Don Don, Café Boulud, Mel's, Momofuku Noodle Bar, specialty stores, gift guides, 5th Ave. retail, Coral Omakase, MORE
RESTAURANTS • First Word
The Skinny: An unfussy, retro Korean barbecue joint dedicated to dry-aged pork, just north of Bryant Park.
The Vibe: Boisterous, crowded, unbuttoned. Inspired by Seoul’s late-night dining scene, Don Don’s dining room is big and open, with white-and-blue-striped cinder-block walls and round tables with inlaid gas grills. An illuminated vintage butcher case sits in the back of the room, alongside a tall fridge holding dated cuts of aging pork.
The Food: Thanks to his month-long dry aging process, chef Sungchul Shim’s (see also Mari, Kochi) Berkshire pork tastes extra porky. It’s served by the cut (pork belly, collar, jowl, loin, and a butcher’s special), presented to guests raw, then cooked at the table by a server. There’s also a concise list of side dish staples, like a kimchi stew, a puffy egg soufflé, and several hot and chilled noodle preps. They’re all delicious, imbued with the jangs and other ferments that give Korean cuisine life. To drink, sool: soju, makgeolli, and chungju (rice wine).
The Verdict: Don Don is great. It’s approachable, delicious, well-priced (meats are $27-$80; all else $3-$19), and perfect for groups. And, a bonus: even same-day reservations aren’t hard to come by. –Kat Odell
Shop smarter: Upgrade to paid for the holidays.
RESTAURANTS • Intel
→ BOULUD TOO: Reservations have just become available for the forthcoming relaunch of Daniel Boulud’s Café Boulud (Upper East Side). Seatings at 5p and 8p are bookable starting from Saturday, Dec. 16. Reserve.
→ FOMO AT MEL’S: At Mel’s in Chelsea, FOMO stands for Friends of Mel’s Oven, a chefs-in-residency program in which top chefs do a two-week stint serving up a pizza of their own creation. This month sees Alex Raij of Txikito and La Vara (12/2–12/15) and Hillary Sterling of Ci Siamo (12/16–12/29). Raj’s Basque-Italian mashup is a cheese-less pie topped with Ortiz bonito del norte tuna, sliced Serrano chilies, red onion, buttered tomato sauce, and red-chili-preserved lemon anchovy oil. –David Farley
→ TRUFFLE SEASON: On special this winter at Momofuku Noodle Bar: a Hokkaido-inspired truffle-laden ramen with a decadent roasted miso broth, a thick slice of rich truffle butter, and three ounces of shaved black truffles from Hungary and northern Italy. Available at both East Village and Columbus Circle locations, $45 per. –David Farley
NYC RESTAURANT LINKS: After a 40 year hiatus, Hoexter’s returns to the Upper East Side • Appreciating the design at the new pastel-hued Talea taproom on Christopher St. • Thai favorite Fish Cheeks opening in Williamsburg next summer • Study finds people dining at fine dining restaurants less frequently • Dept. of dinner attire: bring back blazers • The banana peel slips into the cocktail spotlight.
GOODS & SERVICES • FOUND Gift Guide
Catch ‘em all
This post originally appeared in last week’s edition of FOUND LA. Looking for a little more West Coast in your life? Subscribe to FOUND LA, with new issues dropping each Thursday.
Earlier this fall, Hollywood furniture gallery Seventh House hosted an opening for Courtney Applebaum’s Collection II, a release of tiered nightstands, terracotta pendants, and glass tables from the interior designer best known for The Row’s flagship store. The most handy and coveted item of the collection is a potent catchall, made of hand-poured, black-seeded glass. Dense in weight and intensely colored, it’s impossible to ignore, so you’ll never forget your keys. –Emily Wilson
→ Shop: Catch All Dish (Seventh House), $450.
