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Fashion Set Shaken to Its Very Shallow Core

In theory, the large, white, honey-combed net that hangs over the main dining room at Koi (pictured here) is a Feng Shui design element intended to conjure up images of the sea. In practice, it reminds diners that they have been baited by the enormous buzz the place has generated. And by diners we mean Frank Bruni. But he's not having it anymore.

Today, the Times awarded the much-hyped and over-done Bryant Park Hotel spectacle of an eatery ZERO STARS, or a verdict of SATISFACTORY. As the foodies start running for their shiso-glazed, red wasabi-crusted, citrus-essence-infused, hickory-plank-smoked lives, the fashion set will have to band together if they're going to get through this tough time.

So how exactly does a high-end Nobu knockoff with experienced owners (Nick and Dipu Haque) and an seasoned chef (Sal Sprufero) get it so tragically wrong?

For a moment, let's put to the side the EATER intel, which says thatchef Sal is never there. Here's the Bruni analysis:

While this restaurant has some fine ideas, first-rate ingredients and propitious convergences of the two, such high points are trampled and toppled by a more consistent mediocrity and a profusion of errors. Like an aged pop star on the latest of several proclaimed farewell tours, Koi ultimately relies on pose more than performance.

And, by gosh, the issues we found during previews (a place like this really has no 'friends' or 'family') still exist:

Slices of chu-toro sashimi were gray around the edges and shockingly fishy. A companion and I immediately stopped eating them, and our ebullient server never noticed or asked why. His tendency toward distraction was a rampant affliction, shared by the rest of the Koi-stone Kops, who alternately forgot to deliver side orders, tried to deliver another table's food to ours and poured boiling tea into a wineglass that was being used for iced tea.

Koi-stone Kops. Good one, Frank. Way to rub some black truffle balsamic vinegar in the wound.

So, bottom line is that you can now stop trying to get a reservation. It's still not going to happen, but now you don't care. And the fashion set, who call dinner three pods of edamame and a piece of tuna sashimi, now have a tough decision to make. Will they swallow their pride and associate with a place that has a bad reputation or just kick the place to the curb like those Vans that everyone had last season? Tough choices, people. Tough tough choices indeed.

·Japanese Chic, With Volume Turned Up [NY Times]