Sushi hasn’t had a big glamour moment in a while. But a new crop of restaurants opening around town might make eating Japanese seem new all over again.

The fashion flock is sure to crowd into Matsuri, a dramatic new restaurant housed in the Maritime Hotel, where the menu offers more than 100 kinds of sake and chef Tadashi Ono serves up thinly sliced fluke with red pepper and ponzu beneath the glowing oversized lanterns.

This story first appeared in the September 13, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Of course, if you’re ordering the paella roll at LQ, a new Latino-Asian (that’s Lat’asian) restaurant opening this week, you might want to wash it down with tequila. The 5,000-square-foot space seats 700 and, in addition to the dining room, boasts a disco and VIP rooms.

Meanwhile, purists will appreciate Megu, created by Koji Imai of Tokyo’s famous Ebisu Imaiya, which opens in TriBeCa this October. Vintage kimono fabrics cover the walls of the upstairs bar, while white porcelain rice bowls and sake vases form giant columns near the entrance. In the kitchen, the chef’s team practices aburiyaki — a grilling technique using charcoal found only near Kyoto.

In the West Village, chef Josh De Chellis (formerly of Union Pacific and Bouley) has opened Sumile, serving whimsical dishes such as Atlantic halibut with scallion fondue and field caviar in a small dining room illuminated by pale green glass walls.

Even Le Bernardin’s Eric Ripert is going raw. “On the East Coast, we’re closer to Europe,” Ripert notes. “The West Coast has always been more Asian, and it’s slowly coming this way.”

Next month, Ripert begins his stint as consultant chef at Geisha, a restaurant in a town house near Barneys where Michael Vernon (Ripert’s former sous-chef) will serve delights from a menu based on Asian and French cooking techniques. No reservations will be taken, leaving guests to hang out at the bar and ponder what Ripert refers to as the “seaweed gallery” — a sculpture made from dried seaweed pressed between crystal sheets. “You know, only museums do that,” he says.

33 East 61st Street, (212) 734-2676.

511 Lexington Avenue, (212) 593-7575.

363 West 16th Street, (212) 243-6400.

62 Thomas Street, (212) 964-7777.

154 West 13th Street, (212) 989-7699.

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