Saturday, March 31, 2007

Spring Break in NYC

Wow. We all needed a break from school. Med school = tiring/exhausting/requires too much brain power. Spring break was such a nice respite from everything the world. Requires no thinking/mind usage. I desperately wanted to go south. South of Chicago, out of the miserable stormy weather in the 40s. Amy and I wanted to head down to Las Vegas, but tickets got out of control expensive, so we decided to do the next best thing. NYC. Not south what I wanted, but fun nonetheless. In came in the wonderful Rachel and the trip was complete. It sure was hard to leave Chicago on Monday tho... warm weather in the 70s...

Here is a photo blog what our escapades/food reviews in THE city. I thank Amy for all the picture taking, mwah.

Day 1: Monday
First thing we do in NYC? Eat pizza. Mike our MOST WONDERFUL/AMAZING/SUPERCOOL/ILOVEYOUBESTFRIENDSFOREVER host showed us around his neighborhood for some good food before heading down. We stopped by Koronet (2848 Broadway) for their famous giant slices of pizza. Note the scale above. Area of pizza > Amy's head.
Got the spinach toppings. Totally unnecessary. Plain cheese is just enough. Lesson learned. Rating: worth going back if in the neighborhood.

We then headed down to the Hungarian Pastry Shop(1030 Amsterdam Avenue, btw W. 110th and 111th sts), recommended by Ms. "New York Expert" Jiyeon.
Mmmmmmmm. We went a little overboard on the pastries, but they were GOOD. Best one? The apple strudel. Flaky/crispy/apple-y/pure joy. Rating: definitely coming back/worth making the trek to upper west side.
Decided to spend the day at the museums on 5th ave. But alas, everything was closed. The Met. The Whitney. The Guggenheim. Got good pictures tho.
So what is there to do on 5th Ave.... hmmm.....
Lookin cool as always.
Rachel, Amy, Dennis = tourists.
Had to go back to one of my favorite Japanese restaurants in the city. Kenka (25 St. Marks Pl., nr. Second Ave.) serves dishes like Tapas, small and definitely affordable. Love the rules on the menu (like only Japanese graffiti on the walls, no sake bombs, the chairs are only for sitting, no masturbation in the restaurant, etc.) Totally weird/totally loving it. Amy got the best drink in town called "Lychee soda". Asked multiple waiters/waitresses know how to make it, but everytime they pointed to the menu, and said "COCKTAIL". Confused much.
Loved my $1.50 beer. Rachel liked her H2O.
Best part? The little cups sugar to make cotton candy outside. Open that mouth.
Work that stick.
Diggin the sweetness. Rating: love/love/love the cheapness. wished someone spoke English.

Day 2: Tuesday
Cafe Lalo (201 W. 83rd St, btw Amsterdam and Broadway) was one of the places I had to hit because I heard rave reviews all over (aka Jiyeon). These kinds of places that are overhyped have shitty food. But NOT this place. My waffles with fruit and cinnamon whip cream. BEST WAFFLES OF MY LIFE. No kidding. I died a little inside. Rachel's lox/bagel was SO FREAKIN GOOD.
Amy's omelette with savory herbs, paired with a scone. YUM.
Mike got the same thing and I don't blame him.
Rating: YES/YES/YES/YES/YES/YES My favorite brunch/breakfast place hands down. Best restaurant of the trip.
After the food, we walked around SoHo to do some major serious shopping. The day before on 5th was a tease. This was for real. My wallet died a little at Uniqlo and my body was dying as well. Something about the coffee at Cafe Lalo + me being extremely exhausted + catching a little cold did not bode well. Anyways, Amy was obsessed about these dumplings that are so juicy, that when steamed it emits this flavorful soup inside. I'm like "soup inside a dumpling"?? No way. Must eat. Chinatown was just a hop/skip/jump away from SoHo, so we headed on over to Shanghai Cafe (100 Mott St, btw Canal and Hester).
Shrimp stir-fry on a bed of fried noodles. DELISH.
Amy thought the place was gaudy, but I thought it was the nicest/cleanest Chinatown restaurant I've been to. Something about the neon flourescent lights. Just classy.
The soupy dumplings...
Suck that up... Personally, I thought the food was way too salty for me. I don't know if it was the sickness talking, but the food was definitely good. Amy and Rachel sure loved it. Rating: would go back for the fast service/clean restaurant/delicious food. awesome restaurant in Chinatown.
Went to the village for some quick errands that needed to be done. Went to Mxyplyzyk (125 Greenwich Ave. at W 13th St.). One of the most awesome stores that you can go to and furnish your apartment. I got this cute cup with carrots on them. I'm using it right now. Rachel got the coolest pen ever. It's a shape of a cactus, and the pen cap is the pot for the plant.Had to do a bathroom stop, so we stopped by Soy Luck Club (115 Greenwich Ave.). Amy's iced green tea was great. Nothing special, nothing worthy of note, but a nice place to go to if in the area. Rating: would go/studyspot if I lived around there, but not worth spending a trip out for the place.Avenue Q is my favorite musical ever, so I had to make Rachel and Amy see it. We all entered for the lottery for the 20 front row seats for $20. Rachel kissed it for good luck, and she got picked 2nd. So AWESOME.
Pee break at the Marriot. WOW. This hotel is super ridiculously cool. The elevators are in the center of the hotel, and the rooms are located on the edges of the building. Not space efficient, but totally cool.
I'm glad they got to see Avenue Q, because at that time, I headed up north to meet with super Amir. Here is Amir's classroom for science. I give him major props for working as one of the toughest jobs ever. He took me out to Jacques-Imos (366 Columbus Ave at W. 77th St) to eat some good Cajun food. I got the shrimp creole, which was absolutely amazing. But the atmosphere of the restaurant made the place special. It was as if you stepped in a middle of a New Orleans restaurant with loud music and dancing waitresses. Rating: FUN place to eat some tasty cajun food. worth checking out again, but won't mind going some place else.
Got to see Mike's studio later that night. He works so hard. Architects are so cool.