GOODS & SERVICES • Gift Guides, See Also
A non-exhaustive list of this season’s shopping roundups from friends and acquaintances with taste:
Gloria, for stylish women
A Continuous Lean, for stylish men
Yolo, for travelers
Surface, for aesthetes
Wallpaper, for design heads
HTSI, for Financial Times types
Kottke, for polyglots
The Kids Should See This, for the children
Cup of Jo, for women and their needy families
Food52, for the kitchen
La Briffe, for Ruth Reichl fans
Did we miss a good gift guide? Drop us a line at email@example.com. See also our specialty stores Nines below.
GOODS & SERVICES LINKS: A rebellious London tailor opens in Nolita • Yohji Yamamoto concept shop opens on Wooster St. • Comme Si’s pop-up in Dumbo is a design lover’s temple to socks • Eataly Soho has finally opened • Leica turns its lens on luxury watch market • The joys of shopping NYC IRL • Why people are splurging on this $88 lipstick.
RESTAURANTS • Tuesday Routine
ROBBY COOK, omakase chef, Coral Omakase
Neighborhood you work in: Midtown East
It’s Tuesday morning, where are you working?
Usually I don't head into the kitchen until 11ish, so I spend some time checking a few emails in the morning — specifically, getting orders together for Friday, since it's all pre-ordered from Japan. I also use this time to touch base with other purveyors in case I've missed anything or need to add to the order. It's the start of the week, and everything will be fresh!
What’s the Tuesday morning scene at your workplace?
Tuesday is the start of the week for me, and a major fish delivery day from Japan. First I'll check over all the fish, make sure I didn't miss anything. We then clean all the fish and seafood, then break down only what we need for service. The rest will be wrapped and stored properly for the next two or three days. Some bigger fish, like grouper and tuna, can be aged a bit longer.
What’s on the agenda for today?
Throughout the course of the day all fish will be processed, cured, seared if needed. I usually start with washing the rice. We'll then make fresh sauces and garnishes for the sashimi courses. Once everything is done and mostly set up, we begin to work on Kasutera prep — that's the egg dish with shrimp. It's basically like a shrimp cake souffle type of thing. That takes about an hour, so I usually take that time to go over to my station and sharpen my knives.
What’s for lunch?
Once I'm at the restaurant, I usually don't leave. There's always a solid family meal like tacos, fried chicken, stir fry, or some type of pasta. Prior to opening, or if I have the time, I like to run to Luke's Lobster at Grand Central and get a Trio (half lobster, shrimp, crab roll). Love a good lobster roll.
Any plans tonight?
Post-service is a thing of the past when you have a five-year-old! I usually don't eat late at night, either. Later in the evening, once the rice is made, I may have a hand roll or a couple pieces of sushi to check the quality. And usually a beer (Other Half, Equilibrium IPA, or a Suarez Family Brewery pilsner or lager) and some rice crackers when I get home.
WORK • Retail Report
Party on Fifth Avenue
It’s a glorious time to be a landlord on upper 5th Ave. Ground-floor rents are averaging over $2,000 per square foot (the most expensive in the world), vacancies are non-existent, and the world’s biggest luxury brands are doubling down on the neighborhood.
It’s part of a broader success story in luxury retail, where a surge in openings from Miami to Boise have pushed national vacancy rates to 4.2% and supply to record lows.
But per commercial real estate firm JLL, half of new luxury store openings in 2022 were in New York and Los Angeles. And even in those retail capitals, the strength of the iconic eight block stretch of 5th Ave. from St. Patrick’s Cathedral (50th St.) to the Apple Store (58th) is staggering, rivaled in the U.S. only by Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Among the brands making capital investments on the avenue this year: Rolex, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany.
It can’t go on like this, right? “The road to hell is paved with the brands that believe luxury will die,” Robert Siegel, CEO of Metropole Realty Advisors, told The Real Deal. Fair warning.
WORK LINKS: Touring Terminal Warehouse in Chelsea • Soundcloud moving NYC headquarters to MePa • Wells Fargo extension at 20 Hudson Yards continues late-year lease boom • Façade is on at 360 Bowery, the 22-story tower in former B Bar space • Why food halls whet developers’ appetites • Should the atrium at 60 Wall Street stay weird?
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GOODS AND SERVICES • The Nines