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Friday
May012015

Shamisen Closes on Fifth Avenue, Tofu on Fifth Moving In

 

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.

Wednesday
Apr292015

Japanese Restaurant Wasan Coming to Melt/ Rare Earth Space 

The space that had been home to Melt for 10 years before closing and being replaced by the short lived Rare Earth, on Bergen Street near Fifth Avenue, will next be home to the second location of the Michelin-recommended Japanese restaurant Wasan, Commercial Observer reported.

The original Wasan, located on West Fourth Street since 2010, focuses on showcasing local and seasonal ingredients, with a menu that changes regularly. The menu is different from what you might expect from your standard Japanese spot, and is much more homsetyle and authentic Japanese: both red and white miso soups are made to order, appetizers include house-pickled vegetables, chawan mushi, smoked monkfish liver, crispy soba shrimp tempura, and wagyu beef tartare; entrees include lava stone-grilled sirloin, barbecued eel, chirashi, and several rice bowls; there's a five-course chef's tasting menu, and (yes!) late-night ramen.

No word on how much of this menu will be replicated here, but it's promising to say the least; There's no reason for them to change anything up, especially considering the fact that it's Michelin-recommended. For folks who have been craving a restaurant like this since Kappa Sake House closed in 2011, this appears to be well worth the wait.

Thursday
Apr232015

Pavilion Theater to Become Condos, Smaller Theater

The Pavilion Theater, on Prospect Park West between 14th and 15th Streets, will be converted into condos and the one-story building next door will be torn down in the process, The Real Deal has reported.

Ethan Geto, A representative from Hidrock Realty, which has owned the nine-screen theater since 2006, confirmed that the existing building housing the theater will undergo a gut renovation, and the new structure next-door will be primarily constructed with brick and be very much in line with the architecture of the surrounding buildings. "It definitely won't be a glass box," Geto told me.

When all is said and done, the complex will be home to 24 apartments, about 8,000 square feet of commercial space, and, most exciting of all, a new movie theater. According to Geto, the theater will be more "sophisticated" and won't resemble the current theater, which is decidedly run-down at all. The exterior of the existing building will also be restored.

The Pavilion, while certainly having its charms, has been a bit of an ugly duckling in recent years, dealing with issues of poor management and maintenance. It was always a matter of time until the hammer fell, and while it'll be a shame that the remaining interior architectural details will be wiped out, it's good to see this old building getting a second life.

Tuesday
Apr142015

Hugo & Sons Restaurant Coming to 367 Seventh Avenue

The storefront at 367 Seventh Avenue, on the northeast corner of Eleventh Street, has been vacant for years. But like several of the other long-vacant storefronts on Seventh in the past several months its been rented, and the new occupant, an Italian restaurant called Hugo & Sons, is moving in.

The sidewalk shed is down, and the new facade keeps many of the existing architectural details (including some great tilework down by the sidewalk) while adding some new ones, like lettering at the top.

Judging by a preliminary menu posted online (the owner told South Slope News that the pricing is subject to change), this looks like it's going to be a more or less classic "red sauce" Italian joint, but elevated. Appetizers will include Sicilian meatballs and crispy artichokes; Eight pizzas will be available including the Mina (tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto, parmesan, and greens), Fiamma (tomato, mozzarella, sopressata, jalapeno, and pesto), and the Mara (crab, shrimp, gremolata, parmesan, and mizzarella); Pastas will include strozzapreti Genovese (with braised brisket and ricotta), crab linguine, a maccheroni "dome" (wiht meatballs, ham, tomato, and bechamel, wrapped in puff pastry), pappardelle with italian sausage and fennel, and baked gnocchi with tomato and mozzarella; Secondi include chicken Milanese, garlic shrimp, and pork braciole rolled with bread crumbs, pine nuts, raisins, parsley, parm, and hard cooked egg.There's also a children's menu and a brunch menu that's definitely worth checking out.

Considering the care given to the buildout, menu design, and skill that will be required to execute this menu, the odds of this being an opening worth looking forward to are pretty high. While there's no shortage of old-school Italian in the neighborhood, this could potentially rise above them if, for example, the pastas are made fresh, the pizzas are executed properly, and high-quality ingredients are used. For now, though, all signs point to this being a winner.

Photo via South Slope News

Thursday
Apr092015

Fresh Bite to Replace Magic Deli on Fifth and Degraw

Magic Deli, the unassuming bodega on the corner of Fifth and Degraw previously known as Degraw Deli Grocery, closed up shop all the way back in January, and a lengthy renovation has been taking place since then. When it reopens it will be called Fresh Bite, according to a new sign on the sidewalk shed, and it will specialize in "Coffee. Bagels. Salads Grill. Subs. Organics."

The previous incarnation, along with the usual bodega staples, sold a surprisingly expansive (and tasty) array of tamales, tortas, and other Mexican specialties (and even the occasional cow's feet soup), which was very popular with local workers on their lunch break. I've reached out to the email address on the "Now Hiring" sign for more details, and will update if I hear back.

UPDATE: I heard from the owner, Moe, who also owns two similar shops in Manhattan: "We are not the same owners of Magic Deli. We have 2 locations in the city under the name of "The Best Of NY Food." This is our first experience in Brooklyn. What we offer in our stores are the best food products from salads, sandwiches, bagels, and others. We are bringing a place where anyone can go to grab some good fresh food. Although my main focus will be at the food area, I will  carry  all type of healthy organic  snacks."

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