Bay Watch

Sin Mun Bay rises from the ashes to become a star in Chinatown.

Niko's on Detroit 15625 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood Hours, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight; bar stays open later


It took nearly a year -- from May 3, 2001, until March 12, 2002 -- for restaurateur and businesswoman Sin Mun "Jenny" Chan to reopen her Chinese restaurant after a devastating fire. But now, the completely remodeled Sin Mun Bay (3400 St. Clair Avenue, 216-391-4898) has one of the most tasteful interiors in all of Chinatown. From the pair of carved jade foo dogs guarding the doors to the jolly, life-sized golden Buddha stationed near the hostess stand, the handsome room is filled with Asian objets d'art which, not coincidentally, Chan says she can order for customers from sources in Toronto and San Francisco. There are ornate rosewood chairs and benches, piled high with red silk pillows; delicate cloisonné vases in jewel-like colors; and sinuous dragons hand-carved from translucent stone.

But lest you begin to imagine that you've stumbled into a museum gift shop, the tempting aromas drifting from nearby tables will set you straight. While Chan's menu is weighted more heavily toward American fare than those of some of her competitors (with Caesar salad sharing space with spring rolls and pot stickers, and lasagna, spaghetti, and T-bone steak served alongside salt-baked frog, Peking Duck, and braised soft noodles with crab), the food is tasty, well prepared, and relatively inexpensive. The restaurant boasts an intimate bar, complete with three televisions; the exotic attached Wing Cheong Market; and long hours, from 11 a.m. to midnight daily. All are worthy reasons to sail into Sin Mun Bay.

Robin's new nest . . .

The paint has scarcely finished drying on the walls of Gateway's new Hilton Garden Inn (1100 Carnegie Avenue; 216-658-6400), but chef Robin Wilkins is already heating up the kitchen at the hotel's Great American Grille. Wilkins joined the Hilton staff on February 18 as executive chef and food and beverage director, and has put together a tempting dinner menu of modernized American standards. Offerings include artichoke fritters, stuffed with roasted garlic and fresh herbed chèvre; roasted corn and andouille sausage chowder; lacquered salmon with sesame soba noodles and Asian cucumber salad; and Mac 'n' Cheese Gratin, with penne pasta baked in a creamy three-cheese sauce. The Great American Grille is open daily for breakfast and dinner; lunch hour is reserved for meetings and banquets. Prior to joining the Hilton team, Wilkins wore a toque at Napa Valley Grille and the Metropolitan Café; most recently, he worked with Marie Betts at Elan Catering.

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