I've been slow to post this, but I think I owe the board some responsibility to qualify remarks I made about Jojo previously, as my opinions are on record. For a number of years, Jojo had been my favorite restaurant in New York. I went there again for my mother's birthday in late October. The food was still quite good, but the service was disturbingly slow, starting with our initial request to be given glasses of water while we waited for the 3rd member of our party to arrive. We waited a long time for all courses including our dessert, which was refrigerated and required neither to be cooked to order nor heated. I like to have a relaxed meal, but I do not like to wait for ages, especially when the restaurant was not filled to capacity. My father's guess is that Vongerichten may be neglecting the supervision of service at Jojo now that he has Jean-Georges. Jojo has had a great run, but may be going downhill.
As my birthday is upcoming on February 2 (and it's a "big one" for those who care about numbers, 35), I am wondering where else I might go. My family had dinner at Grand Sichuan, 24 St. and 9th Av. for my father's birthday Dec. 26 at my suggestion (great meal, but a word to the wise: Make sure to reserve on weekend nights).
Here's my situation: I live in the East Village, and I regularly have a wide variety of good food in $25-and-under restaurants in the East Village, Chinatown, and sometimes other parts of Manhattan (I normally go to the outer boroughs only for work, and my folks wouldn't make such an excursion for a birthday dinner, probably). Cuisines I often eat include Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Italian, Polish/Ukranian, Indian, Turkish/Arab, and sometimes Latin American, Korean, and Jewish food (Katz's!). But I also appreciate haute cuisine (French, Continental, Nouvelle American) when I have it. I promise to re-read threads on subjects like "Which is best," but if any of you can suggest places that serve delicious, memorable food with unusually imaginative flavors - maybe something like Jojo used to be even more like, with the fruit and vegetable essences in the sauces - but not a "fusion" like Vong, which I consider to be watered-down Thai - and no supercilious attitude from the wait staff! - please mention them.
Thank you all and best wishes for the new year,