2 dinners, 3 lunches, ethnic
Coming into the city Thurs-Sat of Labor Day weekend, staying in Chelsea, for a birthday celebration, stopping at the botanical garden in the Bronx. on the way in. Would appreciate recommendations for: someplace quick but good near the garden for lunch, an upscaleish Chinese-but open to other ethnic-nice for the birthday dinner, Ethiopean or Indonesian down town for another dinner, and a couple of lunch places, veggie friendly preferred. One lunch will be Keste, so that covers pizza. Many thanks for your anticipated help!
There is no good Indonesian food in Manhattan. I think you'd like Laut, a Malaysian restaurant on 17th St. between 5th and Broadway, which if my one visit so far is typical, serves real-tasting (though not optimally spicy for me) Malaysian food with good ingredients, is slightly upscale and trying very hard to be hip. You can get various other types of food there, but get the Malaysian items. I have to caution you that Malaysian food is NOT vegetarian friendly, if you would want to avoid belacan (shrimp paste). Belacan is an ingredient in almost every savory Malaysian vegetable dish.
For upscale Chinese, I would concur with the recommendation of Chinatown Brasserie. Note that they do have a good many dim sum items available for dinner as well as lunch. Concentrate on those, and get some of their excellent cocktails. Make sure to get reservations for CB, if you do choose to go there.
For the Bronx, you'll want to post on the Outer Boroughs board - or check out threads there on Arthur Avenue, which is close by. For upscale Chinese these days, my favorite is Chin Chin. I also like Chinatown Brasserie, which has a more fun vibe, good cocktails etc. Both have websites with photos and menus, so you can see if either of them work for you. I particularly like the crispy squid appetizer at Chin Chin.