Jules eats world.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Outlet Koca Lounge

Shabu Shabu that pot is hot!

The past few years have seen an explosion of restaurants and bars in Jules' neighborhood. Ah, gentrification and the mixed blessings that accompany it. Luckily, the hordes north of Delancey Street have not seen fit to cross below it in force, so there are a number of small restaurants that have retained their charm and are turning out some delicious food. Unfortunately in the case of Outlet Koca Lounge on a recent Monday night, there wasn't even a trickle of customers.

This narrow restaurant has a modern look, with a sleek bar and exposed brick. According to our waiter, the owners had originally planned to open a bar, but like many aspirants in the 'hood, failed to get a liquor license. They turned to food instead, and settled on an Asian fusion menu, featuring Shabu Shabu. Diners order one of four types of soup broth, each named for a season, and it's brought to the table in a pot and placed on the induction burner in the center. It comes with an assortment of vegetables and whatever meat or seafood one selects. Then, much like Korean BBQ, you cook your own meal before your eyes. It's a gimmick yes, it's a bit kitsch, but it's fun and obviously it wouldn't be worth much if it weren't tasty. In this case, it was. Mr. H and I chose the "spring" broth, similar to tom yum soup, and ordered clams, scallops and shrimp to cook along with our vegetables. We started with very thin, crispy yam and taro fries, which would be delicious alongside a frosty beer.

Alas, Outlet Koca (which is planning to change its name early next year) still doesn't have that pesky liquor license, so in the meantime you'll have to supply your own adult beverages. That's really the only reason (and not even) not to visit this spot.

76 Orchard St.
Between Broome & Grand


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