SYKO’s Syrian and Korean Cuisines, Side by Side

The neatest thing to eat at SYKO, a restaurant that opened final 12 months, in Windsor Terrace, is likely one of the greatest issues I’ve ever eaten: the Fatboy, an evocatively, and precisely, named sandwich. A thick, crisp-edged Korean-style scallion pancake with a mochi-like texture (because of potato starch) is layered with sticky white rice, frilly romaine lettuce, a number of crunchy batons of danmuji (candy pickled daikon, dyed neon yellow with turmeric), and a selection of protein—beef bulgogi, rooster bulgogi, or fried tofu strewn with kimchi. Then it’s tightly rolled right into a stubby cylinder and sliced in half, to be doctored to style with the house-made gochugaru-based yangnyeomjang sauce.

A weekend-only sandwich options Spam, kimchi, rice, and eggs, wrapped in seaweed.

The origin story of this wonderful creation tells the origin story of the restaurant. In 2013, the siblings Mazen and Rosette Khoury moved, with their brother and their mom, from Syria to Brooklyn. That identical 12 months, Rosette met her now husband, James Kim, who’s Korean American and grew up in Windsor Terrace, the place his dad and mom personal a grocery retailer. Thanks to Kim, Mazen—who co-owned a small takeout store with Rosette of their hometown and is a graduate of Emma’s Torch, a Brooklyn restaurant that trains refugees—turned enamored of Korean meals. One day, because the blended household shared a meal of home-cooked Korean barbecue, folding lettuce leaves round bulgogi and rice, Mazen noticed a connection to Arabic delicacies: Why not take it one step additional and wrap all of it right into a sandwich, as is usually completed with shawarma?

The Fatboy falls shy of fusion, as does SYKO (a portmanteau of Syrian and Korean), which is co-owned by the three Khoury siblings and Kim. Mazen, who devised the menu, experimented with combining components of every delicacies however determined that he was higher off presenting them facet by facet, just like the syllables of the restaurant’s title. Behind the counter are two discrete units of parts: Korean on the left (carrot matchsticks, gochujang, sautéed shiitake) and Syrian on the suitable (labneh, tahini, fried cauliflower), an association mirrored on the menu.

The identical beef and rooster used to make bulgogi (right here being added to kimbap) is used for shawarma.

In the course of a number of SYKO meals, each at house and within the retailer, which has just a few seats (the majority of the restaurant’s enterprise is takeout and supply), I attempted to find out whether or not one delicacies was higher executed than the opposite. I used to be completely happy to search out that—placing apart the Fatboy, which is in a league of its personal—the classes scored neck and neck. The identical (halal) beef and rooster used for the bulgogi turns into shawarma, marinated in cinnamon and cumin as a substitute of Asian pear and mirin and served with rice or fries, or wrapped in each pita and saj, a thinner flatbread, with both tomato and onion or pickles and pomegranate molasses.

I used to be simply as proud of the vegetarian kimbap, seaweed rice rolls full of spinach, carrots, cucumber, pickled radish, and zucchini, as I used to be with the vegetarian kibbeh, cracked-wheat dough fashioned into pleasingly chewy, kidney-shaped disks. The potato, that nice equalizer, is ready to spectacular impact on each menus: reduce into strips, then blanched and stir-fried in sesame oil for silky Korean house fries; deep-fried, Syrian type, into crisp nuggets saturated with a crimson scorching sauce referred to as shatta, and flecked with cilantro and garlic; boiled, gently mashed, and blended with parsley, fats chunks of scallion, olive oil, and lemon juice, for a chilly salad.

The Windsor Terrace restaurant is co-owned by two Syrian brothers, their sister, and her Korean American husband.

For dessert, there are hotteok, small pancakes full of brown sugar and cinnamon, and medjool dates full of peanut butter, encased in darkish chocolate, and rolled in rose petals or shredded coconut. On the wall above SYKO’s refrigerated-drinks case, a mural depicts the Manhattan road indicators marking the bygone Little Syria neighborhood (at Rector and Washington, by means of the nineteen-forties) and the nonetheless thriving Koreatown (Broadway and West Thirty-second). Small plaques clarify that each teams of immigrants first arrived within the eighteen-eighties, two tracks converging. (Dishes $5-$26.50.) ♦


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