April 10, 2023 By Michael Dorgan
A stylish new bar/restaurant that specializes in Asian-inspired small dishes is set to open in the Queens Plaza section of Long Island City on Wednesday.
The new establishment, called Knock Knock, will open on April 12 on the ground floor of 42-44 Crescent St., an 8-story mixed-use building.
Knock Knock will operate as an “Izakaya-style” establishment. An Izakaya is a type of informal and intimate Japanese bar/restaurant that serves alcoholic drinks and snacks. Izakayas are casual meet-up places similar to pubs or Spanish tapas bars.
The food menu at Knock Knock will consist of comfort items such as dumplings and noodle soups, while the bar will offer a range of specialty cocktails as well as wines and beers.
Knock Knock is the first business venture by husband and wife duo Andrew Yuan, 28 and Seven Gu, 26. Yuan previously owned a restaurant called Ikebana Zen in the Hells Kitchen section of Manhattan.
The couple, who live in Manhattan and are both originally from China, regularly socialize in Long Island City and say they decided to open Knock Knock in order to tap into the area’s growing Asian population.
Yuan said he has been coming to the area for more than a decade and has witnessed it transform into a major residential hub.
“We noticed that there is quite a large Asian population, but not many great food and drink options,” Yuan said. “Seven and I decided to open Knock Knock here as we felt it would be a good compliment to the neighborhood. We really like this neighborhood, it’s young, vibrant and energetic.”
The front of the establishment is narrow and houses a coffee bar called Coffee Project New York which opened late last year. A corridor — with several high chairs on the right-hand side — leads customers to the expansive rear of the establishment which consists of a 32-seat dining area with a cocktail bar.
The two-story high ceiling allows plenty of light to shine in while there is also a seating area on the mezzanine level — with an additional 16 seats — which overlooks the bar/dining area. The ground floor area is 1,700 square feet while its kitchen, located in the cellar, is also 1,700 square feet, Yuan said.
The modern-looking interior is painted in various green colors with wooden finishes, a marble bar counter, and gold-colored lighting. The couple says the design is a contemporary take on classic Japanese tea houses and the culture associated with Chinese dim sum dining — traditional meals made up of small plates of dumplings and snack dishes.
There is also an enclosed outdoor backyard with 16 seats, which is around 400 square feet in size, Yuan said.
The couple says that Knock Knock’s menu is inspired by special memories they have created together and from their childhood.
For instance, a main called “Shrimp Wonton Noodles” is an ode to the hearty homemade soup that Gu often makes for Yuan at home. It is made with house-pulled flat egg noodles in broth, jidori chicken, yellow chives, garlic and ginger. Other mains include the Wasabi Chicken Fried Rice, which comes with chicken, carrots, peppers, broccoli and egg, as well as the Beef Pho made with beef broth, noodles and topped with crispy shallots.
Dumplings include the Money Pouch Dumplings, which Yuan says he enjoyed with his late grandfather while growing up in China. The dumplings are filled with shrimp, bacon, crab, red onion and shiitake mushrooms.
Desserts include house-made yuzu crème brûlée and a passion fruit bread pudding made with brioche bread and served with dulce de leche ice cream and condensed milk.
The cocktail menu consists of drinks such as the Sunset LIC — named after the neighborhood — which is made with tequila, lime, blood orange and passionfruit juice, agave, triple sec and a spicy tajin rim. Other cocktails include the Knock Knock Lycheetini, which is made with gin, lychee, St. Germain, simple syrup and grapefruit bitters, as well as the Emerald Garden which comes with vodka, Italicus, fresh cucumber and lime.
Yuan said Knock Knock will appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds.
“Whether you want to grab a coffee in the morning, meet some friends in the evening, or have a private party on our mezzanine, there is something for everyone here,” Yuan said. “We are very excited.”
Opening hours will be from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Knock Knock will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday for brunch and from 6 to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday for dinner.
Knock Knock Coffee Project New York is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday.