An Atlantan in New York: A Taste of Spain

Nai Tapas: East Village, Manhattan, NYC, NY, USA

I picked this little place to meet up with some friends of mine that I hadn’t seen since the fall of last year.  Now that I’m in NYC, it’s a little easier to reunion with people.  Normally we like to get some good ol’ Asian food when we get together, but this time we decided to try somewhere new and went for tapas!  We ordered quite a bit so get ready for the onslaught of plates to come:

  • albondigas (spanish meatballs)
  • roasted brussel sprouts
  • crab crepe dumplings
  • duck breast
  • gambas (garlic shrimp)
  • oysters with lemon foam
  • patatas bravas (spanish homestyle potatoes with sauce)
  • pork belly
  • quail eggs on toast



  • great flavor: the sauce is not quite barbecue but it’s similar
  • good sized meatballs: not so small where you can squish two in your mouth to equal one bite
  • not overcooked: the meatball was nice and soft, not hard – it denotes a good combination of meat, stuffing, and binder.


  • not much to it other than meatballs and sauce.

Nao Tapas - albondigas

Roasted Brussels Sprouts


  • fantastic quantity for sharing.  It took us awhile to finish this dish actually.
  • good flavors, well seasoned and not over seasoned
  • not burnt brussels sprouts


  • I had a couple soggy pieces but it wasn’t too bad overall

Nao Tapas - brussels sprouts

Crab Crepe Dumplings: I wasn’t expecting this to be in dumpling form because it said “crepes” on the menu but this was ridiculously tasty.


  • great flavors: good amount of crab but not overwhelmingly all-crab
  • not too salty


  • too good for such few pieces, wish they had more but I understand this is hard with crab

Nao Tapas - crab crepe dumplings

Duck Breast wrapped in (what I think is) Iberico Ham in balsalmic glaze and roasted pecans


  • amazing flavor, the sweetness of the pecans and the drizzle with the saltiness of the ham went really well with the savory duck breast
  • fantastic quantity to share
  • not overcooked: duck was really tender


  • can be slightly salty (but there is bread served with olive oil for the table which goes well with this dish)

Nao Tapas - duck breast

Gambas/Shrimp in Garlic Oil


  • really easy to share.
  • addicting: there is something about bite-size shrimp that got us eating this really quickly, we actually ordered two orders of this.
  • shrimp was fresh: it had that crisp bite to it when your teeth sink into it and not the freezer-burned mush texture that sometimes come with frozen shrimp.
  • not overwhelming in spice even though it does have some heat


  • too oily: but the garlic oil is great with the bread
  • a bit too salty for me.

Nao Tapas - gambas (shrimp)

Oysters in Lemon Foam: this was new for me.  I’ve never had lemon foam but going to assume that it’s to replace the lemon wedges that we squeeze on top.  Also, the Spanish have this with a special type of champagne wine.  I don’t particularly care for the wine, but the foam was quite awesome.


  • sweet oysters, not briny.  This is totally subjective to what kind of oysters you like though.  I can’t stand briny oysters and so this really worked for me.
  • the lemon foam was really cool as it reduced the amount of liquids in the oyster shell that could dribble all over your chin


  • a selection of oysters would be great

Nao Tapas - oysters with lemon foam

Patatas Bravas: the standard Spanish homestyle potato “fries” that come in special aioli.  I’ve had multiple versions of this with different kinds of aioli.  While I can’t say I loved this dish, it wasn’t bad at all.  I’m just not a potatoes kind of girl.


  • great quantity to share: I don’t even think we finished this dish (but we did order quite a bit)
  • good flavors: not overly salty or over-seasoned
  • crispy potatoes and not soaked in oil


  • if you don’t eat this fast enough, the aioli will make the potatoes soggy as it is drizzled on top.

Nao Tapas - patatas bravas

Seared Pork Belly: THIS was ridiculously good.  Asians aren’t the only one who are good at using this cut of meat and turn it into something so soft and tender and delicious.


  • very hefty portion, good to share between two to three people, but it’s good enough where you’d want to get two orders
  • crispy exterior but soft and tender overall
  • saltiness of the meat went well with the poached/seared apples and the sweetness of the glazed pecans


  • none

Nao Tapas - seared pork belly

Quail Eggs on Toast


  • shareable for a party of three, otherwise, get a second order
  • cute and well plated


  • it’s like a mini egg done over-easy over toast.  Nothing really to write home about except I could probably make a bigger version of it at home for breakfast.

Nao Tapas - quail eggs on taost

I’d totally come here again.  The service was fantastic and even though we made reservations, it was really quiet for a Sunday night.  I can totally see this taking off though once it gets cooler.  The only thing I wish is that it wasn’t so dark.  I don’t get the dark lighting in restaurants, I can’t see my food.  We managed to get a window seat (somewhat) and so it helped but for winter, it’d be hard to eat here because it’s so dim.  Maybe they will change it when Daylight Savings Time comes around.  All in all, a summary:

  • albondigas (spanish meatballs): ***.5 (3.5 stars)
  • roasted brussel sprouts: ***.75 (3.75 stars)
  • crab crepe dumplings:***.85 (3.85 stars)
  • duck breast: ***.85 (3.85 stars)
  • gambas (garlic shrimp): ***.75 (3.75 stars)
  • oysters with lemon foam: ***.65 (3.65 stars)
  • patatas bravas (spanish homestyle potatoes with sauce): ***. 35 (3.35 stars)
  • pork belly: ***. 85 (3.85 stars)
  • quail eggs on toast: ***. 35 (3.35 stars)

You can find Nai Tapas in the East Village here:

174 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10009
Reservations via OpenTable here
Let me know what you think?  Also, if you’re a New York native or long time resident, I’d totally appreciate any recommendations for other tapas joints to try.  Thanks for being such awesome readers and for newcomers, for stopping by!
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This entry was published on August 14, 2016 at 20:53. It’s filed under restaurants, series, tapas, The Gastronome, The Traveller and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “An Atlantan in New York: A Taste of Spain

  1. The meatball, crab dumpling, and duck looks so good!

    Seems like a great meal overall.

    Will have to give this place a try.

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