One day, I was walking around the neighborhood, and I noticed a store that was preparing to open. The sign outside said, ‘Atlas Kitchen.’ There were drawings of mountains along the wall and porcelain vases on the counter, which made me assume it was going to be an Asian restaurant. Yet, the crisp marble table tops and the blue patterned floor created this modern and elegant ambience that reminded me of a fancy afternoon tea place. 

Sally Eun Ji Son

Atlas Kitchen, a newly opened restaurant on 258 W 109th Street (Broadway and 109th Street), is a contemporary Chinese restaurant owned by Haocheng Sun and Dong Chen. Atlas Kitchen is now open daily from 11:30 a. m. to 10 p. m..

How Atlas Kitchen brings Art and Dining Together

Sally Eun Ji Son

The name ‘Atlas’ comes from the restaurant’s Chinese name, ‘山海’ (pronounced shān hǎi in mandarin). 山海 means mountains and seas. Hence, ‘Atlas’ conveys the hopes of connecting with China’s historical root and channeling this energy to recreate the present.

The paintings on the wall also reflect the restaurant’s name and image. Atlas Kitchen is a collaborative force amongst the two owners and artist Qiu Anxiong. Qiu graduated from Kunsthochschule of University Kassel, Germany and is a distinguished contemporary artist. Since exhibiting internationally in early 2002, his works have been collected by MoMA, The MET, Brooklyn Museum, amongst other reputable institutions.

Sally Eun Ji Son

In particular, Atlas Kitchen’s main dining area is part of artist Qiu’s well-known animation series, “New Classics of the Mountains and the Seas.” Qiu takes inspiration from the mythical tales of the earliest Chinese civilization to explore contemporary China’s relationship with modernity. When I walked into the restaurant, I felt as if I had entered a mythical world surrounded by mountains, sea, and imaginary creatures.

Sally Eun Ji Son

Chef Kaiyuan Li

Li, Head Chef at Atlas Kitchen, has over 20 years of experience in the culinary industry and is recognized as a First Tier National Chef in China. Li worked at Hunan Manor—the first Hunan regional eatery in New York—when it first opened and has become one of the founding figures of the Hunan regional fare in New York.

Chef Li uses quality and fresh ingredients for all his dishes. When I tried Atlas Kitchen's Sauteed Crab with egg Yolk, I could taste the natural flavors of fresh crab in harmony with the savory egg yolk.

Sally Eun Ji Son

Here are some dishes you should definitely try at Atlas Kitchen. They are also great if you aren't familiar with Chinese cuisine. 

Appetizing Appetizer : Sliced Pork with Garlic Sauce

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I order this appetizer quite often whenever I go to a Chinese restaurant, and I haven’t seen the dish presented in such an aesthetic way anywhere else. The wooden rack keeps the sliced pork from getting soggy, and the separate bowl of garlic sauce below allows you to drizzle as much sauce as you’d like. 

Beef Flank in Drywok

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Having 3 years of cooking experience in Germany, Chef Li incorporates German’s beloved stewing technique into this dish. Quality flank is seasoned in peppers and lotus root broth, giving the meat a rounded and fragrant flavor. Then he stews the flavored flank for 2 hours and adds handmade beef wontons in the end, making it a truly unexpected and hearty dish. I loved that the dish had a spicy kick to it, and the wontons were not only adorable but also delicious.

Pan Fried Shrimp in Garlic Sauce

According to Atlas Kitchen, arguably the most popular dish is the Pan Fried Shrimp in Garlic Sauce. This plate is cooked at table side and designed for customers to taste the shrimp in its best state right out of the pan. This dish perfectly shows how the dining experience at Atlas Kitchen is more than just eating. It’s a true multi-sensory experience. Surrounded by the paintings, you get to look and listen to your food sizzle before you start eating.

There’s Always Room for Dessert : Fried Rice Ball with Longan

Asian desserts are hard to find other than boba and egg waffles offered by a few places. Atlas Kitchen's fried rice balls had a texture of fried rice cake— crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Inside the rice balls was black sesame filling, which created nutty and rich flavors. By the time I ordered the dessert, I was already pretty full, but it was so good and satisfying that I finished it in no time. 

Sally Eun Ji Son

Next time you crave Chinese food, go visit Atlas Kitchen for a creative dining experience that will make you go back for more.