Like most Cornellians, I find that during the school year, amidst all the prelims and deadlines, it can be hard to set aside some time to treat myself and take things slow, which is why I decided to indulge in food, museums, and strolling around when I spent my Spring Break in New York City.
I won’t be writing about every experience I had – only the ones I found to be interesting and fun. Originally, I was going to dedicate just one article to Spring Break, but I’ve decided to split the piece into two parts (one on food and another on museums), since there were too many highlights!
132 West 31st Street, NY, NY 10001
4 / 5 stars
Since I arrived in NYC on Friday night, I was able to spend the entirety of Saturday with one of my best friends from high school, James! We met up in the morning and got brunch at one of the Friedman’s in Midtown. James ordered their popular avocado toast, which is mashed avocado on toast with mixed greens and two eggs prepared in any style you’d like on the side, while I ordered chicken and cheddar waffles with jalapeño maple syrup. James told me his dish was fresh and delicious and that the juxtaposition in the texture of the mushy avocado with the crunchy toast made for an interesting bite! As for me, I’ve always loved chicken and waffles, so I was stoked to try out this funky combo of cheddar and jalapeño flavors Friedman’s offered. I thought Friedman’s chicken and waffles were good: the cheddar in the waffle was just detectable; the chicken was crunchy, but I thought it could have had more flavor or seasoning; and the jalapeño maple syrup was delicious and actually spicy!
MOMOFUKU MILK BAR
15 West 56th Street, NY, NY 10019
3.5 / 5 stars
After brunch, James and I walked around the Museum of Sex, the Flatiron District and Central Park. When my feet were starting to get sore and James was hungry again, we headed towards the closest Momofuku Milk Bar to have a taste of their famous “crack pie” and cereal milk soft serve. James, who has travelled to NYC plenty of times before and is currently spending this quarter doing an internship there, said that both of these sweets were delicious, but I thought he was over-hyping it, so I wasn’t expecting much. I wouldn’t say I was blown away, but my expectations were definitely exceeded. I can see where the crack pie gets its name from, as its buttery flavor and texture can become slowly addictive. The soft serve tasted just like cereal milk (the leftover milk in your bowl when you finish your cereal that now has a hint of the flavor of the cereal in it)! It had a subtle sort of tangy, almost sour taste to it. Oh, and you can also ask for the some cereal to be sprinkled onto the soft serve. I don’t find myself ever craving crack pie or cereal milk soft serve, but I’d definitely stop by if I were in the area again.
220 East 14th Street, NY, NY 10003
5 / 5 stars
Although we only stopped by Momofuku for a snack, we ended up becoming even hungrier afterwards (perhaps this was due to the THIRTEEN MILES we had walked that day!), so James and I headed straight to dinner at Vanessa’s Dumpling in East Village. When we arrived, the place was pretty packed, since Vanessa’s Dumpling sells super cheap but crazy delicious Chinese food. James and I had both been there before, so we immediately knew what we wanted. I ordered a sesame pancake with roast beef,
boiled chives and pork dumplings…
… and a sesame pancake sandwich with roast pork, which I saved for lunch the next day.
Although we Cornellians are lucky to have some of the nation’s best dining hall food, I have yet to find any Chinese food in Ithaca that satisfies my cravings…cravings that Vanessa’s Dumpling simply obliterates. I don’t know who Vanessa is, but if I ever do find her, I’d give her a big wet kiss on the cheek because she makes authentic Chinese food that’s so hearty and flavorful (and, admittedly, a little too greasy), it makes me homesick.
WAFELS AND DINGES
Bryant Park (Corner of 6th Avenue & 42nd Street), NY, NY 10018
4 / 5 stars
The next day, I decided to indulge my sweet tooth by trying “de throwndown wafel” from Wafels and Dinges at Bryant Park, which, according to the menu, is the “legendary victor of the battle with the great Bobby Flay, with speculoos spread, whipped cream & speculoos cookie crumble:”
Ughhh, that waffle was so good, and the speculoos spread was gooey, but even I thought it was a tad too sweet. By the time I finished eating it all, I got that dull ache you get in your stomach when you know you’ve had too much of something, and I wanted to pass out, so beware.
