Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles

February 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Wayne is a noodle soup fiend. That could possibly have been read as “noodle soup friend” but noodle soups tend to tremble with their broths creating tiny waves from the anxiety of knowing that when he’s around, they’re definitely getting slurp’d. He is always in the mood to eat noodle soup when he’s not craving anything in particular.

We went to Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles after my hair appointment because, while we did a good amount of planning about where we would shop, we seemed to have forgotten to do any planning about where we’d eat. There were cursory plans made on the bus ride up about getting chicken and rice— so nonchalantly planned that it is the visual equivalent of jotting down “chicken and rice” on a used napkin, and not with a sexy lipstick stain, more like greasy, juicy hamburger stain. It was so, so windy that I felt pushed forward when I walked back to the hotel after my hair appointment, and we were both tired. So our criteria for dinner was that it was close, which filtered out all options except those in Chinatown and Little Italy. The day before, we passed by Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles on our way to Excellent Pork Chop House — what is with these names? I’m glad they’re obvious, though– since Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles was located next door. Coincidence? Or laziness? Whichever– probably laziness–, the idea of hand-pulled noodles sounded really good. Wayne loves noodle soup, and I love soft and chewy textures. It sounds like a really simple way to phrase it, but it’s true. I also liked that Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles had the “They Love Us on Yelp!” sticker on the front door.

First thing we noticed was that the restaurant is tiny. The entire sitting area of the restaurant can be seen in the photograph below. There is a small alcove on the left side that isn’t shown but it only sits one person. The kitchen is off to the right where the door is left open so people can watch the noodles being pulled, tossed, and whacked against the table. There apparently were more tables located downstairs but we opted to share a table upstairs because the hostess was hesitant to offer us the downstairs option, and she wrinkled her nose when she mentioned it.

Like Excellent Pork Chop House, there was no pretense here; the hostess was nice and the service was efficient; and tea was served in styrofoam cups. The menu listed few different types of noodles such as hand-pulled, knife-cut, and wide noodles cooked in soup or pan-fried. The menu also offered several different proteins to pair with the noodle options. The ones that stuck out to me were the beef, duck, and dumpling options. Other options include fish balls, ox tail, eel, seafood. There were still more options on the menu that I don’t remember. Wayne and I didn’t get too creative with our noodle-protein pairings and picked hand-pulled noodles with beef and beef tendon and hand-pulled noodles with beef, respectively.

I love loved the noodles! They had a nice bite and were delightfully chewy. The broth tasted rich but lacked some flavor, but it could be that my tongue had been inundated with MSG the previous night at Excellent Pork Chop House. The beef was really thin and had very little fat marbling; it reminded me of the beef used in pho. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; I just personally prefer my beef a quarter of an inch thick and falling-apart tender with a 1:1 ratio of meat to fat.

I definitely want to return for another bowl just for the noodles alone; they were that delicious. But I also want to return to try the hand-pulled noodles with the other protein options, specifically the duck and eel. And, after skimming the Yelp reviews, I really want to try the dumplings.

Some times Wayne’s and my taste buds behave like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory*, but I’m glad it worked out nicely for us this time. And apparently this place was showcased on “Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Food Network: video here. There are some great action shots of the noodles being thrown and whacked into the deliciously chewy noodles served.

 

* “Way to think outside but pressed right up against the box, Sheldon.” — Leonard Hofstadter

 


Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles
1 Doyers St
(between Bowery & Chatham Sq)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 791-1817

