The LA-transplant Koi opened in the Bryant Park Hotel on Wednesday this week. Every article I've read about the Japanese restaurant included some variations of the following: that the LA one is a "celebrity haunt" and a favorite of the "fashionista". If you didn't pay attention you would think you were reading about some
trendy snooty bar. It's enough to make me want to avoid the place (and why would any self-respecting "celebrity" go to a place that is described as a "celebrity haunt" is beyond me). But nevertheless, on Sunday night, I found myself having dinner there. Somewhat surprisingly, the restaurant was not even half full. I guess their PR engine is not as powerful as I had thought. Or maybe, like me, New Yorkers don't want to eat at places that are seemingly only famous for being a favorite of Hollywood celebs. And of course, no celebrities in sight.
The good news is that the food is quite good, albeit very expensive. Average price of a single piece of nigiri sushi is $8 with entrées in the mid-to-high 20s range. The style here is very obviously Nobu-inspired. I don't know about you, but lately I find myself getting really tired of the whole Japanese-fusion taste. I mean they taste good and everything, but they no longer excite my senses like they used to. The thrill is gone, so to speak.
Went to try the new soba restaurant Sobakoh on 5th Street (by 2nd Av.) last night. Being barely a week old, there were only two occupied tables when we arrived at around 7:30 pm (whereas even crappy places in the neighborhood are packed by that time on a Friday night), but the place quickly filled up afterwards.
The clientele, at least last night, was mostly Japanese with only one non-Asian couple in the crowd. Speaking of which, the staff is very, very Japanese. Our waitress barely spoke English. In fact, I haven't come across a Japanese waitress so lacking in her command of English in a long time. I felt like I was in Tokyo. There was a lot of pointing and speaking slowly when we were ordering.
This being a soba restaurant, the buckwheat noodles here are all hand-made (and also organic, the menu claims). The food, overall, is about as good as Sobaya's a few blocks north, but a notch below Honmura An's.
Finally tried Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Chinese restaurant 66 last night. I've been curious to taste JGV's take on Chinese food ever since it opened. I went in with high hopes since I happen to think that for a city so obsessed with Chinese food (and with so many Chinese people), New York sure has a lot of crappy Chinese restaurants. In fact, one of my least favorite things to hear from friends is: "Hey! Let's eat Chinese tonight!"
So I was hoping maybe a super chef like Jean-Georges could bring a much needed boost to the sorry state of New York City's Chinese food scene. And no, I'm not bigoted enough to think that only a Chinese person can make great Chinese food. A great chef is what it takes, and if he happens to be Alsatian, then so be it! And for what it's worth, most of the kitchen staff is Chinese (save for a couple of whiteys).
So, I pulled the trigger and paid for a pro Flickr account. In all my years on the net, I have only paid for a web service one other time. That was in 1996 for ESPN back when it was called "ESPN SportsZone" (with the URI espnet.sportszone.com, remember that?). At that time, all their columns were part of the Insider premium content, only news and scores were free. I continued subscribing annually until it went to all free content a few years back (around '99 or 2000?). Then, a couple of years ago they slowly started having premium content again, but I haven't re-subscribed as most of what I read on ESPN are still free. But at this rate, as they gradually put more and more columns behind Insider access, I'll probably end up subscribing again before long.
Anyway, this post is about Flickr, not ESPN. I've only played with Flickr a little bit these past couple of weeks, but I've seen enough to want to give them some money (USD41.77). The way I'm using Flickr now as a moblog, I didn't really need to upgrade to a pro account, certainly not before I have 100 photos in my photostream (the free account only displays your last 100 photos). But it's a cool product from a cool company, so I thought: "Why not?" The clincher was that they are based in Vancouver, my adopted home away from home. Buy Canadian!
See my photostream at Flickr (at the moment, it's mostly photos from my crappy cameraphone).