Day 3: Wednesday
Totally revived from a good night's rest, we headed out for brunch at Pastis (9 9th Ave, at Little West 12th St.) It was so good to eat outside, it was as if we were eating a wonderful meal in Paris. Stupid meatpacking trucks were parked in front of us, so reality of Chelsea hit us in our face. My chicken sandwich was bleh, but Amy's Croque-Madame was to die for. Basically a slice of a huge baguette soaked in butter, topped with ham, melted cheese and a fried egg. SO GOOD. Also good was the water carafe.
They got the chocolate cake. Too chocolatey for me.
Yeah, eat it. Rating: trendy place for lunch. mmmm. don't know how to place this one. I wouldn't go back. But definitely getting the croque-madame.
MOMA (11 West 53 Street, btw 5th/6th Ave.) was the next stop on the list. We wanted to get cultured. Can I just say now that the weather in the city was BEYOOOOOTIFUL. A tad chilly a few times, but TOTALLY wonderful.
The phallus meets the chalice.
Net balls.
My favorite Dali.
Amy being one with the lilies.
So Sonal told me about free David Letterman tickets at Time Square. So the day before, we stopped the ticket guy for some tickets. And Sonal was right, the guy was legit, but you had to know some Letterman trivia, that thank goodness Amy knew. Anyways, the seeing the show was awesome. Al Franken and Isla Fisher (aka Borat's fiance) were the guests. Wish the guests were more famous, but beggars can't be choosers...
Met up with Amir, Keith and Mike near NYU and got some wonderful dinner in the village at Tio Pepe (168 W 4th St btw Jones and Cornelia St.) This is Mexican food at its finest and affordable too!
Guacamole made right in front of us.
It was so good to meet up with Amir and Keith again. McCoy 5W forever. Omg, got my Yeungling fix too. Best beer ever. Miss it so.
Yum: fajitas were GOOD.
Paella looked GOOOOOOOOD.
Steak fajitas: DROOOOL. Rating: if I were in the neighborhood, DEFINITELY coming back.
After dinner, we had some tea at the Tea Spot (127 MacDougal St at W. 3rd St.) If I were an NYU student, I would definitely come here often, but their teas were bleh. Amy wasn't impressed with her hot chocolate. I wasn't impressed with my rooibos latte. Meh. But I did sure like the sign in the bathroom. Rating: meh.
Later, Amir showed me this Belgian Beer Bar/Vol de Nuit (148 W. 4th St, at 6th Ave.) which had AMAZING beer. I totally wanna go back, and try more beers there. I just realized that they gave me Corsendork beer, which I have sitting in my pantry. Can't wait to try it... The place was literally a HOLE in the wall, but it is one hidden gem. Rating: loving it. wanna go back now.
Amir also recommended this bar/lounge nearby called the Fat Black Pussycat (130 W. 3rd St, at MacDougall St). Man, this place is the coolest place ever. Bar on the first floor. Secret curtains leading to a fancy lounge next door. Downstars for a dance floor and live music. All for free. The performers were soo good. Especially the woman singer who sang "Total Eclipse of the Heart". Soul to the max. Loved it. Plus loved the dancing in between sets. Rating: I want one of these in Chicago NOW.

Day 4: Thursday
Was hard trying to find another brunch place. NYC mornings = brunch and we found one on our way to the Met called Good Enough to Eat (483 Amsterdam Ave at W. 83rd St) and it sure was good enough to eat, and then some. I got the Gramercy Park omelette filled with sharp cheddar cheese and sliced granny smith apples. yum-o. Amy's waffles with bacon bits was interesting in a yum/good way. Rating: good brunch place, but I could explore elsewhere...
On to the Met for cultural education day 2. This picture is what happens when you give the camera to an old lady who is blind. I'm surprised we're even in the shot.
That's better.
Walk like an Egyptian.
Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash...
Rachel wants a sarcophagus for her burial.
Head holding.
Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhh.... yumm.. treasure.
Serious.
Dinner was spent in my K-Town. I haven't had Korean food since I've been back at home, so I totally craved it. Plus, Rachel's never had Korean food, so more the reason to.... We went to 큰집/Kun Jip (9 W 32nd St btw 5th and Broadway)
Bulgogi was pretty good, but not the best. Pretty pricy tho...$20
Loving the side dishes.
Time to be FOBBY!
This picture makes my soondooboo look gross. It was really good.
Amy's bibimbap was GOOD. Rating: this was the 3rd time I've been to this restaurant because I'm too scared to venture out... I need to find another Korean restaurant in the city.
I've always wanted to go to Pinkberry after I've read so much crap on how good it is. There are several locations in the city, and luckily one was next door. I had to figure out why this frozen yogurt was so good, that caused major lines in LA. So I got the original with strawberry topping. Oh man. It was the SHIT. I mean, it tasted like SHIT. Seriously, it was as tho they put Calpis, the white milky carbonated drink in frozen yogurt form. Rating: WHY WHY WHY?? Tastes sooooo bad. Rachel liked it tho...
Up to this point, I've been waiting for the entire trip for this point. MIKA CONCERT!!!! AHHHHHHHHH! Loved his single the first time I heard it. Loved this album when it came out. When I found out he was performing in the city when I would be there, I HAD TO GO.
Waiting in line for the concert. Rachel found her establishment.
I can't believe we got tickets for it. So glad I bought them early....
The opener was pretty good. Sara Barielles was the performer, but I am concerned if she's going to be popular, cuz her Sarah McLachlan/Tori Amos style ain't popular anymore...
Man, Mika knows how to make a show feel special. Clowns were everywhere giving out balloons and making balloon animals. So happy I grabbed a balloon.
He is just so HIGH ENERGY. I love it. Plus, he looks better/gorgeous in person.
Loved his signature MIKA move. One arm raised up, hips jutted to one direction, head tilted. SO FUCKING HOT. I WANT HIS BABIES.
His trademark butt wiggle. LOVED IT.
I hope they fix some of the sound problems for the show. The bass was TOOO loud, so you couldn't hear him sing most of the time. Here's an example:So the encore consisted of the band dressed up in animals... They played ring around the rosie and stripped each other. HILARIOUS.
Mika was obviously the lovable teddy bear. awwwwww. Such an amazing show, one of my favorites ever. Like Rachel said, every song he sang, it was just spot ON. Please come back to the US MIKA!! We want more of you!!!
We were invited to his CD release party after the concert, but we decided to go to the Mean Fiddler (266 West 47 Street btw Broadway and 8 Ave.) to meet up with Amy's friends from Brown. And guess who I ran into.... JULIA! OMG, it was so good to see her. I knew she didn't know Amy very well, so I didn't expect to see her there. So awesome. Funny thing was that Julia is a really good friend of Judy, who at the same was hanging out with my awesome friend Tina. The cosmic powers forced the high school/college friends together....
We had to cut the reunion short sadly to head over to the release party at Spotlight Live (1604 Broadway btw 47th and 48th St.) This place was the place to be. Even better was the free cover, free food and FREE DRINKS. Just found out that the place wasn't even open yet to the public. SO HOTT. Saw the man of the night mingling around. And then I saw the BLUE HAIR. I had to go talk to Mr. Preggerz himself.
With several drinks and down, we headed down to the VIP section. Just cuz we're so hot this happened. Mika is so nice in person. Amy grabbed the setlist from the performance, so he got that signed. UNBELIEVABLY AWESOME.
Got to hang out with the bassist, who is totally nice.
Got to dance around with Perez which was the highlight of my trip. Didn't get to talk to him for too long, he was more than tipsy...So pretty in person. What a way to end the trip huh? LOVED IT.
Celebration.
I heart NYC.
w00t!
The night was young, so we headed down to Splash (50 W. 17th St. btw 5th/6th Ave.) for some dancing. $10 cover wasn't bad at all... Good music, but a little sketch nonetheless. Would go back earlier since it was no cover.... Fortunately Cafeteria (117 7th Ave at W 17th St) was on the corner and we had to eat... Man, remember Cafeteria? I went to the one in Miami South Beach and I fell in love (with the waiters that is, the food was good too). Love how it is 24 hours, but the service was SO FREAKIN SLOW. But the food was GOOD.
Reminded me of Miami and wanted to go back... sigh.
Rating: would go for the food, not for the wait...

Day 5: Friday
Sadness. Day we left. There wasn't much to do in the city besides eating, which is the best thing you can do. Mike showed us to Kitchenette (1272 Amsterdam Ave at W 123 St.) Loved the comfort food. Their turkey sausage and peach pancakes were so good. Damn, why is the food so consistently good in NYC? I just loved the atmosphere of a quaint little cafe in the restaurant. Rating: would go back I saw it on the street/needed a brunch place in upper west side.
Spring break was a definite SUCCESS. Loved that Amy and Rachel came for the ride and thanks so much to Mike for providing us shelter. LOVE YOU GUYS. Sigh. I'm going to be depressed now. Not looking forward to school.