Ruffles and shiny buttons

February 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

In the days leading up to my trip to NYC, I was really excited to visit all the vintage and consignment shops I had found on Yelp. There aren’t very many vintage or consignment options in DC, and the options that are here have a small, uncreative collection of overpriced goods. I love shopping in vintage and consignment shops because the inventory of each store is completely unique and ever changing. It requires time to do a lot of digging, but I feel like that extra effort makes finding a great piece so much more satisfying. I love my black tweed skirt with metallic strands interlaced to give it a wonderful sparkle when I walk. I think of it as treasure hunting, and I’m making up the map as I go along. I had no clue what it was I was searching for, but I was looking for something feminine and pretty. Since being teased with sunny days and warm breezes the previous week, I was done with winter– I had mildly tolerated winter during December and January, but I was really starting believe that winter had overstayed its welcome and it was starting do its extra laundry in my dishwasher–and was craving nondescript lovely, super feminine pieces of clothing for spring. Maybe I’m just using spring as an excuse to treasure hunt since I have always loved overtly feminine pieces created with either lace, satin, silk and covered in bows, ruffles, polka dots. I especially love when there is sometimes a little shimmer, glitter, sparkle– obviously, I haven’t really grown out of my fashion tastes from when I was in kindergarten and obsessed with glitter. I think this time around, I just happened to be lucky that my fashion loves align what is in season.

I wasn’t able to find that many pieces in all the thrift, vintage, and consignment stops that I visited. In fact, I only found one silk top, but it is lovely with its ruffles and shiny buttons.

Beautiful & Cheap & Uniqlo

February 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

It kind of felt like Sunday was just all about the blessings in disguise, or maybe I’m just really good at looking on the bright side. When Wayne and I finally came home and I started putting away the spring pieces I bought, I realized that I had left the belt I purchased from Uniqlo at the hotel in NYC. It was actually my favorite purchase all weekend just because it reminded me of the belt one of my favorite bloggers, 9to5Chic, wears from time to time:

Her specific blog entry for this outfit can be found here: here

I especially loved the light brown color and the thick, contrasting color stitching of her Miu Miu belt, but I didn’t like the high price for a Miu Miu piece or the fact that since her belt is six years old, I wouldn’t have a chance to find it unless I happened upon it at a vintage or consignment store. I felt so lucky when I found the belt from Uniqlo because it was similar in the light brown color and the thick, detail stitching. However, the Uniqlo belt had a rounded, brass-colored buckle, which I preferred to her square buckle since I feel the rounded buckle adds some more femininity, in addition to the detail stitching. However, Uniqlo does offer this belt with a square buckle as well.

I bought the brown belt on the bottom

I was a little annoyed — Wayne will probably say otherwise since I ran around our apartment “rawr”-ing like a demented lioness with hand motions that would remind people of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video– that I forgot the Uniqlo belt in our hotel room and that I wouldn’t be going back to NYC for at least a month and Uniqlo doesn’t offer online shopping. BUT! But! A huge, grateful, baby got back and then some but! I found out that even though Uniqlo doesn’t offer online shopping, they do take phone orders! I gave the customer representative the product code, my size, and my credit card information, and, within 7-10 days, the belt will be delivered.  Uniqlo offers UPS ground shipping for seven dollars and two-day shipping for seventeen dollars. I’m not sure if it’s a flat rate or not, but I’m assuming not.

I kind of feel like I paid an additional $24.90 (what can I say? It’s a beautiful, cheap belt, and I love it to death) just for the information that I can make phone orders to Uniqlo since I wouldn’t have done the digging to discover that Uniqlo offers phone ordering without losing my beautiful, cheap, Miu Miu-reminiscent belt that I will now name, “Daisy”. I can’t wait to use this information in the future when I find something on the website and I can’t make the trek to NYC.

Update: I placed my order on Sunday, but it didn’t process until the next business day, Monday. I received the belt today (Wednesday)! So, since I live in Washington DC, I got two day shipping but without having to pay the additional ten dollars! Yay!

The Chinatown Bus

February 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

“When’s the Bolt bus coming? 9:30AM? Okay, good, looks like we’ll be a little early again; maybe we’ll get good seats.”

No, we were wrong.

The Bolt bus was scheduled to leave at 9 AM. We got there just in time to see the bright orange Bolt bus pull away. And the sad thing is that if we knew it was our bus, we could have made a run for it and, arguably, caught it. We just stood there dumbfounded in disbelief as the New York City winds tried their best to literally push us to the ground even though our spirits were there already.

At least for a minute.

Through some quick research, we were all able to schedule bus rides home, but just not together because of a mix-up. Jeff took the next Bolt bus home but there was only one seat available so Wayne and I chose a different bus company that offered rides from New York City to Washington DC every hour, Eastern Travel, or better known as “the Chinatown bus”. There are several different companies that all answer to the name “Chinatown bus”, though Eastern Travel is the main one that I have heard– Wayne has heard of Lucky Star, but, based on all the other things he’s heard, no one would really consider themselves lucky to be traveling on it unless they were like us in our Sunday morning situation. It seems that whenever anyone hears the words, “the Chinatown bus”, they automatically scrunch up their noses and utter, “Yikes,” followed with, “I’m sorry” since people tend to associate “the Chinatown bus” with being extremely cheap, but grimey, smelly, and all around uncomfortable. It’s the reason why people tend to take the Bolt Bus or the Megabus, if for nothing else but a hope that the ride will be more pleasant than what they envision a ride on “the Chinatown bus” to be.

So…I feel weird saying this, but after riding on the Megabus, the Bolt Bus, and “the Chinatown bus”, I would prefer “the Chinatown bus.”

It’s all just personal preference, and I know people are more likely to disagree with me and say that Bolt Bus or Megabus are better in every way: service, cleanliness, ride-ability (am I just making up words again?), etc. The Eastern Travel bus was ghetto. There’s no doubt about that when you see the rear taillight secured to the bus with masking tape and duct tape, and, within the first five minutes, you hear the bus driver angrily yell, “What the fuck?! Move your ass!” with his Cantonese-American accent. But the reasons I liked Eastern Travel are the reasons that people only realize if it’s horrible weather in the middle of winter and you just drank a lot of coffee before realizing you have a weird fear of a shared bathroom on vehicles– two words: explosive diarrhea; another word: farts, the kind that would turn the faces of cartoon characters green with suffocating disgust.

I liked that Eastern Travel offered a waiting station for its riders since Bolt Bus and Megabus typically just pick up its riders at what looks like a regular bus stop sign. I really appreciated the waiting station since Wayne and I were very cold and the gusty winds of NYC weren’t letting up. The seats were more comfortable, at least according to Wayne, who hated his seat on the Bolt Bus even after I switched seats with him because he was convinced his original seat was slowly sliding down forward. Some people might dislike the fact that Eastern Travel makes a 15 minute pit stop at rest stop in Delaware because it makes the travel time longer and seems unnecessary since there is a bathroom on the bus. I, on the other hand, really liked that we had the 15 minute pit stop because I dislike bathrooms on vehicles– I usually will go out of my way to not drink anything just to make sure I won’t need to use the bathroom– and would much rather prefer the bathrooms at the rest stop. I also liked that Wayne and I had a chance to grab some food at the rest stop and stretch our legs. Bolt Bus and Megabus both offer free wifi, and apparently so does Eastern Travel, but Wayne wasn’t able to connect to the wifi on either Bolt Bus or Eastern Travel (he hasn’t ridden Megabus) so I guess there is no preference there. The last reason I would prefer Eastern Travel for our travels to NYC is because the waiting/drop-off station was only two streets away from the hotel where we stayed whereas the Bolt Bus bus stop was several streets away and took us around 20 minutes to walk there while lugging our bags with us. I really liked the hotel Wayne and I stayed; so much so that if we stay in the city again, I would want to stay at that hotel.

It’s kind of weird how it all worked out, especially since it made Wayne and I switch to “the Chinatown bus” as our preferred bus to NYC. And it’s cheaper than Bolt Bus and Megabus since we paid $20 each for our tickets the morning of travel. It was kind of a blessing in disguise since Wayne and I never would have considered Eastern Travel otherwise.

This is not an iPhone ad

February 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Hello, I’m Jenny, and I can’t live without my iPhone*. Okay, let’s be less dramatic. I can’t live without my iPhone when I’m on a trip– even a small weekend trip to NYC, which have been starting to become more typical. But still. You have no idea how odd it is for me to hear myself admit that, because I was always under the assumption that I barely needed a cellphone, and it was only through a series of circumstances that I somehow ended up with an iPhone 3GS. I only got a cellphone in high school because my mom saw me holding my dad’s cellphone and thought the cellphone looked nicer on me. I got pressured into getting a Blackberry from my parents because they thought the Blackberry looked nicer on me than my Krzr, which, I’ll be honest, I used more as a mirror than a phone. I was switched from a Blackberry to the first generation iPhone because my boyfriend got bored of seeing me with a Blackberry and thought the iPhone, even the first generation iPhone, offered better and more functionality than a Blackberry. I switched to the iPhone 3GS so I could use this Kate Spade case:

Aren't the colorful stripes lovely?

Obviously, there’s a lot of superficiality in my electronic decisions; that is if I make any electronic decision at all since a large majority of the time it feels like the decisions were made for me while I was too busy watching the Food Network. Most of my life, I just outsource the task of researching the best fit for a certain electronic, which doesn’t always work out that well since I outsourced the project of researching and finding a replacement laptop for me to my dad. He replaced my laptop with a ThinkPad that will pretty much never die, my little tank of a laptop, Stev-e. This is because I did a lot of bad things with the previous laptop, which involved a lot of spillage and dropping. So in the sense that I can’t do harm to it, it is a good fit. While I know that iPhone is useful and convenient– and oh, God, the games; Wayne loves all the games–I typically don’t use my iPhone during the week, especially since I don’t get reception at work, and barely on the weekends since I spend most of my time with the person I’m most likely to text or call and my laptop is usually nearby. I have it with me still, but it really is just a pretty paperweight. There’s a part of me that thinks that if I were to lose it, I would just have my mom call Wayne’s phone to contact me and not bother with getting a replacement phone for a while.

But this past weekend has proven that I actually use my iPhone so much more than I thought. It was so incredibly useful, and I don’t think I could have survived walking around NYC alone without it constantly in my hand. Well, I mean, I could have, but my life would have been so much harder the past weekend. And it was already hard enough with the crazy strong winds blowing through the city and random flurries suddenly appearing, which was such a huge change to the weather since the previous day in NYC it was a sunny and warm 65F. One very important reason life would have been harder was that I would have had to learn how to properly use a map– and I even had some trouble navigating when I had an interactive map that would track my location as I was walking because I would turn left at a corner when I should have turned right. I get disoriented easily. I’m sure the spinning part of Pin the Tail on the Donkey would have been hilariously scary at childhood parties as I would never be able to find the wall or the donkey and instead wander clumsily around the room with a tiny, sharp weapon. I guess that would be better than spinning me before my attempt to hit a piñata and accidentally setting me loose on a crowd of childen with a large , wooden weapon.

Wayne and I separated on Saturday** since our agendas for the weekend didn’t really line up at all***. He and Jeff wanted to go shopping in SoHo, visit the two Flight Club locations, and spend some time in Midtown to visit the high-end stores. I wanted to go shopping SoHo, go thrift/vintage/consignment store hopping in East Village, and finish up my day in Chinatown to get a cut and color with the stylist who made me understand why some women are so loyal  to their stylists. Even though we all wanted to go shopping in SoHo, we wanted to visit different stores, with the only store in common being Uniqlo. Plus, I didn’t want to interrupt their man-date, no homo.

I found a bunch of vintage and consignment stores on Yelp before the trip to New York, so, at 11AM when most of them opened, I made a beeline– okay, drunken bee since I got a little lost a couple times and walked down the wrongs streets– to East Village where they were all clustered. I also found a couple thrift shops that weren’t on my list of stores to visit but I wandered in since I had happened upon them. Unfortunately, I think I had inflated hopes of finding spring pieces in good condition for a reasonable price. I was hoping to find pieces reminiscent of the 1960’s and 1970’s. But I also didn’t look that hard through all the racks since I was worried about my goal of visiting all the stores and still being able to stop by the hotel to drop off my shopping bags before my hair appointment. There were a couple stores that I would like to revisit the next time I go up to visit, especially since I know that endurance and persistence is key when thrift/consignment shopping.

* For the record, I really just mean any smartphone. I just happen to have an iPhone.
** Wayne started freaking out over this statement at around here, even though he knew I hadn’t finished the sentence, because it sounded like we had broken up. We didn’t.
*** Pretty sure Simon will freak out about here over the fact that Wayne let me wander around NYC alone and without a tracking device. Simon has no faith in my ability to find my way home, and I completely understand that.

Mochi from Minamoto Kitchoan

February 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

I love fresh mochi. Though specifically I love daifukumochi– a sweet paste filling wrapped in pounded rice cake and shaped into a small ball. It’s the image everyone conjures up in their heads when they hear “mochi”. However mochi is just general term for the name of the pounded rice cake that is molded into different shapes or used to cover different fillings. They also think of the cold balls of daifukumochi they find in Asian grocery stores. But the fresh daifuku I love tastes nothing like the grocery store kind found in the refrigerated section that has a self life measured in weeks. They tastes like tough, rubber balls that could be used to angrily pelt someone in the head from afar compared to fresh daifukumochi, which looks lovingly handcrafted to appear beautiful like artwork, feels incredibly delicate since the mochi skin is so soft and squishy, and tastes smooth and deliciously chewy. I also really enjoy the filling, but I just love the mochi. It’s my favorite part. I love the soft, almost gooey chewiness of the mochi skin.

While in Midtown, Wayne dropped by Minamoto Kitchoan to pick up my favorite kind of daifukumochi, mamedaifuku, which is a red bean paste filling that is covered with a layer of mochi and interspersed within the layer of mochi are soft whole black beans. He surprised me with an extra little gift of matchamanju because he knows I love anything with the green tea flavor. The difference between mochi and manju is that mochi is made from pounded ricecake while manju is made of rice powder, flour, and buckwheat flour. Texturally, manju has a flakey crust and a cake-like interior.

Minamoto Kitchoan is a Japanese confectionary store that has its sweets shipped in daily from Japan. I think because of a combination of superficial reasons such as the location of the store, the beautiful decor, and having the sweets shipped over daily from Japan, the price of all the sweets, ranging from just below $3 to $4, are relatively expensive for a small, individual confection. In a way, it’s the equivalent of buying a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery because a singular cupcake is $3.25 and both are delicate sweet and delicious in their own ways. But Minamoto Kitchoan’s mamedaifuku is so good though. It’s the reason why I always return to Minamoto to buy some sweets instead of just window shop the beautifully crafted confections and admire the equally as beautiful decor of the store.

Absolutely delectable mamedaifuku in the display case at Minamoto Kitchoan

Matchamanju and Mamedaifuku, wrapped

Matchamanju and Mamedaifuku, half-eaten

 

 

Minamoto Kitchoan
608 5th Ave
(between 48th St & 49th St)
New York, NY 10020
(212) 489-3747

Excellent Pork Chop House

February 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Wayne and I always seem to eat here at Excellent Pork Chop House during most of our trips to NYC. I was introduced to the restaurant by MiRi when I came into the city to visit her, but apparently Wayne had already been to it before with a friend from college. One would think that while in a city known for its unending number of gastronomically delightful eateries, we would choose some other place to try out instead of always returning to Excellent Pork Chop House. But we usually end up here for our first meal in the city because the food is tasty and familiar; there is no ambiance– tea is served in styrofoam cups and there is always a possibility of having to share a table with strangers– but the service is fast; and we are starving when we first arrive so we can’t be bothered to wait in line or even search for a new place. It’s almost a tradition without our calling it a tradition, and I confess that I start craving the restaurant’s namesake, pork chop over rice, as we near the city. While it is helpful that all the menu items are inexpensively priced at around $5 to $6– for the record, the pork chop over rice is $5.35–, we would go there regardless of the price because the food tastes so deliciously home-y; it’s good comfort food after a long trip up. The pork chop over rice dish is a well-seasoned pork chop that lightly covered with sweet potato powder and is pan-fried until crisp and juicy before being  placed over a bed of rice that is covered with a marinated ground pork sauce, seasoned cabbage, and pickled vegetable, all waiting to be mixed together.

Pork chop over rice

 

 

Excellent Pork Chop House
3 Doyers St
(between Bowery & Chatham Sq)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 791-7007

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