What's Opening and Closing In Lower Manhattan

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Downtown Alliance's Kelly Rush lets us know what's opening and closing

Summer has officially begun and, just in time, we have a renovated playground open for children who aren't stuck in a hot classroom, an Asian kitchen featuring healthy food so we don't balloon out during swimsuit season and a lovely French café with plenty of iced coffee options. As usual, if you see any new retailers or spot changes to a long-time establishment, please email me at tre@downtownny.com and I'll check it out.

Yushi Asian Kitchen

100 Maiden Lane, betw. Gold and Pearl Sts., 212-742-2150, www.yushi.com

Yushi Executive Chef Danny Lachs took a trip to Thailand when he needed inspiration for his pad thai. It's this passion and attention to detail that's making Yushi a popular new dining destination in Lower Manhattan. The company operates one other branch in Midtown, which is grab-and-go, but for the new location, Lachs said he and owner Luke Fryer wanted to expand to include a build-your-own-meal bar. Customers can still get pre-packaged food made fresh daily, but they can choose from the bar, which includes protein options such as tofu, chicken, beef or pork, a base of rice or bok choy salad and vegetable options to complete the bowl. Choose a sauce such as orange-sesame vinaigrette to top it all off.

"People can come in three days a week and get a totally different experience," Lachs said.

The kitchen doesn't stop at Thai influences-it also pulls in Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese flavors. Customers can order sushi, potstickers and, coming soon, several kinds of bahn mi sandwiches. The restaurant is what Lachs calls "fast-casual," and though some establishments of this kind often serve foods high in fat and calories, Yushi features veggie-based, low-cal options for the health-minded.

But one of the most important aspects of the restaurant for Lachs is the way the food is prepared. "To me, what is crucial is the open kitchen. When chefs are behind closed doors, they can't interact with the customer."

Café French Gourmand

9 Maiden Lane, betw. Broadway and Nassau St., 646-756-4911

This quaint establishment features the best aspects of a French café much closer to home. The menu offers breakfast and lunch items with enough variety to please most everyone in the office. Hot sandwiches on ciabatta include a piadine of tomato, mozzarella and prosciutto and the classic croque monsieur. Cold sandwiches on offer include a French variety of roast beef, tomato and salad dijonnaise. The salad bar includes fennel, brie, goat cheese, chicken and radishes. Several soups are homemade every day.

Breakfast, my favorite meal of the day, includes one of my favorite meals, the ham and cheese croissant. They also offer bagels, oatmeal, muffins and flavored croissants. Top your breakfast off with a specialty coffee such as an iced macchiato.

Pearl Street Playground

Pearl Street betw. Fulton and Beekman Sts.

Throughout the winter, I watched renovations continue on this playground and wondered when it might reopen. The other week, I stopped by and discovered the playground was packed with children. The renovated space features new play equipment, a water fountain, spray shower and a safety fence. The playground is within sight of the South Street Seaport and nearby piers. Children could even do a playground crawl, stopping first at Imagination Playground on Burling Slip and continuing on to Pearl Street.

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