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Asian business clients coming to dinner - need reco's above 14th st pls!

asianbun Aug 26, 2008 11:51 AM

I have some business clients coming from Asia and would like to take them to dinner. My forte is below 14th street so i need all you CHOW hounders to provide reco's ABOVE 14th street:

looking for:

--Non-Asian cuisine

--Nice, upscale-feeling ambience/decor (asian clients will not understand "rustic" or "charming" ambience, they need something that feels more luxe ---when they come to the States for meals, they feel that "rustic/charming/homey" decor means cheap)

--Not super expensive (Le Bernardin and Atelier JR are OUT, sorry, even Morimoto is a bit too excessive)

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  1. kcijones001 RE: asianbun Aug 26, 2008 11:59 AM

    Is there a specific cusisine you're leaning towards?

    1. k
      kobetobiko RE: asianbun Aug 26, 2008 01:35 PM

      You can try Maze at the London Hotel or the Bar at the Modern. Japanese tend to like that kind of sleek decor (the latter).

      1. a
        acpi RE: asianbun Aug 26, 2008 01:55 PM

        I'm not sure how you define "not super expensive", but here goes:
        Etats-Unis on East 81st
        Fig & Olive on 62nd & Lex
        Insieme on West 51st

        4 Replies
        1. re: acpi
          RGR RE: acpi Aug 26, 2008 02:04 PM

          While it's been ages since we've been to Etats-Unis, unless things have changed dramatically with regard to ambiance, it's very far from luxe -- very tight, uncomfortable seating in a small space. And the food did not impress me.

          1. re: acpi
            City Kid RE: acpi Aug 27, 2008 06:05 AM

            I've only had lunch at Fig & Olive but I don't think I would take clients there for dinner. Tables were cheek to jowel, it was very noisy, and the food was just eh -- short on the good ingredients and skimpy.

            1. re: acpi
              jakew8 RE: acpi Aug 29, 2008 11:39 AM

              As much as I didn't love Insieme when I went there, I think that it would suit your guests perfectly. I'd look into it.

              1. re: jakew8
                silencespeak RE: jakew8 Sep 2, 2008 03:31 PM

                I'd recommend Insieme, terrific Italian cuisine from Marco Canora (Craft, Hearth)

            2. b
              bearmi RE: asianbun Aug 26, 2008 08:35 PM

              I would probably recommend a Steakhouse (maybe Del Frisco's or BLT Steak ?) (You may have to find a thread here in which steakhouses are being discussed to find the "best" one.). To me, "American" cuisine is somehow associated with steaks when I was growing up in Asia so if I were to visit the US from Asia, I would expect to eat a nice steak dinner.

              Based on my own experience with Asian relatives/friends/guests, I will recommend that you stay away from Indian, Middle Eastern, and/or Mexican cuisines because the type of spices used in these cuisines may be too "foreign" to many East Asians (well, unless your "Asian" clients are from India or the Middle East).

              Wish you good luck in finding a place.

              3 Replies
              1. re: bearmi
                JungMann RE: bearmi Aug 27, 2008 05:45 AM

                I would agree with the recommendation of a steakhouse. It has that feeling of meat and potatoes and excess that some associate with American foodways. I don't, however, agree that Mexican is a bad way to go. I know plenty of Japanese who are wowed by Rosa Mexicano because it is so different (though Pampano might be the more upscale option for a business dinner) as well as French, which still has cachet in Asian minds.

                1. re: JungMann
                  bearmi RE: JungMann Aug 28, 2008 02:38 PM

                  There is no doubt that a lot of Japanese (or other Asian visitors) will enjoy Mexican food. However, it is also common in East Asian culture to be non-confrontational and be complimentary of the host when they are invited to dinner or being recommended a restaurant. Therefore, it's not uncommon that the Asian guests do not enjoy their dinners but they will still smile and say "delicious" to the host as a nice gesture. I am guilty of doing that many times myself.. haha.

                  To be more specific, cumin, the spice that gives off a flavor which resembles characteristic body odor offensive to many Asians (called Hu-Chou or "fox odor"/"barbarian odor" in Mandarin Chinese), is used heavily in certain cuisines so that's where the potential dis-satisfier lies. Nonetheless, like you have mentioned, I am sure there are people who are more receptive to foreign tastes and foreign cuisines. I suppose, in that case, the host can gauge the visitors' interest and decide on what would be best for them.

