On the morning of October 1, 2016, we packed up and took the hotel shuttle to the Rahway train station to get to NYC. We had to wait a while on the platform and it was overcast and kind of chilly. When the train finally came, we were shocked with how crowded it already was – it was 9am on a Saturday! DB was able to snag a seat and Niner only was able to get one for the last 2 stops.
Our Airbnb was in Chinatown and we made arrangements with our hostess so we could drop off our luggage as soon as we got into the city rather than having to wait until 4pm at the actual check-in time to do so. After we dropped off our stuff, we walked down the street and had an early lunch at a little spot a block over from our place called Tasty Hand-pulled Noodles. After a fresh, delicious, and super affordable meal, we headed northbound to the Bronx. We stopped for some coffee in Harlem at the Sugar Hill Café.
Once we got our dose of caffeine we hopped back on the subway and made our way to Yankee Stadium to catch a game with our old friend and our favorite Yankee fan Marc (Aka: Cooter &/or Cooties).
We arrived early so we could walk around and check out the beautiful stadium and its unique offerings, including their own butcher shop!
By the time that Marc arrived, we did so much jibber jabbering, we didn’t get a pic with him. After we watched the Yankees beat the Orioles, Marc took the subway with us back to our neighborhood, like a gentleman.
Then it was time for a late dinner. We had a hard time finding a place that wasn’t busy, and everything we passed by was packed! Finally, we decided that if we are going to have to wait, we might as well wait for something with a ton of hype, so we took a number at the famous Joe’s Shanghai with over 4,000 reviews on Yelp .
The wait was rather long and it was sprinkling. When we finally sat down, it was a relief for our tired feet, as we had to stand outside by the curb the entire wait. We ordered their signature “soup dumplings,” xiao long bao. We are by no means Chinese dumpling experts, but of the 4 different places we have had this dish, this was just 2nd place. Don’t take that as a complaint – they were great, just not “wait 45 minutes on a New York curb while it is sprinkling” great.
When we were done with dinner, we walked the short distance to our room and called it a night.
The next day we slept in and took our time getting ready for another long day roaming around the city. Our first stop was the popular and trendy Asian eatery Momofuku Noodle Bar. Thankfully, since we were there not too long after they opened, we got seated at the bar fairly fast. DB got the ramen and Niner got the wings and the lovely little alcoholic peach smoothie. When we went to look out the window to the street, we made eye contact with Aziz Ansari as he was chowing down at the end of the bar.
When we were finished with our lunch, we opted for dessert at the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. DB went inside to order something to share and 9er sat on a bench outside to rest her back. DB can get overwhelmed by menus she is not familiar with, and this was one of those moments. Luckily, a cute lil gay dude in front of her ordered a “Bea Arthur – A core of vanilla soft-serve that has been injected with velvety dulce de leche. Cover that with crushed Nilla Wafers and you’ve met Bea Arthur. Those golden crumbs, leaving a trail behind (and on) you like one of Maude’s long-in-the-back vests, will have you remembering this ice cream cone until laundry day and beyond.” DB expressed to the dude that his cone looked good and his response was something like, “Get it, girl. It’s worth it.” And so it was.
Our next stop was the Morgan Library. DB came across photos of this place while on Pinterest and we were unaware that the admission would bust our budget. We walked around the places of the library that did not require admission, thankfully, one of which was the restroom. As we were about to leave, an elderly couple offered us their admission tabs! Ah, the kindness of strangers… and the will of two traveling girls to do something less-than ethical.
The Morgan Library is truly a stunning space and one day when we are both gainfully employed again, we will be sending them a donation in the amount of two admission tabs in order to keep the good work that they do there going!
Coincidentally, we happened to be visiting while they had a special exhibit for one of DB’s favorite authors, Charlotte Brontë.
When we were finished at the Morgan Library, we hopped on the subway and headed to Spanish Harlem to visit DB’s cousin Sonia who had just moved to the city that week to start a new job.
We checked out her new apartment then walked over to D’Amore Winebar & Ristorante for some drinks, yummy snacks, and catching up.
