TODAY'S PAPER

Restaurant openings in NYC: Clay Pot, The Living Room at Gem and more

Clay Pot NYC serves Cantonese specialties with a "modern Japanese twist." / Clay Pot NYC

Craving something new? We've got you covered.

Whether you're bored with all your favorite dining spots, looking for a new neighborhood standby, or plotting to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the next big dining trend, the city is always delivering with new restaurants.

Here's a look at some recent openings that will mix up your diet and expand your palate. 

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THE CHEAP(ER) EATS

Clay Pot NYC: This Hong Kong-based restaurant has opened its first New York City outpost in the East Village, serving traditional Cantonese specialties with a “modern Japanese twist,” a statement from the owners reads. The spot’s delicacy — the clay pot — adds a new twist on the traditional dish “bao zai fan” by cooking jasmine rice in the same pot it’s served in, set over an open flame. The rice bowls ($12) are topped with fresh ginger, scallion and soy sauce for flavor. A variety of protein and veggie toppings, from hard-boiled egg to corn to shrimp and various meats, are available at your choosing. Clay Pot NYC promises a “powerful and savory exotic journey” for your taste buds. Pro tip: Don’t forget to scrape the sides. The cooking technique leaves crispy rice at the edges and bottom of the pot, known as “fan jiao.” To celebrate its grand opening, Clay Pot NYC will offer a buy one, get one free, deal through Feb. 27. 58 St. Mark’s Place; opened Feb. 20; claypotnyc.com

The Living Room at Gem: Teen chef Flynn McGarry, a prodigy who's been called the "Justin Bieber of food," has graduated from tasting menu pop-ups in New York and Los Angeles to a bipartite restaurant on the Lower East Side with more staying power. One half is the Living Room, a neighborhood café now serving coffee, tea and pastries like blueberry violet muffin and sweet potato bread until 5 p.m. The second is the Dining Room, which, when it opens in two weeks, will offer $155 multi-course dinners for 18 people in an intimate space with '70s vibes. Plates will likely include his signature Ritz cracker sandwich with foie gras, peanuts and sour cherry; slow-roasted sunchoke with seaweed and pumpkin seed oil; and king crab with leeks and grapefruit, Eater and The New York Times report. 116 Forsyth St.; opened Feb. 12; gem-nyc.com

MáLà Project: Amelie Ning Kang is giving the Bryant Park working crowd a taste of her East Village heat. Like the first location, this second MáLà Project outpost specializes in Chinese dry pot, a typically communal bowl of ingredients (think along the lines of sliced lamb, chicken heart, fish cakes, bok choy and glass noodles) wok-fried over high heat with 24 different spices. You can choose your spiciness level, from non- to super, and for lunch, there are dry pots (some $11, some $13) designed for solitary diners, with names like "Got Lamb?" and "Way of the Squid." For big groups, a long, 14-seat table stretches across the brick-walled, modern dining room. Worker bees can relax at a full bar after clocking out for the day. 41 W. 46th St.; opened Feb. 14; malaproject.nyc

Tender Greens: This fast-casual chain from Los Angeles brings with it some Danny Meyer cred. Tender Greens, which Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group invested in a few years back, brings its 27th location and its first outside of California to Manhattan. Find its standard menu of plates, sandwiches, salads, soups and sides — priced between $12 and $16 — at the Flatiron location. This latest outpost is also partnering with local purveyors for exclusive menu items, from a lobster salad ($16) featuring Luke’s Lobster Maine lobster tail to a chicken salad ($13.50) that’s made with produce from the nearby Union Square Greenmarket and cheese from next-door Beecher’s. To drink, also find familiar names like Brooklyn Brewery and Sixpoint Brewery among the draft offerings. 900 Broadway; opened Feb. 5; tendergreens.com

