New Sparkill Restaurant offers Asian-inspired street food, celeb chef
October 26, 2022
There's a familiar, yet different look to the newly opened Kantina, the new Asian inspired Sparkill restaurant in the former DVine Bar space which had a limited opening last week. The set-up is the same: A 10-set bar on the right (with new cushioned seats), tables on the left and a small open kitchen in the back. But there's now more brick along the left hand wall, a couch and chairs in the front meant for lounging, and a lighter feel due to new paint colors.
"DVine Bar was always very beautiful and modern and industrial looking," said Chris Holland, the longtime DVine chef who bought the space from previous owner Joe Printz in August. He now owns it along with business partners Elder Garcia, a childhood friend and Jensen DiBattista, who served as DVine's general manager. "We wanted to keep that industrial feel but brighten it up a bit."
Street food influences
Along with the decor refresh, the biggest change is the menu. Holland describes his "takoria" as half Asian style tacos and the other half Asian street food dishes. There are also items you might find at a Chinese or Japanese sushi restaurant that he's taken and elevated. Holland is a three time "Chopped" champion who recently competed in an episode of "Alex vs. America," the Food Network show featuring Iron chef Alex Guarnaschelli and and just appeared on "Guy's Grocery Games."
Surprisingly, Holland, who's been cooking Asian food for most of his career, has never been to the Pacific but has a lifelong love for the cuisine having grown up in a large Asian community in Fort Lee, New Jersey. He said he was the only Caucasian kid who "back then" ate everything at his friend's houses.
The flavors of Asian food, he added, lend themselves well to tacos, which is why he wanted to devote his restaurant to them. "It's something different," he said. "I feel like we're sort of changing the definition of a taco here.
"People have come up with a million different ways to make sandwiches, but it seems tacos are still lagging behind. We want to show people that we can do anything in a taco."
That means infusing dishes with junk food influences, another one of Holland's passions, with items such as cornflake crusted chicken with chili oil, kewpie mayo and kimchi in a "tako,"— Holland and his team are big on playing with the letter k — and a sushi roll with fresh tuna, sticky rice, pickled cucumber, wasabi peas, nori and soy caramel.
Other entrees include Laarb Gai, ground chicken with nuoc cham in a lettuce cup, Fried Oyster Mushrooms, Mini Spare Ribs and Tuna Poke.The menu is divided into small plates (with hot and cold options), takos (featuring dirt, air, sea and land categories) and dumplings. There's also a separate gluten-free and vegan menu. And there are a host of interesting cocktails, such as the Mesquite Old Fashioned (sotol, grapefruit, filthy amarena cherry syrup, and el guapo fuego bitters), Matcha Libre(shochu, housemade matcha syrup, lime, yuzu soda, mint, and jarritos tamarindo soda) and “Bubble Tea”(with Gary’s Good vodka, yuzu sake, lemon, pandan syrup, and tapioca pearls).
Desserts also have a junk food nod. Offerings include a S’more Waffle with housemade roasted marshmallow, frozen custard, graham cracker, waffle, and milk chocolate and a Cannoli Tostada with housemade ricotta cannoli cream, pistachios, dark chocolate, cinnamon, and honey. Holland says he likes being more focused on one cuisine rather than on a bunch of things, as he was at DVine.
Another point of difference to Kantina is the way you order. Because Holland and his team wanted to create a more interactive experience, diners get order cards with menus when they're seated and then check off how many tacos or dumplings or small plates they want. "All dishes are very low priced [in the $6 to $15 range] so you can order a few things for the table," explained Holland. "You just write on the card and hand the card to your server who keeps bringing it out.
"We wanted to make it almost like a family fun atmosphere and keep it fun and light."
And, because he likes to go a restaurant and order multiple times because "you never know how hungry you’ll be or how good the food is," he's hoping diners will feel the same.
Said Holland: "We hope a lot of people will come here hungry, like the food and keep ordering."
If you go
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday with Sunday hours to come.
Return to list.