Fashion Week brought the usual celebrity infestation to town last week for glitzy after-parties, but we’ve already covered those. The real question is, where did the “normals” catch a bite? And of course by normals we mean billionaires, Nobel Prize winners, and Super Bowl champs, all of whom made the scene this week.
Clinton Hill: John's Donut Shop & Restaurant looks like an unassuming diner, but a recent visit revealed an actual wait. Do people know something we don't know? [Clinton Hill Blog]
Dumbo: Water Street Restaurant is promoting $3 Draft Beers and a 2-for-1 Cheeseburger Special on Sunday. [Dumbo NYC]
Flatiron: If you get to Hill Country at 8 p.m. on a Saturday and come 9 p.m. you’re still waiting for a table, you’ve now struck "Shot o’clock," according to GM John Shaw, "gratis shots for all at the bar." [Eater]
Little Italy: This is proof that the city’s nightlife is still hot: "Degenerates of nyc in full swing at gold bar. 19 yr old Brazilians having makeshift photo shoots as the party floods into the D.J. booth to play with the new mac computers." Only Bangkok could be hotter than that! [Down by the Hipster]
Park Slope: Beer Table, whose SLA woes were chronicled by the Times this week, will open Saturday. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Tribeca: A bit of diner rudeness has been spotted around town lately — stool-swiping, line-cutting, table-hogging — but there’s a bit of consolation (and warning to offenders): Nobu co-owner Richie Notar revealed "they get secretly punished with extra-long waits." [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
This week’s juiciest bit of celeb-sighting gossip was, of course, the Post’s report that after a performer dumped a drink on Demi and Ashton, Box honcho Simon Hammerstein sent an e-mail to his partner and a GM saying, “I can’t stand those two” — apparently because they’re “so far up their own arses” and “don’t spend anything” — “and I applaud whoever spilt a drink on them.” We’re thinking Kid Rock got kinder treatment when he went to Southern Hospitality, or there would’ve been a Tommy Lee–style throwdown.
Do you have a valuable brand name? A blue-chip reputation sanctified by the food media? Do you need ready capital — for expansion, debt reduction, or even retirement in your golden years? Just sell out to the nearest major conglomerate looking to add a bit of class! On her Website’s new gossip page, New York’s Insatiable Critic, Gael Greene, reveals the details of the latest rumored arranged marriage: this one between Nobu and Colony Capital, “the force behind Xanadu, the 2.2.-million-square-foot sports, leisure, shopping and family entertainment complex sprouting in the Meadowlands.” Is Nobu Matsuhisa playing Kubla Kahn?
Insatiable Critic: Short Order
Jenna “ex-porn honey-turned-businesswoman” Jameson and Heatherette designer Richie Rich plan to open a nightclub/clothing shop in Chinatown next year called the General Store. [NYP]
Part-owner of the Waverly Inn and Maritime Hotel Eric Goode enjoys retreating to small-town Ojai in California. [NYT]
Nobu executive chef Mark Edwards reveals not only that the restaurant’s infamous black cod is actually sablefish (which is so not endangered), but also that he can’t stand the dish anymore after tasting it day after day. [Bloomberg]
David Chang plans to open a Momofuku in Vegas where everyone “wants you to do well. [And] there are no government officials who go after you and none of the bull[bleep] that’s in New York City.” [NYP]
Nobu heads to the Sundance Film Festival this January as the first push to establish a catering arm of the company. [NYP]
Gordon Ramsay at the London, Insieme, and Toloache are some of the newer restaurants spicing up pre-theater dining. [NYT]
Richie Akiva, owner of celebrity favorite Butter, tells us that he and his partner Scott Sartiano’s next project 1OAK is set to open at 453 West 17th Street on October 19. He won’t tell us much more: “I really want it to be a surprise. It’s going to change the face of nightlife in New York.” He’s also working on opening clubs in Los Angeles and Miami (the latter, we can report, will be an outpost of Butter). So when he’s not starving himself for the Jewish holidays or enjoying “wifey day” with his current girlfriend (past lucky ladies: Mary-Kate, Lindsay, Carmen Kass, etc.), where does he butter his bread?
Sake has been the next big trend for so long that we’ve been loathe to recognize it now that it’s actually arriving. If, like us, you're utterly mystified by the stuff (not being able to read the bottle is part of it), check out the Joy of Sake next week. The city's biggest sake event will hit the Puck Building on Thursday featuring 300 different sakes, at least a third of which aren't available outside of Japan. The restaurant lineup looks good too: Seventeen restaurants are creating dishes meant to be paired with sake, including wd-50, Sakagura, and 15 East. Tickets are $75 in advance, $90 at the door.
Joy of Sake [Official Site]
Rancho Jubilee’s restrooms aren’t the only cave-themed ones. There are La Caverna’s, for instance. But for swankier digs, it’s necessary to visit Ninja. The theme restaurant’s menu is sometimes unsuccessfully derivative — the black cod doesn’t measure up to Nobu’s a few doors down — but when we discovered they’ve recently installed an automatic Toto toilet in the handicap WC, we didn’t give two shits that Morimoto did it first. These actually work!
Let’s say you were the city’s most famous restaurateur, the man who more or less invented Tribeca, and still owned three or four of the city’s most popular restaurants in Tribeca Grill and the three Nobu restaurants, not to mention Mai House and Centrico. Let’s say you were also seriously overweight. What would having complete command of four restaurants within one block of your office not to mention the red carpet at every other restaurant in town and an essentially bottomless food budget — do to you? Drew Nieporent used his resources to go on the ultimate New York diet and lost 70 pounds in the process.
