PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The long-rumored closure of Jae's Spice has occurred, but over a lease, not sales, according to the parties involved.
Jae Chung's North Street restaurant and Shabu 297, opened in the former Pressbox around the corner, were shuttered Tuesday night.
The Berkshire Eagle reports that business partners Lawrence M. Rosenthal and Joyce S. Bernstein, the restaurants' owners and founders of the original Spice restaurant there, have declined to renew their lease with Chung.
Bernstein told The Eagle they would reopen the North Street restaurant next week as Spice Dragon with Huy Huynh and Phang Huynh, who own 20 Railroad Street in Great Barrington and the Dragon Steakhouse on West Housatonic Street.
BTW, the Huynhs are the brothers of "Top Chef" Hung Huynh, who won the Bravo reality show in 2007. The Dragon Steakhouse was operated by the Huynhs' parents for years as Kim's Dragon. It had been open off and on since an oil tanker accident closed it in 2005 and reopened last year as a steakhouse. The Huynh brothers bought the former pub at 20 Railroad St. in 2008.
Chung had a three-year lease to run the restaurant under Jae's Inc. The original Spice was closed March 2008 after it incurred losses of more than $1.2 million. He told The Berkshire Eagle that he'd tried to extend the lease but the parting was amicable.
The former North Adams resident has operated a number of restaurants in the Boston area but ran into difficulties in North County with both Jae's Inn and Miss Adams Diner, among other ventures. He still owes thousands in state and federal tax according to MassLandRecords but has paid off a large sum.
Chung said he plans to reopen in another location.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — I had a chance to try the new Sushi House on Main Street over the weekend.
First, the interior is very sleek and contemporary with a Japanese feel. The hanging lamps were very cool; the ones over the tables were loglike, the ones over the sushi bar had lovely maple leaves on them.
The restaurant wasn't very busy but it was only 5 p.m. on a Friday night. About a half-dozen other parties came and went during our meal. We've heard it's been quite busy later in the evening.
I ordered the fried calimari and Crazy Maki, a six-piece sushi roll with fried shrimp. It was served really beautifully but I was already digging into it before I thought to take a picture.
The calimari was very good. The batter was light and not greasy at all. It was served with a side sauce I also used for dipping the sushi. OK, it wasn't technically "real" sushi, but it looked good and tasted even better. My companion tried a Korean sweet and sour soup that he said had "a little bite to it."
The special was another Korean pot dish with layer rice, vegetables and meat of choice topped with a fried egg that also looked very good. The restaurant has a full liquor license and a choice of drinks like daiquiris and martinis all for $4.95.
There is a wide variety of appetizers and both traditional and nontraditional sushi, pad thai and other items, and lunch specials. Service was swift and efficient. We were in and out in less than an hour.
GREAT BARRNGTON, Mass. – I like to try new things, for the most part. New colors, new smells, new hairstyles, they all seem so nonthreatening and impermanent, and therefore, safe, maybe even fun. However, when it comes to food, I am a dictator. Not of presentation or even ambiance, but of taste. And this is why, when I had dinner at the Hong Kong Buffet which recently opened on Main Street, I was faced with that one adjective that no restaurant should be; odd. Not quirky and fun, not eclectic or New York deli rude (which would’ve been fine) or uppity or gross, but just odd.
An odd assortment of prepackaged desserts and a sesame pork ball make their debut at Hong Kong Buffet on Main Street.
It doesn’t help matters that the Hong Kong Buffet occupies the space that was the once-legendary Deli with its legendary bagel sandwiches and even more legendary cook, Frank Tortoriello. I’m not sure how long ago the Deli closed but it is so near and dear to us southerners that there is even a Facebook page dedicated to its memory. The location has switched hands several times, and each time with little success. I was hoping HKB would be different.
To its credit, it is a genuine buffet that offers several dozen dishes and sides and desserts; and it is all-you-can-eat for $11. That’s where the perks end. This is clearly a case where quality suffers (immensely) at the feet of quantity. Sure, I can eat a lot of the mayonnaise shrimp but why would I want to? Yes, I can pile my plate high with General Tso’s chicken, but after the first two sickeningly sweet bites even my iron palette wavers.
I know, I know, it’s standard Americanized Chinese food served buffet style, you get what you pay for, right? But would it hurt to have more than one vegetable dish amidst a sea of meat and shellfish? And where is the brown rice? And the one tofu dish that seems universally to be known as “Buddha’s Delight” or something along those lines.
This is not even the standard fare that I would gladly wolf down straight from the take-out cartons on a gluttonous Friday night. This food is unfamiliar, even to me, and seems to be comprised of three ingredients: thick, syrupy brown sauce, mayonnaise and/or soggy panko breading.
Not to mention, the tea was bitter. Even more so than the run-of-the-mill Oolong you get at most Chinese eateries. This tea had been sitting and waiting, perhaps just for me, for a long, long time.
I certainly don’t want to wish ill on anyone brave enough to open a restaurant in downtown Great Barrington, but rest assured, the competition is fierce and having a niche is crucial. Perhaps HKB will develop a following like its predecessor. Or, perhaps, it too will succumb to the curse of the Deli.
Mazzeo's Ristorante on South Street in Pittsfield is open for dinner business. The Italian restaurant opened quietly on Tuesday afternoon after months of preparation.
The new location of the popular Italian eatery is in the former Asters; the original building on Winter Street will continue to be used for banquets and will house the Mazzeo family's catering business.
We're told the new Mazzeo's is beautiful inside and offers the same authentic Italian cusine its been known for for years.
Hours at the new location are Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 9; Friday and Saturday from 4 to 10 and Sundays from 4 to 9.
Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant Pho
In North Adams, an Italian restaurant has been transformed into Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant Pho. The restaurant, owned by Nancy Nguyen of North Adams, opened last week at Valley Park Lanes.
The kitchen's been revamped and the decor changed to evoke more of a Southeast Aisan feel. The menu is limited for now with 11 items, including the namesake dish Pho Tai Bo Van, a beef noodle soup.
Prices range from $4.25 for two spring rolls with dipping sauce to $12.50 for steak dishes. Pho is open daily from 11 to 10 and offers takeout. The number is 413-664-6667.
In Adams, Izzy's Pizza and Deli opened recently at 85 Commercial St. with a full menu of specialty pizzas (including the artery-clogging "Heart Attack"), calzones, stromboli, pastas, sandwiches, grinders, burgers and appetizers. It offers 10 different wing flavors and BBQ ribs.
The location was vacated by Jim's Pizza, which moved to Howland Avenue.
Delivery from Izzy's is available in Adams and to the Viking Pub next door. It also offers catering off the menu.
Operated by AnnMarie Belmonte and Rick "Izzy" Solomon, the eatery is open from 11 to 9 Tuesday through Thursday; 11 to midnight on Friday and Saturday and 11 to 9 on Sunday.