The most effective issue to eat at SYKO, a cafe that opened very last calendar year, in Windsor Terrace, is one of the best factors I have ever eaten: the Fatboy, an evocatively, and accurately, named sandwich. A thick, crisp-edged Korean-design and style scallion pancake with a mochi-like texture (many thanks to potato starch) is layered with sticky white rice, frilly romaine lettuce, a several crunchy batons of danmuji (sweet pickled daikon, dyed neon yellow with turmeric), and a decision of protein—beef bulgogi, hen bulgogi, or fried tofu strewn with kimchi. Then it is tightly rolled into a stubby cylinder and sliced in 50 %, to be doctored to flavor with the dwelling-designed gochugaru-primarily based yangnyeomjang sauce.
The origin tale of this superb development tells the origin tale of the restaurant. In 2013, the siblings Mazen and Rosette Khoury moved, with their brother and their mother, from Syria to Brooklyn. That similar year, Rosette satisfied her now partner, James Kim, who is Korean American and grew up in Windsor Terrace, the place his mom and dad very own a grocery retailer. Thanks to Kim, Mazen—who co-owned a small takeout store with Rosette in their hometown and is a graduate of Emma’s Torch, a Brooklyn restaurant that trains refugees—became enamored of Korean meals. 1 day, as the blended relatives shared a food of house-cooked Korean barbecue, folding lettuce leaves around bulgogi and rice, Mazen observed a link to Arabic delicacies: Why not choose it one particular step additional and wrap it all into a sandwich, as is normally completed with shawarma?
The Fatboy falls shy of fusion, as does SYKO (a portmanteau of Syrian and Korean), which is co-owned by the 3 Khoury siblings and Kim. Mazen, who devised the menu, experimented with combining aspects of each cuisine but decided that he was greater off presenting them aspect by side, like the syllables of the restaurant’s identify. Driving the counter are two discrete sets of components: Korean on the left (carrot matchsticks, gochujang, sautéed shiitake) and Syrian on the suitable (labneh, tahini, fried cauliflower), an arrangement mirrored on the menu.
In the system of quite a few SYKO foods, equally at home and in the store, which has only a couple of seats (the bulk of the restaurant’s company is takeout and supply), I attempted to decide regardless of whether one delicacies was better executed than the other. I was delighted to find that—putting aside the Fatboy, which is in a league of its own—the classes scored neck and neck. The very same (halal) beef and hen made use of for the bulgogi gets 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 was just as content with the vegetarian kimbap, seaweed rice rolls packed with spinach, carrots, cucumber, pickled radish, and zucchini, as I was with the vegetarian kibbeh, cracked-wheat dough formed into pleasingly chewy, kidney-shaped disks. The potato, that fantastic equalizer, is organized to stunning outcome on both of those menus: minimize into strips, then blanched and stir-fried in sesame oil for silky Korean residence fries deep-fried, Syrian design and style, into crisp nuggets saturated with a crimson incredibly hot sauce named 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 cold salad.
For dessert, there are hotteok, small pancakes loaded with brown sugar and cinnamon, and medjool dates stuffed with peanut butter, encased in dark chocolate, and rolled in rose petals or shredded coconut. On the wall above SYKO’s refrigerated-drinks scenario, a mural depicts the Manhattan avenue indicators marking the bygone Little Syria neighborhood (at Rector and Washington, by the nineteen-forties) and the however thriving Koreatown (Broadway and West 30-second). Compact plaques describe that both equally groups of immigrants 1st arrived in the eighteen-eighties, two tracks converging. (Dishes $5-$26.50.) ♦