Clockwise, from upper left: Kitchen with surrounding counter; bar for waiting patrons only; lounge for coffee and after-dinner cocktails

After weeks of secrecy and suspense, the newest home of David Chang's Momofuku Ko opened its doors this past weekend for a trio of Friends and Family dinners, in preparation for its grand opening sometime next month.  Industry types, co-workers and acquaintances made the trek to 8 Extra Place on the Lower East Side to marvel at the spacious room with industrial decor, the large central kitchen surrounded by a wooden counter that can now seat 22 diners at a time, and the even bigger prep kitchen with its refrigerators stocked to the gills with produce, meat, wine and other foodstuff.

The Push Project has allowed Alex Stupak to collaborate with some of the best chefs in the country and in the world, resulting in some of the most innovative and exciting dining experiences the city has experienced in some time.  For its fifth incarnation, Mr. Stupak invited none other than the dean of traditional Mexican cuisine in the United States: Rick Bayless.

Cote de bouef with béarnaise sauce

I really wanted to hate Dirty French.  I did.

When it was announced earlier this year that Major Food Group was opening Dirty French in the lobby of the Ludlow Hotel, I greeted the news with a certain sense of ennui.

Empellon al Pastor is the newest addition to the burgeoning culinary empire of chef Alex Stupak, and the most bizarre: a dive bar masquerading as a taqueria.  Indeed, there is more to this restaurant than meets the eye: as soon as you enter the premises, you feel as if you've been thrust into a whole other world -- part seedy pub, part hellish vision by some artist high on peyote -- and it can be intimidating at times.

Marta is the newest venture from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG).  Ensconced in the lobby of the Martha Washington Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, Marta specializes in Roman-style pizzas; unlike Neapolitan-style pizzas, the crust of Roman pizzas tends to be thin and crisp.   As a result, the outer crust practically shatters when bitten into, while the inner pie crust is chewy and tender.

The server placed a bowl in front of me: it contained pork sausage, lychees, peanuts, red onion and coconut milk.  She first cautioned me that the dish was spicy due to the addition of habanero pepper, and then she encouraged me to mix the bowl's contents well before eating.  The first thing I taste is the savory pork sausage, followed by the sweetness of the lychees and coconut milk, then the flavors of the peanuts and red onion.

When Peter Serpico opened his eponymous restaurant on South Street in Philadelphia last year, it was an instant hit among the locals and critics alike; however, I was less than impressed with my meal at the time, feeling that the dishes were pale imitations of Mr. Serpico's gastronomical creations at Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Ko.
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For its latest iteration of the Late Night Dinner Series, Momofuku Ssam Bar invited the James Beard Foundation-feted Cochon of New Orleans to populate its kitchens for one night.  At first glance, Ssam Bar – with its Asian influenced food – and Cochon – a champion of Southern and Cajun cuisine – seem to have little in common; however, both restaurants have a love affair with the pig.

New Yorkers are notoriously finicky about their fried chicken, and with good reason: with a myriad of choices available in all five boroughs, there is a chicken for every one’s particular tastes and desires.  It is not surprising then that when it comes to selecting which bird is the best in town, tempers flare and arguments ensue.  Every new entry into the fried chicken wars is scrutinized, criticized and debated upon.

Uma Temakeria is the newest venture from chef Chris Jaeckle of all’Onda fame.  Inspired by the temakerias of Brazil that serve Japanese-style temakis or sushi rolls, Mr. Jaeckle has partnered with Cynthia Kueppers to re-create that same dining experience here in New York: casual Japanese cuisine but with the same attention to detail that sushi chefs are well known for.
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