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Restaurants Openings & Buzz

Week of Feb. 28, 2005: Tebaya, Turquoise Grill, Song, and Shaburi. Plus, Manhattan's great cream puff war.

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Openings
Tebaya
Of all the Japanese snack foods increasingly available around New York—mostly on and around a few izakaya-saturated blocks of the East Village—deep-fried chicken wings, or teba, are no doubt the most accessible. A specialty of Nagoya, teba are typically seasoned with soy sauce, pepper, and sesame seeds—plus a few secret ingredients the taciturn owner of the month-old Tebaya refuses to reveal. In grand chicken-wing tradition, Tebaya sells its product in appetite-appeasing increments (from eight to twenty pieces) and as a “meal plus,” an Asian happy meal that includes a trio of potemochi (exceedingly dense, gummy potato cakes) and a soda. In addition to its house specialty, Tebaya serves fried chicken cutlet, on a skewer or a sandwich, and a quarter-pound teriyaki chicken burger, plus a pair of anomalously wholesome salads (soba and tofu) you’d never find at KFC.
144 W. 19th St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-924-3335


Turquoise Grill
The block of Amsterdam Avenue between 122nd and 123rd streets has become an upper-Manhattan restaurant row populated by college students and dominated, until now, by a distinctly Italian flavor. Its latest occupant, the casual, haphazardly decorated Turquoise Grill, adds a Middle Eastern flair and some top-notch hummus to the mix, courtesy of chef Michal Zilka, who used to work at Hummus Place—a pedigree that shows in her marvelously creamy, spice-dappled chickpea purée. It’s part of a meze assortment that also includes refreshing cabbage-fennel salad and pungent tabbouleh, and makes a zesty prelude to lamb-and-beef-stuffed artichokes or crisp-skinned chicken shawarma with red rice. And don’t skip dessert: Zilka is studying for a degree in pastry, and her menu boldly goes beyond baklava with a sumptuous frozen halvah parfait drizzled with tart pomegranate syrup.
1270 Amsterdam Ave., nr. 123rd St.; 212-865-4745


Song
The owners of Brooklyn’s bustling Joya, the restaurant that launched Cobble Hill’s Thai-food craze, have expanded to Park Slope, where they’ve opened their second spot (song means “two” in Thai). The menu is identical and the industrial décor similar, with a polished concrete floor, sand-blasted brick walls, a double-storefront glass-and-steel façade, and come spring, a sizable garden. As on Court Street, nothing (except the occasional special) costs more than $7.95, which makes the cash-only policy tolerable. Dinner only.
295 Fifth Ave., nr. Second St., Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-965-1108


Shaburi
Fans of Japanese food who remember this Murray Hill address as La Maison Japonaise have a Nipponese-inspired reason to return: It’s become the new home of Shaburi, a Taiwanese chainlet that opens its first Stateside branch this week. The menu is devoted to two Japanese classics—sukiyaki and shabu-shabu made with luxe ingredients like lobster, kurobuta pork, and the highly esteemed matsuzaka beef. There’s a global cast to appetizers like carpaccio of sea urchin with “Italian” sauce, and king-crab seafood salad in a mustard-yogurt dressing. House sushi rolls come grilled, tempura-battered, or deep-fried.
125 E. 39th St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-867-6999

And...
The Kati Roll Company, the Indian snack shop that made paratha sandwiches a hot commodity, will open a second location in early March at 140 West 46th Street. In the meantime, newcomer Roti Roll Bombay Frankie stakes its claim on the Upper West Side, where it stuffs griddled paratha sandwiches with fillings like spiced potatoes, chicken malai, and the unconventional tofu and mushrooms.
994 Amsterdam Ave., at 109th St.; 212-666-1500

Manhattan’s Great Cream Puff War rages on: To counter Beard Papa’s quick expansion, Choux Factory scouted out locations for a second branch and concluded that the competition for cream pufferies on the Upper East Side is negligible. As at the original shop in midtown, the cream puffs are piped to order and come in three flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.
1685 First Ave., nr. 88th St.; 212-289-2023

The collaboration of a Trinidadian wife and her American husband, Orchid Caribbean/Soul Cuisine brings Hell’s Kitchen the best of both worlds, from roti wraps to sweet potato pie.
675 Ninth Ave., nr. 46th St.; 212-582-9742

Sides
Toast of the Town
Eric and Bruce Bromberg, the brothers behind the bi-borough Blue Ribbon empire, are in expansionist mode. Their latest venture, Blue Ribbon Bakery Market, is just what it sounds like—a retail outlet for their top-notch line of artisanal rye, challah, and Pullman loaves, plus a new assortment of private-label items and prepared foods. The market will specialize in “bread plus everything you want to put on it,” says Eric Bromberg, who expects the outpost to alleviate the pressure of selling bread from the increasingly cramped vestibule of Blue Ribbon Bakery. Once the shop opens in mid-March at 14 Bedford Street, it will sell farm and dairy products from Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey; flour and bread-making ingredients; and, for takeout only, any type of bread hand-sliced, toasted, and topped to order with delicacies like raw Mexican honey, fresh Vermont cream butter, and house-smoked salmon with chive cream.


Soft Sell
Although no one in this chutzpah-charged town has ever gotten anywhere by selling himself short, the folks at Third Avenue’s Blarney Stone are giving it a shot: As this chalkboard sign posted outside the bar says, their burger might not be the best in New York, or even the borough, but it is, management proudly proclaims, the best in midtown. No word on the fries.

The Brunch Bunch
Three new ones: Café Gray, 5 Ninth, and Beacon. Even if you’re a confirmed brunch-hater, you have to admit that the idea of Gray Kunz, Zak Pelaccio, and Waldy Malouf cooking eggs for you on Sunday afternoon isn’t so bad.

A Close Shave
Marco Canora plays hooky from Hearth this week, with good reason: On March 3, he’s orchestrating a four-course $100-per-person black-truffle extravaganza at the Italian Culinary Center. For tickets and information, call 212-725-8764.

Grape Vine
Before there was Sideways, there was La Paulée, the annual Burgundy bash. The Pinot party takes place March 12 at the W New York, with food from Bistro du Vent, Café Boulud, and Cru. Call 212-625-2519 for tickets.


Object of Desire
New Peking
With thunderous hordes pouring in, Tao doesn’t need to excel, but chef-partner Sam Hazen has his pride, and Rick Laakkonen (exiled by the demise of three-star Ilo) recently took up whisk here. That may or may not explain what is surely the most aristocratic Peking duck I’ve tasted in recent memory. Not as fat and fleshy as Shun Lee’s celebrated classic, this duck-for-two is a stunner—its lacquered skin a fat-free marvel, the meat fresh and moist. It comes with the usual hoisin, and slivers of scallion and cucumber to roll inside small doily crêpes. At $58, not for the faint of finance.—Gael Greene
Tao, 42 E. 58th St., nr. Madison Ave.; 212-888-2288


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