J and I went to NY for about a week from Tuesday to Tuesday for our good friend Chia-Ling’s wedding! I’ve known CL since middle school and J met CL in college (which is also where J and I met). We were all on newspaper together in Riverside. Here’s the breakdown of our trip:
- Very low on the shenanigans scale. Spent most of the day either on planes or in airports. Flew out of Burbank, had a super long layover in Denver where we hung out with J’s mom. Super nice lady who got us through the airport at a record pace. Ate at the Village Inn. Typical Denny’s type fare. Delicious ham and cheese scramble. Had a heckova time dragging around luggage on NY/NJ public transportation. Can’t blv we’re actually in NY. Encountered the only mean person in NY (he was the shuttle driver.) Finally made it to New Brunswick, NJ, where we stayed with our friends Philip & Satsuki for the bulk of our trip to NY.
New Brunswick Station:
- We celebrated our 12th anniversary by going to Manhattan, walking over two miles to Central Park in search of Strawberry Fields, getting verklempt in front of the Dakota Hotel (where Lennon was shot) and pigging out on a decadent Italian lunch at Maria Pia’s.
This is the John Lennon Memorial in Strawberry Fields:
- It was super hot and humid that day and my feet were killing me so we pulled an old Cali classic — hiding out in a wonderfully air conditioned mall (Time Warner Center). Played with all of the foodie toys at Williams-Sonoma, went up an elevator we weren’t supposed to in J. Crew, and found some super comfy flip flops on sale at the NY Running Store. (I thought $15 was a lot to pay for flip flops but my sis tells me I got a deal since they were Reefs). That mall also contains the Whole Foods with the longest checkout lines EVER. EVAHHHHH!!!
- We also got free Mentos in Times Square and had surprisingly decent macaroni and cheese at a diner called Andrew’s after going on a wild goose chase looking for Koreatown NYC. We did, however, stumble upon Midtown Comics where I got some Ultimate Spiderman graphic novels in honor of NY. And because I am hooked on them like a 12 year old boy. Seriously.
- Not very many pix, too busy running around and stuffing my face. Started off the day in Chinatown with some tasty (if cold) dim sum at Grand Harmony. Then we hit the awesome Museum of Chinese in the Americas. They are in the middle of moving to a new building, however, so we saw a very condensed version of their 2 current exhibits: Where is Home? Chinese in the Americas and Post-911 effect on Chinatown. I didn’t know this, but apparently Chinatown was the largest residential area affected by the Sept. 11 attacks. People who lived in the area could not leave their homes and lacked access to power, telephone and internet service for 1-2 weeks.
- Next, we grabbed some Vietnamese iced coffee from Saigon Banh Mi and got a cheap mani/pedi for CL’s wedding. CL & I were actually supposed to meet for a dual mani/pedi but there was an unfortunate family emergency that day. I’m happy to report that it’s mostly been resolved but there were some harrowing moments in there. Later that day, J & I wandered through Little Italy (if only fresh mozzarella lasted and was easily transportable) and SoHo (I think). and found a terrific record store called Other Music.
- On our way over to St. Mark’s Place, we found Pommes Frites, which had been highly recommended to us by our friends Philip and Satsuki! Pommes Frites features delicious, fresh, crispy french fries and over 30 dipping sauces! J got the small poutine and I got the small fries with the three sauce combo: Parmesan Peppercorn, Roasted Garlic Mayo, and Pesto Mayo. J’s poutine was terrific! It was basically fries covered with cheddar cheese curds and chicken gravy. Our favorite mayo sauce the Parmesan Peppercorn. This place is not to be missed! In fact, I was craving these fries on Monday. :X
- When we finally got to St. Mark’s Place after pigging out on fries, we checked out St. Mark’s Comics and Kim’s Video, both very cool stores with some obscure toys, comics, records and DVDs. J found some good records but since we knew we’d be in the city until late at night, he didn’t want to carry them around all day.
- After hitting St. Mark’s Place, we wandered over to Union Square so that we could catch a screening of “Across the Universe” at the Regal Union Square Stadium 14. “Across the Universe” was the perfect film to see in NY, especially after visiting Strawberry Fields. It was a really cheesy but really beautiful film, kind of like the Beatles’ early work. If you like the Beatles and have an open mind, you will probably enjoy this interesting interpretation/reworking of their songs.
- After watching “Across the Universe” and making sure that my friend’s family emergency was somewhat resolved, we headed back to St. Mark’s Place to finally fulfill the craving that I had for kimchee. We hit a Korean bar/restaurant that I’d seen there earlier called Gama. At Gama, we ordered some rice roll things with spicy sauce, super delicious Chab Chae, and Kalbi. We got a decent amount of sides to go with the massive amount of food we ordered. We also became friends with a very nice Korean woman who sat at a table next to us. (We shared the Chab Chae with her. She had ordered some really yummy-looking Soon Tofu. She wants to move to Koreatown L.A.! Her son is a graphic designer for a t-shirt company.)
- The final leg of this day consisted of us making our way to the East Village to hit Mehanata @ Bulgarian Bar! At first I was a bit doubtful because we kept passing by these really hip-looking people and bars. (It resembled the Lan Kwai Fong area of Hong Kong). But then, we got into a somewhat shadier area that was more mom and pop shops than hipster. WE FOUND IT! Aw, man, was this fun! There was a band from Chicago playing some great Eastern European tunes with a guest stint by a phenomenal violinist, some people smoking a hookah and eating delicious looking food in a corner, and we tried Bulgarian beer for the first time. Finally at around 11ish, Eugene Hutz from Gogol Bordello started DJing downstairs. First, lemme say that altho he has fantastic taste in music, Mr. Hutz is not what you call a good dj in the traditional sense… He djs like me… Not smooth, sometimes there’s breaks between songs b/c we haven’t been paying attention/drinking or whatever. But god, it was a fun time. Gypsy, bollywood, Eastern European disco, punk, it was all there. Unfortunately, we had to leave at around 12:30 to catch the last train back to NJ. We reluctantly made our way back upstairs to pay our bill when we saw two large jars of cider-like drink at the bar. The bartender explained that it was punch, and asked if we wanted to try some. The bartender said one was apple and the other mint. I tried the apple and J tried the mint. Basically, the bartender filled a glass half with vodka then half with the cider. Delicious but mind-numbing. Seriously. Don’t think we got back to Philip & Satsuki’s place in NJ until 3 a.m. probably. Nothing like stumbling around NY…