After we bid Sonia farewell, we got on the subway again and headed to the Upper West Side for our sushi reservation we made weeks in advance at Sushi Yasaka. At this point in our trip, it felt like we had not had top-notch sushi in ages (which in reality was in Seattle back on August 7th). As usual, the reviewers on Yelp did not let us down and we enjoyed a fantastic yet not overly-priced sushi dinner and it was the perfect fix.
When dinner was over, we decided to get some brews and at the same time visit the home of the gay rights movement the Stonewall Inn. We walked to the monument outside the bar, but the gates were closed. Being that it was pretty early in the evening, it was easy for us to find two seats at the bar. The TVs were playing pop and dance music videos and the speakers were blaring. We ordered two bottles of Sam Adams and with those we were given a big bowl of hot buttered popcorn with M&Ms mixed in, which was a surprisingly awesome combo.
Just as we finished our beers, it started to get busy and we headed back to our place in Chinatown for some much needed rest.
When the next day came, the first order of business was of course, food. We made our way to Freemans, a classy, but funky eatery on the Lower East Side. We shared the brussel sprouts and lamb burger with fries and everything was fantastic.
Next up, was a trip to the bustling Chelsea Market and the unique High Line park.
Changing pace from controversial outdoor sculptures, we went to the world renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art to take in more traditional artwork and an amazing view of the city.
For dinner, we hopped on the subway to Brooklyn for Jay Z’s favorite pizza at Lucali in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood. But, we didn’t go there on Bae and J’s recommendation, rather, our friends Billy and Julie have been raving about it for ages and we promised them we would check it out. We get there just minutes after it opens and every seat at every table is occupied and there is a line at the door. When it is our turn to see the hostess, she tells us it will be an hour, which we were expecting based on what our friends told us and the Yelp reviews.
We walked down the street to Bar Bruno for a guacamole appetizer and a couple cans of overpriced beer. Just as the waiter brought us our check, we started to get uneasy thinking we didn’t kill enough time, then Lucali called and we closed our tab really fast.
Lucali is small with absurdly dim lighting. The menu is very limited – only pizzas and calzones and each topping is $3 each. We opted for the pepperoni pizza and added the only two free toppings which are garlic and basil.
We watched the dough get hand kneaded, rolled, and tossed. Each pizza is placed into an epic stone oven. Needless to say, in addition to simply waiting for a table, you get to wait for your pizza as well. It is a suburb, high quality pizza: if you have time and patience it is well worth it.
Once our all-night quest for epic pizza was complete, we headed back to our room for some sleep.
In the morning, we packed up, ate our left-over pizza, and checked out of the Airbnb. Our first stop was a chain pastry shop called Tous Les Jous for a little pastry and some coffee.
When we were done there, we strolled along to take in the sights of Chinatown.
Then we decided to be rebels and ruin our lunch by having dessert first. Actually, it was more of a logistical route based decision… we went to Frozen Sweet to try the Thai rolled ice cream that was a viral sensation on social media at the time. We ordered the Thai tea and lychee, which was fantastic! So cute and so tasty!
Lunch was at a little joint in Hell’s Kitchen called Pure Thai Cookhouse . The place is very small, but they were so nice about finding a place for us to sit with our big backpacks. We ordered the wok basil with ground chicken and the jungle rice; both were so flavorful! Some of the best Thai food we have ever had. To drink, Niner got herself the NY brewed Mermaid Pilsner by Coney Island Brewing Co. It was served super cold and was very refreshing because our food had a spicy kick to it.
Our next stop was the beautiful and historic NY Public Library Main Branch at Bryant Park. Being that the musical Hamilton was all the rage (at this point in time, it still is) there was an exhibit on the Founding Father. We also checked out the Map Division, which is one of the largest collections of maps in the world.
DB was in the mood for another sweet treat so we paid a visit to the Momofuku Milk Bar. We bought some of their delicious cookies to give as gifts and DB got herself the cereal milk soft serve.
Then, it was time for us to leave the Big Apple and head for the Garden State, New Jersey to stay with our friend Marc and his lovely wife Jayne.
Our next post will be about our adventures in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Delaware.