Shamisen, the Pan-Asian restaurant on the corner of Fifth and Fifth, has closed, and is in the process of being turned into an authentic Szechuan restaurant that also serves Japanese food.
According to the small print on the awning, the name of the restaurant will be Tofu on Fifth, which would seem to indicate that it'll be a second location of Tofu on Seventh, the very good Szechuan restaurant on Seventh near Fourth Street. But while an employee I spoke to at Tofu on Seventh knew that this restaurant was opening, she also said that it will have "a different owner," apparently one who's decided to also serve Japanese food.
The tipster who sent the above photo also told me that a "Closed for Renovation" sign was posted in the window, so the odds of the "new" owner being the same as Shamisen's seem pretty high. Shamisen was never able to pull in crowds, even after launching an all-you-can-eat-and-drink sushi, Chinese food, beer, and sake promotion a few months ago. Its menu was primarily Japanese, but there were also Chinese, Thai, and Malaysian dishes on the menu as well.
It's still a bit confusing as to what the ownership situation is, but if the Szechuan food here is as good as it is up on Seventh, the then that's a very good thing.
UPDATE: Thanks to a commenter for pointing out that Tofu on Seventh is in fact closing and moving into this location, not opening a second location here.