Quite the line-up this week, so to the preface: Cuozzo kicks us off at Wakiya, which he likes more than we do; Richman is then dazzled at Soto. The RG, whether the people like it or not, makes her debut in this space with a review of Gemma, then Bruni, Platt and Adams all weigh-in on Rayuela. Finally, we have the elsewhere, featuring Peter Meehan, who requests that we all take it down a notch.
1) We couldn't possibly disagree more, but we respect Steve Cuozzo's opinion and thus: The Cuozzo takes an early look at Wakiya this week, notes the absolutely asinine PR strategy in progress, further notes that prices weren't astronomical in his eyes, still further notes "Inside a scarlet-tinted room traversed by a vermillion carpet, with glazed brick columns and sexy little nooks like those upstairs at Schrager’s Studio 54, is probably a terrific new Chinese restaurant." Perhaps the most devastating result of this review is that we might have to go back in for another torturous look. [NYP]
2) Alan Richman for Bloomberg is at Soto this week and is completely dazzled, but not by the sushi: " Virtually every Japanese sushi restaurant offers an additional menu of cold and hot dishes. In the case of Soto, they're labeled "From Sushi Bar'' and "From Kitchen.'' Mostly we ignore them. I tried 10 cold, 10 hot...Dazzling, Ingenious...They're dazzling. Of the 10 sushi-bar items prepared by Kosugi, seven were delightful, the other three merely very good. Of the 10 from the kitchen, which is supervised by his wife, Maho, not one was less than wonderful. This is cooked food on a par with the most ingenious in New York. " [Bloomberg]
3) And now, we come to Restaurant Girl Danyelle Freeman's print debut, a one-point-five-star review of Gemma: "Gemma performs on a notably self-conscious stage, one that feels a lot like you're dining on the set of a Scorsese production. Despite the premeditated décor accents, the place has a magnetic charm, but it is one that upstages the menu - most of which is good enough, but certainly not a serious culinary endeavor." [NYDN]
Bruni Bonus: Frank Bruni has one star for an uneven but at times very compelling Rayuela: "Spacious and glittery, Rayuela confirms the fashionable bona fides of the Lower East Side dining scene, extending this pleasure zone to a stretch of Allen Street where there wasn’t much shimmer before. Its name means hopscotch, and that, along with the freestyle Latino tag it has given itself, is a clue to the abandon with which Mr. Tejada taps into not just Spanish, Mexican, South American and Caribbean cooking, but also Asian cuisine." [NYT] Bruni Bonus Bonus: Adam Platt is at Rayuela (and Suba) this week as well, and concurs with the Bruni: one star; Paul Adams for the Sun is there as well. He notes noise and some upsell at the top, but concurs the food is serious at times. [NYM; NYS]
Elsewhere, Peter Meehan for $25 and Under is at Setagaya Ramen, and "it's noodle soup, people. Keep it together." Randal Lane is first to file on Michael White at L'Impero and Alto and four-of-sixes each. Gael Greene, aka The Insatiable Critic, is at Wakiya , which she finds it 'pretty good. Nosh is at the new coffee fascination and Tribeca neighborhood upgrade La Colombe Torrefaction, Andrea Strong has 'good' things to say about UESer Zoe Townhouse, and Chowmaster at the 'awesome' Setagaya Ramen.