Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s culinary empire includes this larger than life, yet still transporting South Asian-inspired eatery, located in the trend-centered Meatpacking district. Perfectly fitting for the neighborhood, the spectacular space boasts an exotic interior created by designer Jacques Garcia and features custom-made colonial furnishings, wooden Thai sculptures, and teak floors from a 200 year old Bombay palace. Think that’s over-the-top? The theme is furthered by a wait staff outfitted in orange uniforms with a vaguely Asian design. The menu, served family style, is meant to conjure up street foods from the region—with an upscale twist, of course. Favorite dishes include the cod, onion and chili crusted short ribs, spiced chicken samosas, and the ginger fried rice. Seeing the beautiful people is easy from the lounge, located downstairs, where cocktails like the Saigon cosmo ($11) and the Vongreichten’s signature ginger margarita ($14) are also available.—Alexis Korman
Spice Market (403 W. 13th Street, New York, NY; (212) 675-2322)
Hungry? A 5 course tasting menu is available for just $48 per person.
Executive Chef: Anthony Ricco
Insider Tip: The upstairs bar is a terrific spot for more casual dining.
Photo by: Culinary Concepts by Jean Georges
When a restaurant’s sign reads “Today’s Specials: Trust Me”, you know you’re in for something special. The New York outpost of this cultish sushi chain is located behind a bakery on an unassuming street in the Upper East Side—where you’ll just have to trust the omakase-style service (the Chef will make all of the selections for your meal based on the freshest fish of the day). The same is true for the Honolulu location—where sitting at the pared-down sushi bar guarantees you’ll have to give up the reins and open your mouth (not to mention your mind) to some of the best sushi on the island. Foregoing the menu in either location is a delight for adventurous palates, as regular customers love the 5-star quality of the ever-changing sushi selection—even if the décor is so minimal, it seems nearly an afterthought. But with bites of baby albacore, Spanish mackerel, live scallops, and yellowtail belly so tasty, you’ll hardly notice the lack of decor. —Alexis Korman
401 E 73rd Street New York, NY 10021: (212) 249-8583
1417 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96814 (808) 947-3800?
Fun Fact: The restaurant is closed on Sunday, as fish markets are also closed on this day.
Insider Tip: Adopting a “know before you go” strategy is key to dining at this secret sushi haven.
Cost: Prices change daily, but expect to spend about $150 per person on sushi alone.
Photo By: Cindy Woo
Celebrity Chef Tom Colicchio’s famous NYC-restaurant Craft emphasizes individual, delicious ingredients above all else—fitting for Manhattan’s current Greenmarket-obsessed culinary scene. This much imitated Flatiron-area eatery—enhanced with soaring ceilings, leather-covered walls, and filament bulb light fixtures—offers diners an opportunity to create their own meals in a luxurious setting, by sampling decadent, pared-down dishes that focus primarily on one standout ingredient, like roasted foie gras, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, or pan roasted day scallops—these among the eatery’s must-try dishes. This approach to dining will appeal to customers looking to explore the essence of a gourmet meal, selecting a meat, starch, and a vegetable of their choosing, for example—not to those who prefer to have the choosing done for them. And while Craft’s deconstructed approach to building a menu—and to dining— may seem simple, keep in mind Chef Colicchio’s saying, “simple does not mean simplistic”. —-Alexis Korman
43 East 19th St., NYC
Fun Fact: Tom Colicchio is the primary judge of Bravo’s celebrated series, Top Chef
Credentials: Craft won the coveted James Beard Award for “Best New Restaurant 2002”
Must try: Chocolate waffles with roasted banana
Executive Chef: Damon Wise
Chef de Cuisine: James Tracey
Photo By: Bill Bettencourt
Ritz-Carlton Reserve, the hotelier’s new collection of small boutique hotels in secluded and exotic locales around the globe, has opened its first property off the coast of Thailand’s Andaman Sea. The resort, slated to open in late summer, is officially named Phulay Bay, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve. It features 54 one-bedroom villas, each with an unspoiled ocean view, private plunge pool, and sheltered outdoor bath and shower. Rooms decorated in contemporary Thai design feature oversize beds, pillows and chairs, and a plethora of indigenous trees and plants surround guests inside their suites and on private decks. Phulay Bay’s design allows guests to feel completely secluded, with private access to beaches and in-room candlelit dining prepared by the resort’s chef. The ESPA spa and will focus on traditional Thai massage in 11 treatment rooms, each with a private terrace and outdoor bathtub. Rates start at ,500 for two nights, including round-trip transfers from nearby Krabi airport and a yoga retreat for two. (http://reserve.ritzcarlton.com)