His father interjects: "Go to U-M med school! Then you can get a free dinner every day."
Kuroshio, 120 E. Liberty, 929-2271. Mon.-Sat. 4-10 p.m., Sun. 4-9 p.m. kuroshiorestaurant.com
What is Adam Baru's secret? He opened Mani Osteria at a desolate location on Liberty around the time Borders pulled out, and as all the nearby retailers were screaming that aggressive panhandlers were driving their customers away. In the other direction, Fifth was torn up for the construction of the Library Lane parking structure. But Mani was an instant hit.
You can debate what Mani's secret was, but Baru's pretty sure what the secret is at Isalita. "Isalita's secret is Mani," he laughs. "There's been such an outpour of support. People coming in here are huge supporters of Mani and have said so. They are coming here to see how it compares."
He didn't do much to the long-vacant space--like Mani, on the ground floor of what was once the Handicraft furniture store--other than pull up the carpet, scrub it down, and stick a semi-visible kitchen in the back. "There's a lot of imperfection to the design and that was absolutely on purpose," he says, referring to the cracks in the concrete floor and the paint splatters on the walls.