Wednesday, June 3, 2015

New York Part 2

Between the restaurants I've visited on previous trips to NYC, recommendations from friends, and restaurants I've seen or heard about on travel/food shows, I ate at so many different places on my NYC trip last week that I'm amazed I didn't gain like 10 lbs.  I tried to take food pics everywhere but perhaps the best food are the ones I scarfed down before remembering to take a picture!  I went to places from street food vendors to fancy restaurants.  I think I'm beginning to realize that where I live in LA is extremely expensive because every time I go to a different city I think all their prices are so reasonable for the most part.  Even NYC!  But anyway... I really enjoy trying out different types of food because I'm really a fat kid at heart!

This is a list of most restaurants I went to, in chronological order.  =)

Xi'An Famous Foods - Read about this place online since Anthony Bourdain went here.  There are multiple locations in NYC, but I discovered on my way to my hotel that one of them was only a few doors down so this was the first place I ate at in the city.  I got the lamb noodles and cumin lamb burger.  This place is super popular and crowded, but luckily we were able to grab some seats in the back.  I thought the food was ok - not as good as I imagined it to be.  The entire time I was there, one of the kitchen staff kept arguing with a customer that it was their fault they ordered the wrong item lol.  We were chuckling about it because that would never happen in LA.  People in LA are way less confrontational and businesses are ready to accept fault, in general.  Besides, there are so many picky eaters here that restaurants probably have to deal with throwing food away all the time lol.

Cumin lamb burger

Lamb noodles - barely had any lamb

Royce Chocolate - This is a Japanese chocolate brand with 3 locations in NYC.  This was one of the things I was most excited about lol.  I've had Royce chocolate previously through friends who have gone to Tokyo and brought some back for me.  But I could never get it in LA unless I was willing to pay outrageous prices on Amazon (though recently a Japanese grocery store in Torrance opened a Royce counter).  You must try Royce, it is so good.  Pictured below is their Nama Maccha chocolate, which is basically a creamy green tea chocolate that is always stored in a refrigerated area.  When you buy it, they pack it up in an insulated bag with dry ice pack inside that lasts 3 hours.  =)

Caracas Arepas Bar -  In the East Village (where most good restaurants seem to be).  I went here years ago and have bookmarked it ever since.  Went back immediately this time and ate my arepas before even thinking about taking a picture!  Arepas is one of those things that is very hard to get in LA.

Third Rail Coffee - Greenwich Village.  Walked over here after having arepas.  This coffee is so good!  I got a latte.  How is it that third wave coffee shops are just soooo much better at making coffee?

Eataly - Flat Iron district.  In fact, its literally next to the Flat Iron building, to the right of where I was standing when I took the below picture lol.  It's basically a big market place, by Mario Batali, which sells lots of food items like pasta, olive oil, cheese, meat, candies, desserts, snacks and even household items.  There are also a couple sit down restaurants inside.  It sounds a little corny but I thought it was well done.  I got a dessert and a chocolate bar there.  It turned out to be sooo good and it was only $3!  I wish I had more time in NY, I would have gone back and gotten more.

Uncle Boons -  Thai restaurant in the NoHo area, came highly recommended from a friend.  Not your traditional Americanized Thai food... there's no Pad Thai on the menu lol.  It's tapas style restaurant, and I only managed to take a picture of the bone marrow.  But everything was great!  I had an excellent cocktail too.

Balthazer Restaurant - In SoHo.  It's an old restaurant that's been there forever.  The decor reflects that fact.  Extremely overpriced place in my opinion.  My dish is good, but how dare they charge $22 for scrambled eggs... lol!  I should have taken a picture of my bf's food because it was soooo tiny that I felt bad and ended up giving him half of my eggs and puff pastry.  Starving again an hour after leaving here.

The Lobster Place inside of Chelsea Market - Awesome lobster roll!  Lots of good lobster meat and only $16.  Would have gone there again if I had more time.  Most people were eating whole lobsters there but that was too messy for me at the time.

