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Leah Cohen of ‘Top Chef’ Opens Pig & Khao With Fatty Crew

Interior shots: Alexa Mae Asperin. Food shots: Zandy Mangold.

“I’m sick of everyone doing pork belly,” says Leah Cohen, the former Centro Vinoteca chef best known as a contestant on “Top Chef.”

That’s why, at her new Clinton Street restaurant, she’s staying away from it. “We eventually want to do pork brains, ears and just everything,” she said.

Pig and Khao, her project with the Fatty Crew Hospitality Partners (Fatty Crab, Fatty ‘Cue) opened for dinner tonight, with a Thai-Filipino menu (below) inspired by the year Ms. Cohen, whose mother is Filipino, spent in Asia.

“Most of the cuisine that I had when I was traveling in Asia, like in Thailand or in the Philippines, the main staples were pork and rice,” said Ms. Cohen. At Pig and Khao (“khao” means “rice” in Thai), she’ll be braising, air drying and frying pork cuts such as head, face, butt and leg – with Thai accents of cilantro, lemongrass, basil and mint. Read more…

Oriental Garden Veteran Returns to Former O.G. Space

sixstreetNatalie Rinn 507 East Sixth Street

A storefront that has been vacant since a fire shuttered 6th Street Kitchen a year ago will soon hold a pan-Asian restaurant, with a veteran of one of the space’s previous occupants, Oriental Grill, serving as head chef.

Jimmy Lin worked as a cook for seven years at Oriental Grill, the neighborhood joint that was open for 15 years before owner Chris Genoversa transformed it into 6th Street Kitchen. After his time at O.G., Mr. Lin worked at other restaurants, including Spice, Aja, and Asia Kan. Now he’s returning to 507 East Sixth Street as a chef-owner, with his longtime friends Yun Feijiang and Sally Lam as partners.

Ms. Lam, whose family previously owned the shuttered Magic Chef restaurant in Ossining, N.Y. and King Buffet in Staten Island, said the new restaurant, Purple Ginger, would likely serve Thai and Malaysian cuisine and include a noodle bar. The dining room will hold 14 small tables and should be ready to open after another two or three months of work.

Thai Restaurant Changes Name and Owners, Still Serves Thai Food

Lantern Thai RestaurantSuzanne Rozdeba The new signage at the Thai restaurant.

An outpost of Lantern Thai Kitchen, which has locations in Gramercy Park and Brooklyn Heights, opened last Thursday at 85 Avenue A, the former home of Cafetasia, another Thai restaurant.

Lantern co-owner Chris Sirisunat, 33, said that changes were in order. “I think Lantern is a better fit for this neighborhood, and the food is tastier. We have a new chef — he’s very Thai. We have more authentic Thai food.” His partner in the new restaurant also happens to be a partner in a Cafetasia location in Greenwich Village.

Still, the overhaul made sense to Mr. Sirisunat, who was actually helping manage the location before he re-christened it Lantern. “I run two other Lantern locations, and I know the food very well,” he said.
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Michael Huynh’s Latest, BaoBQ, Opens Wednesday: How It’s Looking, What It’s Cooking

Photos: Daniel Maurer

On Saturday, Michael “Bao” Huynh, the chef-owner of Baoguette as well as the short-lived D.O.B. 111 – both on St. Marks Place – was putting the finishing touches on his latest endeavor. The notoriously prolific restaurateur told The Local that BaoBQ would open at 229 First Avenue, between 13th and 14th Streets, this Wednesday.

Mr. Huynh said he had designed his latest menu around three proteins – pork, beef, and chicken – that will be prepared in three ways. The Korean-style pork spare ribs, for instance, will be cooked in a smoker, as will the Laos-style beef jerky. The spicy Vietnamese-style chicken will be smoked over apple wood and then grilled over charcoal. The Thai-style rotisserie chicken will be grilled over wood. There will also be a few seafood dishes. Read more…