Seared Foie Gras with Soup Dumplings, Broiled Spanish Mackarel with Satsumaimo, Eggplant with two turkish chills…the menu at Annisa knows no cultural boundaries – something it’s renowned head chef and owner Anita Lo is famous for. Lo manages to do what many chefs can’t; she constantly incorporates global flavors into her American cuisine, and does it flawlessly. It’s this technique that gives Lo so much culinary freedom. The world is her oyster in all senses of the phrase.
Lo herself is the ideal blend. Born into a second generation Chinese-American family, the chef trained in France, and has travelled all over the world to cultivate the flavors she now incorporates into her cuisine. Lo has worked under culinary icons like Guy Savoy and Michael Rostang, but it was only a matter of time before she became one herself. Working her way through all the stations at David Waltuck’s Chanterelle, and continuing to Mirezi where she developed her culinary style, Lo finally opened her own restaurant Annisa in 2000. The restaurant has remained an iconic New York food gem ever since – a feat we can all agree is not easily accomplished in Manhattan. With the menu at Annisa, one gets to travel the world in one meal, so The New Potato was excited to experience the many shades of this multicultural icon, Anita Lo…
Can you describe what your ideal food day would be?
It would be in a foreign country in a beautiful setting by a large body of water. Every dish would be a learning experience, and we’d see where some of the ingredients came from, including catching some of our own fish. Mostly, everything would be ridiculously delicious.
Where would you like to travel for inspiration that you haven’t been to yet?
Really anywhere. I haven’t been to Morocco, or Southern Italy, or Laos, or Cambodia…
When bringing multi-cultural flavors to your cuisine, how do you know what will work? What’s the process?
It’s a balancing act. You want to pair fats with bright or bitter flavors, you don’t want to overpower each flavor… Sometimes you’re drawing parallels between profiles of ingredients from different cultures, sometimes you’re just going by intuition…
What flavors make everything better? Which are overrated?
Salt, acid and fat pretty much make everything better when used appropriately. Overrated flavors? I’m not a huge fan of argan oil, or of nasturtium, or of fiddle head ferns.
What is your go-to recipe when cooking for family and friends?
I don’t really have one. But I like to take people clamming while I have a pork shoulder or belly on the rotisserie.
What restaurants do you consider underrated?
L’Artusi is underrated—some of the best Italian in the city.
What are your favorite food spots in New York?