Miznon: Celebrity Israeli chef Eyal Shani has set up the latest outpost of his international, fast-casual pita spot at Chelsea Market. The bread pockets come stuffed with some traditional ingredients — roasted eggplant, tahini and hard-boiled egg, for example — and some not so conventional: corned beef, aioli, avocado and pickles in the Reuben pita, and beef and cheddar cheese in the folded cheeseburger in a pita (both $11). Miznon’s signature dish has nothing to do with gluten, though; it’s the ”original world famous baby cauliflower,” whole and roasted ($9). Grab your street food to go, or take a seat at the counter in front of the open kitchen or a table. 435 W. 15th St.; opened Jan. 30; miznonnyc.com

Carl’s Jr.: The national burger chain company with roots in Los Angeles and franchises concentrated on the West Coast and in the Southwest has opened its first Manhattan location. The menu includes a $5 “All-Star” meal, “Thickburgers” made with Black Angus beef patties weighing in at one-third or a half-pound, breaded chicken tenders, ice cream shakes and beer. 425 Seventh Ave.; opened Jan. 31; carlsjr.com

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THE WEEKNIGHT GO-TOS

Jax B-B-Q: On the same Hell’s Kitchen block as his Italian trattoria Tavola, Nick Accardi has opened a wood pit barbecue spot serving up Memphis-style spare ribs smoked over white oak, cherry and birch wood ($19.95 for a full rack, $13.95 for a half); Pat LaFrieda dry-aged beef burgers on Orwashers brioche buns; and Deep South specialties like alligator fritters ($13.95) and crawfish hush puppies ($11.75). Wash down all that meat with a frozen margarita, a pint of craft beer or a shot of tequila. Accardi, who studied his barbecue technique with influential pit master Mike Mills in Vegas, has decorated the space with vintage Americana items like antique gas station signs and 1930s bar stools, lending it a roadhouse vibe. 496 Ninth Ave.; opened Jan. 19; 212-273-1168

The Sound Bite: Blackened wings are the star of the menu at this Hell’s Kitchen restaurant fusing Cajun, Southern and Italian flavors and showcasing live jazz performances three nights a week. Wings, available in eight- to 40-piece orders ranging in price from $12 to $60, come with your choice of two sauces, from a selection including puttanesca and Cajun remoulade. If those aren’t calling to you, there are burgers, sandwiches, salads and mac ‘n’ cheese (with toppings such as alligator sausage). Cocktails like “The Live Shot,” “The Crash & Burn” and “The Headliner” pay homage to co-owner Julian Phillips’ career as a news anchor. Autographed headshots of media and jazz icons on the walls nod not only at chef Phillips, but his wife and business partner Barbara King, a jazz vocalist. 737 Ninth Ave; opened Jan. 18; thesoundbiterestaurant.com

South of the Clouds: Mixian, or rice noodles, from the Yunnan region of China are the focus at this new Greenwich Village spot launched by a Yunnan native. Chef and owner Liheng Geng has updated the dishes and flavors of his dad’s traditional restaurant in Sunset Park to present five different noodle bowls, including the signature “Crossing the Bridge” ($18), which invites diners to add the ingredients of their choice to a slowly simmered broth. The $16 lunch special at this 45-seat eatery with a spare, modern look comes with noodles and one side or dessert; all the small savory bites pack a spicy punch and desserts include a “snow ball” made with rice, rice wine, egg and a cheese similar in texture to mozzarella. It's BYOB for now at dinnertime, but the restaurant expects to begin serving wine and beer in March. 16 W. 8th St.; soft-opened on Jan. 19; sotc-nyc.com

Soogil: This modern Korean restaurant in the East Village is named for chef/owner Soogil Lim, who trained in French cuisine at Daniel. Lim’s first eatery marries the flavors of his South Korean childhood and the techniques of French cooking. You’ll want to try the mung bean sprout Korean pancake (which is prepared by pureeing the sprouts with pork fat, then pan-frying the mixture); the sweet potato beignets paired with a chilled white kimchi soup; and the soy-braised short rib served with winter vegetables, marble potatoes, rice and kimchi. To drink, there are Korean spirits like soju and variations on traditional French cocktails. Traditional Korean pottery ornaments a space with large French windows, a seven-seat wooden bar and white oak tables. 108 E. 4th St.; opened Jan. 9; soogil.com

