Thursday, May 18, 2006

King of New York

Without a doubt Mr. Chow Tribeca is the hottest place to be in New York. A who’s who of the New York elitist set, every night diners like Mariah Carey, Beyonce and troops of basketball players including Patrick Ewing pack the tables, creating a scene that resembles more a caricature of larger than life personalities than the real thing.

So why have the stars been immigrating en masse to Mr. Chow? Well, it’s Mr. Chow. Perennially chic, infinitely classic and unabashedly 80s, Mr. Chow is like home- comforting because you know what to expect, reliable because it’s never going to change and no matter what happens, you’ll keep going back. In a city where a restaurant’s life span averages a few weeks, people cherish the familiar. The fact that there’s a new one just compounds the cool factor. It’s Mr. Chow saying, “I’ve still got it, baby.”

There’s no question the new restaurant flaunts the same deliberate ostentation as it’s former, a quality so rare these days. Or is it? With large and in charge bullies like Buddakan and Buddha Bar that are sprawling theme parks with their multi-million dollar budgets, Mr. Chow is small-scale (by Tribeca standards) and almost discreet. However, unlike its gargantuan contemporaries whose décor and patrons reek of “nouveau restaurant”, Mr. Chow is strictly aristocratic.

Shimmering glass beads hang from the ceiling against a stark black and white black marble backdrop. Photographs of a foggy Christopher Walken smoking a cigarette span the wall, while a framed homage to Mr. Chow himself serves as the central focal point of the sparkling room. But it would be wrong to say there even is a focal point, since everyone’s too busy craning their necks to spot who’s the hottest there.

In addition to the aforementioned celebs, the rest of the crowd includes modelizers and their prey, young Wall Street types trying to keep their “cool” factor and arties channeling the Mr. Chow/Warhol love affair in an ironic, post-contemporary sort of way, of course.

With the coming of Mr. Chow Downtown, you have to ask, are the 80s back in full swing? You know, when Madonna was touring, girls wore leggings, and Donald Trump was King of New York? Hmmm…I’ll let you decide.

Final Word: Best dishes (besides the crowd): squab in lettuce leaves, chicken satay and fried seaweed to start. Steamed sea bass filet, green shrimp and the crispy beef for entrees. (Mr. Chow, 121 Hudson St. at N. Moore)

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