This Week’s NY Happenings: LUCKYRICE, Taste Of The Nation, Manon

NOW: The Mother Of All Rice Fests Returns
LUCKYRICE is back in New York and ready to celebrate all things Asian with a superstar lineup. Tonight is the kickoff, with Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese, and it’s already sold out. Fortunately other tickets remain, as the festival tours through ramen with Chuko, Filipino food with Umi Nom, and a cabana night market at The Maritime Hotel. On Thursday night the focus shifts to “chef cocktails.” Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto hosts while luminaries from Experimental Cocktail Club, Macao Trading Co., and his own Tribeca Canvas put Asian accents on some very fine sips.

LUCKYRICE kicks off tonight, April 29th. Cocktail Feast: A Journey East starts at 8pm on Thursday, May 2nd, at The Bowery Hotel (335 Bowery, East Village). Tickets for the cocktails are $40. To learn more aboutt he hotel, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides. Photo by Parliament of Owls.

NOW: Taste Of The Nation
Seventy of the city’s best bars and restaurants will all be in one place tonight as the 26th annual Taste of the Nation goes off at 82MERCER. Players like ACME, Pouring Ribbons, and The Dead Rabbit are only the beginning, and all proceeds go to fighting childhood hunger.

Taste of the Nation starts at 7:30pm on Thursday, April 25th, at 82MERCER (82 Mercer St., Soho). General admission tickets are $225 ($185 is tax-deductible). To learn more about the event space, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

WEDNESDAY: Manon Opens In Meatpacking
Moscow’s Cafe Pushkin peeps take another stab at NYC with glossy Meatpacking triplex Manon. The kitchen is run by a former Public hand, working up seasonal ingredients with international accents. Industrial ironwork meets chandeliers on the glossy interior. Opulence, it has it.

Manon (407 W. 14th St., Meatpacking District) opens Wednesday, May 1st. To learn more about the restaurant and lounge, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

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Moscow Dispatch: Over-The-Top Lavish Lunching

If you haven’t heard by now, Russians have a lot of money. More than you, and definitely more than me. So when I asked for suggestions for a cool lunch spot in Moscow, I wasn’t surprised that Cafe Pushkin and Turandot, two of the city’s most enduringly popular – and expensive – restaurants were consistently included in the running. An average meal at either begins at about $150 per person, even for lunch. Just off Pushkin Square, the restaurants are on the same block, but with two totally different atmospheres. Because I wasn’t going to return to the area for the rest of my visit, I had to choose just one. My instincts said Cafe Pushkin, as it’s more universally known and has history, but my love for the Baroque period won me over, and I went with Turandot.

Turandot is fucking unreal. It’s as if you’ve entered an 18th-century painting. The restaurant is dome-shaped, with an elaborate, sparkly chandelier hanging from a fresco ceiling. Marble columns anchor the central harpsichord, and the walls are lavishly designed in intricate patterns and details, reflecting a bygone era that, in my mind, produced some of the world’s best paintings, style, and music. Everything is incredibly detailed, opulent, and ornate, from the silverware to the dishware to the period pieces worn by the staff. The cuisine, like most Russian restaurants, is “international,” with a strong focus on Chinese-French. I had a steak and glass of wine, both of which weren’t nearly as memorable as the feeling I had that I was on the set of a vampire flick. I wanted to live there.

Turandot, a favorite for locals, is a visually impressive experience. It took six years and $50 million to build. The meal was hearty and good. Not worth what I actually spent, but then again Russia is notorious for bad food. In fact, most Russians go to fancy places for that whole “see-and-be-seen” experience. I would go back to Turandot just to hear that harp actually being played—most likely by a painter’s muse—and order nothing more than a tea… which still would probably cost an arm and a leg.