Batard - Fancy 4 dollar sign restaurant in TriBeCa.  I think it is a relatively new restaurant and makes all those lists of must try places already.  They offer tasting menus only, with 3 options:  two courses for $55, three courses for $69 or four courses for $79.  I can't believe this qualifies as a 4 dollar sign restaurant in NYC.  For that kind of price, it would be 2 or 3 dollar signs at the most in LA.  Such a good value lol!  I got the 3 course option and bf got 4 course.  You can combine your courses however you like (i.e. you can choose to have 2 appetizers and skip dessert, etc.).  So we ended up with 3 appetizers, 2 entrees and 2 desserts.  I managed to take a picture of 5 out of 7 dishes - not bad!  =)

Yellowtail carpaccio - can't go wrong with this

Octopus pastrami - very interesting!

Entree - duck breast with endive.  Duck seems to be more popular in NYC than in LA.

Veal Tenderloin - bf's entree, I tried it and it's very good

My dessert - chocolate cake with mint ice cream

Halal Guys - Midtown food stand that has over 6000 reviews on Yelp.  Came here right after MoMa since it's across the street.  I got a mixed chicken and gyro bowl on rice.  It's so huge that bf and I shared one order and we were both full.  Only like $7?!?  So totally worth it.  The line was long but moves fast.  No pic, sorry!  Yelp has many though.  =)

Cannibal - Flat Iron area.  Obviously as the name suggests, it is not for vegetarians lol.  I had lamb tartare, pate, sausages and bone marrow.  Only took a pic of the bone marrow since it is the most humongous bone marrow I've ever ordered at any restaurant (and I've ordered many lol)!  I don't think the picture does it justice but they were literally bigger than my face.  This dish was only $17 which is by far the best value for a bone marrow dish I've found.

We sat in the outdoor patio area and I apparently became food too!  For the mosquitoes!  They ate me alive.  I am super allergic to mosquito bites, and yet they love to suck my blood.  This is what happens to me when I get it - it turns into a huge red bumpy thing that itches like crazy.  And I have 11 of these on my legs right now!  So no skirts for a while.  Does this happen to anyone else?  So glad we don't have mosquitoes in LA.  

Roof at Park South - Flat Iron district, only about 2 blocks away from Cannibal.  We went here to grab a drink after dinner.  I wanted to go to a roof top bar for some nice views.  But this building is not that high up so the view is not spectacular.  However, I did really like the space and it was a good mix of people.  It got busy at around midnight but not super crowded.  Drinks are pretty reasonably priced.  I think $14 or $16 for a cocktail.  So the atmosphere was nice and classy, but not snobby or pretentious.

Dunkin Donuts - Can be found everywhere in the city lol.  We actually have a Dunkin Donuts in Santa Monica and when it first opened, the lines were super long.  I never felt compelled to go.  But when I was in NY, I thought I should give it a shot.  I heard that coffee is what one should get from there.  But I don't know what to say... it was so sweet and terrible.  I asked for low sugar too!  Maybe I ordered it wrong.  But I was not a fan.  Threw it away after drinking less than a quarter of a cup.

Russ & Daughters - East Village.  It's an old little Jewish market.  Very popular!  They have all kinds of bagel & lox combos.  Very good.  They have good looking chocolate and desserts too but I didn't try those.  No seating inside anywhere but there are two benches outside.  It's more of a to-go place.

Yakitori Taisho - East Village, interesting little yakitori restaurant.  It's very cheap, so you can try all kinds of meat.  They also had grilled rice balls.  Seems to be a very popular place with younger clientele (NYU is nearby).  I sat at the bar and barely had room to eat, let alone take pictures!

McSorley's Bar - East Village, about 1 block over from Yakitori Taisho.  My bf's boss just moved to LA from NYC recently and told him to not bother coming back to LA without trying out a few places in NYC, one of them being McSorley's.  It is apparently the oldest bar in NY.  They take cash only, which we found out after ordering and having no cash.  I really didn't like this place, but then again this type of Irish pubs is not my scene.  I don't even like beer either lol.  The place stinks like urine (but I think it's from the beer) and the crowd is rowdy.  I think they are mostly students or tourists.  The doorman and bartender seem to thoroughly hate their jobs.  The beers were poured with half a glass of foam.  But they do give you 2 glasses for the price of 1.  And the price of 1 is only $6.  Can't really complaint about that.  We got out of there as soon as we took pictures for proof that we were actually there, and I made my bf chug the beers lol.