                2. re: bearmi
                  bosun RE: bearmi Sep 2, 2008 03:52 PM

                  I think a steakhouse is a good rec. Keens is always my pick, and I don't believe the old school decor comes across as cheap.

                3. c
                  City Kid RE: asianbun Aug 27, 2008 06:18 AM

                  I recommend it often (because I think it's great) but what about Kellari Taverna on W.44th St. or Kellari Parea on E.20th. I've only been to the former; it has an intimate, sophisticated, and modern decor. You don't say how many you are entertaining, but I have been there at round table of more than 10 and other tables were far enough away that we could actually have a conversation.

                  Most important, the food is excellent, specializing in the freshest fish (on display when you enter as in many Greek establishments) and excellent meat dishes. Lovely, unrushed service and not too pricey. I think your clients would be impressed.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: City Kid
                    RGR RE: City Kid Aug 27, 2008 06:33 AM

                    We haven't been to Kellari Taverna, but we recently had dinner at Kellari Parea. The space has been completely transformed from what was previously (when the restaurant was the original Parea) very stark and modern to very warm and rustic -- exactly the kind of ambiance that asianbun said would turn off his/her clients.

                    With regard to the food, while some items were tasty, others were just o.k. A major problem was that some of the food arrived at our table not hot enough and needed to be sent back.

                    1. re: RGR
                      City Kid RE: RGR Aug 27, 2008 06:38 AM

                      Interesting, obviously very different from Kellari Taverna -- the decor, food, and service, which have all been top-notch on the several occasions I have been there. Definitely a place I would take an important client.

                      1. re: City Kid
                        RGR RE: City Kid Aug 27, 2008 08:01 AM

                        Don't get me wrong. I was really impressed with the decor transformation at Kellari's Parea. I found the rusticity very charming and far more pleasing than the prior dark slickness. The way they've compartmentalized the humoungous space has eliminated the previous cavernous feeling.

                        Service was very good. In fact, when one of the servers came by to ask how we liked our appetizers, and we told her the spanikopita were not hot, she immediately apologized and said she would take the cost off the bill -- this, even though we had already consumed two of the three pieces. When we received our check, she was as good as her word. Also, when we sent back the 24-hour lamb because it was not hot, the chef, himself, brought it back to the table piping hot. Nice touch, but the thing is, it should never have been sent out barely warm in the first place. Served at the correct temperature, it was delicious!

                  2. l
                    lemonyc RE: asianbun Sep 2, 2008 11:17 AM

                    had to organize our company holiday party with all the bigwigs in from tokyo (its a japanese company). i took them to Ammos, and booked the mezzanine level which has a nice view of the gorund floor. The Koreans and the Japanese love to be in private dining rooms, and this was semi-private (not sure how big your party is) and they all loved the greek food. it was just different enough wihtout being too overwhelming.

                    1. s
                      SRG RE: asianbun Sep 2, 2008 12:18 PM

                      11 Madison
                      Gramercy Tavern

                      1. t
                        thursdaynext RE: asianbun Sep 2, 2008 01:30 PM

                        How about Calle Ocho on the Upper West Side? Nice big space, and fun Spanish food, yet still somewhat subdued.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: thursdaynext
                          Will4Food RE: thursdaynext Sep 2, 2008 02:18 PM

                          Take them to a real neighborhood--the UWS...and try Dovetail, Telepan or Ouest.

                        2. s
                          silencespeak RE: asianbun Sep 2, 2008 03:38 PM

                          Cafe Boulud. Without a doubt will wow them. In the UES, mid 70s next to central park. Upscale neighborhood. Expensive (but not Le Bernardin, Atelier expensive), and offers top class french cuisine that has never failed to disappoint. Classy but not over the top decor. I'd bring them here in a heartbeat.


                          1. m
                            music2.0 RE: asianbun Feb 3, 2009 12:25 PM

                            What about The Palm?

                            1. s
                              stephaniec25 RE: asianbun Feb 3, 2009 01:06 PM

                              Keens if they would like steak in an atmosphere that is old american, luxurious bar, ouest on the UWS has rich food and a rich atmosphere, maybe primehouse for a trendy steakhouse

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