New York Gears Up for Malaysian Restaurant Week

Zak Pelaccio and his Fatty Crab empire definitely have pushed the boom of Malaysian food in the city. Or rather, Pelaccio has made Malaysian cuisine more popular to the masses that had never heard of Malay fish fry, chicken claypot, or the spicy curry dish java mee. Today the city kicks off the second annual Malaysian Restaurant Week, an event that runs until June 24 and includes not only New York, but New Jersey and Connecticut as well.

In the city you can get your Malaysian on with a three-course menu for $20.12 at popular establishments including Laut, Café Asean, Nyona, and of course, Fatty Crab, though both locations strictly offer the prix fixe deal for lunch, before 7pm or after 10pm. Also on the line up are some Asian-fusion restaurants that are offering a special Malaysian menu for the week. These include Top Chef contestant Angelo Sosa’s Social Eatz, Ian Kittichai’s Ember Room, Dragonfly, Wild Ginger in Midtown East, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market, though only for lunch. Not a bad line up considering the small number of Malaysian restaurants in the city, and, for you adventurous types, this weekend the Asian Food Markets in North Planfield, NJ will be hosting a sampling of the cuisine from 10am to 6pm.

Where to Enjoy Meatless Mondays

When the temperature rises, Shake Shack beckons. Thick, juicy burgers with crispy lettuce and fat tomatoes in a light paper wrapping in the middle of Madison Square Park. When the temperature drops, I start to fantasize about Minetta Tavern, sliding up to that cozy bar, getting my lips around that Black Label Burger. Am I a burger-a-holic?

Not in the least, but I am quite romantic about my meat. But like all great loves, it’s an imperfect relationship- a toxic one at times. Read this tale of carbon terrorism about my boyfriend. The major research report found the mass production of meat creates “notable negative impact on human health, the environment and the global economy.” Not a very healthy relationship and if I have access to this information, along with a plethora of awesome vegetarian restaurants around town, why do I keep going back like an abused spouse? Well, enough is enough. If I can’t kick my addiction to Lil’ Frankie’s Meat Ragu entirely, I might as well explore Paul McCartney and Paltrow’s “Meatless Monday” alternative.

Environmental Concerns Related to Eating Meat: ●The livestock sector, including feed production and transport, is responsible for about 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. ●Animal waste is another troubling concern. “Because only a third of the nutrients fed to animals are absorbed, animal waste is a leading factor in the pollution of land and water resources, as observed in case studies in China, India, the United States and Denmark,” the authors of the study wrote. ●One less meat-based meal a week helps the planet and your diet. “It requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. For each hamburger that originated from animals raised on rain-forest land, approximately 55 square feet of forest have been destroyed.” ●Treehugger’s Ready, Set, Green points out to locavores, a meat filled diet affects the planet regardless of how beef is raised since it’s an energy-and water-intensive food to produce. Simply put, diets lower in any kind of meat create a smaller footprint.

Health Concerns Related to Eating Meat ● You’ll save yourself a heart attack! Dr. Esselstyn’s book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease documents his 100 percent success rate for unclogging people’s arteries and reversing heart disease by administering a vegan diet. ● Meat can cause cancer as outlined in The China Study, a book by Dr. T. Colin Campbell that The New York Times called “the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease.” The book’s main supported fact: “No chemical carcinogen is nearly so important in causing human cancer as animal protein.” Scary. ● You’ll be thinner! I think it has to do about paying attention to what you are shoveling into that mouth of yours, but on average, vegans are 10 to 20 percent lighter than meat-eaters.

