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Another family heads to New York


IR Chef Salad
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Greetings,

My family will be spending an unexpected day in NYC THIS SATURDAY. As I directly replied to Kim Shook re: her excellent description of a recent New York trip, we are from Richmond, VA. However, I am originally from Queens, and spent most of my adolescence in Princeton, NJ, with stops in Philadelphia and overseas. But I have been in Richmond for 26 years, so I am not as in the loop as I would like to be. As the years have passed and my family has taken root in Richmond, I get back to the Northeast less and less.

I am no stranger to food. I was a relatively successful executive chef (The Track, Richmond, VA) for 15 years before leaving the restaurant biz after 20 years.

But, I need help navigating all the changes and ups and downs in the city. Here is what we want, like, need.

Here is our itenerary for the weekend:

My kids (both) want to stop on the way up and eat Pat's and Geno's cheesesteaks in Philly. They aren't the best (actually Hoagie Haven, in Princeton is the best!) but they are a tradition for us. That will be dinner Friday night...I have to teach a class friday morning.

Saturday morning we will drive into the city early. Our breakfast: H&H Bagels and various spreads, cheeses, and smoked fish from Zabars. My son will manage to eat at least 3 Gray's Papaya hot dogs before 11:00 AM. We park in a gem of a cheap lot between 10th and 11th off of Times Square.

Shopping (including Zabars) will occupy a lot of the day. I used to play in bands and loved to buy records downtown (is Bleecker Bob's still in business?), but I think my wife and kids (15 and 16) will take over that role. Any good ideas on where to find teenage girl shopping, rock and roll high school boy shopping, and my better half shopping all in one district?? And how about those "knockoff" handbags? Anybody want to divulge their secrets on getting the best deals? Is Union Square a good all around location for a lot of this? I want to hit the market vendors there anyway.

Cheese? Where do I buy cheese? I can get italian stuff in Trenton (where I will be on Sunday) but I need CHEESE!

Late lunch: We go to Katz's. Period. I'll eat one pastrami and carry another around. Where is the good smoked fish place very nearby Katz's? My memory is so not good. And does anyone recall a pickle market nearby?? I need to bring home bags of fresh half sours.

Dinner: This is the challenge. We all love to walk around and eat in Chinatown, but many of our old standbys are gone. It will be the Saturday night before easter so many of the more trendy and/or popular joints will be rocking. So...where to go? We are adventurous eaters, but my daughter is dumpling person. I am a spicy sichuan noodles with meat sauce guy (Jia Jiang Mien) and my son eats whatever isn't nailed down--especially duck.

Our other choice is to find someplace more upscale but still fun. We did Babbo a couple of years ago and it was a good night, but we got a lucky reservation and great service. We WONT be dressed for dinner and it promises to be a COLD NIGHT in the city. Still, someplace with great food and good people watching that we still might be able to get into on this late notice is a hard thing to find. ANY SUGGESTIONS? My daughter is a celebrity HOUND--she wants to see someone famous at dinner...but there is NO PINKS in NYC. She has been in the hospital for 2 weeks and I really want her to have a great time. She LOVES New York, but loves celebrity watching even better! I just want a great meal...great food plus great memories with my family. Maybe some in town family or friends may join us.

Generally, we'd prefer great Italian, Latin, or Japanese if we aren't eating Chinese. No offense, but I can get great Thai and Vietnamese down here. On occasion we will do Carmines. I know the food is not so great, but it is totally an atmospheric thing. Since we aren't staying in a big shmancy Times Square Hotel, that is probably not our best option. HELP?

Late night...we'll stay in town until 2-3 AM. Where to go after midnight for snacks, desserts, deli, pizza???

Okay that is HUGE task...help me out EG people.

Thanks much,

The Chef Salad

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Email from daughter:

Dad, we certainly can eat SUSHI in New York. You don't mind forking over the cash for that, do you??

So, at 2:45 AM, let me suggest that we'd LOVE to eat a wonderful Japanese/Sushi meal Saturday night. But again, WHERE???

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Yes, IR Chef, this is a tall order, but we can all break it down. I have no doubt others will be able to answer your various questions, and I'll do my part.

