As baroque patterns and large-format decals go the way of neon "sculpture" and Southwest-theme stencils, restaurant designers are desperately flipping through art-history textbooks to find

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Best Inspiration to Restaurant Designers

Hing Loon

As baroque patterns and large-format decals go the way of neon "sculpture" and Southwest-theme stencils, restaurant designers are desperately flipping through art-history textbooks to find the next trend in wall treatments. They need to visit Hing Loon in the International District, where the future—functional wallpaper—is now. This Cantonese restaurant would be about as distinctive-looking as a University Way convenience store, except for the placemats covering 50 percent of the vertical surfaces. For anyone tired of shrimp with broccoli, the wall specials, written in Chinese and English, offer a banquet of discoveries: eggplant with preserved vegetables and pork, fresh clams in a bouillon soup–base hot pot, homemade "needle" noodles, pig-foot noodles, dried scallops with "tofu steamed eggs," black sesame dessert. The wall's also the only place to find a vegetarian entrée (the owners charge $4 to substitute tofu in regular dishes): Point to the pillar in the center to order crispy-spongy tofu pockets with green onions, broccoli, preserved turnip, and bamboo shoots. Delicious, and cutting-edge.—Jonathan Kauffman

 
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