Robert Sietsema at Hunan Kitchen in Flushing; Lauren Shockey on Critics' Achilles Heels

This week in the Voice, Robert Sietsema likes it hot at Flushing's Hunan Kitchen. Instead of a review, Lauren Shockey reveals the foods critics (gasp!) hate.

Sam Sifton is not so impressed with Sam Talbot's Imperial No. Nine, warning the Top Chef alum that "[r]eal life is not television. Food needs to do more than simply look good when it comes out of the kitchen. It needs to be good going onto the plate in the first place, or else it becomes the sort of dish people finish only on bets." [NY Times]

Steve Cuozzo is charmed by the Leopard at des Artistes, which he says "isn't supposed to be cheap, and doesn't need to be perfect. Its achievement lies in resurrecting a 'landmark' that most New Yorkers shunned, and making it as fresh as Café des Artistes must have seemed a half-century ago." [NY Post]

Adam Platt finds hits and misses at Empellon: "[I]t's not really a high-end taco shop at all, although there are plenty of high-end tacos on the menu. It's a casually elegant Mexican restaurant that has been designed (like Torrisi and the Momofukus before it) to appeal to the new breed of scruffy, tattoo-bearing, avowedly non-gourmet culinary sophisticates who have radically reshaped the city's dining scene over the past decade." [NY Magazine]

Jay Cheshes approves of Mable's Smokehouse and Banquet Hall: "The soundtrack is Blues Brothers, the patrons are young and rowdy, and a big wooden bar across from the chow line serves Lone Star beer, pickle-juice cocktails, and trashy snacks like Frito Pie and Velveeta dip. ... [S]moked meats and church-social sides, while not quite in the top tier in the city, are certainly better than your average alcohol sponge." [TONY]

Tables for Two is left wanting at Ai Fiori: "This is a restaurant that has everything -- more or less faultless cooking, imaginative plating, exemplary service -- except character." [New Yorker]

Gael Greene visits Boulud Sud, where "I won't say I'm seduced by every small plate or appetizer that first night." ... Then, a week later, "Though it's that time of night when I would swear I cannot manage another bite, I can't stop eating it." [Insatiable Critic]

The Metromix editors find a lot to love at Fatta Cuckoo, deeming it "a stealthy addition to the mix [on Clinton Street]: a quaint joint where thoughtful, well prepared food belies a discerning global flair, and a fun sense of famiglia." [Metromix]

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