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Beyond pho and a few stir-fry dishes around town, Vietnamese food is hard to come by. A new spot in the East Village hopes to bring Hanoi specialties, like chả cá, a turmeric-dusted fish served with peanuts and herbs, and phở bắc, a Hanoi beef soup, to New York. The chả cá, as well as bún chả, a feast of grilled pork, spring rolls and vermicelli noodles, can be ordered for the table. The start of this year also marks a new home for New York's much-loved Vietnamese restaurant Bunker, which has relocated to Bushwick.
Jacob Hadjigeorgis is no stranger to the Upper West Side. His casual spot, Jacob's Pickles, has been a mainstay of the area. Now, Hadjigeorgis is offering something a bit more grown up, just a block away. Maison Pickle has a special love for the French dip with five versions on the menu, including one topped with Gruyère fondue and fried onions. There's also a tomahawk steak for two if you're in the mood to share.
Photo: Courtesy of Kismet
Kismet: Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson of Madcapra have teamed up with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo to open this all-day Middle Eastern spot, which kicks things off in the morning with pastries from a Sqirl alum. Moving into lunch, there are salads served with malawach, the flaky Yemenite bread the Kramer and Hymanson made a hit at Glasserie in New York. There's also a whole rabbit on the menu if you're feeling adventurous.
Uma Casa: Telmo Faria is bringing the flavors of Portugal to SF with this newcomer. Expect head-on shrimp with lemon aioli and piri piri; caldo verde, a beef broth with linguiça and collard greens; and marinated fried quail with squash purée and pearl onions.
Khai: After shuttering Ana Mandara in 2012, Khai Duong returned to Vietnam. Now, he's back in SF and taking over Bonjour Patisserie in the evenings, where he is serving a 10-course tasting menu for $95. At the moment, dishes include crab sausage made with shrimp and matsutake mushrooms, turmeric fish with dill and green onions, and durian-filled coconut rolls for dessert.
Contrada: Much of the attention at this restaurant is on pastas, like a farro-juniper rigatoni with boar rigatoni sugo, and pizzas, like a clam pie with Calabrian chile, wild nettle and cured lemon. But starters, like chicories with provolone and anchovy dressing, shouldn't be overlooked either.
Temporis: There are just 20 seats a night for this new eight-course tasting menu. The dinner, which features dishes like wild mushroom consommé with Wagyu and shiso, and venison shank with coffee stout, granola and pomegranate, goes for $110 a head.
The Gundis Kurdish Kitchen: At Chicago's first Kurdish restaurant, there are familiar beef shish kebab wraps but also more intriguing options, like a beef stew with roast eggplant; rainbow couscous with sun-dried tomatoes, lime and feta; and a spinach and pine nut mezze.
Joselito Casa de Comidas: Nearly all of the dishes on the menu at this Spanish newcomer can be ordered in a small, medium or family style portion to encourage sharing. Among the options are Cantabria-preserved anchovies with tomato tartare and capers, and skate wing with paprika. Snack on plates in a space decked out with family photos from Spain that date back 100 years.
Pamplona: Drift into a funky and colorful take on Spain in Clarendon. You won't have to run with the bulls, but you can nibble on razor clams escabeche with Valencia orange vinaigrette, serrano ham with olive oil ice cream, pan con tomate and paella.
Kuneho: Chef Paul Qui returns to the restaurant scene with Japanese small plates with both a Texas and Filipino flair to them. There are sushi and sashimi sections on the menu, as well as a bit called "perfect bites" hawking honey mussel escabeche.
Kemuri Tatsu-ya: The Ramen Tatsu-ya team is behind this Texas-influenced izakaya in the former Live Oak Barbecue space. The team left the old walls and the cow diagram but have brought new dishes to the menu like smoked meats that range from "not funky" to "you nasty." Think nattō, monkfish liver with scallion and ponzu, and ray-fin jerky with togarashi. Those craving noodle soups will even still find a few here.
Riel: One of Houston's most anticipated openings, Ryan Lachaine's Riel is finally here, serving the Underbelly alum's unique blend of fare that pulls from his Ukrainian heritage, French Canadian childhood and Texas adult life. That translates to dishes like borscht and Texas blue crab with tomato, bacon and butter lettuce. There's also a pork tonkatsu tartin with savoy cabbage and Montreal smoked meat served with pickled mustard seeds.
Big Easy Winebar & Grill: Transport yourself to South Africa at Big Easy (named for golf star Ernie Els). The menu spans duck curry, grilled Nigerian prawns and steaks, which are served with a choice of butters like Miami spice with citrus, cumin and ancho chile, and Durban spice with annatto, jaggery cane sugar and turmeric.