Providence Cicero believes this will be a breakout year for Korean cuisine, and Steven Han's Girin shows why: "Each [small plate] I sampled was a hit. Seafood pajeon embeds prawns, mussels and bits of octopus in a crêpe-like pancake that is striped with charred green onion and griddled to tantalizing crispness. The bracing chile-onion-garlic sauce with it is rightly called yangnyum jang, meaning 'flavor sauce.'" 3 stars.
At Steve Cheng and Meghann Seiler's contemporary Chinese Zhu Dang, Cicero loved the space and enjoyed much of the cuisine: "The hurdle for some in embracing all that Zhu Dang has to offer will be price. Beef chow fun, for example, is a dish you can get for $8.99 for at your local Chinese takeout or favorite Chinatown International District joint. Here it's $16. But house-made XO sauce injects this chow fun with some agreeable funk, the beef is top-notch flank steak and plentiful, and gai lan peeks from among the wide noodles. It's worth every cent ... [But] [n]ot everything was a full-on success. A viscous, cornstarchy garlic sauce undercut velveted Gulf prawns with steamed asparagus. Dull spring-onion pancakes bore little evidence of duck cracklings." 2 stars.
Kathryn Robinson was impressed by the design at Walter Pisano's Shaker + Spear, and hopes the menu and service will catch up: "Pisano is going for simplicity in his preparations—the noblest goal when it comes to seafood—but simplicity shouldn't be confused with blandness. A panfried hunk of yellowtail, translucently sashimi-like within, either redefined subtlety on its puddle of cream with English peas and wild mushrooms—or lacked the courage of its flavor convictions. I'm afraid it was the latter ... Service reflects the same obsequious superficiality, from waiters who are unfailingly smiling and charming and avid, but don't know which fish—on a fish house menu—are local and confidently declare that XO sauce is African (it's Asian)."