Here’s what’s happening on the Lower East Side food scene:
–Just in time for Chinese New Year, New York Times food critic Pete Wells awards Chinatown revival, Hwa Yuan, two stars. The lavish East Broadway spot is a trip down nostalgia lane, providing a modern day version of Shorty Tang’s original Szechuan restaurant. Wells loves the whole fish, the spicy wine chicken and, of course, Hwa Yuan’s famous cold sesame noodles. The special-order Peking duck? Not so much.
–Teen chef Flynn McGarry opens the casual portion of his new Forsyth Street restaurant. Reports Eater: “Currently, just an 18-seat casual cafe-style portion called The Living Room is open at Gem, serving pastries like a blueberry violet muffin and sweet potato bread. It’s McGarry’s version of a neighborhood coffee shop.”
–Where did third generation Economy Candy owner Mitchell Cohen take his wife on their first date? Economy Candy, of course! AM New York tells the pre-Valentine’s Day love story.
–Bar Belly, once called Leadbelly, relaunched earlier this month. The Fat Radish team isn’t in the picture these days, but co-owners Tommy Mendes and Mauricio Melo are still involved. The spot has always been a good choice for oysters, and that’s still the case. A revamped menu includes items such as bigeye tuna tartare, Moroccan spiced lamb meatballs, Portuguese octopus spiked with harissa. On Mondays, they’re offering an all-you-can-eat Mussels special for $15. Check out the menus here. There’s still live music. Tonight, for example, you can take in some Fat Tuesday vibes with the Hot Hand Band and a cucumber julep in your hand.