Popular new NoHo spot KYU explodes in popularity, launches elevated shareable brunch menu

A hot new restaurant is creating quite a buzz in NoHo’s brunch scene.

KYU, located at 324 Lafayette St, first opened its doors as a  dinner spot earlier this year. The family-style eatery has been a staple in Miami’s food scene for several years, and the brand felt it was time to make a home in New York as well.

“KYU had already had this immense following and network of people, Miami is their second home,” said Executive Chef Chris Arellanes. “So we have this great network of people that were already so enthralled by KYU’s success in Miami that started dining here.”

KYU boasts a family-style menu of elevated yet familiar dishes. Dishes such as fried chicken, beef brisket, pork buns and roasted cauliflower are maximized with Asian-inspired flavors that are delicious and yet still familiar in some way.

KYU's Korean Fired Chicken
KYU’s Korean Fired Chicken.Photo courtesy of KYU

“KYU was built on family, It was very much built on family-style, community, the people, being able to share and indulge and fill up the table. I was raised Buddhist, so I grew up around communities,” said Arellanes. “That was a really big part of my childhood, so stepping into this role and kind of inheriting such a cool concept really kinda gave me some of that creative freedom to an extent.”

Arellanes says that because of the menu structure and the options they provide, you can have a completely new experience every single time you come to KYU.

“That’s the fun thing about KYU, we have something for everyone. I always tell when I touch tables and meet and greets, I say listen, the best thing about KYU is that you can order whatever you want, pick out your favorites and come back and have a completely different experience,” said Arellanes. “Don’t be shy, order something you wouldn’t typically order. And if you don’t like it, order something else, get in here and fill up the table, kick back and get your bottle of wine or cocktail or mocktail and really indulge and enjoy.”

In the first few months of being open, KYU’s New York City location already has been a smashing success, with Arellanes noting that the restaurant has been consistently booked out with reservations since it opened. 

KYU's Crispy Pork Belly Steamed Buns.
KYU’s Crispy Pork Belly Steamed Buns.Photo courtesy of KYU

“Opening was a huge success and it’s just been consistently getting busier. I think the overall feedback from our customers and guests is this is the hottest restaurant in New York right now,” said Arellanes.

This past September, KYU added a new brunch menu to the rotation. Arellanes says that though KYU had a bit of a later opening date than they originally anticipated, adding brunch now was the necessary move.

“We have some pretty significant competitors around here. [Lafayette Grand Café & Bakery] has been around for 20 years, we were looking at trends and I think the consensus was there’s not really anywhere around here next to Lafayette that does a stellar brunch,” said Arellanes. “Our whole team has been in the industry for decades, amongst us you have almost 100 years of experience. Most of us have built our careers in New York, so I think we were all able to see what demographic is here, what our targeted market is and that it’s more of a trendy brunch area.”

The brunch menu features dishes that you may already know, such as scrambled eggs, french toast, and avocado toast, but with an elevated twist, adding banana bourbon and dulce de leche to the french toast and pumpkin seeds and pickled radish to the avocado toast, for example.

The menu also has a number of KYU classics from the dinner menu, plus delicious versions of classic breakfast foods that take on a new look but have a delicious flavor, such as short rib hash, duck scramble, and the everything scone.

A selection of KYU's brunch options.
A selection of KYU’s brunch options.Photo courtesy of KYU

“I think that’s what really attracts people to this place, because it’s simplistic but it’s also elevated and I think that’s something that I was really able to leverage when it came to the brunch menu is making things that are familiar, but also that are outside of the box that people have never had before,” said Arellanes. “Like our french toast, french toast is everywhere. That’s an original recipe from Miami, we just elevated it here through technique. I think brunch is an approachable way to get kyu out there, especially with something as unique as our brunches.

Despite the launch of brunch happening quite recently, Arellanes says that the brunch reservations are already filling up consistently. By the second weekend alone, KYU had around 200 covers already booked that weekend. There’s no sign of this trend stopping, and Arellanes is up for that challenge.

“I think there’s always a level of anticipation in the sense of ‘oh man it’s going to be busy and this is exciting.’ Our team is all warriors and they all work so well together,” said Arellanes. “We’re really looking to get KYU out there and say this is what we’ve got, this is the best restaurant in New York for what we’re doing and our style of service and our food.”

For more information, visit www.kyurestaurants.com/kyu-nyc.