Third Kingdom mushroom restaurant nyc

WHEN VEGAN CHEF JUAN PAJARITO entered a “mushroom phase,” he and Overthrow Hospitality founder and restraurateur Ravi DeRossi—also known for New York’s Death & Company—decided to “make it a mushroom moment,” and start serving plant-based, mushroom-forward dishes. What started as a pop-up soon became a full-blown restaurant, now known as Third Kingdom, the brooding 50-seat, fungi-centric restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village.

Having opened in January 2024, Third Kingdom leverages the brilliant mind and expansive palate of Chef Juan, who has over 16 years of restaurant experience and is also the Executive Chef of Avant Garden. It is entirely mushroom-based and vegan, where you’ll see some mushrooms you’ve heard of and some you’ve never even considered on the menu in the most innovative way possible.

We spoke with Drew Brady, Director of Operations and Wine Director at Overthrow Hospitality, who shared how this all came to be, and why mushrooms check all the boxes when it comes to being at the center of the plate (and culinary conversation).

New York’s First Mushroom-Based Restaurant

WHY OPEN A FULLY MUSHROOM-CENTRIC RESTAURANT? Third Kingdom’s origin story is serendipitous. It all began with a casual conversation about mushrooms with Chef Juan Pajarito, who was going through a “mushroom phase.”

Earlier that day, we were brainstorming ideas for our side room at Proletariat, our beer bar. The idea clicked: why not create a test kitchen for Chef’s mushroom experiments and run it as a pop-up called &Beer? With the beer bar next door, it made perfect sense. Each month would feature a new ingredient paired with beer. The mushroom pop-up struck a chord, and guests demanded we keep the mushroom menu going.

Eventually, it evolved into Third Kingdom, taking over the main space. When you centralize the mushroom, it opens so many other doors on the plate. For one dish, you can focus on one mushroom itself, showcasing all it has to offer accentuated by the way it’s cooked and how it plays with other ingredients. Alternatively, you can start with something we all know and love like ravioli, and let mushrooms take it to a different place entirely. The depth and range of a mushroom-centric menu seem endlessly interesting. That’s why we are doing this.

third kingdom new york city

FAVORITE MUSHROOMS + WHY: The debate is fierce! I have a love for Huitlacoche, a fungus that spontaneously appears on organic corn (untreated with any fungicide). It’s quite elusive, emerging on corn cobs post-unexpected rain showers. This prized ingredient is cherished in Mexican cuisine but challenging to come by in New York restaurants. We’re thrilled to feature it at Third Kingdom as the season draws near!

WHAT IS IT ABOUT MUSHROOMS THAT ALLOWS THEM TO REPLACE ANY MEAT ON THE MENU?Texture and umami are key components, and the visual appeal is equally significant. Mushrooms make a striking focal point on the plate, especially when presented in a group.

SOME MUSHROOM MISCONCEPTIONS PEOPLE MIGHT HAVE: There’s a common misconception about mushrooms being slimy or chewy. It’s unclear where this notion originates, but my suspicion is that people often season mushrooms too early. Salting them at the start of cooking can slow down the process and lead to excess liquid.

BEST ENTRY-LEVEL MUSHROOM DISH FOR THE MUSHROOM-AVERSE: At Third Kingdom, we prepare small Beech mushrooms until they resemble the texture of elbow macaroni, then serve them in a creamy cauliflower sauce with toasted breadcrumbs. It’s like mac and cheese, but with mushrooms instead of noodles! This dish is perfect for those who are new to mushrooms and can easily be recreated at home with your own twist.

WHAT MAKES MUSHROOMS SO FLAVORFUL + VERSATILE? Mushrooms are incredibly diverse and aromatic, and have that magical power of umami that so many chefs are searching to add to dishes.

