Depending upon the Japanese dialect, shokudo could mean anything from "canteen" to "peaceful dining" to "path to food." Regardless of the definition, the essence remains the same: It's a casual spot for easy eating, and that is exactly what owner and general manager Yoko Takarada and executive chef Armando Litiatco have in mind at Shokudo.
When World Resource Café became Lincoln Road-kill last year because of a 40 percent rent increase, Takarada turned to a crappy bodega in Buena Vista that had to be gutted. Now, designer Andre Swindell has transformed the space into an upscale modern diner built largely with sustainable materials such as reclaimed wood. The design elements are subtle: polished concrete flooring, white marble tabletops, and a faux-copper ceiling. Dark leather banquettes make the best use of a long and rather narrow layout, but when the weather turns from humid to hospitable, the pretty garden area out back is inviting.
However, Shokudo's draw isn't the décor. Its allure is diverse, affordable Asian cuisine, which has been missing from midtown and the Design District.
Although the word fusion seems dated, the food here combines ingredients
representative of each Asian region, and much like the menu at World
Resource, Litiatco playfully adds a Latin element to the plating. The
ideal man to helm a kitchen of this nature, he celebrates a
Filipino-Chinese background with an aptitude for mixing cultural
flavors. Previous gigs at Daniel Boulud's Daniel in New York and Nancy
Oakes's Boulevard in San Francisco clearly provided Litiatco with an
education in attention to detail as well a creativity reminiscent of
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culinary child's play.