And how about those "knockoff" handbags? Anybody want to divulge their secrets on getting the best deals? Is Union Square a good all around location for a lot of this?

NO. Go to Chinatown. Try Mott St. first and then if you strike out, go to Canal. Check the bags carefully for workmanship and bargain the price down.

We all love to walk around and eat in Chinatown, but many of our old standbys are gone. It will be the Saturday night before easter so many of the more trendy and/or popular joints will be rocking. So...where to go? We are adventurous eaters, but my daughter is dumpling person. I am a spicy sichuan noodles with meat sauce guy (Jia Jiang Mien) and my son eats whatever isn't nailed down--especially duck.

Some non-Sichuan places make halfway decent Jajang Mian (or however it's spelled). If you want Sichuan style, go to Grand Sichuan (such as the one on St. Marks between 2nd and 3rd, which might work well with the shopping you mention in your opening post, or the Chelsea branch at 24th and 9th). And if you do go there, the Smoked Tea Duck is not bad at all. If you do want to stick to Chinatown, you can get jajang mian in Shanghainese restaurants such as New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe, on Bayard between Bowery/Elizabeth and Mott. I like it, but it may not be quite what you most prefer.

Late night...we'll stay in town until 2-3 AM. Where to go after midnight for snacks, desserts, deli, pizza???

You can get a Korean meal 24 hours, day or night at any of a whole bunch of places in Little Korea (which centers especially around 32nd and 35th Sts. between Broadway/6th and 5th, with some other places on 33rd and 36th and further east).

In terms of deli, Katz's is actually open quite late on some nights, but you have that covered.

Cafe Mogador, 101 St. Marks Place (between 1st and A) is open until 1:30 Sun-Thurs and until 12:30 Fri and Sat, and it's quite a nice Moroccan/French/Middle Eastern place.

I would have to guess that people will direct you to Momofuku Ssam Bar, but I haven't been there.

I'll read replies from others with interest.

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Shopping (including Zabars) will occupy a lot of the day. I used to play in bands and loved to buy records downtown (is Bleecker Bob's still in business?), but I think my wife and kids (15 and 16) will take over that role. Any good ideas on where to find teenage girl shopping, rock and roll high school boy shopping, and my better half shopping all in one district?? And how about those "knockoff" handbags? Anybody want to divulge their secrets on getting the best deals? Is Union Square a good all around location for a lot of this? I want to hit the market vendors there anyway.

I'd probably try lower Broadway for your shopping, moving south from around what would be Tower Records (at 4th St) if there were a Tower Records anymore and making your way down to Canal for the knockoffs. Lot of cheap, trendy clothes and shoe stores line that part of the street, and they (your wife especially) can make side trips into Soho and Nolita to check out the cool but completely unaffordable stuff. Dean and Deluca's along the way; there's also a Bloomingdale's if anyone's looking for that.

Not sure what the R&R boy is in search of, and not sure what other CD stores remain--maybe Other Music, a good one just up from what would be Tower Records if...

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teenage girl shopping is centered at Union Square (Strawberry, Forever 21, Diesel) and then down Broadway...and through SoHo (the expensive boutiques have mainly moved into NoLIta). a fair amount of teenage boy rock and roll shopping can be done on 8th street...both directions...St. Marks and west to 6th ave.

celebs lie low on Saturday night. there is no such thing as guaranteed celeb sightings on the weekend....well, the Waverly Inn...but frankly, I don't know that they'd let you in the door on Saturday night with a couple of teenagers.

I'd follow Pan's advice on Chinese.

you know, it's a cliche...but why not Nobu? they'd probably love it.

edit: Bloomingdales Downtown is quite a bit different than the uptown one...lots of rock and roll and teenage clothes.

Edited by Nathan (log)
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Seconding Murray's for cheese, and it's a great area to walk around in, not to mention that it's close to Ottomanelli (butcher), Amy's Bread, the oh-so-famous Magnolia Bakery (mock the people waiting in line!), Rocco's (an italian bakery known for cannolis), Cones (OK gelato but lots of people seem to like it), John Pizzeria (no slices!).

That stretch of Bleecker has a lot boutique clothing shopping as well but on the pricier side.

NO. Go to Chinatown. Try Mott St. first and then if you strike out, go to Canal. Check the bags carefully for workmanship and bargain the price down.

