July is usually a slow month, but this year there was lots of activity. In particular, the Village has become more of an Asian food hub with the opening of three Chinese restaurants and one Japanese ramen bar; and another Japanese restaurant is in the works.
Junzi Kitchen (170 Bleecker Street at the corner of Sullivan Street): Last month we reported on how the idea for Junzi Kitchen was hatched at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute; in July, the team opened their third location. The fast-casual menu features bings (flour tortilla-like wrappers filled with meats, vegetables and sauces) and two types of noodles (spring and knife). The vegetable toppings are seasonal, and the garnishes include shrimp salt and chive ash. The homemade bing dough is turned into little balls by a machine called a dough divider which resembles an Imperial Stormtrooper. In addition to the standard menu there will be an after-hours street food menu starting in the fall as well as a monthly chef’s table dinner series.
Rosemary’s Pizza (1 Perry Street at Greenwich Avenue): This sister restaurant to nearby Rosemary’s serves wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pizzas in the old Yerba Buena Perry space. The unusual crust tastes almost like whole wheat and is made with two flours from Wild Hive Farm which mills its flour using traditional stone-grinding equipment and obtains its organic grain from regional farmers. Like Rosemary’s, the interior décor is rustic with lots of wood.
Drunken Munkey (31 Cornelia Street near Bleecker Street): Pó, one of Mario Batali’s first restaurants, opened in the space in 1993 and closed just over a year ago. Now there is a new tenant, Drunken Munkey, an Anglo-Indian restaurant which also has a location on the Upper East Side. The interior is very gold, with lots of monkey motifs; the food at the original has garnered 4.5 stars on Yelp. The restaurant is particularly proud of their cocktail offerings, which they refer to as the “East India Cocktail Program.” The owner also runs Hudson Bar and Books, Lexington Bar and Books, and the French restaurant Le Bateau Ivre.
Hao Noodle (343 West 14th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues): Like the three restaurants mentioned above, this is also a new branch of an existing restaurant—the original is at 6th Avenue near Waverly Place. Many of the noodle dishes are available at both locations, but the new restaurant (a Chinese version of Izakaya) also features barbecued meats sold by the piece and meant to accompany drinks. Some of the more unusual offerings are Crispy Chicken Skin and Spiced Pork Intestines with Sichuan peppercorn.
Llamita (80 Carmine Street near Varick Street) is a small Peruvian sandwich and roast chicken spot. It is the second venture for the team from well-regarded Llama Inn in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Xi’an Famous Foods has opened its tenth Manhattan location at 313 6th Avenue (near West 3rd Street). This popular chainlet serves food from the Xi’an region of China—spicy hand-ripped noodles, flavored with cumin, Sichuan peppercorn and chili, as well as lamb dishes. A different style of Chinese food is available at Noodle King of N.Y. (511 6th Avenue between 13th and 14th Street), where Asami Sushi Restaurant and before it Umami Shoppu used to be. Here, hand-pulled noodles are featured either in broth or pan-fried with different toppings. The restaurant is similar to a number of Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles spots in Chinatown. The noodles are made to order by a chef who is visible in the back. The process involves holding one end of a roll of dough in each hand and waving it until it magically separates into strands of noodles. Menkoi Sato NYC (7 Cornelia Street near West 4th Street) replaces Mew Men, another ramen restaurant that formerly occupied the space. At the moment, there are only three dishes on the menu—including abura soba, described as a soup-less ramen, which is also available in a vegan version. The décor has not changed much from what it had been previously.
Cafe Español (172 Bleecker Street near Sullivan Street), an old-style Spanish restaurant that opened in 1976, has closed without warning. Another more modern Spanish restaurant and tapas bar, Tertulia (359 6th Avenue near Washington Place), has also closed after a seven-year run. The chef and owner, Seamus Mullen wrote an article in the February 2017 issue of Bon Appetit, entitled “Food Nearly Killed Me. Then Food Saved My Life,” where he recounts his descent into ill-health and his redemption after observing the following diet: “Reduce the simple carbs and increase the healthy fats, colorful vegetables, naturally raised meats, and wild seafood.” He continues to run El Colmado, a tapas bar in Gotham West Market, as well as a fast-casual chicken spot, Whirlybird and Greens, which adheres to his new nutritional thinking and which he hopes to expand to more locations in the coming year. Goa Taco (101 MacDougal Street) first opened on the Lower East Side and served paratha, an Indian bread filled with Indian and non-Indian fillings. The original location is still open, but the Village outpost is gone. Italian sandwich spot Il Bambino (48 West 8th Street between 6th Avenue and MacDougal Street) has closed up shop. A note on the door explains, “Unfortunately, as amazing as the food is and as warm and friendly was our service, the business simply hasn’t been profitable enough to keep the doors open.” The original Astoria location is still open. Mr. Panzerotto (124 MacDougal Street at Minetta Lane) sold fried, filled dough pockets similar to calzone. The idea was good but the execution was lacking sometimes, which rendered the panzerotti greasy, instead of crispy, on the outside. They have now disappeared. The Asian-accented Sweet Time Dessert Café (171 West 4th Street near Jones Street) has also closed.
In the last year we’ve seen many closed businesses being replaced by hair salons and barber shops; this will also be the case at 152 7th Avenue South (between Perry and Charles Streets), where the Indian and South Asian décor store The Khazana will morph into a Keratin Bar. In the window of the former Nice Nails (175 West 13th Street at 7th Avenue), however, is a sign announcing the arrival of Dental House (Dentistry Reimagined). The building at the corner of 14th Street and 8th Avenue (77 8th Avenue) which has been a bank, a carpet store, and a men’s spa (to name a few) will now become a branch of the Museum of Illusions. Over at 76 Carmine Street (between Bedford and Varick Streets), Toriko NY, a Tokyo yakitori (grilled chicken skewer) restaurant is opening. LROOM Café is replacing Potbelly Sandwich Shop at 41 West 14th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues). Furniture company Vitsoe is coming to 15 West 8th Street (between MacDougal Street and 5th Avenue). It is headquartered in London and has another New York City store on Bond Street.
The restaurant that used to be Dominique Bistro (14 Christopher Street at Gay Street) has become a smaller branch of Boucherie, aptly called Petite Boucherie. Both restaurants are part of “The Group,” a collection of restaurants mostly in the Village that includes Olio e Piú and Omakase Room by Tatsu. Bleecker Street Pizza is expanding next-door into what had been The Hummus Place (71 7th Avenue South between Bleecker and Barrow Streets). Many were saddened when Village Den closed (225 West 12th Street at Greenwich Avenue). Recently, a sign with the words “Better Den You Remember” has appeared in the window. The doorman in the building told me that a new place was opening with “healthier options,” and someone on-site confirmed that a restaurant with different owners would open. Umami Burger (432 6th Avenue, near West 10th Street) closed at the end of 2017 but recently, a “Notice to Tenant” sign appeared in the window which demanded $37,508.39 for two months’ rent (May and June 2018).
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Photos by Darielle Smolian