Dessert Spot - East Village again, actually almost right next door to Yakitori Taisho.  They have green tea tiramisu which is the reason we waited forever for a table there!  Bf and I tried 3 desserts together lol.  "Green Tearmisu" is our favorite by far!  The other 2 are honestly just ok.  I wish I had picked other kinds because I our neighbor's picks looked better than ours.  

Green Tearmisu  -clever name

Pistachio & apricot forest cake with pistachio ice cream.  Apparently voted #1 dessert of 2014 by some magazine or something.  I thought it was good but not great.

3 different creme brulees - green tea, thai tea and taro.  This one was honestly kind of terrible tasting.  Though presentation is cute.  You can eat the spoon too but you can't really use it to eat the creme brulees since it's too soft and breaks easily.

They have a to-go store next to the sit down shop, so I got some macaroons to go which are very good:

Aside from eating, I actually did other things too lol.  I went to like 4 different museums - 911, MoMa, Guggenheim and the Met.  Actually I went to the NY Public Library too which is kind of like a museum.  Out of these museums, I loooooved the Met and thought it was on a league of its own.  I would say 911 is definitely interesting but depressing.  It's impossible to imagine being there at that time.  Guggenheim was terrible, what a waste of money - I saw some mirrors and some kids drawings.  MoMa had some good parts like the Andy Warhol section with all the Campbell soup cans, Mondrian paintings (I'm a big fan), and this Piccasso Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (I like to just call it the 5 whores), which I didn't even know was there!

It's funny because I chose this painting as a base for one of my college graphic design class projects.  I basically came up with my own (much more simplistic) drawing of it in Illustrator which I still have printed and hanging up on my wall!  Here it is:

So I was happy to have seen it in person!  Picasso was a pretty amazing artist.

The Met museum is awesome because it's a pay as you wish museum so everyone can afford to go.  But maybe a good idea to not be ghetto like the person in line in front of me who literally gave them 3 pennies.  They recommend $25 per person which is totally reasonable!  If you pay full price, they enter you into some raffle.  We paid full price but didn't hear anything about any raffle though, so don't count on it lol.  It's a huge place and one day is not even enough to see everything.  One of the temporary exhibits they are currently having is the China: Through The Looking Glass exhibit.  I highly encourage every fashionista to go if you get the chance!  It ends on August 16th, so hurry!  It's basically a fashion show.  You see all these different designer gowns with their own interpretations of traditional Chinese elements.  So cool to see them up close!  Some of these are truly gorgeous.  I took so many pictures, but here is a small sample - they have way more than these and pictures don't do them justice!  The headwear designs are fascinating too.

Designer:  Laurence Xu, Dragon Robe Dress, 2011
The inspiration for the gown is hanging on the back (left side of the photo above)

Tom Ford for YSL, Autumn/Winter 2004-5
The design the dress is based on is hanging on the right of this picture

Another Tom Ford for YSL, Autumn/Winter 2004-5

One of my favorites:  John Galliano for Dior, Sprint/Summer 1997

Back of same dress

Another one of my favorites:  Guo Pei, Spring/Summer 2010

I love this one too!  Roberto Cavalli, Autumn/Winter 2005-6

Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Autumn/Winter 1997-98
Inspiration is the statue on the right of the pic

Very dramatic dress by Guo Pei, Spring/Summer 2007

Side view of the same dress

Aside from a Faberge egg exhibit I once saw, this was my favorite museum exhibit lol.  The Met also has a roof top with an amazing view of central park and the skyline.  They serve drinks and a few sandwiches.  I actually had a lobster roll there that was very very good!  Reasonably priced too.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Here's the view on top of the roof:

On my last day in New York before flying out, we went to the top of the Empire State building.  The new World Trade Center building actually opened their viewing deck to the public when I was there.  But we figured the line would probably be really long there.  So we were picking between Empire State and Rockefeller Center.  I've already been to the top of the Rock once before, and neither of us had been to the top of Empire State so we went with it.  It's such an iconic building!  I think compared to the Rock, you don't get to see Central Park as well, and you don't see Times Square.  But it still looks awesome.  We spent a good while up there trying to pinpoint everywhere we went!

Overall it was a great trip!  As usual I wish it was longer.  But it just leaves more to do for the next time I go back!  New York City has always been one of my favorites, and I should not wait so long to go back again!

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