I was craving me some spicy Baoguette for lunch, so I swung by the Murray Hill outpost, which happens to be near our office. Lo and behold, Mr. Puntastic himself was there, Michael Bao Huynh. That’s the nice thing about Baoguette: You can get your banh mi fix and some resto-biz fodder.
Turns out, his latest conquest won’t be in NYC but in San Francisco, where he says he’s planning to open his next project at Jack London Square.
Not to worry, he hasn’t forsaken NYC: He’s currently mulling an idea to open a kebab joint called Shish Kebao. Ba-dum-dum! It’s still in the planning stages, but—like Baoguette—he envisions it as a cheap-eats counter where diners can mix and match their own kebabs: lamb, shrimp, beef, the usual. Plus, it’ll have his trademark Asian touch (bet on the sauces). He’s thinking $4 and under, with maybe an extra $1 or so for pita.
Too soon to tell whether it’s all systems go, but hey—why stop there when there’s a world of food still waiting to be Bao’d! We’re pulling for Bao-B-Que next! —Alexis L. Loinaz
Filipino pop-up Maharlika has been a smashing success since they debuted in the East Village this past January, booking all of their seatings weeks in advance and even mounting a well-received dinner guest-stint at Alias Restaurant.
Now, co-owner Nicole Ponseca tells us that starting June 5, they’ll be moving into 5 Ninth in the Meatpacking District on Sundays. Even better news: They’ll be taking over the entire restaurant—all three floors, plus the garden—all day on Sunday. Which means that the Maharlika crew will now be able to serve everything from brunch to dinner to merienda—a kind of mid-afternoon snack/coffee break that’s part of the Filipino culture.
"With a space and location like 5 Ninth, the real estate alone and the proximity to such restaurateurs like Jean-Georges and Keith McNally, it’s a dream," Nicole tells us via e-mail. "As part of the Filipino food community like Kuma Inn and Purple Yam, we’ve always craved a bigger spotlight for Filipino cuisine. I’m hoping Maharlika can bring a little slice of the Philippines’ lifestyle—family, friends, food, laughs—to MePa."
Plans for the 5 Ninth location include new dishes like sweet longganisa sausage sliders (pictured above, which they’ll debut at the Luckyrice Festival tonight; full disclosure: we’re partnering up with them at the fest); short rib kare kare (in a Filipino-style peanut sauce); and Filipino ceviche called kilawin, made with tilapia and cured in vinegar and coconut.
Also keep an eye out for a dish sure to push the limits of Western palates: champorado with tuyo, a popular Filipino breakfast in which creamy porridge is topped with salty dried fish.
Ponseca says they also plan to set up a carving station that’ll feature a traditional Filipino roasted suckling pig called lechon, which Bourdain himself has hailed as the best roasted pig he’s ever had. It’ll be part of a lechon prix-fixe dinner they’ll be serving.
The 5 Ninth stint is indefinite for now, and Nicole sees their Sunday bashes as “an all-day Filipino food fest,” complete with DJ’s and cocktails. —Alexis L. Loinaz
In years past, Tribeca has gotten flack for leaning more popcorn than indie, often screening films that seemed more suited to the MTV Movie Awards than a fledgling film fest. “Spider-Man 3” and “Shrek Forever After” both premiered here, and in one infamous year, the fest closed out with “Speed Racer” (‘memba that masterpiece?).
This year’s slate has notably dialed down the Hollywood flash—no summer blockbusters in sight. (Why slug it out now with festivalgoers when you can slug it out a few weeks later with opening-weekend mobs!) That said, there was still some semblance of starpower at the fest, notably in two films that are worth seeing when they finally hit theaters.
In “Everything Must Go,” Will Ferrell trades his funny bone for dramatic muscle with a performance that seems ripped right out of the Jim-Carrey-does-Truman-Show-to-prove-he-doesn’t-just-talk-out-of-his-butt-playbook. The film, from first-time director Dan Rush, is based on a short story by Raymond Carver and centers on an alcoholic sales exec who—in one day—is fired from his job and gets ditched by his wife, who locks him out of their house. He ends up living on their front lawn, where he tries to sober up and pull his life together. A very muted movie—at least by Will Ferrell standards—and a quietly enjoyable one, too. I liked its many tender moments, which skillfully balanced just the right amount of drama (not too weepy) and humor (not too hokey). And Ferrell has an empathic dramatic presence that belies a whole other side to the actor I’d love to see more of.
If Ferrell seems keen on showcasing his serious side, then Sam Worthington seems keen on proving he can actually act alongside real people—and not just plug his freaky Na’vi pontytail into CGI animals. The brawny Aussie, of course, shot to fame slugging it out with all sorts of CGI baddies in “Avatar,” “Clash of the Titans” and “Terminator: Salvation.” But in the sexy, intimate drama “Last Night,” he’s up against another formidable foe: infidelity. Worthington plays a married Manhattanite tempted by a hottie coworker, but whose own wife finds herself seduced by a former lover in town for a brief visit. Upping the starpower are Keira Knightley as his wife, and Eva Mendes as his office temptress (but of course! Maybe time to start stretching things a bit, Eva?). I found it to be an engrossing character study on fidelity and fantasy, charting the symbiosis between the two and how one fuels the other. Worthington does a so-so job—his acting tends to be so serviceable but unspectacular that you don’t often feel anything for him. Knightley, on the other hand, is beguiling as his conflicted wife, and you see her deftly rifle through layer upon layer of cluttered emotions, going from wistful glance to questioning glare with effortless fluency. She makes this “Night” one to remember. —Alexis L. Loinaz