Houstonians Take on New York...
...But end up being quite taken by it instead. This was no surprise. This is my 5th/6th time here, and I feel very "at home"every time I come back. I'm speed walking/halfway jogging my way through the streets of New York because I still have the slow "Southern" way of walking, and despite me zigzagging to avoid crashing into the hoards of people rushing in different directions, I feel content.
My stomach was definitely content on this trip, I can say that. Without further ado, here is my foodie focused NYC adventure. PICTURES GALORE. Proceed with caution.
We hopped off the plane at LGA with a huge craving for Xian's spicy curry lamb noodles and a hungry stomach. Sure enough, as soon as we dropped off our belongings at the Hotel, we made a beeline for the closest Xian's Famous Foods we could find.
My tolerance for spicy food is actually quite low. I don't really eat spicy food and I can't handle it, but for these spicy curry lamb noodles, I will do it. Get me bottle of coke or iced chrysanthemum tea and I am good to go. The noodles and dumpling dough are hand pulled on site and prepared right when you order. The texture of the noodles are soft with a satisfyingly chewy bite. Our dishes were full of bold flavors and textures. It was addicting.
Our hotel was located smack dab in the middle of Midtown, which meant walk-able distance and easy access to some of New York's touristy hot spots, such as Times Square and Radio City. We were right by Madison Square Garden and Penn Station as well. Anywhere you'd want to go was just a bus or subway ride away. You could also take a cab or an uber, but save those for special occasions, like going home after a fun night at a bar (to be safe) or, if you're headed to a nice dinner wearing some fancy shoes, don't risk the walk. Take an Uber. which is what we did for dinner at Eleven Madison Park.
Eleven Madison Square Park was awarded three Michelin Stars. In the Michelin Guide, restaurants can be awarded one to three, and each have their own distinction:
One- "A very good restaurant in its category"
Two-"Excellent cooking, worth a detour"
Three-"Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey"
Dining at Eleven Madison Park is an experience. You experience it well before you ever eat there, because you have to make a reservation at least 28 days in advance. It's also an experience because our dinner reservations were for 8:30pm- and we ended up leaving the restaurant at 12am. Almost 4 hours. Dining at a fine establishment such as this, it is common to have a set starting price for dinner (for example, $295 for Eleven Madison Park), and you have very little to no control over what is served to you. Of course, they do take into account your dietary restrictions, and they adapt to that very well. Rest assured, you're going to leave full, and you are going to be amazed.
So. Food Porn Time?
We received a these savory cookies as a welcome gift. They were in an adorable little box with a ribbon. They were really tasty.
Next they brought out these four different "bites". The Whitefish salad was my personal favorite.
Once we finished our bite sized appetizers, our waiter ran down the different courses. There were about two-three options for each course.
Dessert was a multi course extravaganza within itself. There was the cheese course, then your actual dessert, then a chocolate course- with a fun little game. Each chocolate bar did not have labels, and we had to guess the flavors in the chocolate. We also received chocolate covered pretzels, and a choice of brandy or non-alcoholic apple cider.
But wait! there's more. We received several parting gifts. One was a beautiful glass jar of homemade granola (which is delicious!) and the other was a beautiful tin (see caviar course above) with a printed list of what we ate that evening. Was it worth the journey? I would say so.
- Eleven Madison Park
- Xian's Famous Foods
- Gong Cha
- Times Square (if it's your first time in New York, see it at least once)
- Hotel: Wyndam New Yorker
We initially planned on hitting up Angel's Share after dinner, but we were pooped! Eating at a three Michelin star restaurant is hard work ya'll! ;)
Friday was also a food packed day (what else would it be?) but we made sure to work for it first. We took the scenic route to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by taking a detour through Central Park. We didn't want to eat too much for breakfast as we had a big lunch planned later, but we opted for getting some snacks from the numerous food stands/trucks in front of the Met instead. If it's your first time at the Met, and you're determined to look at everything, I would at least carve out 4-5 hours. There are a few restaurants/cafes inside as well. It's a beautiful place, and one of my favorite museums. After spending some quality time with my favorite paintings, it was time for lunch. Off to Tribeca we go...
Bouley was beautiful. While we waited for our table to be set up, I swear I spent most of the time looking at everything: the walls, the bar cart in the waiting area with beautiful glasses and liquor bottles, the tapestries- it was all detailed and intricate. I was told that Bouley had a great lunch deal: $55 dollars for five courses, and that it was a must. I do as I'm told, and I'm glad that I listened.
Then comes the bread guy. He's my friend and worst enemy. You see, bread bro comes with this cart full of bread- all types and all kinds of flavors. He has about 10 different kinds. And you're going to want to try them all. So, beware of bread bro, that's all I have to say. I was good though, and only got my top 3 picks.