And make sure they know that you're looking for knockoff designer bags. Many places hide stuff behind a door or a counter due to police raids a while back. And, um, make sure you don't get locked in the basement.

Some non-Sichuan places make halfway decent Jajang Mian (or however it's spelled). If you want Sichuan style, go to Grand Sichuan (such as the one on St. Marks between 2nd and 3rd, which might work well with the shopping you mention in your opening post

Yes! You can order both pork soup dumplings (AKA steamed tiny buns), and Gui Zhou Spicy chicken (from the fresh chicken menu). It's St Marks Place. Can't be beat for atmosphere and cheesy but fun faux-punk and rock'n'roll shopping: records at Kim's and Sounds, tattooed kids with mohawks running around, hordes of Japanese student-types waiting for yakitori (and to get drunk), Trash and Vaudeville (where Debbie Harry and others used to shop). There's even a CBGB's store there now. It's definitely lots of fun for visitors. Just stay away from the Chipotle.

And does anyone recall a pickle market nearby?? I need to bring home bags of fresh half sours.

Are you talking about Guss' Pickles? 85 Orchard St.

And if you're in the neighborhood, consider stopping by Sugar Sweet Sunshine for cupcakes, Il Laboratorio for Gelato for gelato, Essex Street Market for gourmet groceries, The Donut Plant for their Valronha chocolate donut, Kossar's for bialys, Yonah Schimmel for a knish, Clinton St Baking Company for a muffin to go, Dash Dogs for a slider or two, pearl milk tea at Quickly, Egg Custard King Cafe for egg tarts...

Late night...we'll stay in town until 2-3 AM. Where to go after midnight for snacks, desserts, deli, pizza???

MOMOFUKU SSAM BAR! Casual but boisterous atmosphere, friendly service, delicious food. You eat pork, don't you? There's the famous banh mi, thinly sliced country hams, grilled sweetbreads, apple salad (with bacon), fatty and decadent pork buns, oysters with kimchee, etc. Although it can run up to $40-50 a person dependent on what you order.

Don't forget street food! The halal cart at 53rd and 6th for example. And Gray's Papaya is open 24/7.

There's tons of options that are a little more upscale, too:

http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/10/18/dini...&pagewanted=all

Edited by kathryn (log)
"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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I have eaten at the Grand Sichuan on 23rd and 9th. Both meals were great, but how late are they open? I had a hell of a wait last time, so we might consider a later meal there, as our friends live on 36th and 9th.

Thanks for the great suggestions. I felt a little squeamish asking where to go when I do a decent job on my own, but I really wanted some fresh ideas. Nice to know that some of my own faves are mentioned here.

Aloha

Chef Salad

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Grand Sichuan's website seems to be hung, but according to menupages.com, the Chelsea location closes at 11, which is what I'd figure. You can call for reservations, which may not ensure that you get seated at the exact time you specify, but they do help.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Kathryn, when did you see a Fresh Chicken Menu at Grand Sichuan St. Marks? I've never seen one there.

Huh, you are right. I should probably check a menu before I post! I go there so often, I order from memory now. :)

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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Lots of really good suggestions so far, especially the broadway/ st. mark's stuff. Other Music is probably a must for your son if he likes indie rock at all, and Bleecker Bob's does appear to still be in business, though I always kinda hated that place. As for the LES, keep in mind that you'll be here on Saturday so Kossar's Bialys and the pickle guys on Essex street will be closed. I don't know if Guss' pickles is open on saturday, but if they are kosher they won't be. If you're looking for late night, you could do your sushi or whatever nicer meal for lunch, and then do Katz's for a late dinner (they're open til 3am on the weekend). If you're over on Ludlow anyway, your son might want to check out cakeshop for the record store in the back. Sounds like you guys are going to pack a ton of stuff into one day.

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Not sure about what we can get done tomorrow. We got a late start and it is 230 AM and still not settled down before a long day tomorrow. The forecast is not looking good for walking all day, and we haven't had much luck securing a reservation for anywhere.

But, we are in NJ and tomorrow we'll try as much a possible. I'll update when we get back to NJ.

Thanks for all of the great suggestions.

Aloha

chef salad

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