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Reviews for Lowlife, Nishi, Llama Inn, and More

Here's a roundup of this week's big reviews:

[Lowlife]
[Lowlife]
Nick Solares

— Dinner at Lowlife leaves Pete Wells feeling conflicted. The Times critic loves dishes like the chicken yakitori, rib-eye cap, and guinea hen sausage, but ultimately finds the service to be pretentious. Here's Wells on one of his favorite dishes: "What it does best of all is yakitori chicken. Cut up and blackened over charcoal, the bird has deep natural flavor and is brushed with a citrus-tinged glaze that is, by several miles, the best teriyaki sauce I have ever tasted." On the service he received he writes: "It all started well. But on return visits, I noticed a leaden self-importance that began to feel stifling." One star.

— From the uncomfortably loud dining room, to the unfavorable welcome at the door, Tejal Rao can't seem to work past Nishi's shortcomings: "Nishi has some hits, but it needs to work at being more comfortable—and more inviting—to justify its prices. Until then, the restaurant at least serves up a great, big middle finger to the xenophobia that can hide behind insistence on culinary authenticity. And there’s vitality and fire in a kitchen that cooks on its own terms." She adds: "Fire is good. What Nishi needs now is warmth." One star.

Photo by Nick Solares Nick Solares

Photo by Nick Solares

— At Angkor Cambodian Bistro, Ligaya Mishan praises chef Minh Truong's cooking: "In Mr. Truong’s take on Cambodian amok, sea bass is stuffed with fat prawns and scallops, submerged in red curry and baked in a banana-leaf bowl (shored up inside a china bowl to hold everything together). The curry is mild and familiar, but the rich, dense texture, between pudding and mousse, is a wonder."

— Like Pete Wells, Gael Greene picks up on a sense of waitstaff superiority while dining at Lowlife on the Lower East Side. Still, Greene does enjoy some of the dishes. She writes: "I can’t say that the triumphs of Lowlife, even that remarkable bird and the very good fish, outweigh the reservation run-around, the very long commute from uptown, or the annoying superiority conveyed by our server."

Photo by Nick Solares

Photo by Nick Solares

— The Village Voice's Zachary Feldman enjoys a lot of what he tries at Llama Inn in Williamsburg: "The kitchen perks up an otherwise boring beet salad with another minty herb, muña. Plantains (the sweet ones fried, the green ones turned into chips) accent pieces of golden tilefish marinated in dashi-spiked, citrusy leche de tigre, making for surprisingly complex ceviche. Even quinoa, the ancient grain that's practically as much a staple of Brooklyn as South America these days, gets a star turn thanks to bananas and bacon."

— For Shauna Lyon of Tables for Two, the hits outweigh the misses at High Street on Hudson: "Then came 'cereal for dinner.' It was an alarming turn, as if someone had spiked a bowl of Kashi with quinoa and fried-chicken chicharrónes and added sour cashew milk as a warning: cerebral chef stuff happening here. But grilled tripe with charred cucumbers and watermelon radish was fantastically crispy, stealthily spicy, and riotously delicious. By the time the caramella arrived, with Tootsie Roll-shaped pasta that gave way to an oozing flow of shockingly sweet caramelized cauliflower, the cereal grift was forgiven."

— Time Out New York's Christina Izzo finds that Quality Eats shines when it's not being a steakhouse: "A salad of juicy lump crab, cubed avocado and pink grapefruit is a refreshing reprieve from all the daffy decadence, bright in a cilantro-citrus vinaigrette ($16); and earthy roasted-beet tabouleh with smooth kabocha-squash hummus and cracked wheat ($13) is the kind of vegetable innovation we’d expect from a place like Dirt Candy, not a steakhouse."

The Blogs: The Pink Pig visits Cercle Rouge in Tribeca right before it closes, Joe DiStefano finds delicious pad Thai at Plant Love House, and Goodies First visits Roberta's and Tanoshi, among others.

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