Spice Market certainly lives up to the adjective in its name as a merchant of spicy cuisine, serving up a menu of Southeast Asian dishes bathed in exotic seasonings and flavors. How spicy the dish is depends on what is ordered, but whatever is chosen, expect to encounter some stimulating flavor combinations.
The restaurant is located within the W Hotel in Midtown and it fits right into the hotel’s classy, modern feel. The dining room is open and the tables and décor are shiny red wood, and big windows serve to provide a city view and let light in. Before you place your order, amicable orange-shirted waiters and waitresses offer hot towels to cleanse your hands. Then, it’s time to dig in.
Spice Market is generous with its portions, both with appetizers and entrées. Meals are served family-style, so sharing is welcome and encouraged. Two people could fill up on a couple of appetizers or side
dishes and an entrée and walk away satisfied; this allows for experimenting with sweet, sour, salty, and downright hot dishes.
Dive right into the more flavorful end of the menu by trying the spicy Thai chicken wings appetizer that’s garnished with mango and mint. The wings are breaded and fried but not oily. They are on the salty side, but once the salt settles, there is a hint of a hot taste.
The side dish of baby corn and broccoli steeped in lemongrass and chile adds a dash of sweet and hot tastes. For fish eaters, there is the restaurant’s signature steamed halibut with Malaysian chile sauce.
It’s both salty and peppery and comes with jasmine or white rice (brown rice on request) that seeps up the sauce and makes the flavor last.
For meat eaters, try the chargrilled chicken in kumquat lemongrass dressing or the soy-glazed shortrib. Wash this down with a specialty soda like cherry yuzu or a specialty cocktail like a ginger margarita.
Don’t leave without dessert, though, which offers more flavors to consume. The warm apple sesame crisp is their version of "apple pie," but definitely more exotic. It’s served with ginger ice cream. For fuller stomachs, sneak in a coconut sorbet.
Chef Sean Suter and chef/owner Jean-Georges Vongerichten are the masterminds behind Spice Market. They have done a fine job in creating a spicy, classy, and cool dining environment for family night out or a romantic date night.