Suzie Wong Gives Us a Case of Déjà Vu
When we first told you about Suzie Wong, the lounge “nightlife lord” JE Englebert and his partners are opening this Thursday in their old Pre:Post space at 547 West 27th Street, we noted that Lotus once had a café named after the fictitious hooker with a heart of gold. That said, you’d think Lord Englebert would make sure his logo looks nothing like Lotus’s! Or are we the only ones who see the resemblance? And are we the only ones who are hesitant to visit a sake lounge that spells it “saki”? Sure, it’s technically an acceptable alternative, but we’re not surprised it’s the preferred spelling of someone whose other club is Myst [sic].
Earlier: Club to Open in (Rather Than Flee) West Chelsea
Ask a Waiter
Sake Sommelier Chizuko Niikawa of Sakagura Serves $100 Bottles to Jean-Georges
For three years Chizuko Niikawa has been a sake sommelier at hideaway Sakagura, the restaurant in the bowels of a midtown office building. In that time she’s served everyone from clueless first-daters to one of Japan’s most notorious soccer players (who apparently gets his feathers ruffled if he’s served vegetables) to a certain famous chef that she then knew only as Mr. Kakunko, a reference to his proclivity for dining at the bar with his favorite $100 bottle of sake for company. We asked her to clue us in about the art of sake.
Sakaya and Its Daily Tastings Just Two Weeks AwayEast Village sake stronghold Sakaya has been on the way for a long time, a process chronicled on various blogs, including Sakaya’s own. Now that we’re less than a couple of weeks (or fewer) away from the place opening up, we spoke to former Food & Wine publisher Rick Smith, who owns Sakaya with his wife, Hiroko Furukawa. “We’re going to be the first store totally dedicated to sake in New York, and we’re going to have sakes that no one has seen before here — artisanal sakes, small-batch stuff, things that have never been imported here before.” Sakaya’s line will range from an ultrapremium Midori Kawa Dai-Ginja for $163 to the “lovely” $18 Yuri Massamune, the George Duboeuf of sake. The only problem, and it’s one Rick can’t fix, is that we can never remember which sake we like since the labels are all written in Japanese. But we’ll get the chance to find out: Sakaya will host daily sake tastings, so you can learn (and get a little looped) whenever you stop in.
Sakaya Blog [Official site]
American Grill Rejected by the E.V.; Second Ave. Deli to Open in JanuaryAstoria: The “Sophia Loren” pie at Michael Angelo’s II on 23rd Avenue near 29th Street is said to blow away the neighborhood’s pizza competitors, and with the not-so-innovative toppings of mozzarella, tomato, basil, and sauce. [Joey in Astoria]
Carroll Gardens: Lucali overwhelmingly won an albeit mini-poll for the hood’s best pizza parlor. [Bergen Carroll]
Chinatown: The owners of new restaurant U-Choose Express on Mott Street have decided to decorate their space with an old sign from fifties diner Lonnie’s Coffee Shoppe that was uncovered during renovation. [NYT via Lost City]
East Village: After only five months American Grill is giving up the ghost. Did its blintzes really fail to lure 4 a.m. drunks away from Odessa, was it flat-screen overdose, or just the constant reminder of Kiev’s death by gentrification that did the mod diner in? [Eater]
Hell’s Kitchen: Artisanal Premium Cheese Center is hosting a sake and cheese tasting on December 5 to “showcase the lovely synergies that superior Sakes and exquisite (Artisanal Premium) Cheeses share.” [Artisanal Cheese]
Midtown East: They may be hoisting their sign today, but the 2nd Avenue Deli probably won’t open until January. [Eater]
Midtown West: Bruni’s first impression of Brasserie 44 (after, he notes, Rob and Robin’s) : It looks Scandinavian. [Diner’s Journal/NYT] Sangria 46 at 338 West 46th Street will feature a different sangria each day for the twelve days before Christmas starting on December 13 with three-berry rosé. [Grub Street]
The Orange Line
Riding the B Line: The Zen of Sake Bar HagiWe’re riding the B and V from Coney Island all the way to Forest Hills, jumping off frequently to rave about our favorite restaurants and food stores near the subway.
This Week: 47th-50th Streets
Alain Ducasse Has Designs on LCB’s Midtown West SpaceAstoria: Sai’s Organics health-food store will open a new location that incorporates a wellness center, and they’re hiring. [Joey in Astoria]
Bensonhurst: Do Carluccio’s heroes have a right to be famous? Has anyone heard of them? [Brooklyn Record]
East Village: A sake retailer is moving in on East 9th Street. [Down by the Hipster]
Flatiron: Charlie Palmer shuts down Kitchen 22. [Eater]
Fort Greene: Pequeña chef and co-owner Johannes Sanzin, who also partners in Olea and Maggie Brown, is developing a space on Fulton and Clinton Avenue for an unknown restaurant. [VV]
Midtown West: Our Insatiable Critic’s new blog breaks news that Alain Ducasse cohorts claim to have secured the low-rent space of Department of Health–shuttered Brasserie LCB. [Bite]
Upper East Side: There’s apparently something sacred about staring at bodega workers just trying to have dinner in peace. [The Upper East Side Informer]
Williamsburg: An Austro-Hungarian biergarten — huge, with a restaurant — is in progress on North 3rd Street! [A Test of Will]
Sam Mason Really Needed Those Fourteen SakesWelcome to the latest installment of the Launch, where Sam Mason, former pastry chef at wd-50, relates the ups and downs of preparing to open Tailor, the swanky restaurant and lounge coming together at 525 Broome Street.
What to Eat Tonight
It’s Cherry-Blossom Time at Sumile
For the remainder of this month, Sumile Sushi chef Josh De Chellis will be preparing a Japanese spring tasting menu incorporating preserved cherry blossoms and leaves. “The whole cherry-blossom experience is an excuse to cook delicately,” says De Chellis. “That’s what spring is: the first grasses and first vegetables. It’s a delicate time of year.” De Chellis works the cherry blossoms and leaves into four courses, all accompanied by a Sparkling Sakura Sake Elixir infused with them. Unagi (eel) is smoked with cherry blossom, touched up with a blossom glaze, and served with a rich foie gras mousse. Boned squab is rolled up with blossom-infused rice, then roasted, sliced, and served over a bitter, smoky burnt eggplant purée. A chocolate-and-cherry-blossom tart rounds out the meal, which costs $70 including sake. On a cold and rainy day like today, you could do a lot worse for a shift in mood.
Back of the House
Big Brother at Nobu; Greek Cuisine Slammed; Mmm, SquirrelAstoria isn’t primarily Greek anymore, says William Grimes, and that’s okay with him: “Greek cuisine does not, even at its best, ascend to great heights.” Say what? [NYT]
Sake is becoming more and more popular, even though Americans can’t read the labels. This super-informative feature even includes a sake glossary. [NYDN]
Problem diners get registered at Drew Nieporent’s restaurants: “‘Let’s just say you came to [Nobu] and you were a disaster — you complained about everything, whatever. You know, your name’s in the computer.’” Not only that, he’s been accused of shorting workers on overtime. [NYP]