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Los Angeles: Nightshade
Last week, Downtown LA welcomed the first restaurant by chef Mei Lin, a veteran of Spago Vegas and ink, and acclaimed Top Chef winner. The eclectic space is airy with whitewashed brick walls punctuated with gorgeous, emerald green banquettes and copious hanging plants.
Lin’s menu reflects her heritage (she grew up helping her family in their Chinese restaurants in Detroit), her culinary travels, and her extensive experience in the kitchen. The savory side includes dishes like beef tartare with egg yolk jam and kochukaru, tamarind-glazed carrots with toasted coconut and carrot top emulsion, and Szechuan hot quail with milk bread and house pickles. On the sweeter side, expect refreshing confections like mango cream with kaffir lime and coffee and coconut mousse with lime coconut granita. 923 E. 3rd St #109; 213-626-8888.
Austin: Bar Peached
Austin is a seriously food truck-loving city. On January 8th, one of its most beloved truck empires, The Peached Tortilla, will open a bar-focused spin on founder Eric Silverstein’s signature Asian cuisine meets Southern comfort food fare. (Bar Peached joins a robust family of Peached trucks and brick-and-mortar locations that have opened since the original 2010 debut.)
Executive chef Stephani O’Connor will turn out playful dishes like chili crab toast on fried brioche, mapo Bolognese, braised pork shoulder with peanut scallion chimichurri and pea shoots, and Asian-inspired tacos. A snow ice machine imported from Korea will also star in the bingsu—a creamy Korean shaved ice dessert sweetened with condensed milk and creatively topped with matcha, black sesame, and other flavors. The cocktails, helmed by Kevin Kok, will feature drinks like the Kyoto Kiss (yuzu, shishito, egg white, and preserved raspberries) and the Yoga & Chill (vodka, lime, and cucumber water). 1315 W. 6th St; 512-992-0666.
Nashville: Bar Otaku
On January 12, chef Sarah Gavigan (Otaku Ramen) will open an Izakaya-focused restaurant serving soulful Japanese dishes to Music City residents. The 2,700-square-foot space will be cozy and convivial with illustrations by local graffiti artists and a 10-seat chef’s counter.
Expect small plates and plenty of raw and grilled dishes like lotus root chips with furikake, green lettuce wraps with smoked tofu, miso sauce, and shiso, yellowtail Hamachi with smoky ponzu, bone marrow with miso brulee and whiskey, and chicken meatballs with shoyu tare. A variety of Japanese and domestic beers, Japanese whiskeys, seasonal cocktails, sake, and soju will complete the menu. 505 12th Ave South.
Chicago: Nordic Dinner Series at LH Rooftop
The London House, Chicago’s stylish rooftop lounge, will host a dinner series celebrating Nordic cuisine and the flavors of winter. The six-course dinners, which run from January 19 through March, will feature cooking by executive chef Jacob Verstegen and a bevy of other local chefs like Maxwell Robbins (Longman & Eagle) and Danny Weilsand (ALK).
The first dinner, served alongside LH Rooftop’s stunning city skyline and river views, will include smoked Norwegian Fjord trout with enoki mushrooms and preserved sunchoke, and venison jerky with grilled winter squash. The series begins later this month, but the time to reserve a table is now. 85 E. Upper Wacker Dr, Floor 22.