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Best new restaurant MaLa Project
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz MaLa Project

The best new restaurants and bar openings in January

From a Marie Antoinette-themed bar to a movie-screening gastropub, feast your eyes on NYC's most exciting new eats

By Dan Q Dao
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Between the New Year festivities and winter storm Jonas, the first month of 2016 proved to be an eventful one for New Yorkers. The world of food and drink was similarly busy in January, with exciting new spots including a Marie Antoinette-themed bar serving up cocktails on the Lower East Side and a cinema-gastropub hybrid in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Here are the best new restaurants and bar openings in NYC in January.

RECOMMENDED: See more of the best new restaurants and bars in NYC

Best new restaurants and bar openings

Biang!
Filip Wolak

Biang!

Restaurants Chinese East Village

Young-gun restaurateur Jason Wang has just about cornered the market for the spice-heavy fare of the ancient, central-Chinese city Xi’an, with his mini empire of Xi’an Famous Foods takeout counters and the original Flushing, Queens, location of this popular sit-down shop named after the sound noodles make as they hit the work surface. Wang relocates that noodle-house operation to this 60-seat East Village dining room formerly home to Wylie Dufresne’s Alder, adorning it with his personal collection of Chinese pottery and panda Pop Art by Singaporean artist William Chua, all brought over from the original location (that space has been retooled as another outpost of Xi’an).

Boba Guys
Liz Clayman

Boba Guys

Restaurants Tea rooms Lower East Side

Boba, or Taiwanese bubble tea, went from plastic cup to mason jar when Boba Guys' artisanal San Francisco shop opened in 2011. Uniting the popular sugary beverage with an unprecedented locavore ethos, owners Bin Chen and Andrew Chau swapped processed powders and artificial sweeteners for house-made cane-sugar syrups and organic milk sourced from Bay Area–based Straus Family Creamery. Four years and two locations later, the chainlet makes an East Coast jump with this minimalist 14-seat counter hawking traditional Eastern varieties (classic black milk tea, lychee green tea) and globally influenced cups (horchata, Indian chai with ginger), all built with dairy from Battenkill Valley Creamery in Salem, New York.

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Le Boudoir
Photograph: Nicole Franzen

Le Boudoir

Bars Cocktail bars Brooklyn Heights

Marie Antoinette is a popular figure in cocktail culture—legend has it that the coupe glass was modeled after her left breast, and NYC bars from the Bourgeois Pig to Dear Irving have taken influence from her opulent ways. Now, the Queen of the French is getting another boozy homage courtesy this Brooklyn Heights hideaway, inspired by her private chambers at the Château de Versailles. From the team behind French bistro Chez Moi, the 55-seat bar is accessed through a staircase tucked behind a secret bookshelf inside the bistro and is outfitted with red-velvet banquettes, silver-plated goblets and a bust of the queen herself. Behind a marble bar, beverage director Franky Marshall (Monkey Bar) mixes quaffs such as a classic French 75 and an almond-milk-fortified Dauphin (chili liqueur, coconut).

LILIA interior-exterior
Paul Wagtouicz

Lilia

Restaurants Italian Williamsburg

The food world welcomes back Missy Robbins—who earned Michelin stars for her work at A Voce and A Voce Columbus before departing in spring 2014—with this pasta-focused eatery. Robbins revamps a former auto-body shop as a 70-seat dining room decorated with handmade tiles, natural-wood tables and iron-casement windows. From an open kitchen, Robbins oversees rustic plates like cacio e pepe frittelle, pappardelle with veal bolognese and a wood-fired leg of lamb with Roman spices. A small adjacent take-out café will serve pastries, frittatas and focacce, before converting to a cocktail bar at night.

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Best new restaurant MaLa Project
Paul Wagtouicz

MáLà Project

Restaurants Chinese East Village

Chinese hot pot, customarily stewed with thinly sliced meats, vegetables and stock, gets a brothless showcase with this East Village eatery from owner Ning Amelie Kang and chef Qilong Zhao. Named after the Chinese phenomenon of ma la (literally “numbing and spicy”), the restaurant’s starring dish is a variation on Chongqing-hailing dry pot, a stir-fry-like spread built with a choice of 52 add-ins: Meats extend from beef tenderloin to pig artery; fish fillets and squid balls can be paired with frog; and vegetables include more obscure produce like chayote and konjac noodles. Beyond the pot, diners can pull up to a 15-seat communal table or a marble-topped counter for snacks like steamed egg custard.

