It was during the week of Chinese New Year that I first tried Mr. K the big buffet restaurant that now occupies the old New Chinatown building (5001 Central NE, 265-8859). As we ate, a group of kids in home made costumes paraded through each of the three dining areas, bringing New Year cheer to the crowd of mostly senior citizens. It doesn't take a genius to guess that seniors love the place because it's as cheap as China Star ($6 for lunch, $8 for dinner, $7 for Sunday brunch) but with New Chinatown's beautiful atmosphere left mostly intact. The buffet at Mr. K offers plenty of choices: steamed buns, stir-fried eggplant, sweet and sour pork, you name it, they've got it. But Mr. K's most interesting feature is the option to choose your own raw ingredients (whole squid, shrimp, beef, lamb and more) and have it grilled and basted with a spicy sauce while you watch. Those of you who shun buffets might want to know that Mr. K also has a menu from which you can order items not on the buffet.
Le Café Miche's Claus Hjortkjaer is hosting a cruise to Scandinavia this summer. The Danish-born chef has partnered with Radisson Seven Seas Cruises on an voyage that departs from Copenhagen, Denmark and stops in Gotland, Sweden, Estonia and Russia. Though the August cruise doesn't coincide with the so-called “white nights” of the summer solstice, it should still be very light, very late at that time of year. Claus will also lead a golfing expedition in St. Petersburg, a tour of Copenhagen and an hors d'oeuvres class on board the ship. Call 888-4448 for more information.
Ever heard of Penzey's Spices? This Wisconsin-based spice company sells hundreds of seasonings and ingredients mostly through a catalog and website (penzeys.com). They also have a handful of retail stores. We heard from a couple of readers that Penzeys is holding a contest to decide on their next store location. If you'd like to see them come here you can cast your vote by mailing a post card (preferably one with some kitschy image on the front) including the sentence “I want a Penzeys in my town” to: Bill Penzey, c/o Penzeys Spices, 19300 West Janacek Court, Brookfield, Wis. 53045. The town that sends in the most post cards gets its very own shop—which should be easy as pie for Albuquerque. We are fanatical about flavor, after all.
Do you have news for “The Dish?” E-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 346-0660 ext. 245 or fax 256-9651. The best tips will be rewarded with gift certificates good at NYPD, The Café and Wine Bar at Page One or Maximito's.