With luxury travel booming, and the competition for guests among top hotels as fierce as ever, hotels are constantly looking for ways to stand out from the crowd. One way is to bring in exceptional restaurant partners, making the hotel a destination not only for travelers, but for foodies. This is especially true in the uber-competitive New York City luxury hotel landscape.
Perhaps no hotel in the Big Apple can boast better food (and beverage) offerings than the new Ritz Carlton NoMad. Having already debuted Jose Andres’ Mediterranean eatery Zaytinya and stunning rooftop bar Nubeluz in 2022 , the Ritz in August unveiled yet another spectacular venue from the acclaimed Michelin-starred chef – The Bazaar by Jose Andres. Initially conceived in 2008, The Bazaar New York follows successful locations in Miami and Washington DC, along with sister Bazaar restaurants in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Chicago.
In short, the theme of The Bazaar – from its menu to its design – is “Japan meets Spain.” While Japan and Spain may seem like an odd culinary pairing, the journey that Andres creates between these two worlds stems from a 17th century voyage by the first Japanese ambassador in the Americas and Spain. “This restaurant is a story 400 years in the making…it begins when a group of samurai, led by Hasekura Tsunenaga, sailed from Japan to Spain for an audience with the king. They brought with them their history, their culture, their traditions. Both Spain and Japan share a deep respect for ingredients and dedication to technique.”
Andres’ menu pays homage to the techniques and flavors of both his native Spain and Japan, often combining the two – for example with side-by-side preparations showcasing the Japanese robata grill and the Spanish Josper oven grill with Iberico pork cooked over the robata and Japanese wagyu cooked using the Josper.
Among the starters, the Cotton Candy O-Toro and the Marinated ‘Ferran Adria’ Olives – basically, liquid olives that explode in your mouth – were my favorites. The Socarrat rice dish and the braised short ribs were very good, the croquettes with jamon were fantastic, and the beef tartare was delicious. For my vegan friends, the honey-miso eggplant was amazing – but, frankly, these were standouts in a parade of standout dishes.
The dishes at The Bazaar are, not surprisingly, unique and creative, and are heavy on presentation and on aromatics. The restaurant’s Jamón Experience features ham hand-cut tableside by master jamón carvers. The Mushroom Ramen is prepared tableside in steaming glass vessels reminiscent of a science experiment. It is touches like these that help make a dinner at The Bazaar so memorable.
The Bazaar similarly incorporates the best of Japanese and Spanish beverages and spirits – Sake Sangria, anyone? – with extensive offerings of shochu and sake, Japanese whisky and gin, and a focus on Spanish and Japanese wines. I went the more traditional route, opting for an old favorite – Jose Andres’ signature Ultimate Gin & Tonic. To put the finishing touches on a meal, The Bazaar features fine Japanese loose-leaf teas from premier Japanese tea company Kettl.
Just as the dining experience at The Bazaar is special and infused with meaningful detail, so too is the restaurant’s décor. Designed by Spain’s Lazaro Rosa-Violan Studio, the atmosphere is warm and inviting, but at the same time theatrical. Again drawing inspiration from Hasekura’s 17th century voyage, guests arrive to the restaurant from the downstairs Bazaar Bar by passing backlit sketches of sailing vessels and a central, round nautical-style table. “To introduce The Bazaar to New York City we had to create an unrivaled and totally unique destination that unfolds as you enter and captivates the imagination,” says Sam Bakhshandehpour, President of Jose Andres Group.
A visit to The Bazaar in New York may not fully satisfy your desire to visit Spain or Japan, but it is very likely to satiate your appetite – and that’s a good start.