Dec 28, 2005 at 8:00 am

Nibbles New Year’s at Maido Steam some mochigome, a short-grained sweet rice from Japan, then pound it in a wooden mortar until it becomes, in the words of one cookbook, “a smooth, silky snow white dough,” and you have mochi. Form your mochi into small cakes, then toast them so they have a stretchy, chewy quality, and you have a dish that’s central to the Japanese New Year’s table. Maybe you could do that yourself — if you happen to be an expert in Japanese cuisine. But if you’re not, why not start the year with a festive meal at Maido Essential Japanese Cuisine, which will be open both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day starting at 5 p.m. The New Year’s Day meal will include a festive red rice dish (I think — but don’t hold me to it, that this dish is called Sekihan — it’s made by mixing short grain rice and red azuki beans) and Zoni, a traditional Japanese soup that involves placing those mochi rice cakes in a well-crafted stock. And yes, the rest of Maido’s fine menu will be available as well. —Marty Rosen

Say hola to Marimba’s If you haven’t already introduced yourself to the recently-opened Marimba’s Mexican Restaurant, put it down on your New Year’s to-do list, preferably far away from the “Lose 10 pounds” resolution. The Louisville location, on lower Brownsboro Road near Zorn, is sister to the original Marimba’s in Shelbyville, which has been serving muchos burritos for more than 10 years. The menu is somewhat standard, as Mexican fare goes, but of note is the lunch buffet, served weekdays till 1:30 p.m., for a mere $5.99. They also tout a happy hour with $1.59 margaritas on Mondays and Tuesdays, and a ladies’ night on Thursdays. Me gusta margaritas, dudes. Marimba’s is located at 2901 Brownsboro Road. For more info, call 721-7200. —Sara Havens