A Little Closure 

It's see ya, not goodbye, at the Hungry Buddha

Although the arrival of Molly O'Ryans bolsters St. Louis' Irish-cuisine scene (not really -- that was a joke), Asian eats here have recently taken a turn for the worse. This winter has seen the temporary closings of both the Hungry Buddha, the downtown noodle-nirvana lunch spot, and the Jade Room, the sushi-till-3 a.m. joint/Internet café off South Grand Boulevard. Talk about bad yin and yang; whether you like your Eastern-influenced chow early or late, for the time being you're SOL.

Call Hungry Buddha's listed number, or knock on its Washington Avenue storefront door, and you'll receive the same cryptic message: The Buddha is in "deep meditation" until the spring. Owner/chef Blake Brokaw (who also runs perennial hipster fave Tangerine, next door) did not return phone calls, but the common theory on what caused the closure isn't surprising: short hours, no liquor and the year-plus Washington Avenue streetscape project. The Jade Room has more solid plans for its second coming; it's slated to reopen February 1, with new afternoon hours and a new 3 a.m. liquor license. (Previously the Jade Room served sushi until 3 a.m. but stopped pouring booze at 1:30 a.m.) Manager Tu Tran also promises an expanded martini menu, the debut of bubble tea, an improved sound system and free Internet access (before, Web-surfing ran 11 cents a minute). What's still uncertain, though, is whether sushi chef Scottie Pokres will return. Rumor has it he pulled a "Take this job and shove it" right before Christmas.

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