RECOMMENDED: Food & Drink Awards 2013
The best sophomore efforts are ones that surpass the original in scope, artistry and nerve—just look at The Godfather Part II, Led Zeppelin II and even Pride and Prejudice. Add this noodle-slurping spot to the list of fruitful follow-ups: After the debut of their still-stellar Xi’an Famous Foods—the Bourdain-approved Chinese chainlet born from Flushing’s ramshackle Golden Mall—father-son team David Shi and Jason Wang dodged the dreaded second-year slump with Biang! Their downtown-meets-Chinatown den pleases both Instagram-happy young’uns and Mandarin-fluent grannies, with Billyburg-mined trappings (exposed brick, Edison bulbs) that freshen up Xi’an crowd-pleasers (ragged-edged biang biang noodles, tangled with spicy-sour pork belly or stewed oxtail) and befit menu newbies like quail eggs sitting pretty atop teensy mantou toast. One thing’s for sure—that exclamation point at the end of the name is no accident. The joint’s the most exciting thing to come out of Flushing since, well, Xi’an. Biang!, 41-10 Main St between 41st Ave and 41st Rd, Flushing, Queens (718-888-7713, biang-nyc.com)
Fortunately, Toshio Suzuki wasn’t gone for long. A year after shuttering his 30-year-old Sushi Zen in midtown, the New York sushi icon returns with a new raw-fish restaurant divided into three concepts. There’s a 10-seat omakase counter, where Suzuki prepares a seven-course dinner that includes seasonal dishes like steamed monkfish liver and horsehair crab for $250 per person. Three Pillars, an Imperial-style cocktail bar and lounge, sees cocktail “alchemist” Alex Ott pouring Japanese drinks with “healing” powers, like the gin-and-yuzu Seishun No Izumi, which is said to act as an age reverser and PMS remedy. The third prong, opening in April, is the chef’s namesake kaiseki restaurant, which seats 56 people and is helmed by Sushi Zen alum Takashi Yamamoto, who was formerly a private chef for the Japanese consulate.
Venue says: “Mention TimeOut to receive a free treat ;-) Now serving lunch 12nn-3pm, 5:30pm-6:30pm. Happy hour at the bar 5pm-7:30pm”