THE WEEKEND SPLURGES

Basta: Israeli Chef Raz Shabtai's new Kosher restaurant in Midtown East pays homage to the woman who raised him. At Basta — which in Hebrew refers to the long produce tables found at the open-air markets where Shabtai's grandmother took him shopping before they cooked Shabbat dinner together — Shabtai is serving elevated takes on Mediterranean street and comfort food in a space channeling the bazaars' energy with upbeat music and design accents like colorful tiles and hanging garlic garlands. On the menu: "Bread from Baghdad," spiced with za'atar and accompanied by dips like paprika aioli ($20); "The Tunisian Dish," two fish-stuffed Moroccan cigars accompanied by a burik filled with potatoes, sunchoke and egg ($19); and "The Wizard of Marrakesh," wizard hat-shaped pasta in a sage butter bouillabaisse ($28). For dessert, try the Israeli milk pudding with pistachio cream, rose water, cardamom, cinnamon, coconut and raw tahini. 62 E. 34th St.; opened in February; 917-261-7352

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Banzarbar: Inspired by the Antarctic explorations of the British, Australian and New Zealand Research Expedition (BANZARE) of the late 1920s, this 18-seat bar on the second floor of Freemans Restaurant on the Lower East Side is serving up a la carte cocktails with exotic ingredients ($18) and a $95 tasting menu that pairs sips with seafood bites. Head bartender Eryn Reece’s playfully titled creations include “Sons of Neptune” (a banana and sesame-flavored rum drink with aquavit, a Scandinavian liquor traditionally matured in oak barrels on ships crossing the equator twice) and the white miso-flavored “Message in a Bottle." Chef Harold Villarosa’s contributions include a bay scallop crudo with beet-top salsa verde and fennel blossom, grilled chicken kebabs with charred onion and lemon yogurt and an entire, tempura-fried Portuguese octopus called “The Kraken.” The intimate dining space is outfitted with wooden seating, nautical art and cabin lamps that will make you feel — increasingly, the more you imbibe — as if you’re traveling in a sea cabin. Freemans Alley; opened Feb. 1; banzarbar.com

Studio: Restaurateur Gabriel Stulman has set up an all-day restaurant with plenty of natural light inside the new Freehand Hotel near Madison Square Park. The menu references his Jewish-Moroccan heritage, with freshly baked goods like simit bagels ($4.50) and date-dulce de leche babka ($5) at breakfast time, later-day small plates like braised chicken "cigars" with pine nuts and sumac ($13), and dinner entrees such as rotisserie hen with golden raisins and couscous ($24). To keep you pleasantly buzzed, there are cocktails such as "Cel-Rays of Thyme" ($14, mezcal, pineapple and tonic), a few beer selections and a wide variety of wines. 23 Lexington Ave.; opened Jan. 16; studiofreehand.nyc

Jade Sixty: This fancy Asian steakhouse with executive chef Skinny Mei (an alum of Philippe Chow and Jue Lan Club) leading the kitchen is serving both American red meat staples and popular Asian-American dishes. For lunch, there's a three-course prix fixe menu focused on the latter ($20.18). For dinner, bring friends, because most dishes on the menu serve one to four people, such as the $75 seven-pound roast duck, the aged prime porterhouse ($54 per person) and the surf and turf platter for two ($155). The items fusing Eastern and Western influences are the ones that intrigue us most: wasabi mashed potatoes, white ponzu bearnaise sauce, crispy filet mignon. Start your night with a drink at the ground-floor bar and work your way up into one of two dining rooms dressed up in gray, black and red shades. 116 E. 60th St.; opened Jan. 4; jadesixty.com