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Week of March 11, 2002
Three years after their snazzy remake of Leshko's, its owners have exported their Knoll chairs and retro-mod tendencies to Chelsea, where this week they open elmo. Chef Kevin Reilly, a veteran of Zoë, presents a playful melting-pot menu he calls "ethnic New York," incorporating flavors from Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Lower East Side. For starters, there's alphabet soup with dilled chicken dumplings and smoked paprika oil, and entrées like vegetable lo mein with roasted grapefruit and cashews. An eye-catching curved mosaic wall and seashell lighting fixtures set the stylish stage, and the spotlight is on a new work by Ross Bleckner, the painter's first commission in a decade.
156 Seventh Avenue, near 19th Street
 Cuisine: Eclectic



Rochjin Asian Noodle
Andy Yang leads a double life. As a partner at Forbidden City, he runs a dark den of iniquity where Alphabet City slickers sip sake and smoke themselves silly. But at his new restaurant, Rochjin Asian Noodle, he's created an alcohol-and-smoke-free zone open till 2 a.m., a clean-living canteen where NYU students and frazzled East Villagers can restore themselves with fresh ginger and lemongrass juices, and an assortment of noodle soups featuring Thai fish balls (rochjin) made by Yang's godmother, his chef and partner, who pulverizes yellowtail snapper with hot and cold water and abstains from MSG, filler, and flour. Thanks to a stint at Blue Ribbon Sushi, Yang has an in at Fulton Fish Market; everything else, from tea leaves to glass-topped tables, is imported from Thailand. He even selected the music, an assortment of classic jazz, with his collegiate clientele's well-being in mind: "They all listen to hip-hop. Better music"-like fish-"might improve their brain."
92 Third Avenue
 Cuisine: Thai


"In a three-block radius, there's every kind of fast food," says Etsuko Kizawa, an erstwhile designer determined to offer her Lower East Side neighborhood a healthier alternative to KFC and Burger King. So last month, she converted her handbag boutique into Soy, a minuscule, honeydew-green bastion of soybeans in every form, from edamame and tofu to roasted-soybean snacks, green-tea soy smoothies, even soy coffee. And for expert assistance in preparing "classic Japanese mama's dishes" like beef-and-potato stew and curry rice, Kizawa imported two temps from Japan: her parents.
102 Suffolk Street
 Cuisine: Japanese


Seemingly overnight, the Asian-influenced Aleutia morphed into the all-Asian (mostly Thai) Nong, and a chef who used to work at Ruby Foo's came in to consult on the spicy new menu. Choose from wok plates (chicken fried rice), large plates (cracked lobster with avocado), and bento-box lunches full of rolls, dumplings, and stir-fries.
220 Park Avenue So., at 18th St.
 Cuisine: Pan-Asian


Si Si
Chicama chef Douglas Rodriguez gains a Fifth Avenue foothold in the basement of Trump Tower, where he hopes to lure tourists and shoppers with tapas like foie gras flan, coconut-chicken salad, and a roster of rice dishes incorporating everything from crab and scallops to veal and fava beans.
725 Fifth Ave., at 57th St.
 Cuisine: Tapas


Openings Archive

Week of March 4
Bonita, Wondee Siam II, Barocco Hots
Week of February 25
NYC, Beekman Kitchen, Bemelman's Bar
Week of February 18
Negril Village, Kai, Cipriani Dolci, ONY

and more ...

Photos: From top to bottom- Kenneth Chen (2), Patrik Rytikangas
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