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New on the Menu

New on the Menu: Pink mole and another blue cocktail

Plus a Philippine-inspired bao, Lebanese-inspired squash, and a tuna tartare with extra umami

You have probably seen a money cat, a cat-shaped doll or figurine with a paw moving up and down, beckoning passersby into a shop or restaurant and possibly bringing good luck. It’s originally from Japan, where it’s called a maneki neko, but it’s now a popular bit of decoration at many Asian establishments in the United States.

Money Cat is also the name of a restaurant in Houston that serves “New Japanese” cuisine influenced by the multicultural Asian American communities that are represented among the restaurant’s staff and in the city as a whole.

An example of that is Jio Dingayan’s bistec bao, which takes a popular Philippine beef preparation and wraps it in a bao seasoned with a Japanese version of Everything spice.

Outside Atlanta, at the new location of Foundation Social Eatery, chef Mel Toledo brings extra punch to tuna tartare with shaved bottarga and an aromatic dressing made with olive oil and fish sauce.

In Raleigh, N.C., at Ajja restaurant chef Cheetie Kumar, who is also the guitarist for the band Birds of Avalon, draws inspiration from a Lebanese eggplant dish and local produce to make a stuffed squash dish, and at ElNico in Brooklyn, chef Fernanda Serrano turns the stateside concept of mole on its head by making a light pink one.

Pink is, indeed, the color of the summer (thanks, Barbie), but blue has been the trendy cocktail color for a while now (thanks, butterfly pea flower tea). It’s actually spirulina that colors the azure cocktail at the rooftop bar called The Lookup in Manhattan, where the #4 is made with the algae as well as ginger, lemon grass, and rum.


Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 


Correction: August 14, 2023
A misspelling of Jio Dingayan's name has been corrected and the description of the Bistec Bao has been updated to include cilantro.
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