Having been to the timeless New York City restaurant Indochine numerous times, I can’t help but be anything but mesmerized by the iconic landmark that celebrities, models, artists and socialites have been flocking to since 1984.
The French-Vietnamese cuisine and flavorful martinis aren’t the only things that keep the regulars coming back for more -- the restaurant’s stylish ambiance is set with candles lighting the entire space and banana leaf wallpaper recreates a tropical setting. (The banana-leaf look has been a major trend since the Beverly Hills Hotel put the signature pattern on its walls – and it’s still there to this day!) The walls take you to Vietnam, but the floors (black and white tiles) send you straight to a classic brasserie.
How has this insanely energetic spot managed to attract not only celebs but business-world luminaries for 25 years? Well the food is spectacular, the music is superb, the interior design of the space sets the mood and the people gallivanting in and out of the restaurant are the reason for all of the memories Indochine has made over the past 25 years.
For their anniversary, Indochine has published a book -- Indochine Stories, Shaken and Stirred. Flipping through the glossy pages, I realized how the restaurant has stayed so relevant to hard-to-please New Yorkers for 25 years. It’s simple: Keep your own stylish aestheic (no matter what the current trends may be) and the interesting, stylish crowd will keep rediscovering you as “the place to be."
Happy Anniversary Indochine!
1 This photo from the Indochine book shows celebrity signatures on chopsticks.
2 Watercolor by Jean-Philippe Delhomme.
3 Indochine by Tom Sachs.
4 Illustration by Ruben Toledo.
5 Indochine Miam Miam by Kenny Scharf, watercolor.
6 This is the beginning of Indochine! Take a look at the the banana-leaf wallpaper going up and the tile floors are being installed.
7 Martha's banana tree outside her Bedford home.
8 Watercolor by Ruben Toledo.
9 Here's an example of banana-leaf wallpaper you can put up in your own kitchen or dining area.
11 The Beverly Hills Hotel has had banana-leaf wallpaper for several decades.
12 Here is a photograph from the book Indochine Stories, Shaken and Stirred of a collage of fabric banana-leafs
13 I love this photograph of the restaurant's reservation book. After taking a close look I could see a dozen celebrity names such as: Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Paul Newman and Rosie O'Donnell.
14 In Martha's Skylands Maine Summer Home she keeps a guest book, a great way to remember who has come to visit you and when.
15 A photo of the inside of Indochine (before the crowds arrive).
16 How delicious -- Indochine's food is very flavorful.
17 The mirrors along the walls give the illusion that the room is bigger and they really reflect the banana-leafs on the walls.
18 I love this lounge area, it's the perfect place to enjoy a drink with a group of friends.
19 Check out the black and white tiles in this photo -- it's such a classic pattern with the perfect colors.
20 I spotted Martha's photograph in the Indochine book!
21 Home Depot has some great options of tiles to install in your own kitchen.
22 These tiles from Home Depot would look great in a dining area of a kitchen.
I love a great martini -- I am always looking out for a new recipe. In the back of Indochine’s anniversary book I found a recipe for their signature Indochine Martini:
At the end of the bar we always keep a large glass container that is filled with slices of pineapple and ginger that steep in a premium vodka for about a week. To make the Indochine Martini, start with a ripe pineapple that you peel and cut into one-inch thick slices. Pell some fresh ginger, slice it and add it to the pineapple. Cover with a good quality vodka (about two bottles), and let infuse for a few days or up to two weeks. When ready, strain and pour the following into a shaker:
1.5 oz. pineapple ginger-infused vodka
1 oz. triple sec or Cointreau
3/4t oz. fresh lime juice
splash of pineapple juice
Shake well with ice and serve in a martini glass. Garnish with one floating mint leaf.
In college I used to make trips quite often to Manhattan, one thing every trip was guaranteed to include was dinner at Indochine. I love the spring rolls, but the following recipes from their book are just as tasty:
Spicy Beef Salad (serves four)
12 oz. filet mignon of beef, cut in two pieces the long way
salt & pepper
½ cup of shredded mint leaves
½ cup sliced shallots (sliced the long way)
1 oz. shredded carrots
1 oz shredded cucumber
1 or 2 romaine lettuce heads, chopped
1 tbsp fried shallots to sprinkle on top
4 tbsp Sriracha chili sauce (more for a spicier salad)
4 tbsp fish sauce
4 tbsp sugar
1 cup rice vinegar (or other white vinegar)
½ cup water
Season the meat with generous amount of salt and pepper. Sear on all sides for a few minutes until medium-rare. Let cool. Slice the meat into thin slices with a very sharp knife. Toss all the ingredients with the dressing and sprinkle with friend shallots.
Lemongrass Chicken With Asian Basil (serves two)
1lb. chicken breast thinly sliced sideways against the fiber
2 tbsp Vietnamese fish sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp chili-garlic sauce (widely available in Asian markets)
Mix all the ingredients and marinate for a couple of hours in the refrigerator.
4 Shallots finely sliced the long way
5 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass (only the white part)
½ cup chicken broth
1 cup whole Asian basil leaves (stems out)
2 tbsp finely chopped peanuts
In a wok or flat pan, heat the oil to high heat. Throw in the sliced shallots and lemongrass and turn a few seconds until browned. Add marinated chicken and toss quickly and vigorously, separating it if it sticks together. Sauté for about three to four minutes (depending on the thickness of the chicken), adding a tablespoon of chicken broth every minute. Add the whole Asian basil leaves and sauté for another thirty seconds. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle chopped peanuts on top. Garnish with a sprig of Asian basil.