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Five game-changing restaurants of 2012

As we reflect on another year of flashy culinary debuts, these new arrivals stand out, having made their mark on NYC’s fiercely competitive dining scene.

 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Cumin lamb breast at Mission Chinese Food

 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Ma po tofu at Mission Chinese Food

 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Thrice-cooked bacon at Mission Chinese Food

 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Danny Bowien at Mission Chinese Food

 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Mission Chinese Food

 (Photograph: Daniel Krieger)
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Photograph: Daniel Krieger

The NoMad

 (Photograph: Daniel Krieger)
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Photograph: Daniel Krieger

Duck at the NoMad

 (Photograph: Daniel Krieger)
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Photograph: Daniel Krieger

Chicken at the NoMad

 (Photograph: Daniel Krieger)
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Photograph: Daniel Krieger

Fruits de mer at the NoMad

 (Photograph: Daniel Krieger)
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Photograph: Daniel Krieger

Milk and honey dessert at the NoMad

 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
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Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Wagyu with vincotto, hearts of palm and Sun Gold tomato at Blanca

 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
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Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Glass shrimp at Blanca

 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
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Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Celtuce with kefir, kumquat and tuna flake at Blanca

 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
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Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Chef Carlo Mirarchi at Blanca

 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
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Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Sasso chicken at Blanca

 (Photograph: Lizz Kuehl)
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Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Cha ca la vong at Pok Pok Ny

 (Photograph: Lizz Kuehl)
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Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Chicken wings at Pok Pok Ny

 (Photograph: Lizz Kuehl)
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Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Catfish salad at Pok Pok Ny

 (Photograph: Lizz Kuehl)
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Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Pork neck at Pok Pok Ny

 (Photograph: Lizz Kuehl)
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Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Pok Pok Ny

 (Photograph: Daniel Krieger)
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Photograph: Daniel Krieger

Roasted sunchokes at Acme

 (Photograph: Daniel Krieger)
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Photograph: Daniel Krieger

Bison tartare at Acme

 (Photograph: Daniel Krieger)
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Photograph: Daniel Krieger

Black carrots with lardo at Acme

 (Photograph: Daniel Krieger)
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Photograph: Daniel Krieger

Beer and bread porridge at Acme

 (Photograph: Daniel Krieger)
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Photograph: Daniel Krieger

Acme

San Francisco import—and prevailing food-world darling—Danny Bowien delivered the year’s most madcap, and fiery, fare: a delicious and unlikely hybrid of potent Szechuan, Southern barbecue and old-fashioned Chinese-American takeout. 154 Orchard St between Rivington and Stanton Sts (212-529-8800, missionchinesefood.com)

RECOMMENDED: Best of the year 2012

This shamelessly opulent grand hotel brasserie—from Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, the dynamos behind Eleven Madison Park—showcased a rare return to New York City’s gilded-age decadence, with luxurious food in a sultry setting. 1170 Broadway at 28th St (347-472-5660, thenomadhotel.com)

The stealthiest opening of the year lured gastronauts to Bushwick for Carlo Mirarchi’s three-hour, 20-some-odd-course feast, helping to make Brooklyn—even at the high end—the city’s most exciting place to eat. 261 Moore St between Bogart and White Sts, Bushwick, Brooklyn (646-703-2715, blancanyc.com)

Andy Ricker’s true taste of Thailand proved you don’t need to be reared in Chiang Mai to cook like a real native son. 127 Columbia St between DeGraw and Kane Sts, Red Hook, Brooklyn (718-923-9322, pokpokny.com)

Noma cofounder Mads Refslund brought New York its first taste of what a bold new generation has been cooking up near the arctic circle, with the city’s first outpost of New Nordic cuisine. 9 Great Jones St between Broadway and Lafayette St (212-203-2121, acmenyc.com)

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