I just got off the phone with Rickshaw Dumpling Bar owner Kenny Lao, who’s opening his second location in Manhattan next week.
Or maybe it's his sixth location. It kind of depends on how you look at it.
The new restaurant is at 459 Lexington Avenue. That's the northwest corner of Lexington and 45th.
“We're aiming to open early next week,” Kenny said. That's when the butcher paper you see in the picture will come off of the windows.
He already has one brick-and-mortar store on 23rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, and he also has a fleet of four food trucks.
It was what he learned from his food trucks that told him where to open his next restaurant.
“We realized with our trucks that there was a large base of customers here in Midtown who loved us. We responded to how well the trucks do parking around here, as well as to requests from customers, and we started looking for a new location.”
Kenny’s optimistic about the restaurant’s prospects.
“We think it’s going to be fantasmo,” he said.
That would be an improvement over the last store he opened, on Eighth Street, near NYU. It failed to thrive and closed after the economy went south.
The health inspector has been by, the permits are in place, but Kenny’s still trying to figure out his new magnetic menu board, which you can see in the picture. He says keeping all of those letters in a straight line is a lot harder than it looks.
The denizens of Midtown East have gotten familiar with Rickshaw's classic pork,Thai basil and edamame dumplings, but at the new shop they’ll have the whole gamut to choose from, including Peking duck, kimchi beef, Szechuan chicken, and mustard green veggie dumplings, along with steamed buns, three salads instead of the single one that's available at the trucks, a bunch of sides and four different noodle soups.
Some new items are being added with the new opening, too, including warm sesame noodles.
Those are made from fresh Shanghai noodles and what Kenny calls “a really creamy sesame paste sauce with scallions and cucumbers.”
He’s also adding a cucumber wakame salad and herbaceous Vietnamese spring rolls — not the fried kind, the other kind — with a peanut dipping sauce.