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Times Critic Pete Wells Resumes Restaurant Reviews — Without Stars

Plus, restaurateurs from Rhodora and Hunky Dory will discuss sustainability and labor justice on a panel this week — and more intel

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A bowl of fish noodle soup with a cut-open egg, shallot fritters, and lotus root on top, with a spoon and chopsticks next to it. Alex Staniloff/Eater

Times critic Pete Wells is reviewing restaurants again

After more than a six-month reprieve, New York Times critic Pete Wells appears to be reviewing restaurants again, albeit according to a new no-star rating system. For his first week back, the Times critic made an appearance at Rangoon, a Burmese restaurant that stands out not just for the rarity of its cuisine in New York City, but also for its must-order meat and noodle dishes. At the Crown Heights restaurant, Wells found mostly wins, tossing praise onto chef Myo Moe’s home cooking like garnishes into a mohinga. He deemed the restaurant’s onion fritter “majesty,” its fish stocks “bright” and “fresh,” and its noodles “a slippery, savory pleasure to eat.”

Wells’s review of Rangoon features almost all of the standard trappings of his pre-pandemic criticism: an evaluation of the food up top, neatly formatted menu recommendations at the bottom, and a zinger or three thrown in because why not. Yet the new review doesn’t include the publication’s four-star rating system. According to a tweet from the New York Times food section, Wells is “not giving stars for now,” which lines up with how other food publications have been approaching criticism during the pandemic, as well.

It’s been more than half-a-year since Wells reviewed his last restaurant, a glowing evaluation of Pastrami Masters in East Williamsburg. In that time, he’s pivoted to covering the impact of the pandemic on the city’s hospitality industry, from the first utterances of “contactless delivery” and “open streets” to the slow road to recovery.

In other news

— Henry Rich and Halley Chambers of Rhodora, Claire Sprouse of Hunky Dory, and Mavis-Jay Sanders of Drive Change will come together this Friday to discuss sustainability and labor justice in the food industry. Register for the panel here.

— The recently shuttered LES cafe Bonsai Kakigori will be making an appearance this weekend at MakiMaki Sushi, located at 1369 Sixth Avenue, near West 55th Street, in Midtown, according to a spokesperson for the restaurants.

— Rangoon is now open seven days a week. To celebrate, the neighborhood Burmese restaurant is offering $10 off all of its bottles of wine on Mondays and Tuesdays.

— The 25-percent cap on indoor dining could spell “armageddon” for New York City restaurants, the New York Post reports

— Rish Sheth, the owner of Caffe Bene in the East Village, is selling South Asian snacks for takeout and delivery through a new business called Jaleby.

— Balthazar is now delivering its breads, cakes, pastries, and rolls to New Jersey ($5 delivery fee) and Manhattan ($7.50).

— Does Kyuramen in Flushing have the best pandemic setup in NYC? Gothamist says yes.

— Grub Street visited the new Sour Patch Kids outlet store so you don’t have to.

— Roast beef and: