February 2008


We’re back! 🙂

After a whirlwind trip to the big apple, we’re finally back…exhausted and stuffed — in a good way. Without further ado, here’s a day-by-day recap of our trip: (We didn’t take any pictures of the food we ate, like we had hoped to do, because every time the food arrived, it looked so good we’d stuff our faces before remembering to pull out the camera. Sorry.)

Day 1: Wednesday, February 13, 2008

NYC temp.: Hi 54, Low 30

We arrived bright and early to Burbank airport only to find out that our flight was delayed for FOUR HOURS due to the rainstorm that was hovering above New York City. Needless to say, both George and I were a bit disturbed since this was definitely not how we wanted our mini-vacation to begin, I was especially perturbed because it meant four less hours of what precious little time we had in NYC. Ah well, we stuck it out anyway and waited. Finally, at 3pm sharp PST, we boarded our JetBlue flight (our original take-off time was 10:45am).

This was the first time George and I have ever flown JetBlue. I’m not sure if this is the same airline that had that bad press a few months earlier when they had to keep passengers in the airplane for 8+ hours in horrific heat on the runway. But anyway, as soon as all the passengers were seated, the CEO of JetBlue, who happened to be flying on the flight after us, boarded our plane just to apologize to us for the delay we had to endure. It’s amazing what a difference such a small gesture made. After he was done with his speech, some of the passengers actually clapped and cheered. Can you believe it? Anyway, despite the delay, I can honestly say that this was one of the most pleasant flights we’ve ever been on. We got more leg room and had our very own tv to watch. We didn’t get a meal, but we could’ve brought our own food on board. I wasn’t aware of this, so I was STARVING way before we landed.

Finally, at around 11pm EST, we arrived at JFK. We stayed at the Park Central New York Hotel for our first night. I thought it was ok, but George thought it was nasty and dirty and then proceeded to get bitten by invisible bugs. Haha…the good thing about this hotel is it’s location. We were across from Central Park and a block away from Carnegie Deli, where we had our first meal in NYC, and I wasn’t disappointed. Granted, I was starving and probably thought ANYTHING was a taste of heaven, but the Woody Allen we ordered (pastrami and corned beef) was very tasty and stacked higher than any sandwich both of us had ever seen. We also shared a chicken noodle matzo ball soup which wasn’t great, and kind of bland.

Day 2: Thursday, February 14, 2008 Happy Valentine’s Day!

NYC temp.: Hi 40, Low 28

Our first full day in NYC. The first thing we did when we woke up was check out of the Park Central and check in to Hilton Time Square, which is where we stayed for the remainder of our trip. We didn’t really stay in the hotel for long, since we were restless to begin our culinary journey across NYC.

Our first stop was Momofuku Noodle House. I had the pork ramen and George had their special Cottage Pie (which was a rendition of a shepard’s pie.) Both were very tasty and satisfying, especially after walking in FREEZING 35 degree weather.

momofuku2.jpg

momofuku1.jpg

After lunch, we decided to explore the city via the subway system and ended up in the Financial District/Battery Park area. We got to see the Statue of Liberty from afar, and even from that distance, I was surprised at how small the statue is. From there, we walked to the site of the World Trade Center. We didn’t take any pictures of it because I felt kind of funny pulling out my camera and posing in front of a wall full of the names of people who died in the buildings during 9/11. Across the street from the WTC was a Century 21 store and since George needed to find a pair of gloves, we decided to stop by before going back to the hotel to get ready for our Vday dinner. Man, I have NEVER felt overwhelmed or claustrophobic shopping. But I thought I was going to pass out or have a panic attack. I think part of the reason was because I was so bundled up when I walked into the store, I was immediately blasted by a wall of heat, added to the sight of seeing waves and waves of people crowding around aisles of clothes and accessories…I seriously wanted to turn around and leave as soon as possible.

bull1.jpg

bull2.jpg

For Valentine’s Day, I told George that I wanted to have pizza. 🙂 So he decided to take us to Lombardi’s, the first ever pizzaria that opened in America over 100 years ago. Located in Little Italy, the pizzaria still uses its original brick oven. They were closed for a few days before Valentine’s Day to re-brick part of the oven. I totally forgot that this was the same place my friend Julie took me to last time I was in NYC (over eight years ago). Anyway, we weren’t sure it was going to be open since they had been closed for the week, but good thing they were because it was GREAT! Too bad we can’t get pizza like that in L.A. I’d probably eat it every weekend and return to my dark days. 😦 Ha.

After Lombardi’s, we ran across the street for dessert at Rice to Riches. I had only seen this place from that Will Smith movie “Hitch.” It’s basically rice pudding in different flavors. Mmmm…

With our stomachs full, we were finally ready for a night on the town. We met up with our good friend Jen at the Blue Owl lounge for drinks. At first glance, this place kind of reminded me of The Well in L.A. — dark, loungy, trendy, crowded, and expensive drinks. The place itself was ok. But the people..hm… let’s just say the people accurately lived up to what a New Yorker’s reputation is to an outsider: rude and bitchy. So we decided to leave and ended up at the Flatiron Lounge where we were joined by my cousin Amanda. 🙂 This place was great, the people were mellow, the waitress was attentive, and the drinks were yummy. Before we knew it, it was almost 2am, and way past our bedtime.

flatiron1.jpg

flatiron2.jpg

Day 3: Friday, February 15, 2008

NYC temp.: Hi 47, Low 32

There were two things I REALLY wanted to do while in NYC. One was to go see the taping of the Today Show at Rockefeller Plaza. The only catch to doing this is that we had to get up REALLY early because the show airs from 7am-9am. Well, it actually goes on until 11am with different hosts, but I really just wanted to see Matt, Meredith, Al and Ann. 🙂 Since we didn’t get back to our hotel until almost 3am, there was no way I could have gotten up early enough to make it to the last taping of the week for the Today Show. 😦 Ah well, next time. When we finally did get up, we met up with Amanda for lunch by her work. Amanda works for L’Oreal and her office building is within walking distance from our hotel. She took us to the best tonkatsu place I’ve ever had.

Katsu-Hama is right across from her building. By the time we got there at noon (early for lunch according to New York standards) there was already a line forming. George noted that it was a good sign and that the restaurant must be good because most of the people eating there were Japanese. Haha. By the time we got our table, the line was out the door and people were willing to wait in the cold outside! I thought they were crazy, but then I tasted the food and knew why they were willing to wait. I got the chicken and salmon combo tonkatsu. It was so good I ate my entire plate within minutes. The great thing about this place is they give each person their own serving of sesame seeds in a bowl with a grinder so you can grind your own for your tonkatsu sauce as fine or as chunky as you want. You also get all the salad, rice, and miso soup you want.

katsu.jpg

After lunch, Amanda had to go back to work so George and I decided to do some shopping for souvenirs. Our first stop was Rockefeller Plaza. Even though we didn’t make it to the Today Show taping, it was cool to stand outside the studio and see the place we see on tv every morning. We then went to FAO Schwartz to look for presents for the kids. At first glance, FAO Schwartz is like any other toy shop, only bigger, better, and nicer. At closer glance, we realized we really couldn’t afford the toys there. Ha. We then traveled all the way down 5th Avenue and walked what seemed like forever, until finally ending at Central Park. But by the time we got there, we really didn’t have much time to explore, so we decided to make a quick stop at the Time Warner Center and then back to the hotel to get ready for our one and only splurge for the trip, dinner at Morimoto’s.

today.jpg

apple.jpg

yao.jpg

chewy.jpg

Ever since Eagle told us about eating at the Iron Chef’s original restaurant in Philadelphia, George and I have been green with envy because we figured that the chances of us ever visiting Philadelphia was slim to none. Which meant tasting the Iron Chef’s food was slim to none. Imagine our delight when we heard that Morimoto opened a restaurant in NYC! So we decided that this would be the one meal we were going to splurge on. (Before we left for NY, we decided that we weren’t going to spend a ton of money at super nice and famous restaurants in NYC and would search out the smaller, cheaper but GOOD places to eat.) Anyhow, our reservation was for 5:30pm so we decided to leave our hotel at 5pm and figured it’d be more than enough time to get to the trendy Meatpacking District, where the restaurant was located, by subway. Little did we know that we’d accidentally take the wrong subway and hop on the EXPRESS train going the opposite direction. By the time we were able to get off, we found ourselves in Harlem — clear on the other side of Manhattan. When we finally found our way back, we were REALLY late for our reservation and was prepared to have them turn us away. I guess the fact that New Yorkers typically eat late and stay out late worked in or favor because when we finally arrived at the restaurant at 6pm–half an hour past our reservation time–the restaurant was still half empty and had plenty of seats left. Morimoto is, in a word, AMAZING. Our waiter was really accommodating and let us share an omakase, and we ordered a sushi combination plate. I felt like a judge on Iron Chef. The food both looked and tasted amazing. And just when we thought our experience couldn’t have been better, we looked up and saw Morimoto himself! It took every ounce of will power in me to keep from jumping up and flashing my camera in his face in true Hollywood paparazzi style! Hahaha…

morimoto.jpg

After dinner, we met up with Amanda and Jen at their fabulous apartment LITERALLY across the street from Madison Square Garden. Their place is big by L.A. standards and FREAKING HUGE by NY standards…and have an awesome view of the city.

We decided to have dessert at P*ong first before heading out for the night. The place was interesting. I had the Chocolate Financier with Ovaltine ice cream which was very tasty but a bit too sweet even for my sweet tooth. Jen had something with arugula ice cream…which surprisingly tasted really good. Anyhow, it’s worth checking out if you’re ever in the city and want something different.

pong.jpg

After meeting up with Jen’s friend, and then hanging out at a local bar, we got hungry again and Amanda took us to eat kati rolls at the Kati Roll Company. It’s kind of hard to describe what a kati roll is…basically, it’s like an indian burrito. You can google it and read about it on wikipedia. The place we went to was a tiny shack with lines out the door at 3am. We didn’t know what all the fuss was about, but Amanda assured us that it was GOOD. And she was right. George hasn’t stopped talking about it since.

bar1.jpg

kati.jpg

Day 4: Saturday, February 16, 2008

NYC temp.: Hi 33, Low 23

The other thing that I really wanted to do while in NYC was to catch a Broadway show with rush tickets. I read about them on the Internet. Basically, you go to the ticket office of the show you want to see the day of and you stand in line for their lottery. If your name is drawn, you get the chance to buy great seats at a fraction of the price. I had been wanting to see Avenue Q for awhile now, and figured this was the perfect opportunity. We planned to wake up early enough to make it to the ticket office on Saturday in time for the lottery for the matinee show, but instead, found myself still sleeping at 10:30am. Ah well.

Since seeing Avenue Q was out of the question, we decided to continue with the weekend of glutton. Our first stop of the day was Soup Man. I had high hopes for the soup nazi. I mean, we’ve been hearing about it ever since the days of Seinfeld. But I must say, this was by far the biggest disappointment of our trip. Not only did we find out that the soup nazi sold his store to a chain and no longer lives in America, his soups were bland and basically not that good. What a waste of an appetite.

We then headed to Soho. Everyone kept telling us how good the corn at Cafe Habana was, so we decided to try it out. And it really was good. Although, I think it’s something we can probably easily make at home too. Basically, it’s roasted corn smeared with this type of Mexican cheese and sprinkled with cayenne pepper and lime. Yum.

habana.jpg

After Cafe Habana, we pulled out our trusty subway map to decide where to go next and was pleasantly surprised to see that Katz’s Deli was within walking distance from our location. Katz’s Deli is the place in “When Harry Met Sally” when Sally did her “thing.” Like all well-known New York places, the place was packed. Their pastrami was better than Carnegie Deli’s but a lot smaller. It’s definitely worth the trip if you’re ever in the area.

For dinner, we followed Christina’s recommendation and went to Pearl Oyster Bar. We had originally planned to go there for lunch, but they were closed AND were going to be closed for an entire week after Saturday. So dinner was our last chance of trying out their famous lobster roll. We didn’t have a reservation, and of course, the place was filled to the brim by the time we got there at 8:30pm. Good thing we only had two people and only had to wait 5 minutes for a counter space to open up. We got steamed clams, lobster roll, and caesar salad. All were REALLY good. The lobster roll wasn’t heavy at all, and the caesar salad was probably the best I’ve ever had.

After dinner…and then drinks with Amanda and Jen, it was time for our daily nosh. Before we even came to NY, Jen had been telling us about the chicken and rice in NYC. We finally got to eat it and it was perfect…chicken was tender, rice was fluffy and the sauce was on fire.

amandajen.jpg

Day 5: Sunday, February 17, 2008

NYC temp.: Hi 43, Low 30

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 6:15pm EST which meant we had enough time for one last meal in NYC. And what Sex and the City addict would I be if we didn’t go to Pastis at least once? Thanks Jen, for an awesome last meal. 🙂 After brunch, George and I collected our bags and left for JFK and our eating frenzy finally came to an end.

I love visiting New York. Who doesn’t? But I now know for sure that I will never be able to live there. Everyone is in too much of a hurry, too focused on getting to the next destination, and everything is too expensive and too trendy. But it is a great place to visit. I mean, if anything, I couldn’t handle being around that much good food and not weigh 300 lbs.

So that’s our trip. Didn’t I promise you a monster entry? Sorry for the lack of food images. I linked all the restaurants we went to to their Web sites. I couldn’t do the food justice anyway with my photo-taking abilities. You should all just read about it and experience it yourselves. Thanks Amanda and Jen for being such great hosts. We’ll see you guys in L.A. and treat you to some Hainan chicken and rice. Haha!

Next stop: Chicago.

Last week was mom and dad’s annivesary….then it was Chinese New Years…then we celebrated nai-nai’s 80th birthday! 🙂 Talk about a busy week!

I remember when we were younger, Chinese New Years was always the biggest day of the year for our family. I’d come home from school and see our entire house decorated with lucky red symbols and our entire family would get together for a feast. And the best part was, of course, the red envelopes stuffed with cash.

Even though we don’t really go all out as we used to with Chinese New Years anymore, and we’re too old to be getting the red envelopes stuffed with cash 😦 , it’s still a true blessing that our entire family still gathers for this important occasion. This year, relatives from Chicago, Atlanta, and even as far as China came back to visit.

Here’s a picture of nai-nai on her 80th birthday with the three most important people in her life 🙂 :

tai1.jpg

Anyhow, we’ll be going on our mini-vacation tomorrow in NEW YORK CITY! Woooohooo!!!! I hear it’s freeeeeeezing there, hopefully we’ll survive after having beautiful 80-degree weather here in L.A. the past couple of days. I’ll try and take a lot of pictures and publish a MONSTER pictorial post when we get back.

Till then,

~GEOYCE.

It’s my parents’ anniversary today! I think it’s their 37th, or something ridiculously long like that. And they’re only in their 50s! Congratulations!!! 🙂

momandad.jpg