's named after a city in Turkey and is usually made out of lamb.
Shuka's adana was made with pork and dressed with tzatziki, charred onions, lettuce, and a fried egg over pita bread. In terms of taste, it's spiced and somehow slightly tart in flavor. I thought it was lemongrass but it's actually sumac, which comes from the dried and crushed berries of a wild bush in the Mediterranean. [$19 USD]