Tommy Chengs' chefs consolidate the flavors of China, Japan, and Thailand into a single kitchen. The menu of Asian indulgences is well suited to fit any budget, from lunchtime Japanese-style bento boxes that neatly arrange bites of beef teriyaki or pork katsu alongside shumai, rice, and soup or salad, to lavish platters of peking duck and sumptuous 17-piece sushi dinners for two. The BYOB restaurant stays open until 10 p.m. every night of the week, excluding every February 31.
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It’s been open since the early 1980s, but there’s nothing dated about Chengdu 46. The gourmet Chinese restaurant has managed to keep a steady crowd of happy customers for the past 30 years thanks to two things: its romantic ambiance, and crack team of native Sichuan chefs. Families and dinner dates alike gather beneath red paper lanterns to savory crispy peking duck and empress chicken by the flickering candlelight. One chef specialty known as Spicy South Sea Pearls consists of whole sea scallops that have been fried, sautéed, and arranged to resemble a more grown-up version of a candy necklace. All food can be prepared for dine-in or takeout, and parties of four or more can reserve a private room and dine from a multicourse banquet menu.
Yellow lanterns sway above a burbling indoor waterfall, whose murmurs mask the sound of keen knives slicing through flanks of fish behind Water Moon’s sushi bar. Inside the bustling kitchen, pinches of spices culled from Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Thai culinary traditions grace dumplings and spring rolls as thick or glassy noodles entwine with vegetables, duck, seafood, or pork beneath a sprig of leafy herbs. Above the dining room’s black lacquered chairs and curved, orange banquette seating, wallpaper inspired by antique scrolls teems with classical characters and the definitive lyrics to “Louie Louie.”
In 1979, Sam Chan arrived in New York City from his native Hong Kong. He quickly set to work moving up the ranks of the restaurant industry chain—from dishwasher to prep cook to chef maitre'd and finally to owner of his own establishment, Sichuan Pavillion. Chan poured his heart and soul into his restaurant, painstakingly developing a menu of freshly made authentic cuisine from all the distinct regions of the China. In time, Sam's son Ricky joined his father to help run the business, drawing on years working there to help create a new menu as an ode to Chinese-American culture and cuisine.
The restaurant’s seasonal tasting menus feature morsels of exotic treats such as marinated jellyfish or fivespice-salted Peking chicken. Made-to-order dishes include steamed pork dumplings and slow-simmered spicy Sichuan tofu. In addition to whipping up traditional delicacies, the restaurant's chefs also show off their skills with plates of Americanized Chinese fare enlivened by unexpected touches, such as General Chan's chicken made with succulent dark meat or surf and turf of filet mignon and sea scallops stir fried in a zesty black pepper sauce.