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Restaurant Openings

Week of August 21, 2006: Province, Roll and Dough, Boqueria, Subtle Tea, and Macchiato Espresso Bar.

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Street fare from Province, left, and Roll and Dough.  

Bun Crazy
August is shaping up to be an exciting month for fans of Chinese street food. Province (305 Church St., at Walker St.; 212-925-1205) is a brand-new Tribeca snack shop so bare-bones, you walk by thinking it’s still under construction. There’s nothing skimpy, though, about the kitchen’s tasty sandwiches ($3.50 to $3.75), all substantial specimens served on homemade mantou, the doughy steamed bread of northern China. Reminiscent of the buns you can get at Momofuku Noodle Bar and at Chino’s, Province’s version is sesame-seeded, griddled, and layered with meaty slabs of pork shoulder or grilled chicken, pickled cucumber, cilantro, and lashings of hoisin or sweet bean sauce. There’s a good, if slightly chewy beef-short-rib-and-kimchi version, too, and exactly two other items on the brief menu: a tofu salad, and one of the best, non-gloppy bowls of cold sesame noodles in town.

A little farther uptown is Roll and Dough (135 W. 3rd St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-253-2871), the brainchild of Elizabeth Ting, who’s hoping to infiltrate the fast-food market with tiny buns and big plans for national expansion (branches near Columbia University and in Atlantic City are already in the works). The signature dish, the eminently portable bing ($1.50 to $1.95 each) looks a little like a sesame-seed bagel that got run over by a taxi, and belongs to the same internationally renowned family of stuffed dough pockets as empanadas, calzones, and samosas. But unlike Geno’s pizza rolls, Mrs. Ting’s bings are grilled to a superb chewy-flaky consistency and filled with everything from lotus root to mustard greens. If Ting is to be believed, biting into a bing is not only delicious but carries with it a weighty historical association: During a trip to China, she says, Marco Polo became so enamored of bings that he went on a bing binge, and, upon returning to Italy, attempted to cook up a batch. But, says Ting, “he got frustrated and messed up the dough,” so he tossed on some tomato sauce, and accidentally discovered pizza. “You can look it up in the library,” she claims.


Boqueria
53 W. 19th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-255-4160
In the incredibly successful wake of spots like Tía Pol and Casa Mono, the appetite for all things Spanish shows no signs of subsiding. This week, the Catalonian-inspired Boqueria rises from the Alsatian ashes of the former L’Acajou. Suba owner Yann de Rochefort named his new spot for Barcelona’s famed market, and outfitted it with a marble tapas bar and counter-height dining and communal tables. Chef Seamus Mullen, who spent time in Spanish kitchens between stints at Crudo and Brasserie 8∏, divides his menu into pintxos (here, mostly skewers); traditional tapas; media raciones, or small plates like oil-poached eggs; and larger raciones like cuttlefish with English peas and mint (pictured).

AND... On the beverage front: Tea in its loose-leaf, iced, candle, and beauty-product forms is the raison d’être of Subtle Tea (121 Madison Ave., at 30th St.; 212-481-4713). And the sleek Macchiato Espresso Bar has commenced pulling Danesi espresso and pouring Jim’s Organic drip (141 E. 44th St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-867-6772).


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