Take Your Taste Buds Adventuring in these Three New Upscale Ethnics

CHICAGO: Erawan, 729 N. Clark St., (312) 642-6888
Several defectors of Chicago’s acclaimed Arun’s restaurant opened the fine dining Erawan in the downtown River North district. Chef Art Lee refines Thai classics, including artful snowbird dumplings and zesty hot-and-sour soup. But he also daringly incorporates Western ingredients like foie gras, pickled carrots, and green papaya. Upping the culture quotient, Erawan’s exotic decor imports traditional Thai canopies, teak carvings, and porcelain dishes.

LOS ANGELES: , 8783 Beverly Blvd., (310) 289-0660
The Laguna Beach favorite for fusion Chinese, 5´ recently expanded to funky West Hollywood. All the better for celeb clientele like Barbra Streisand and Robert De Niro to pop by. Chef/owner Michael Kang’s innovative fare reels them in for dishes like goat-cheese won tons and sugar-cane shrimp. Designer Martin Lawrence-Bullard, homemaker to stars Edward Norton and Christina Aguilera, created the seashell-studded interior. Stay tuned for another 5´ opening early fall in the new Anaheim Marriott Suites.

NEW YORK: ZITOUNE, 46 Gansevoort St., (212) 675-5224
The Meatpacking District gets its first Moroccan nosh in Zitoune, a warm and inviting refuge amid trendy neighbors. Call it, rather, nouvelle Moroccan, as chef Julian Clauss-Ehlers, who worked extensively in France, melds cultures in dishes like kumquat- and okra-stuffed quail and veal cheek tagine (stew) with dates, almonds, and honey. Multicolored tapestry banquettes, vibrant dishware, and imported leather lamps hanging over the glass-tiled bar evoke North Africa.