Best new restaurant Nakamura
Filip Wolak

Nakamura

Restaurants Japanese Lower East Side

Shigetoshi “Naka” Nakamura, one of Japan’s most widely-recognized ramen toques, dazzled New York audiences in 2015 with his steamy, skillfully balanced XO miso ramen at Sun Noodle’s Ramen Lab. After a stint as the noodle company’s corporate chef, Nakamura heads down the street to go solo with his debut ramen-ya, an 18-seat outfit set where he peddles that miso bowl along with a curry-spiced ramen and his signature shoyu variety. The latter employs the chef’s famed stock—chicken bones simmered with ginger and a proprietary soy-sauce blend—and comes topped with spinach, chashu (pork belly) and scallion oil, with a noodle choice of house-made strands or the Sun Noodle standard. Diners can tuck into the bowls, as well as appetizers like teppan gyoza (pork, cabbage), at wood-fitted two-top tables and a no-frills counter.

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Seed + Mill
Photograph: Courtesy of Seed + Mill

Seed + Mill

Restaurants Israeli Chelsea

You don’t get much more niche than artisanal sesame-seed products. That’s the focus of this Chelsea Market shop, which 18 flavors of handmade halva as well as freshly milled tahini. Founder Lisa Mendelson, who previously introduced frozen yogurt to Israel through her Tel Aviv–based chain Yogo, now brings a cultural import from the Middle East back to the U.S. Along with partners Monica Molenaar and Rachel Simons, Mendelson employs high-quality Ethiopian Humera seeds—roasted at precise temperatures and milled in small batches—in halva varieties like coffee and ginger, as well as a sesame-based spice blend, a “chalva” sandwich (halva on buttered challah) and a tahini-and- goat’s-milk ice cream made in collaboration with Victory Garden NYC.

Red Slash at Seaborne
Paul Wagtouicz

Seaborne

Bars Cocktail bars Red Hook

Cocktail-loving New York mourned the loss of one of its greatest visionaries when Milk and Honey founder Sasha Petraske passed away in August 2015. On the eve of his passing, the drinks legend—also responsible for bars including Dutch Kills, Little Branch and Middle Branch—was working on a Red Hook, Brooklyn, project that he believed would be his “second coming,” says protégé and Middle Branch partner Lucinda Sterling. Along with Little Branch cohort John Bonsignore, Sterling finished the last phase of building out that very bar to honor her mentor's legacy. The name, taken from a verse of William Butler Yeats's poem "On a Political Prisoner," which describes a bird perfectly balanced in flight, nods to Petraske’s attention to a similar balance in cocktails.

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Syndicated
Liz Clayman

Syndicated

Movie theaters Independent East Williamsburg

Grab dinner, drinks and a movie under one roof at Brooklyn's latest gastropub-cum-cinema, a cavernous space touting a 70-seat New American restaurant, cocktail bar and movie theater with table seats from which audiences can order food and drink during screenings. The brainchild of former film location scout Tim Chung, the multiconcept venue focuses on classics, indies and festivals on the film front, while dishes by executive chef Bret Macris (Rose Water, Campanile in Los Angeles) will be seasonal, with an emphasis on elevated bar food such as scrumpets with corned beef short rib, a hot fried-chicken sandwich and slow-cooked, harissa-glazed lamb ribs.

Supercrown Coffee Roasters
Liz Clayman

Supercrown Coffee Roasters

Restaurants Coffee shops Bushwick

It’s been 13 years since Darleen Scherer founded Gorilla Coffee, heralding the gospel of sustainable, single-origin bean sourcing and brainy brewing methods. Having sold her portion of that venture, Scherer is going solo with this 1,700-square-foot java shop, anchored by a restored 1952 Probat UG-22 roaster. Below expansive skylights in the white-washed café, the brew maven crafts coffees both traditional (pour-overs, lattes) and playful, like an Ample Hills ice-cream-fortified coffee milkshake and a Cherry Bomb, blasting espresso with soda and cherry juice. Coffee geeks can catch the action in the open-format facility located behind the shop and subscribe for weekly coffee packages.

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