New York City: At Vermilion

For a Californian like me, Asian-Latin fusion is nothing new; I was eating teriyaki burritos at Danny’s Oki Dog in West Hollywood when Gerald Ford was president. But until I sat down at Manhattan’s new At Vermilion (the second restaurant by the people behind Vermilion in Chicago), I’d never tasted—never imagined—anything as successfully fused and flat-out delicious as duck vindaloo arepas. The dense, crisp-edged little corn cakes heaped with spicy shredded duck worked so beautifully that my only complaint was numerical: There are only four arepas to an order, and I wanted about two dozen.

The arepas aren’t the only thing to love here. Artichoke pakoras with coconut-chile sauce flavored almost imperceptibly with eggplant; blackened tamarind-glazed pork ribs with “chips” of fried tapioca; crabmeat wrapped in huitlacoche-filled crêpes alongside buttery quinoa—these are inspirations of the most delicious kind. The downsides? An unaccountably empty dining room and overpriced wines ($70 for a Soave that wholesales for $12?).

Vermilion 480 Lexington Ave., New York City (212-871-6600;



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