Foodie Trips in New York City: two summers in a row!
For two summers in a row, I took my older son to vacation in New York City. We both love the hustle and bustle of the city but most of all we love the culture and the food. There is no place on earth like New York City!
On our first summer trip, all we wanted was relax, eat, and explore all the cool restaurants we don’t have in Dallas. We visited popular restaurants owned by famous chefs. On the second trip, it was more culturally stimulating that included Columbia University and United Nations but of course we did not disregard New York’s gastronomic culture. There were no visits to the usual touristy destinations (except for the Top of the Rock) in both trips since we have seen most of them in the past. Next month, we are going back again together with my husband and my younger son, combining the trip with Washington, D.C.
We stayed at Hyatt 48 Lex (the only Hyatt boutique hotel) on both times. There’s a lot to love about this hotel. It’s small and personal. The rooms are modern and clean. They don’t have a lobby but the guests can go to the second floor where you can help yourself with cappuccino, tea, water, and juice anytime. In the morning they’ll have pastries and fruits out on the table and in the evening, there’s usually desserts.
PART I: Eating in NYC
Eataly is a unique food experience. It’s a market food hall, including sit down restaurants and each one has its specialty—fish, pizza, pasta, and also vegetarian. My older son and I shared a Caprese pizza and pappardelle pasta. He liked the pizza better than the pasta and I preferred the pasta. It is quite touristy but it sure is a fun place to go visit especially if it’s your first time in New York. So far I’ve only tried the La Pizza and Pasta restaurant.
Bobby Flay is one of my favorite celebrity chefs. I have never tried any of his recipes but I love his laid back style. At Mesa Grill, I tried was what on the Restaurant Week menu and my son ordered a burger from the regular menu. I give the food a rating of B plus and the service was immaculate. I had a bite of his burger—it was moist and delicious. Exactly what I would’ve expected from Bobby Flay’s burgers. After all he is the king of grilling 🙂
**update: Mesa Grill had closed down but Bobby Flay had opened up another restaurant
Having lived in Tokyo for 6 years, I can proudly say I know sushi well. I can tell the difference from a mediocre to an excellent sushi. Sushi is perhaps my most favorite food to eat, preferring it over anything. I can definitely say Morimoto delivered—the sushi rice was the right texture, it had the right amount of vinegar and the fish was fresh. We had toro tartare (quite expensive but very popular and very good). We had the usual sushi rolls- salmon roll, California roll, and shrimp tempura roll. We also ordered rock shrimp tempura for our hot appetizer. Morimoto is not a budget restaurant. Expect to pay a lot.
It is not easy to find good ramen restaurants in Dallas and so Momofuku was in my list of must-go-restaurants. The place is small and as expected very crowded. It was about 45 minutes to an hour wait when we went. Fortunately the ramen was delicious (I chose the Momofuku ramen). My son wished he ordered extra eggs (it would’ve made it even more enjoyable). The broth was light yet very flavorful. I also loved the pork buns .Momofuku is a bit on the pricey side but worth trying. Next time I will try Ippudo and see which is better.
**Update: on our third summer in NYC, we did try Ippudo. They had more items in the menu than Momofuku. I thought their ramen was equally good as Momofuku’s and just as popular and as crowded.
Located in the Meatpacking district, Buddakan was hard to find since the restaurant’s sign was not clearly marked. I had to ask people passing by for help and most didn’t know where it was. After twenty minutes of going back and forth on the same street, we finally found it. It was in a plain and unassuming building but inside was quite the opposite. We were assigned to a table in a very dark corner of the restaurant. The poor lighting (it was actually the restaurant’s ambience) made it so difficult for us to read the menu. Although the restaurant was vibrant with trendy decor it wasn’t very inviting. Despite its unassuming location, the scene was pretentious. Our waiter was also quite rude and worse, the food was mediocre. The only reason I wanted to patronize this restaurant is because I was a huge Sex and the City fan (this is the place where Carrie and Big celebrated their engagement). As expected, my older son was not too pleased I brought him there. However, if the food were up to our standards, then he could’ve perhaps enjoyed it.
