The Kuma Inn
113 Ludlow Street, 2nd Floor, near Delancey Street, Lower East Side, (212) 353-8866
Getting There: F to Delancey Street
When LocalBozo.com finds fantastic value, we like to share it with our readers and when we stumbled up to the second floor of a nondescript building on Ludlow Street and inside the dimly lit Kuma Inn, the value came a close second to the delectable flavors of the evening. The Kuma Inn is a perfect spot for a first date. Primarily, the location is impossible to find, unless you know what you are looking for- a virtual hole in the wall- making you look like you’re introducing someone new to a hidden gem in Manhattan. This is complimented by the fact that the restaurant is BYOB ($5 corking fee), which allows you to dine out at a manageable cost, and enjoy any bottle of wine that you prefer.
Upon climbing the stairs to the second floor, the restaurant opens with a small waiting area, to the left of which is the exposed kitchen with cooks preparing fresh ingredients and tossing saucepans. The restaurant itself is not that large, so a reservation is recommended. But the staff was accommodating and we were quickly seated at our table with the first bottle of vino popped and poured. While the ambiance inside looks serene, the energy can be frenetic, and the specials can be difficult to hear. But LocalBozo has got you covered with exactly what to order and why.
Restaurant Review: The Kuma Inn
The restaurant serves their dishes tapas style, (which is special for an Asian and Filipino infused restaurant) so the portions are small but are appropriate for tasting and sharing. We ordered the shrimp shumai ($7) to begin- a warm, juicy dumpling filled with tender shrimp and the pickled vegetable assortment ($7.50), a conglomeration of eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, and cabbage, that was served ice cold and was a deliciously tangy signature dish of the restaurant. At this point, we would be negligent not to mention the tremendous service by the waitstaff at the Kuma Inn. Our water glasses were constantly being replenished, the wine bottles were always flowing, and the time between each of our courses was appropriately spaced out so that we felt welcomed and not rushed, and we were able to savor our meal accordingly.
Next we were served four of our main courses, all of which we relished for different reasons. The drunken spicy shrimp ($10.50) brought our pallets to life with the kick of Thai chili peppers doused with sake and kalamansi. The deep-fried pork belly ($11) provided a sweet, sticky coating over scrumptiously fatty chunks of meat with a side of atchara, or a pickled papaya sauce. If you prefer leaner meats, you probably wouldn’t be eating pork anyway, but there is nothing like a perfectly cooked, tender pork belly and the Kuma Inn prepares the “lechon kawali” excellently. We also tasted the pan roasted ocean scallops with bacon ($11), similarly doused in sake and kalamansi, and although the dish was not as spicy, the bacon taste was subtle and the scallops were appropriately seared. After our final dish was delivered, a terrific steak special with a pan asian demiglaze for dipping, and some of the tastiest coconut ($3) and garlic rice ($3) you can imagine, we were getting filled up. But with the spirit of a restaurant review in mind, we decided to delve even further into the specials menu and ordered the pork bun special. We were not disappointed. The waitress brought out two (you can order additional buns) freshly made, doughy, sweet buns that were marshmallow-soft and untoasted, filled to the brim with an Asian-style pulled pork and a side of sticky dipping sauce. The dish was the highlight of our dinner and is unanimously recommended as a must try. It truly was that good.
At that point in the evening, the wine bottles had been emptied, our stomachs were full of flavorful food, and the evening was just beginning. But as we shelled out a total of a completely reasonable $40 each for all that we had consumed at The Kuma Inn, we knew that the place that we had stumbled upon would be seeing us again soon.