The Chinese lions celebrate the inauguration of the restaurant Chi which replaces that of Manganaro on the 9th avenue

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Hell’s Cooks mourning the disappearance of the historic Manganaro sub-shop will be happy to hear that a new restaurant has taken over the West Side space. Chi Restaurant and Bar, a fine-dining Chinese restaurant celebrated its grand opening on Saturday – complete with lion dancers.

Chi had its grand opening on Saturday after a soft launch in September, with lion dancers wishing it well. Photo: Naty Caez

The grand opening, attended by Council Member Erik Bottcher and Wellington Chen, the Executive Director of the Chinatown Business Improvement District, featured New York’s Choy Lay Fut Lion Dance Team, whose spectacular presentation is aimed at secure future prosperity.

The spacious restaurant at 492 9th Avenue, located between W37th and W38th Street in what was once the home of New York’s best six-foot hero sandwiches, specializes in Sichuan cuisine as well as Cantonese dishes and flavors from Hunan. and Beijing. There are also elements of pan-Asian fusion, with dishes originating in Korea and Japan.

Chi enters the historic site that housed Manganaro’s, one of the most famous names in Italian-American cuisine which closed in April 2021. Photo: Phil O’Brien

“We have a great chef who is very creative, and he wants to bring authentic Chinese cuisine to Chinese and American customers,” said general manager Nancy Xiao of executive chef Tom Lei, who comes to Chi after their work together at China Xiang on W42nd Street.

Serving everything from Asian tapas favorites like BBQ ribs and salt and pepper tofu to Sichuan standards like braised beef in hot sauce and a sizable Dim Sum menu, Chi Restaurant and Bar aims to offer something thing for everyone, including those looking for a good cocktail hour.

Chi used the spacious interior of 492 9th Ave to combine a casual bar and a full-service restaurant. Photo: Restaurant in New York

The restaurant has just obtained a long-awaited liquor license, allowing it to launch an extensive wine and beer program as well as selected cocktails. “We have a very large bar, with six signature cocktails and selections like Chinese baijiu, Japanese sake, Japanese whiskey – everything!” Xiao said.

Xiao hopes the West Siders will love the space’s three private dining rooms, ideal for hosting holiday get-togethers and business lunches. “We love that the location is really central to Times Square, Hell’s Kitchen and Hudson Yards,” Xiao said, adding that they hope to become a convenient and tasty meeting point for Midtown visitors and local foodies.

And foodies will certainly appreciate the care taken by Executive Chef Lei, who studied at a top culinary school in Beijing before moving to America as a kitchen consultant for a variety of New York restaurants before opening his own space, Spy C Kitchen in Forest Hills, Queens. It was there that his cooking skills caught the eye of fellow chef Thomas Lo, who has now partnered with Lei to develop the Chi’s menu. Like the restaurant website states“The two Toms chefs are on a mission to bring the most innovative Chinese cuisine to the neighborhood, while staying true to their roots.”

A restaurant veteran who has worked for more than a decade managing restaurants in Queens and Manhattan, Xiao is thrilled to connect with the Chinese food enthusiasts of Hell’s Kitchen. “I think the Hell’s Kitchen community is going to help with the business,” she said, adding that the rave reviews they received during the soft opening all reflected one thing: “Everyone told us they needed more authentic Chinese food in the area!”

Executive Chef Tom Lei and General Manager Nancy Xiao at the grand opening of Chi. Photo: Naty Caez

Chi will bring new life to the space that has been empty for over a year. Opened in 1893 as Grosseria at 488 9th Avenue, Manganaro’s was for more than 100 years one of the revered homes of Italian-American cuisine in New York City. In 1956 the restaurant expanded next door with the opening of Heroboy, and in 2011 Grosseria and Heroboy were separated in a bitter family feud – with Tavola cafe now located on the site of the original Grosseria .

Along the way, Manganaro produced an unknown number of six-foot heroes, who they said weighed 22 pounds and could feed 40 people, including clients like Senator Jacob Javits. It’s also where New York’s Italian-American sandwiches earned the hero name – with Clementine Paddieford, food writer for the defunct New York Herald Tribune, saying in the 1930s, “You had to be a hero to finish one”.

One of Manganaro’s last six-foot submarines nears completion in April 2021.

Unfortunately, the impact of the pandemic ended the era of the six-foot hero. W42ST wishes Chi good luck in following these historic footsteps!


Chi Restaurant and Bar is located at 492 9th Avenue between W37th and W38th Street, and is open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., dinner Monday through Friday 2:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., and dinner Saturday and Sunday 12 p.m. Soon the brunch!

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