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Today: 5–9pm
362 West 23rd Street
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Ushiwakamaru 1 Asian Japanese Sushi Chelsea

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Mai smiling at Maison Kintaro Japanese undefined

Maison Kintaro

Japanese home cooking restaurant Maison Kintaro on W24th Street has a whimsical, ethereal feel to it. Hanging plants and succulents abound, softly lit by a colorfully illuminated bar stocked with Japanese sodas, with a glowing moon projected on the back wall. Owner Mai Robbamrung warmly greets a patron who wants to know if they’ll be open for dinner the next day. “For two? We’ll be ready for you! ” she cheerily replies after the stranger admires the space and vows to come back. The new Chelsea eatery taking the space of the late El Quinto Pino has quickly established itself as a chic-yet-convivial spot for a seasonally rotating menu of Japanese comfort foods served in a warm, intimate setting. Mai, hailing from California by way of Thailand, explained that the menu is inspired by dishes she enjoyed at a childhood friend’s house. “My best friend at school was the Japanese diplomat’s daughter, ” she said. “Every Friday we would hang out at one of our houses, and her mom would make something new. ”For Mai –– whose family split their time between careers in healthcare and hospitality once they landed in California — a career in restaurants wasn’t initially part of the plan. After graduating from UC Irvine, she served as a translator for the Peace Corps in East Asian refugee camps before returning to the States to work as a data analyst for the MTA’s tolling system. When COVID-19 hit, she was introduced to Chef Patcha through mutual friends and they began to dream up the concept for Maison. “Chef Patcha moved two blocks away from me during COVID-19, and we started talking about opening something around the concept of a Japanese household’s weekly menu. There’s a little bit of everything — some things are a lower price point, some with more premium ingredients like fish that represent pay day! ” she said. Chef Patcha also hails from Thailand but learned about Japanese cuisine through a roommate — and he quickly got to work developing the restaurant’s menu, which features everything from Tonkatsu, Ramen and Tuna Salmon Poke Bowls to Gyoza Potstickers and Sashimi-style Yuzu. Mai’s design inspiration came from her son’s favorite folktale character — the Japanese “Golden Boy”, Kintaro. “He’s a mythical character who lives in the mountain forest outside of a village and was raised by a witch, ” explained Mai, gesturing to a subtle forest-themed mural on the dining room’s wall. “When the villagers need help, they call for him and he comes down from the mountain — and in return, the villagers offer him a home-cooked meal. When I was looking for the concept for this restaurant, I was sitting in my son’s room while he slept and I looked at his bookshelf and saw a Kintaro book — and I knew. ” She decided to add “Maison” (French for “house”) to conjure the space as a communal, joyful cafe where customers can expect the same level of hospitality and warmth that the fictional villagers gave to Kintaro. Chelsea locals have already taken to Maison Kintaro, with a loyal following of regulars who come in two to three times a week. “We love the community, ” Mai added. “There’s one neighbor that has been coming by to say hi to us since we got the keys to the building. We had another gentleman who came in for lunch and liked it so much that he went away for two hours and came back for dinner with his wife! ”Mai hopes to keep building on local goodwill by partnering with neighborhood organizations and schools. Pointing to the dining room’s large projection wall space, she said, “We’d love to have a school art show and invite their parents to come in. ” For now, you can find her busily prepping to open each day and taking in the streetscape by the restaurant’s sidewalk garden, ready to welcome new friends to the house of Kintaro. 

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Sabbia 1 Rooftop Bars American Bars undefined


As of March 2022, Eataly's rooftop bar Birreria has been turned into the pop-up SERRA. The rooftop of Eataly changes its concept each season. In 2016, for example, the sky-high spot transitioned from the beer-centric Birreria to a sea-side-themed rooftop bar called Sabbia. Each reincarnation of the bar is equally impressive, which comes as no surprise after visiting Eataly downstairs. Birreria was a sky-high brewery where Fred Avila, the head brewer, created beer in-house for three or four days out of every week. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Fred and talking to him about his experience brewing above Eataly’s impressive food palace. Fred has been working for Eataly since 2011, but he started home-brewing in 2007. He has become a master at blending different flavors together and was proud to tell me about Birreria’s two seasonal beers. Vera is a summery beer with hints of lavender and blood orange, whereas the Wanda is a dark, mild beer for the fall and winter, with a lightly roasted flavor. Fred is very attuned to the weather when he drinks beer. When I asked if he has a favorite, he said that it changes with the seasons and the forecast, though he did admit, “I love to drink Oktoberfest beers. ” He featured obscure sours and saisons (pale ales specifically brewed for warm weather) in the summertime and interesting stouts in the fall. “People used to just drink IPAs or Pilsners, ” he explained to me. It is clear that working in the beer world has become considerably more exciting. Birreria collaborated with a collection of external breweries, including Dogfish Head, a microbrewery based out of Delaware. Because Birreria was part of Eataly, the list of collaborators also included two Italian companies, Birra del Borgo and Baladin. The founder of Baladin, Teo Musso, is considered the “godfather of the Italian brewing movement, ” Fred informed me. He also let me know that he always liked to have one or two New York beers available. The food menu was no less impressive, especially since it was made entirely using produce from downstairs. Unlike other parts of Eataly, however, Birreria often strayed from Italian cuisine. For example, Fred told me about a mozzarella-stuffed quail, which sounds more Northern European than Italian. Everything on the menu was designed to pair well with the bar’s unique selection of beers, creating a perfect culinary balance. I visited Sabbia shortly after it opened in 2016. It was like a taste of the tropical seaside in the middle of Manhattan: Imagine listening to the Beach Boys and sipping on one of their signature summer cocktails while lounging on a beach chair in the cabanas. The menu is filled with seafood specials that continue the seaside resort theme. It is the perfect summer spot for those who cannot leave town, and there is a retractable roof for rainy nights.

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Spin New York 1 Bars Videos Ping Pong undefined

Spin New York

Many months ago, I gathered a group of friends and family to celebrate my husband's birthday. No one had ever been to Spin, so it was the perfect opportunity for everyone to have a terrific night taking turns playing a sport most of us adore, and sharing in conversation, drinks and appetizers. As we walked down the steps into the dimly lit lobby we were greeted by a friendly hostess in a chic black outfit, and it felt as though we had entered any other swanky Manhattan club. And yet, as we turned the corner we saw immediately that this was not the case. Instead of the usual dance-filled floor, at this club we were presented with rows of ping-pong tables and couples in heated competition. The diversity of the crowd was vast and only became more so as the night went on. Businessmen off from work, their white collared shirts glowing in the black light, rallied next to serious athletes there for a workout in gym shorts and sweatbands. Young couples looking for a quirky date played next to groups of older friends there to enjoy the nostalgia of this classic game. Everyone is welcome at Spin. Serious ping pong players make the circuits, challenging worthy opponents to games while casual paddlers compete in a more leisurely game. It has never been easier to enjoy ping pong, as Spin has eliminated the frustrating need for constantly picking up stray balls - staff with fascinating contraptions collect all the balls and reload the buckets regularly. Perhaps even more exciting, servers come by to the tables with what could be described as high-class bar food - some of our favorites were the alcoholic mango slushies, the fried rice balls, and the truffle mac and cheese. The delicious food and drink are honestly worth a visit on their own, and as the club often hosts championship ping pong games, even those who do not want to grab a paddle themselves can fill up a plate and watch the action. Originally opened by ping pong enthusiasts Franck Raharinosy, Andrew Gordon, Jonathan Bricklin and Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon, Spin has quickly become a hot spot both in other parts of the US and abroad.

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