Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own! 

 Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Nai Tapas Bar is the kind of gem people would keep to themselves, the cozy atmosphere and phenomenal food making this place unique in a restaurant scene that is quickly evolving. This place is the result of the collaboration of Chef Ruben Rodriguez and General Manager/Wine director David Martinez, who offer, in this East Village joint a tapas menu that is phenomenal. Chef Rodriguez first started serving dishes inspired from his grandmother, Emilia Arias, and his mother (Nai), Ana Maria Gonzalez Arias, who is also a Chef. He then started to expand, based on his own research, traveling around the world and working with various Chefs to discover new flavors. The dinner I had there was amazing and, from the first dish, that was made with molecular gastronomy techniques, to the desserts, I was flabbergasted by the originality, creativity and flavors, elements that, as we discussed with my fellow bloggers who were present at the table (The Restaurant Fairy, Bon Viveur NYC, The Cake Dealer and Johnny Prime), would easily be found in more fancier places like Eleven Madison Park. Well, I would not be surprised if one day we hear that Nai Tapas Bar be rewarded by stars from Michelin...

 Chef Ruben Rodriguez at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Chef Ruben Rodriguez at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

The decor is warm and rustic, from the wooden bar and tables, the exposed brick, where few sculptures are embedded in, as well as paintings from the Chef's cousin, giving the impression you could step into another world, there, somewhere in Spain.

 Bar at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Bar at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Decor at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Decor at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Decor at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Decor at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Decor at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Decor at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

As far as the food and drinks are concerned, see for yourself the incredible feast we got:

I started of with their sangria, a nice healthy serving of fruit that can be deadly as you would drink it like milk...

 Sangria at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Sangria at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Esferication de Aceituna (olive spherification): an introduction to molecular gastronomy, where this little green ball exploded in my mouth, bursting in olive flavor.

 Olive spherification at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Olive spherification at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

A beer from Upstate NY that I completely forgot the name...Anyway, know that they have a nice selection of draught beers from Spain, but, if you prefer local, they can accommodate too.

 Beer at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Beer at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Jamon Iberico or sliced Iberico ham with olives:

 Iberico ham at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Iberico ham at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Iberico ham at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Iberico ham at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Mini-airbags rellenas de queso manchego or mini-airbags stuffed with manchego foam:

 Manchego mini-airbags at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Manchego mini-airbags at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Then, Wine Director and co-owner David Martinez brought a cava with lemon rinds and mint leaves. He gave a vigorous twirl to the carafe to remove the gas, resulting in a refreshing drink that paired perfectly with the next dish.

 David Martinez with cava at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

David Martinez with cava at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Cava with lemon rinds and mint at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Cava with lemon rinds and mint at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Cava with lemon rinds and mint at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Cava with lemon rinds and mint at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Cava with lemon rinds and mint at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Cava with lemon rinds and mint at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

The dish was Ostras con aire de Limon or oysters with a lemon foam:

 Oysters with lemon foam at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Oysters with lemon foam at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Oyster with lemon foam at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Oyster with lemon foam at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Another pairing was Albarino de Rias Baixas Valdemonxes, a crisp red perfect with pork or seafood.

 Albarino de Rias Baixas Valdemonxes wine at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Albarino de Rias Baixas Valdemonxes wine at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

And it was not with meat that it was paired, but with fish: tostada de lubina or Chilean seabass wrapped in toast topped over an orange emulsion and balsamic reduction):

 Tostada de lubina at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Tostada de lubina at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Tostada de lubina at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Tostada de lubina at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Gambas al ajillo or traditional shrimp in garlic sauce (simply made, I was glad the Chef tried to keep it similar to what you would eat in Spain):

 Shrimp with garlic sauce at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Shrimp with garlic sauce at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Aguacate relleno or avocado stuffed with crab meat and sprinkled with Serrano ham:

 Avocado stuffed with crab at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Avocado stuffed with crab at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Avocado stuffed with crab at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Avocado stuffed with crab at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

We then got a palate cleanser that was a sangria infused watermelon (Sandia impregnada con sangria):

 Sangria infused watermelon at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Sangria infused watermelon at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

The next wine was also red: Altos de Luzon, also from Spain:

 Altos de Luzon wine at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Altos de Luzon wine at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

At that point I got to try Cabrales potatoes that are pan fried potatoes with blue cheese, a very addictive dish:

 Cabrales potatoes at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Cabrales potatoes at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Croquetas de jamon or ham croquettes, a fairly traditional dish:

 Ham croquettes at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Ham croquettes at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Ham croquettes at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Ham croquettes at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Pollo Ahumado or smoked chicken cooked sous-vide, a dish with Asian flavors and a stunning presentation:

 Hickory smoked chicken at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Hickory smoked chicken at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Hickory smoked chicken at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Hickory smoked chicken at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Hickory smoked chicken at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Hickory smoked chicken at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Coles de Brusselas or Brussels Sprouts in a spicy mustard aioli topped with fresh apples in an orange emulsion:

 Brussels sprouts at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Brussels sprouts at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Barriga de Cerdo or pork belly with caramelized pecans and yuca chips over a cream of carrot):

 Pork belly at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Pork belly at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

The next wine was a Montevannos Crianza Ribera Del Duero 2008, a vibrant and aromatic red made with tempranillo grapes:

 Montevannos Crianza Ribera Del Duero 2008 wine at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Montevannos Crianza Ribera Del Duero 2008 wine at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Salmorejo Canario or marinated baby back ribs with cabrales potatoes and fried peppers:

 Baby back ribs at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Baby back ribs at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Cabrales Potatoes at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Cabrales Potatoes at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Fried peppers at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Fried peppers at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Baby back ribs at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Baby back ribs at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Pintxo de Chistorra or spicy Basque chorizo over piquillo peppers on toast, topped with a quail egg and melted manchego cheese:

 Pintxo de Chistorra at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Pintxo de Chistorra at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Pintxo de Chistorra at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Pintxo de Chistorra at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Pintxo de Chistorra at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Pintxo de Chistorra at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Then, we got dessert. I might want to explain something about this type of dinner: the guests are all bloggers who are there with their cameras and getting a bit crazy each time a dish comes, so they can get a good shot. But, often, we help each other, for instance holding some items, such as my friend Malini, The Restaurant Fairy, who was holding for me the Caramelo de Algodon or pear cotton candy, a surprising dessert with an amazing pear flavor.

 Pear cotton candy at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Pear cotton candy at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Pear cotton candy at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Pear cotton candy at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

The second dessert was churros. Don't look further: the chocolate was inside!

 Churros at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Churros at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

 Churros at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Churros at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village


The dessert were accompanied with a moscatel, Senorio de Sarria:

 Moscatel Senorio de Sarria at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Moscatel Senorio de Sarria at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

As well as a cortado, a coffee similar to a macchiato.

 Cortado at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

Cortado at Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village

This was such a fantastic meal: there was no dish that I did not like and I was literally blown away by the food. Chef Rodriguez is like an artist and the plate is his canvas. I cannot wait to see what his next project, soon to open will be.

Enjoy (I did)!

If you like this post, the photos or the blog, please feel free to comment or share it. Merci!

Nai Tapas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato