East Village’s Jiang Diner Is a Magnetic New Entry Into NYC’s Chinese Dining Scene

Lamb stuffed shumai dumplings

“(…) Jiang Diner also refers to its purse-shaped manti dumplings as shumai, even though they are not the sort of fragile little dumplings one finds in a Cantonese or Japanese restaurants. They are nevertheless quite good, bulging with a wet lamb or beef filling. The dumpling skins are way more delicate than the doughy ones found in, say, a Uzbekistan restaurant like Nargis Cafe.

The greatest strength of Jiang Diner lies in its introduction of dishes we hadn’t really seen before in New York. Most brilliant of all, but also on the expensive side, is its plate of lamb ribs ($26), either steamed or roasted, and presented with dipping reservoirs of powdered Asian cumin and thick chile paste. Those who eschew fat should avoid these, but there is no more flavorful lamb in town, except perhaps some local versions of Mexican barbacoa. Another dish that shouldn’t be missed is the steamed eggplant with fresh garlic paste ($8), which will feel somewhat familiar to anyone who frequents local Sichuan restaurants. This one also features potatoes, while red bell peppers add sweetness. I liked it so much that I tried it twice, and the time it was served to me warm, it was transcendent.”

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Bento Boxes Are Trending In Fast Casual

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We’ve rounded up several examples of the emerging bento box trend in fast-casual restaurants, from a bento-only delivery concept to an already-emerging chain undergoing a major expansion.

“The bentos are appealing because you’re not eating a huge plate of pad Thai, and then falling asleep at your desk the next moment,” Kelley said. “I lived in Japan for over a year and was always taken by the bento delivery system there … they deliver bento boxes and then pick them up in the afternoon. We are doing the same thing in Colorado, and we are essentially zero-waste.”

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Michelin-Starred Kyo Ya’s Longtime Chef Is Leaving to Open His Own Restaurant

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“Kyo Ya has been open since 2007, one of the first kaisekis in the city before the influx of Japanese restaurants — serving an eight-course seasonal menu for $150 with ingredients from all over Japan, including raw fish like whelk, sea eel, and abalone. Times critic Pete Wells gave the restaurant a three-star review in 2012, praising Sono’s mastery of seasonal ingredients, and it’s been awarded a Michelin star for many years.

Despite its critical acclaim, the restaurant has remained a bit of a hidden gem, bearing no signage for its lowkey subterranean space. In 2015, it also spurred a French-Japanese spinoff called Autre Kyo Ya, which has since closed. Eater has reached out to the restaurant’s ownership for details on what’s next for Kyo Ya.”

“Chikara Sono — the executive chef who led acclaimed East Village Japanese restaurant Kyo Ya to a Michelin star — is leaving the restaurant after 12 years of cooking up a multi-course kaiseki menu of raw and hot small plates. The star chef plans to open his own restaurant. Sono tells Eater that he’s leaving on March 31 in order to open a restaurant of his own; he has already started scouting spaces. In the meantime, Sono will do catering and consulting.”

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New NYC Ramen Restaurant Ichiran Is the Ultimate Spot for Introverts

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“Calling all introverts. A Japan-based restaurant, Ichiran, known for its solo dining booths, has just opened its second location in New York City. The popular Midtown ramen restaurant allows customers to enjoy their meal without distraction.

Here’s how it works — you place your order by filling out a form specifying exactly what you want. A waiter takes the form without uttering a word, and a few moments later the steaming bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen appears. You enjoy the ramen and when finished, you push a button and the empty bowl is taken away. All of this happens without a single spoken interaction.

The idea of solo dining first occurred to the creator of Ichiran when he noticed all of the distraction that came with eating in a restaurant. Thus, the flavour concentration concept was born. By sitting alone, diners are able to solely focus on the taste of their food, and therefore fully enjoy the experience of the ramen.”

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At Zauo, Diners Can Catch Their Own Dinners

“It’s catch-and-relish, not catch-and-release, at this new Japanese import. Customers can opt for baited hooks to snag rainbow trout, salmon trout, fluke, shrimp, flounder, farmed striped bass, rockfish, lobster or abalone swimming in the pools. Or a staff member can lend a hand. (Prices are $16 to $125 if they do the fishing, and $12 to $110 if you fish.) The chefs then prepare the seafood to order, salt-grilled, simmered in soy sauce, sashimi or tempura. Whimsically instructive menu cards provide guidance. The restaurant, which has 13 locations in Japan, was introduced there in 1993 by a company called Harbor House: The New York restaurant is its first branch outside that country. Takuya Takahashi, whose father was the founder, is president of the New York branch. A narrow but soaring space, the restaurant has a fish tank opposite the bar on the ground floor, and two more tanks on a loftlike second floor. The hull of an immense, hand-built polished wooden boat hangs from the ceiling. In addition to the freshly caught seafood, the menu offers a vast array of Japanese standbys, mostly seafood, including salads, sushi, hand rolls and rice and noodle dishes”.

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Momosan Ramen Opens in Murray Hill

Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto has just opened the doors of his first ramen restaurant, Momosan Ramen and Sake, located in Murray Hill. The new restaurant will be focused as much on Sake as on Ramen, with 13 different options by the glass and several sake-based cocktails. The ramen on the menu is fairly traditional, with an emphasis on tonkotsu and chicken ramens with traditional toppings, although the menu promises quality, including a secret recipe by which Morimoto’s noodles are more resistant to becoming soggy (or “Nobiru”). Appetizers include pig’s ear, pig’s foot, and two kinds of pork belly, plus a few non-porcine options as well.

Of course, there are no shortage of ramen options in the city, but any celebrity chef will have a certain opening bump. Momosan’s closest competition will be Ramen Takumi, on 34th and 3rd avenue.

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New York’s First Customizable Sushi Enterprise

“Customizable” and “made-to-order” food are two of the biggest consumer trends for 2014. 22-year-old entrepreneur Jesse Tang saw potential to apply these trends to a major untapped market— sushi. “Pink Nori,” Tang’s sushi venture in Astoria, will be the first sushi concept to truly grant customers limitless freedom to customize their rolls. “The millennial generation likes to try new stuff,” Tang reasons. The menu will feature atypical sushi condiments such as guacamole, jalapeños and potato chips. Tang recently graduated from Stony Brook University and will use his $10,000 prize he earned from the Long Island Young Entrepreneur Challenge to market Pink Nori. Jesse’s father, restaurateur Danny Tang, will offer a hand in business operations. Astoria’s burgeoning dining scene and proliferation of young professionals with disposable incomes inspired Tang’s enterprise location decision.