Judging from the minimalist table settings in our favorite designer home collections, you'd think Calvin, Donna, and Nicole Farhi -- like so many figure-conscious New Yorkers -- eat nothing but sushi for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the inspiration for these products is Japanese, or that a little hunting could turn up something equally elegant and Zen for much less. In fact, many Chinatown stores have piles of surprisingly affordable Japanese tableware hidden amid the heavy red-and-white restaurant stuff we all know too well.
Besides stocking everything you'd need to open your own noodle shop, the basement of Kam Man Food Products offers loads of Japanese imports that look like they belong somewhere far more expensive (much of it is the same stuff you'll find for twice the price in SoHo). A very Calvin Klein Home-ish collection of smooth graphite-toned ceramic pieces is $3.60 to $29.95 (a cup and small plate, pictured, will set you back $10). Mint-glazed ceramic soup bowls with rough-finished bases are $4.95. And a free-form handmade bowl -- perfect for serving or as a striking centerpiece -- is $22.50 (pictured).
For a combination of the traditional Japanese stuff and more Western-inspired pieces to mix in for that cool, cosmopolitan look, head to Pearl River Mart. There's an outstanding selection of neutral-toned crackle-glazed dinner plates, large serving pieces, and pretty pastel-glazed bowls (pictured, $6 to $8).
And for a few great items to round out the minimalist-table wardrobe (albeit at slightly higher prices than in Chinatown), check out Global Table, an upmarket SoHo shop full of imports from all over East Asia that's great for showy serving platters, salad bowls, and trays to set off your sharp, off-priced basics. Try a pearwood tray with stainless-steel base ($36), simple bamboo coasters ($2.50 each), or a pair of Thai hardwood candleholders ($18 each).
Kam Man Food Products, 200 Canal St. (212-571-0330); Pearl River Mart, 277 Canal St. (212-431-4770); Global Table, 107 Sullivan St. (212-431-5839).
Picks of the Week
The Rug Warehouse is closing -- and clearing out 5,000 new and antique carpets at 30 to 70 percent off: a four-by-six-foot new Afghan-style is $199, a nine-by-twelve-foot antique Persian carpet is $4,699. 220 W. 80th St. (212-787-6665); A.E., M.C., V., checks; Mon.-Fri. 11-7, Thurs. till 8, Sat. 10-6, Sun. 11-6; 1/24-2/28.
Gianfranco Ferré clothes and accessories for men and women are 60 percent off at the sample sale. Coats are from $350, suits from $300, pants from $100. Parsons School of Design, 560 Seventh Ave., at 40th St.; A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Tues. 9-6:30, Wed. till 5; 1/24-1/26.
Deborah Harper and Patricia Underwood are joining forces for a half-off sale of their chic uptown hats (as seen at Bergdorf Goodman). Wool, cashmere, and fur-trimmed styles are from $25 for a crusher to $250 for a fox-fur-and-brocade style. 114 Chambers St., Suite 3F (212-227-3831); M.C., V.; Fri.-Sat. 11-6; 1/28-1/29.
Hoyt & Bond's sample-and-stock sale means 40 to 60 percent off the company's chic woolly knits and separates for women and kids (sold at stores like Barneys and Spooly-D's). Wool skirts are $70; wool-and-mohair cardigans are $75; kids' twill pants are $20. 611 Broadway, near Bleecker St., Suite 716 (212-228-9102); cash only; Wed.-Fri. 10-6; 1/26-1/28.