Sei Less recently opened in the old Jimmy’s 38 space on West 38th Street and it has an unusual vibe–it successfully mixes dimly lit Asian themed decor with a comfortable yet chic after work lounge. In the center of the main dining room is a super long bar that seemed to be really hopping during my visit. Although Sei Less looks mysterious, the staff is super friendly and there is a “no rush” pace. The food is solid and reliable with really big portions–all dishes appear to be enough for two even though they are not advertised as such.
Let me advise anyone thinking of visiting Sei Less to start out with the resto’s most popular cocktail, The Lychee Martini, which is actually creamy thanks to a heaping couple of tablespoons of cream of coconut! I could probably live on these! They are subtly sweet with just a touch of natural lychee flavor.
Some diners come in just for Sei Less’ generously proportioned apps. While the cuisine is dubbed Asian Fusion, what I ordered all was pretty much traditional Chinese from different regions. My guest and I did select tried and true classics, so if you want to go a little more out on a limb, ask your server about specials. The pork dumplings pictured above were fried to a golden brown and just full of juice when I bit into them. The Sei Less dumplings are also available steamed and with several different fillings. (The shrimp is particularly popular.) These were just perfect as far as fried dumplings go and the brown sauce that they serve with them is a little thicker and sweeter than traditional dumpling sauce.
The scallion pancakes are golden and flakey. If you are someone who prefer your scallion pancakes without an overpowering onion taste or too thick, I strongly recommend these. They have a good strong outer crunch, moist filling and are served very hot. The scallion pancakes come out of the kitchen very quickly and are actually a good accompaniment to Sei Less’ highly creative cocktails since they are mild in flavor.
The vegetable lo mein is a big crowd pleaser. It has huge chunks of bok choy, green beans, onions and more. It is just perfect as far as lo mein goes–it is not overloaded with soy sauce or oily like many versions of this famous noodle dish served all over the city. The veggies are nice and crisp and definitely have that “farm to table” taste. This is very filling so you might just need a doggie bag.
The sweet and sour chicken is what I would call the “rock star” dish that my guest and I tried during our visit. The pieces of chicken are huge and juicy and are fried to perfection. The sauce is tangy and at the perfect halfway point between sweet and sour. There are extra large pieces of both red and green peppers as well as fresh pineapple. This is a really solid version of sweet and sour chicken that would be hard to surpass in quality. (It’s THAT good!)
I have to point out something very special about the filet mignon and broccoli–the filet mignon in this dish is done medium rare! Usually it is well done in dishes of this type so if you are someone like me who prefers their meat medium rare, you will love this. The brown garlic sauce totally rocks (it has a very slight peppery kick) and there are greens and red peppers added to the super fresh broccoli. The amount of meat is very generous. I would say that they use a full 12 ounces of grass fed beef!
Don’t leave Sei Less without having one of their sophisticated yet classic desserts. They make a molten lava cake that’s right on the money. You can tell right off the bat that the quality of the chocolate that they use for both the cake and the “lava” is first rate. The Sei Less lava cake is served with homemade vanilla gelato laying in a bed of crispy cake crumbs and a rich light yellow custard-like cream. This is a very soul satisfying way to end a lovely meal at this midtown hotspot.
Speaking of satisfying, the homemade New York style cheesecake is ultra creamy. It is served with fresh whipped cream and a unique strawberry rhubarb sauce that has chunks of real fruit. It’s artistically plated with a few thin pieces of white chocolate scattered randomly on the plate. The white chocolate strips not only look very dramatic but they taste homemade. There are a few pretty sprinkles of peppermint bark as well.
Let me add that Sei Less is very reasonably priced. Looking for a hot spot for a Valentine’s Day dinner? Look no further! As you can see from the photo above, there is a lot of red in the Sei Less decor including red drapes and upholstery making it a perfect Valentine’s Day choice. Sei Less has plenty of spaces just for private events and their business in that area is growing wildly. I strongly recommend that you visit. Sei Less is spacious and comfortable and the perfect after work escape. Reservations are advised but not mandatory. For more info, go to www.seiless.com or visit their Facebook page.