MUSHROOM DESSERT? TELL US MORE. Absolutely! We craft an incredible Porcini & Rosemary Ice Cream. Porcinis impart a delightful nuttiness that surprisingly complements ice cream perfectly.

third kingdom porcini mushroom

WHAT IS THE MAGIC OF MUSHROOMS? I came across an intriguing study by Japanese scientists who used a fungus to remap the underground transit system. Fungus seems to have a unique intelligence that’s pretty magical.

FAVORITE MUSHROOM MEMORY: My favorite mushroom memory was playing Super Mario on Nintendo as a kid. If you know (and if you’re old), you know!

WHERE DO YOU SOURCE YOUR MUSHROOMS FROM? In addition to specialty forage, we source our mushrooms from LifeCap Farms is a sustainable, urban farm based in Jersey City, NJ.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING YOUR MUSHROOMS? We choose mushrooms based on quality and availability.

WHAT ARE SOME HEALTH BENEFITS OF MUSHROOMS? Recent studies indicate that several edible mushrooms contain active compounds capable of stimulating neurogenesis, the process by which new neurons are generated in the brain. This was previously believed to be challenging, if not impossible.

ONE THING YOU HOPE PEOPLE WILL TAKE AWAY FROM THEIR DINING EXPERIENCE: We hope the dining experience at Third Kingdom feels like a journey—like a “choose your own adventure” story. Essentially, you’re building your own tasting, with our team there to guide you through the forest!

HOW DO YOU HOPE TO KEEP GROWING / CHANGING IN THE FUTURE? We’re actually in the process of planning to grow mushrooms right here in the restaurant, and we’re currently ironing out the details. It’s exciting because it allows us to showcase the entire life cycle and fascinating growth process to our guests, which adds to the overall intrigue, much like it has for us.

WHAT ARE SOME NOVEL WAYS PEOPLE CAN INCORPORATE MORE MUSHROOMS INTO THEIR COOKING AT HOME? Dehydrating mushrooms is a great way to make a seasoned snack that can be added as a salty crunch to any dish, much like toasted breadcrumbs.

third kingdom juan pajarito

Enoki Ramen Recipe From Third Kingdom’s Chef Juan Pajarito

For the ramen soup:
1 oz. garlic oil
1/2 oz. Calabrian oil (or any other chili oil)
2 oz. minced garlic
2 oz. chopped ginger
1 bunch of scallions
1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
2 oz. white miso
1 tsp chili flakes
3 cups of Mirin
1 oz. soy sauce (can replace with gluten-free Tamari or coconut aminos)
1/2 oz. vegetable stock
1 cup coconut milk
2 oz. toasted cashews – grind up
2 oz. white sesame seeds
6 cups of water

01 | Add all oils to the pot
02 | Chop and add the garlic and ginger to the pot
03 | Add scallions and cilantro
04 | Add all the other ingredients, and stir constantly.
05 | Add Mirin to the pot.
06 | Add coconut milk.
07 | Blend the cashews and sesame seeds with the water, and add them, continuing to stir, bringing the soup to a simmer.

For the homemade ramen noodles:
See below for homemade ramen recipe, or you can use any store bought ramen noodles; just follow instructions on the package if going that route.

250g all-purpose flour
150g. semolina
10g. of salt
10g. baking soda
130g. of water

01 | Mix all dry ingredients
02 | Add water little by little, knead and cut out thin ramen noodles

For the fried enoki mushrooms:
Enoki mushrooms – about 2 oz per serving
Tempura batter (see below)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
Black pepper to taste
2 cups of water
2 cups of your beer of choice (light beer recommended)

01 | Mix all the ingredients and then add the water and beer until you have a smooth consistency.
02 | Dip Enoki into batter & fry at approx 325F for 2-3 minutes and add it to the ramen (recipe below)

01 | Put a pot of water on to boil, cook the ramen noodles (if using homemade recipe, cook for 1 minute)
02 | Add 5 oz of ramen soup, topping scallions, cilantro, cashews, nori
03 | Top with fried Enoki mushrooms


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