Alex Ureña is closing Ureña and turning it into “a bistro-style eater called Pamplona.” The modern Spanish curse continues! Now Suba alone carries the banner. [Eater]
Rocco DiSpirito doesn’t seem to mind being called a douche bag: “I was thinking he must have worked for me to know I'm a douche bag,” the chef tells Nina Lalli. [VV]
Related: Joey, Latest ‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner, on Why Rocco Is a Douche Bag
On his Top Chef blog Tony Bourdain has some wise words to console Joey: “Joey's the chef of a damn famous restaurant in New York freakin' City. The place every ambitious cook and chef hopes to work — in the big leagues. So he's already a "Top Chef" — and already a winner in my book.” [Bravo]
Related: Adam Platt Finds the Moral in Last Night’s ‘Top Chef’
On some summer weekends, Nobu will be setting up a satellite location in the Hamptons – presumably near Howard Stern’s place. [NYP]
The American Medical Association gets behind the city’s requirement that fast-food chains post calorie and other nutritional information on their menus. Not that the chains have any intention of complying. [Nation's Restaurant News]
Ratatouille is being hailed as an instant classic, especially for foodies: “The food is drawn and imagined so beautifully (with the help of French Laundry chef Thomas Keller, who consulted on the movie) that you walk out wishing you'd made reservations at Per Se.” [Slate]
If the community board’s street-events committee has its way, the San Gennaro festival may get the boot from Little Italy. [NYDN]
Jeremy Piven is now banned from all Nobu restaurants for taking a table for twelve in Aspen and then tipping the waiter with an Entourage DVD. [Jewtastic]
A morbid look, inspired by the DeMarco’s tragedy, at the history of restaurant shootings and their aftermaths. [NYS]
Tila “Tequila” Nguyen, the “Madonna of MySpace” per Time magazine, met at least some of her 1.7 million virtual friends when she lived in New York City and “experimented with drugs and a hardcore lifestyle,” according to her bio. She eventually moved to Hollywood to start her career as an Internet celebrity, model, and singer, and by the time she was returning here weekly to host VH1’s Pants Off Dance Off she had moved on to vices like dirty-water hot dogs, mozzarella sticks, and mushroom pizzas. This week Tila flew in once again to promote her new self-released single and to pose for the cover of yet another magazine (“It’s the Baddass issue,” she explained). We asked her what she noshed on to get through the grind.
Around the time he helmed the kitchen at Williamsburgh Café, before becoming an executive chef at Punch and then a contestant on Top Chef, Forbes named Sam Talbot one of the city’s up-and-coming chefs and Zink declared him one of its sexiest: “He is like a girl when it comes to shopping and grooming himself,” his Bravo bio reads. Unfortunately this didn’t cut it with the judges, and Sam was kicked to the curb on this week’s penultimate episode. Admirers will be happy to hear, however, that he’s still zipping around on his Vespa and consulting with the owners of Fat Baby on their two new Lower East Side restaurants. We asked him what he ate this week and learned that he likes his food cheap but solid aside from his monthly splurge at Nobu.
One of the Times’ ever-ambivalent world travelers goes to Japan. But if eating whale sashimi is wrong, he doesn't want to be right. [NYT]
Noho is for pedestrians: a helpful guide to its restaurants. [NYT]
Related: Our Noho lunch spots. [Grub Street]
Secrets of a hat-check person, revealed. It turns out women are checking not only their coats but also their pants. [NYP]
Good news for Bao 111 fans: Chef Michael Bao Huynh is opening Mai House, a much bigger, more ambitious restaurant, backed by the Myriad Restaurants Group (Nobu, Tribeca Grill, et al). He'll be cooking straight-up Vietnamese food, but whatever it lacks in fusion flash, we're betting will be made up for by the guy's way with flavor. And the 4,500-square-foot, 120-seat space sounds like it'll be lovely, with "hand-carved wood fixtures from Vietnam, crushed sunflower-seed walls, Zebrawood banquettes, a mother-of-pearl and bamboo butcher-block bar and Vietnamese lotus flower light fixtures," according to the Myriad Group. It should open at the end of the month.
186 Franklin St., nr. Greenwich St.; 212-431-0606.
If you still don't know what an izakaya is (or haven't lately been to St. Marks Place, where most of them are clustered), enlighten yourself at Izakaya Ten, the latest iteration of the space that was the French-Korean D'or Ahn, and then, for a nanosecond, the sushi restaurant Anzu. Owner Lannie Ahn has hired a veteran of Morimoto and Nobu to supplement the raw fish with a selection of small plates of the home-style Japanese fare one finds in a sake bar or pub — not your basic mozzarella sticks or buffalo wings but more exotic tidbits like natto omelettes, ginger pork belly, pan-seared rice balls, and the ever-popular chicken-meatball skewer.
Ming Tsai, known to viewers around the country for his Simply Ming and Ming's Quest TV series, is probably one of the foremost East-West fusion chefs in America. Although his base restaurant, Blue Ginger, is near Boston, the chef was in town recently promoting his new line of packaged Asian foods (which are being distributed through Target). We asked him what his favorite Asian restaurants in the city are, and in particular, who he thinks does the best fusion.