When we were in Paris a few years back, we went to Laduree in their Champs-Élysées location. I fell in love after the first bite of their luscious macarons! Laduree has raised the bar for macarons. Nothing else I’ve had can compare to Laduree. Unfortunately, the only location in the U.S. is in New York City. The Madison Avenue location only has the boutique but Soho has just opened up not too long ago and it has both the boutique and the restaurant.
Harney and Sons
It was raining in Soho and stopping for tea at Harney and Sons seemed like the perfect thing to do. I have missed going to tea shops since we moved back to the States. Coffee shops, such as Starbucks, do not provide the serenity or calmness found in tea shops.
PART II of our NYC trip
Before falling in love with Harvard, My son was first in love with Columbia, partly because of its location. Although New York University (NYU) is in the city, he wasn’t interested in a university that didn’t have a campus. Columbia, as expected, was definitely impressive. It was huge yet small enough not to get lost inside the campus. Check it here if you are interested to learn more about this Ivy League university.
We were hoping that the Delegates Dining room will be open but the United Nations was still under renovation last summer. Because of it, other areas were closed off to the public. Although the tours were still ongoing, we decided to go (even if we knew we won’t get a complete tour). Update: we were able to dine at the Delegates Dining Room the following year and wrote a blog about this wonderful place.
Fun Fact: did you know that when you are inside the United Nations you are technically leaving the US and entering a new territory belonging to the member countries? There are about 192 flags representing all the member countries. This tour is a must see if you are interested in international politics. The young teens in our tour seemed interested and attentive although I wouldn’t recommend this for children under the age of 10. This tour inspired Joshua that to work for the World Health Organization (as a doctor) someday.
Metropolitan Museum of Arts
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world’s largest and finest art museums. It could get overwhelming inside so make sure to to get calibrated before going and choose only to see what might interest you. For more info, go to the museums official website and see what events that are currently going on. http://www.metmuseum.org
And we eat more in NYC….
Maharlika and Jeepney, A taste of the Philippines
Filipino restaurants are almost non-existent in Dallas. In fact, Houston is where you will find the large Filipino community in Texas. Reading about the great reviews of Maharlika restaurant, I thought that we should also delight our tastebuds with Filipino food in this foodie trip. Located in the heart of East Village, this small yet cozy, restaurant is known for its playful, fusionized Filipino cuisine (think chicken and ube waffles). Not the traditional authentic Filipino food but still quite good.
Jeepney is the sister restaurant of Maharlika (the same owner). Here, they served up a wide sampling of dishes (from chori burger to more authentic Filipino dishes such as arroz caldo). We came for the halo-halo (a popular Filipino dessert of crushed ice with milk and fruits, topped with ice cream and flan).
Hangawi is a Korean restaurant specializing in vegetarian dishes. In January of 2013, we made a conscious effort to eat more plant-based foods. We have been successful for a while but living in Texas, where beef is abundant and very good, it was a struggle to stay away from meat. All our friends are meat eaters and it was a challenge to get them to change their eating habits. Although we still eat meat, we continue to eat vegetables as much as we can. We loved the food at Hangawi. We ordered from the Restaurant Week menu that came with three different types of savory Korean pancake for the appetizer. My son had bibimbap for his main entree and I had crispy mushrooms with sweet and sour sauce.
The restaurant’s decor is reminiscent of the colonial style during the French occupation in Vietnam. The cuisine is Vietnamese with a touch of French.
….and more macarons!
Joshua and I did a lot of walking and often took breaks— either to shop or to have an afternoon tea. We always searched for cafes that served our favorite, French macarons. Since Laduree in Madison Avenue had no dining option, we wanted to try La Maison Du Macaron on west 23rd street.
Update: here’s a blog post on the Laduree Soho location
We are quite loyal to Laduree but I must say, this place had delicious macarons as well. The cafe was spacious and had comfortable seating.
This concludes our two-part trip to New York City. Two consecutive summers. Two summers of culture and eating! In three weeks, we are DC bound.
Thank you, merci, salamat, danke