So as bathing suit season approaches and we begin to make changes in our lifestyle and the way we procure information, why not try out Paul McCartney’s Meatless Monday with a few of these awesome Veggie spots? Have any more suggestions? Email me at Cayte at BBook dot com. Angelica Kitchen (East Village)– Neighborhood veggie powerhouse is the anti-Mickey D’s. Atlas Cafe and Bakery (East Village)– Vaguely Morrocan East Village bakery houses many a tasty vegan treat and heavy hangover. Ayurveda Cafe (Upper West Side)– Low-key vegetarian café designed to soothe your urban stresses. Blossom (Chelsea)– Way more stylish than its culinary kinfolk, the crunchy healthnuts here totally shower on the reg. Chennai Garden (Gramercy)– Top-shelf vegetarian Indian, bottom-rung price. Dirt Candy (East Village)– They’re vegetables. Get it? Dirt. Cand…nevermind. Josie’s (Murray Hill)– Lots of glowing girls fresh from NYSC, nibbling on oven-roasted free-range chicken, tofu duck, and Japanese yams. Life Cafe NINE83 (Bushwick)– Mom and Pop feel with a hipster spin. Pukk (East Village)– Funky East Village vision of an all-vegetarian future. Pure Food and Wine (Flatiron)– Say goodbye to a future of pacemakers and a gut the shape of China. Raw food is real food. Wild Ginger (Williamsburg)– Sedate spot for cruelty-free Asian eats.

Industry Insiders: Glen Coben, Design-Addicted

Glen Coben is the president of Glen and Company, specializing in architecture branding design. He’s had a hand in Bistro Chat Noir, Del Posto, Esca, the Neptune Room, Noodle Bar, and Zucca. Coben describes himself as an architect and designer with an intense love of creating spaces; his current projects include the new Wyndam hotel, Fashion 26, The Edison Ballroom, a complete renovation of the Old Homestead, Bar Luna, and 57 restaurant and club in Tokyo.

How would you describe yourself? My life varies between being in the office and working with my incredible team of architects and designers on great projects. I’m meeting with clients, contractors, artists. The industry is about relationships that form the foundation of what we do. What I do is the ability to tell stories through design.

Upcoming projects? Miguel Sanchez Romera’s Barcelona-based L’Esguard has one Michelin star, and I’m designing his first restaurant outside Barcelona. It will be called MSR New York. I’ve spent the last 18 months working with him, and we’ve unveiled what the restaurant is going to look like. Fashion 26 at the Wyndham is what brought us together. I was originally hired to design the restaurant, and then we were hired out to do the lobby and public spaces, and then the guest rooms. The great thing about the project is their corporate guidelines; they’re wonderfully fashioned and put together, not quite like a menu, but it talks about expectation of quality. When we first sat down, we were encouraged to follow the guidelines of quality, but to also strive for innovation specific to the location, or site-specific design.

And how was working on Fashion 26? In making brand values local to space, Fashion 26 will speak value-for-money integrated with understated luxury in the Garment District. Those were our talking points as far as designing this particular Wyndham Hotel: value for less money. We used a lot of references to “weaving” things together with plaids and pinstripes to create custom wall coverings and treatments. The front desk is an old cutting-room table with cast iron legs. We’ve created a fashion stew.

Some of your favorite projects? I was the store designer for NIKE and NIKETOWN, which has a global brand presence.

How did you start out? I went to Cornell School of Architecture and learned that architects come in lots of different shapes and sizes. From there, I went to a collaborative organization for artists and architects called SITE for Sculpture in the Environment, and my first mentor was an artist called James Wines, an icon of the early 70s and 80s. From there, I was a principal at Rockwell Group, where my role was to head up the fairly large studio, and I worked on very diverse projects, such as the Kodak Theatre for the Academy Awards. I was working with Michael Ovitz to bring football back to Los Angeles. I was also in charge of the Mall at Jersey Garden. The diversity of work there inspired me to go out on my own and create a diversified practice.

What are your go-to places? The original Wild Ginger in Seattle. You remember the first time you ever taste the Seven Flavor Beef. I also like La Esquina, Corton, Dovetail, the front room at Gramercy Tavern, the Bouqueria in Barcelona and Amandari Hotel in Bali.

Who are your mentors? I admire David Rockwell as an innovator, a hospitality designer, and as a friend.

What is architecture focused on right now? Comfort. I see that we’re going towards a time where guests are looking for comfort as well as style and accessibility.

Anything that annoys you? Molecular gastronomy. I don’t truly understand the term. I understand that it’s innovation in terms of technique, but the need for a label to talk about something that is either new or avant garde puts people into a cubbyhole that’s too limited for some who are doing amazing things that are not molecular by nature. The term bothers me.