Mmmm Monday: French Inspired Chinese at Lumos Kitchen

One of the best things about living in NYC is that there are SO many restaurants.  With thousands of options and new places opening all the time, that abundance of choice can also be the source of indecision and frustration, as anyone who has spent fruitless hours scrolling on Yelp can tell you.  So I’m launching a new blog series called Mmmm Monday to share some of my tried and true NYC dining faves.  I’m kicking off the series with Lumos Kitchen, the French-inspired modern Chinese bistro in the East Village.  

I think fusion cuisine has gotten a bad rap in recent years, but done right, I’ve always loved it.  Lumos Kitchen, a bright, airy spot on Second Avenue, does it right.  I’ve visited a couple times now, first for a press opening event and then for my birthday dinner, and I am planning my next visit soon, because the rich French take on Chinese cuisine results in some irresistible  flavors.

The atmosphere is super cute, with lots of greenery (I love this terrarium-dotted wall), pretty blue patterns painted throughout, and tons of light in the daytime.

They are currently waiting on their liquor license, but are serving delicious and unique mocktails in the interim, like this turmeric milk based concoction that I drank wayyy too fast – it was just that yummy!

With a mixed group of vegetarians and meat eaters, we got to try a variety of items from the menu.  The chilled curry soup special was really good, and I loved the tasting presentation (you know you’re in your 30s when you are excited about soup shots!) 🙂

Another soupy favorite was the black truffle soup dumplings.  If you’ve never had soup dumplings before, just imagine little edible pockets of pork, crab, and savory broth that feels like a hug for your mouth.  Okay, that might be one too many mixed metaphors, but suffice to say: I am a huge fan of soup dumplings in general.  Lumos Kitchen‘s black truffle-topped take is incredible, and I definitely played the birthday card to go back for seconds 🙂

Tip: Gently bite off the top of the dumpling first so you can carefully sip the broth out first – if you just bite into it you will lose too much of the soupy goodness.  

During the course of the meal, one thing we all kept commenting on was how GOOD the vegetables were.  Both the cauliflower and broccoli rabe dishes were in high demand, even for the self-professed carnivores of the group.

The meat dishes were delicious too.  The Wok Fried Chicken Tender dish was such a hit that we didn’t even get a picture of it – it was scarfed down immediately and with gusto.  But when the star of the proverbial show came out, I made sure to give it its moment in front of the camera.  I mean, this is some photogenic meat:

Aside from being pretty, this Braised Berkshire Pork Belly with “drunken edamame” and sweet and sour kumquat in ponzu sauce was one of the most succulent things I’ve tasted all year.  It was fork-tender and really illustrated the beautiful symphony of flavors that can be achieved when fusion is done right.

Post meal, we were all stuffed and a little giddy.  Lumos Kitchen is a great spot for a group meal: They were understanding when a couple of people in my party had to cancel, and the service was friendly without be obtrusive.  The manager even was kind enough to take a group photo at the end of the night.

My lovely dining companions 

If you are planning a visit to Lumos Kitchen, I’d highly recommend going with friends and dining family style so you can taste a lot of the delicious menu.  My top dish recommendations are:

  • Vegetarian Salad with Napa Cabbage, Endive, Peach, Mint, and White Balsamic