After that big lunch, the smartest thing to do of course, is to swing by Soho to do some shopping. (Duh)
To keep the munchies at bay before dinner, might I suggest stopping by Bao Haus? Then you can head on to West Village, where you can dine at Sushi Nakazawa. Again, another experience in itself. This was a big night for me. You see, one of my favorite documentaries is Jiro Dreams of Sushi. If you're a big sushi fan, I absolutely insist that you watch this. Sushi Jiro is a three Michelin star sushi restaurant in Tokyo, Japan. There are only about 10 seats, you have to reserve a month in advance, and it's about $300 for a 20 course sushi meal. In the documentary, one of Jiro's apprentices, Nakazawa, toils for years to perfect the egg served at the restaurant. Well, he's in the big apple now, so if you can't make it to Japan, this should suffice. And what's more, its $150 for a 20 course meal. Not too shabby. Do keep note, you do have to reserve at least 28 days in advance. Worth it? I did my research and Sushi Nakazawa did not disappoint. And if you're feeling extra fancy, might I suggest the wine pairing?
And so ends the Sushi Nakazawa Omakase experience. Absolutely wonderful. To end the night, we grabbed delicious cocktails at Angel's Share.
- Central Park
- Metropolitan Museum of Art (Donation for entry)
- Soho (Stop by the Bite Beauty Lab to make your own lipstick!) If you're into grocery stores like me, stop by Dean & Deluca.
- Bao Haus
- Sushi Nakazawa
- Angel's Share
Saturday was dedicated to Brooklyn. One thing to note about Brooklyn though, is that you need to plan and map out where you're going, because Brooklyn isn't all connected by train. You may have to go back into Manhattan and take another train if you want to go to another area in Brooklyn.
We got on the subway headed to the Williamsburg area, where we went to.. *drumroll* Smorgasburg! It's a big huge food flea market and with so many stalls and food and drink options, you won't know what to do with yourself. Calm down, take a deep breath, maybe take in the beautiful scenery (you can see the Manhattan skyline across the water) and walk through the entire thing before deciding what you want to eat. There will be some lines, especially if the weather is nice.
Exploring the Williamsburg area is a great way to walk off all the calories you've ingested. However, at this point, there is no use in counting or keeping track. There are tons of cute coffee shops and flea markets to explore. Plus, you'll see the most hipster Ubran Outfitters ever. There's even a bar on the top floor!
After an afternoon exploring the Brooklyn Museum, it was once again time to hop on a train to head to another area of Brooklyn- DUMBO, Which stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. It's a picturesque neighborhood, Plus you can get a picture of the iconic bridge, as seen in the first picture (very top of this post).
Dinner was at Atrium Dumbo- reservations recommended. Atrium is a beautiful space, and as an added bonus, we had a table right near the kitchen, so we can see the chefs at work. The food and cocktails/mock tails were absolutely delicious. Everything was also reasonably priced.
After dinner, take a walk outside, and you'll be greeted with this beautiful view:
- Smorgasburg (Kent Ave)
- Williamsburg Flea Markets
- Brooklyn Museum
- Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
- Atrium Dumbo
I woke up a tad early Sunday morning and made my way to Levain bakery. They're famous for their enormous cookies, each weighing about 6oz. I purchased an assortment of cookies to take back home and then did some shopping at yet another flea market before having lunch at Estela. It was a bit hard to find, but once I found my bearings and sat down to a delicious lunch, I can see why it has earned a nod from the Michelin guide inspectors, as well as a visit from President Obama. I was a tad distracted (and hungry) so I didn't take any pictures, but we ordered the oysters with yuzu kosho mignonette, the blood cake with onion marmalade and egg, the ricotta dumplings with mushrooms and pecorino sardo, and burrata with salsa verde and charred bread. Yum, yum, and YUM. and yum.
After food, we must walk, and so we did, over to the Highline. After grabbing a quick drink at Matcha Bar, it was time to head to Chinatown to Bang Bank NYC for... some tattoos?
I won't really go much into this since it's not food related, but if you're looking for an excellent, clean, professional studio, with the most amazing artists, check out Bang Bank NYC. They have some VIP clientele, but it isn't at all pretentious and the work is stunning. I was very satisfied with mine.
For dinner, we headed back to midtown for some much needed ramen at Ippudo (Westside). Since there was an hour wait, we made good use of our time and headed over to Bibble and Sip, which was just a few blocks away. Of course I got the cream puffs. Earl Grey and Matcha.
Dinner was amazing at Ippudo, per usual. It was a great way to spend my last night in New York, eating delicious food with friends from different stages of my life. Ramen has magical powers, you guys.
After dinner, it was off to Nitecap for some of the most delicious cocktails I have ever had. Do try this place, it was amazing! Try the Flower Crown or the Fist Bump.
Annddd... I ended up eating again at BCD Tofu House before tucking in for the night.
- Levain Bakery
- The Highline
- Matcha Bar
- Bang Bang NYC
- Ippudo Westside
- Bibble & Sip
- BCD Tofu House
Did I mention our hotel was near Korea town? very convenient.
Not much time to do anything before we got on a plane back to Houston, but we managed to get some good food and sight seeing in. We had breakfast at Wonjo before heading to the MoMa. We had hameul pajeon (Korean seafood pancake), abalone porridge, and sashimi over rice.
- MoMa Museum of Modern Art ($25 admission)
And so that ends this New York trip. I wasn't ready to leave, to be quite honest. I had such a great time with the friends I traveled with, and the friends who lived there. But, I'll be back, not to worry New York!
(after my wallet stops crying)