11 West 32nd Street (inside Food Gallery 32), NY, NY 10001
3.75 / 5 stars (bun + delimanjoos = 3.5; pocket bun + taiyaki = 4)
Later that day, I went to Koreatown to try out Mama, a pastry joint that is part of a Korean food court called Food Gallery 32. I ordered a spicy pork pocket bun,
a bacon kimchi bun,
a Nutella croissant taiyaki (hey fishy fishy)…
(Just look at that rich Nutella oozing out)
… and eight pieces of chocolate-covered, custard-filled delimanjoos.
Let’s begin with the savory: I found the bacon kimchi bun to be underwhelming, since I could barely discern the bacon from the kimchi and noodles despite a certain smoky taste the bun had. However, I loved the spicy pork pocket bun, as the pork was so tender and spicy, and the vegetables that came with it added a nice tangy flavor that blended well with the meat, making me wish I’d gotten another one. I’ve never tried Korean dessert before, but the cute, fish-shaped Nutella croissant taiyaki was a delicious introduction to Korean sweets; the pastry was still warm yet crispy when I bit into it, and there’s nothing more heartwarming than warm Nutella and chewy bread! The delimanjoos, while also fish-shaped, were a lot smaller than the taiyaki and tasted okay–I mean, I got less of a dessert vibe and more of a third-grader’s-recess-snack vibe from them. The custard wasn’t too sweet, and the little bit of chocolate dip at the end was just right.
600 9th Avenue, NY, NY 10036
5 / 5 stars
For dinner the following night, I got a poke bowl (think Asian rice/salad bowl) from Red Poke, which I found out about because it was only a block or two away from my older sister’s apartment! Although Red Poke offers signature bowls, they also allow you to “build your own bowl,” which is exactly what I did. Their ordering system is pretty cool–they give you laminated sheets on which you write your name and circle the items you would like in dry-erase marker. I ordered a large bowl of seasonal greens with raw tuna, raw salmon, cucumber, hiziki seaweed, cilantro, red onion, edamame, corn, pickled mustard greens, scallion, masago, pineapple, seaweed salad, toasted seaweed, crispy garlic, sesame seeds, crispy shallots and their signature red poke sauce. Yeah, I know, they have so many options, which makes their $13.50 price for a large bowl totally worth it! Anyway, their ingredients (especially the raw fish) are so fresh, and although I thought I might have added too many toppings, I was able to discern each and every single one of them. If a poke bowl joint ever popped up in Ithaca, I would seriously spend all my money there.
2 West 32nd Street, NY, NY 10001
4 / 5 stars
Skipping to my second to last day in the city, I was craving some kimbab, which I would describe as Korean sushi, and the specific place I settled on was E-Mo, which is actually Korean for “auntie.” E-Mo is run by a middle-aged Korean couple–the wife prepares the kimbab and her husband brings in the ingredients and other supplies. They offer eleven types of kimbab, making for a simple menu, from which I ordered beef, spicy tuna and spicy squid kimbab. Each roll contains about thirteen pieces, which could actually fill you up for lunch.
Because the e-mo at E-mo makes the kimbab to order right in front of you, they’re definitely fresh, which means the flavors are stronger and rice is soft and chewy. Of the three, the beef bulgogi was definitely my least favorite because I wasn’t really getting any flavor from the beef, but maybe that’s just because the spiciness of the tuna and squid desensitized my taste buds. However, I really did like the spicy tuna and squid rolls! The tuna was moist and smooth, while the squid was chewy and slippery, and both had just the right amount of spice. Plus, the vegetables in the kimbab absolved me of the guilt I felt in eating all that rice.
Looking through this blogpost, I’m just starting to realize that most of the stuff I ate over break was Asian food, but that’s exactly what Spring Break is about — experiencing things you can’t on your college campus! And for those of you who are spending the summer in the city, I hope I’ve inspired you all to try out a few of the places I went to!