December 13, 2017

GRACE’S GROVE | Boujee Freshmen Take on NYC

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I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving Break! Like 80% of Cornell’s freshman population, I headed over to New York City for a nice and homey friendsgiving. There’s a lot of things to do in the city, like chilling with family, going sightseeing, and doing touristy things. But it just so happens that my friends and I are all super boujee and decided to go to these Instagram-worthy spots. I highly recommend checking out some of these places, if not all of them, on your next trip to the city!

1. BCD Tofu

Courtesy of Eat and Travel With Us

As soon as we hopped off the bus, we headed straight to K-town for some nice and hearty tofu stew at BCD Tofu. Let’s just say that our deprived taste buds were satisfied for the first time in 3 months (a.k.a. since coming to Cornell). For every tofu pot that you order, you also get one fried mackerel, which is a very good deal, for those of you who don’t eat Korean tofu pot often. I don’t eat seafood, but my friend Harry says that the mackerel was, “tantalizing and juicy, and they cut out the eyes for you so you wouldn’t stare into its soul as you ate it.” But anyhow, the tofu pot was a great way to warm up and recharge for the next three days of pure adventure!

2. Boba Guys

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For our next stop, we headed for some dessert and much needed boba at Boba Guys NYC. The Boba Guys in San Francisco is a legend and was always a staple, so we all had very high expectations for this boba. It was our chance to escape from Ithaca’s Kungfu Tea and Panda Tea Lounge! The storefront of Boba Guys was just as we remembered from Californiaplastered with an anteater logo, clean, minimal, and overall boujee-looking. We ordered a Strawberry Matcha Latte (right), which is one of Boba Guys’ classics, and a Hojicha Milk Tea (left). Here’s when things started going downhill. The first sip that we took, we realized that NYC boba guys is way sweeter, and the boba was small, hard, and sad. So I guess our conclusion was: California is where the good boba is at.

3. Cha An

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After getting Boba Guys, we went headed to dessert #2 at Cha An. The wait was 30 minutes, if that says anything about its popularity, but we were not disappointed when we finally got in. My group of friends ordered the Black Sesame Creme Brulee (upper right), the Mochi Mochi (lower left), the Seasonal Special (upper left), and the Matcha Affogato (lower right). I was thoroughly impressed by all of these, and even more importantly, they made for wonderful additions to my Snapchat story.

The Seasonal Special was composed of layers of sweet potato flavored desserts, like sweet potato jelly, caramel cream, maple ice cream, mochi, and a sweet potato pastry/cookie. It even had a cute glazed maple leaf for decoration! The sweetness made it a great binge-eating food, even though we probably all got diabetes as a result of this. The creme brulee also did not disappoint, but the black sesame ice cream on top definitely stole the spotlight. If you haven’t tried black sesame ice cream before, I would 10/10 recommend. It tastes rich without all the fats and is just a classic dessert that is satisfyingly sweet without the nasty sick feeling that comes from eating too many desserts. Next, the Mochi Mochi was a delicate combination of amazing tea flavored (hojicha) ice cream and soft, supple mochi pieces. I think this was the lightest one of the desserts, and it was perfect for an after-meal dessert eaten over conversation with friends. Last but not least, the most unique point of the Matcha Affogato was that it had a little cup of sake that you had to pour over the ice cream (interesting, right?).

Here are my overall recommendations: If you want something sweet and creamy but unique, get the Black Sesame Creme Brulee. If you want something refreshing and simple, go for the Mochi Mochi. If you want some classic matcha but with a kick, get the Matcha Affogato. And if you dig being super extra, go for that Seasonal Special.

4. Spot Dessert

Spot Dessert was one of the least boujee locations we went to. The restaurant was formatted such that you could get different combos of “tapas,” which were individual plates of desserts, and share with your friends. I was with a group of four people who all wanted to try as many different tapas as possible, so we went for the combo with four tapas.

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The very first tapa that we tried was the Matcha Lava Cake, which is the one that can often be found on Facebook videos. Making the first cut to the lava cake was probably the most satisfying experience on earth. The warm matcha and chocolate syrup just oozed out of the cake and created a heavenly mess of sweetness. The warm cake contrasted with the cold and refreshing matcha ice cream, and the textures of all the components complemented each other. I was very glad to have started off with this tapa.

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Next, we tried the Big Orange Chocolate Mousse. This tapa was kind of surprising because we all thought it would have a soft texture, but we quickly found out that it was actually pretty hard. In my opinion, the chocolate mousse part was pretty average. It was a solid chocolate cake, but all chocolate cakes are pretty great. What sets this tapa apart is the orange cream and outer layer. Although it was chocolate and cream based, you could really taste the citrus in each bite, which complemented the sweet chocolate cake well. The presentation of this dish was also cute and unique.

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If we’re talking about unique presentation, though, The Harvest definitely wins out. It is definitely a dessert that you would take a photo of and show your friends. This tapa is composed of a tiny pot filled with custard cream topped with cookie crumbs and a decorative plant. A small pitcher of milk tea sits on the side, and a smear of raspberry ice cream finishes it off. Eating is all about the experience, and it was definitely fun to pour the mini pitcher of milk tea into the pot and see the liquid soak in. Taste-wise, the custard was not very memorable, but, as always, the raspberry ice cream provided a pop of tartness that served as a good palate cleanser for all the sweet things we were having.

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To finish off our “meal” at Spot dessert, we had the Yuzu Eskimo—a Japanese dessert composed of frozen yuzu cream bars with oreo crust. To be completely honest, when I saw this tapa I didn’t expect it to taste good. The blocks were super hard, and it looked pretty dry. I was proven wrong, however, as soon as I took my first bite. After all the sweets we had eaten, the strong citrus taste of the yuzu revived me. And I was pleasantly surprised by how accurate the taste was to fresh yuzu. As a child, I used to eat a lot of yuzu, but the taste had been long lost in my memories. So I was thoroughly impressed that this block of frozen cream could bear such a close resemblance to what yuzu really tasted like.

If you go to Spot but have fewer friends to share tapas with, I would first try the Matcha Lava Cake and the Yuzu Eskimo desserts. I promise that you will have no regrets whatsoever.

So there it is! A list of some of the boujee Asian restaurants and dessert spots that I went to over this Thanksgiving break. I actually went to a lot more food locations, but these four were the most memorable and relevant. And one last word of advice: Don’t try to eat all of these things within six hours like I did. Your stomach and your wallet will cry a river of tears.