Top Knot's Kimchi Onigiri. Photography by Kevin Marple

Restaurant Review: Top Knot

The small bites are the best at this Uptown, upstairs Asian spot.

You may be tempted to skip steps as you climb to Top Knot, perched atop sister restaurant Uchi. The space is light and airy, full of warm, blond wood and pops of color from paper pennants; with floor-to-ceiling windows, it feels like a treehouse. Executive chef Angela Hernandez favors clean, assertive, bright flavors. Coolly elegant tastings like a hamachi crudo with slivered grapes, moons of cucumber, candied quinoa, and sesame seeds speckling a pool of cucumber-lime-coconut water are reminiscent of Uchi. So are desserts like an Asian pear crisp with puffed rice and miso ice cream, woozy with warm spices and a sinfully buttery caramel. Larger plates were polished, but some of the best bites are snacks, like a glorious version of onigiri, the Japanese rice-ball snack, crisped, served on a pool of clay-red kimchi caramel with dusky sweetness, and topped with a wobbly poached egg. Papas canarias—wrinkled, salt-baked new potatoes—came with a vibrant, garlicky salsa verde, generous pool of crème fraîche, and a showering of lemon zest, the flavors earthy and direct. I found the much-hyped fried chicken bun not particularly crispy, leaking sesame oil, and saturated by too much sticky-sweet gastrique. But the imaginative riffs on small bites from elsewhere give delightfully ample room to play.

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