The best point to consume at SYKO, a restaurant that opened last calendar year, in Windsor Terrace, is one of the ideal matters I’ve ever eaten: the Fatboy, an evocatively, and precisely, named sandwich. A thick, crisp-edged Korean-model scallion pancake with a mochi-like texture (thanks to potato starch) is layered with sticky white rice, frilly romaine lettuce, a couple crunchy batons of danmuji (sweet pickled daikon, dyed neon yellow with turmeric), and a choice of protein—beef bulgogi, rooster bulgogi, or fried tofu strewn with kimchi. Then it is tightly rolled into a stubby cylinder and sliced in half, to be doctored to flavor with the house-produced gochugaru-centered yangnyeomjang sauce.
The origin story of this superb creation tells the origin tale of the restaurant. In 2013, the siblings Mazen and Rosette Khoury moved, with their brother and their mom, from Syria to Brooklyn. That same yr, Rosette fulfilled her now spouse, James Kim, who is Korean American and grew up in Windsor Terrace, where by his mother and father very own a grocery store. Many thanks to Kim, Mazen—who co-owned a little takeout store with Rosette in their hometown and is a graduate of Emma’s Torch, a Brooklyn cafe that trains refugees—became enamored of Korean foods. One particular working day, as the blended relatives shared a food of house-cooked Korean barbecue, folding lettuce leaves all around bulgogi and rice, Mazen observed a connection to Arabic delicacies: Why not acquire it 1 move even more and wrap it all into a sandwich, as is typically accomplished with shawarma?
The Fatboy falls shy of fusion, as does SYKO (a portmanteau of Syrian and Korean), which is co-owned by the three Khoury siblings and Kim. Mazen, who devised the menu, experimented with combining things of each individual delicacies but resolved that he was much better off presenting them facet by facet, like the syllables of the restaurant’s identify. Driving the counter are two discrete sets of components: Korean on the still left (carrot matchsticks, gochujang, sautéed shiitake) and Syrian on the ideal (labneh, tahini, fried cauliflower), an arrangement mirrored on the menu.
In the study course of various SYKO foods, both at house and in the retail store, which has only a number of seats (the bulk of the restaurant’s small business is takeout and shipping and delivery), I tried out to establish whether 1 cuisine was greater executed than the other. I was delighted to discover that—putting apart the Fatboy, which is in a league of its own—the groups scored neck and neck. The very same (halal) beef and chicken made use of for the bulgogi turns into 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 possibly tomato and onion or pickles and pomegranate molasses.
I was just as joyful 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 good equalizer, is geared up to stunning effect on both equally menus: cut into strips, then blanched and stir-fried in sesame oil for silky Korean residence fries deep-fried, Syrian style, into crisp nuggets saturated with a crimson sizzling sauce termed shatta, and flecked with cilantro and garlic boiled, carefully mashed, and blended with parsley, extra fat chunks of scallion, olive oil, and lemon juice, for a cold salad.
For dessert, there are hotteok, modest pancakes crammed with brown sugar and cinnamon, and medjool dates stuffed with peanut butter, encased in dim chocolate, and rolled in rose petals or shredded coconut. On the wall over SYKO’s refrigerated-beverages circumstance, a mural depicts the Manhattan road signs marking the bygone Minor Syria neighborhood (at Rector and Washington, via the nineteen-forties) and the even now flourishing Koreatown (Broadway and West 30-2nd). Tiny plaques demonstrate that both equally groups of immigrants initially arrived in the eighteen-eighties, two tracks converging. (Dishes $5-$26.50.) ♦