08
Apr
06

NYC 2006. my first visit.

I woke up at 1pm today despite the traffic and alarms going on outside the window and Mark on the phone talking to a potential firm he was interested in. We got on the subway toward TriBeCa and he went to his first interview- totally impromptu. I decided to wait in a cafe nearby that caught my eye on the way to the firm.


It was called The Little Magazine Cafe. They sold Illy coffee, which I have seen in some stores and cafes (mostly Whole Foods) in Ann Arbor, and have always been curious about it. It was really good (or maybe it was the mocha) and I read on the cup that the beans came from Trieste, Italy- which I visited in 2004 and absolutely fell in love with. It made me like the coffee even more. The barista was extremely friendly, but maybe it was because I was a young girl alone and the place was empty besides a couple architects looking over plans in the back. He looked bored and wanting to talk to someone. After some normal small talk and my mocha was prepared, I browsed briefly at the walls of magazines. It looked like anyone could take on and read it while they sipped on coffee and put it back when they finished. I brought a small book though and decided to read it for a bit.

Mark finished and met me at the cafe while we waited for Ting and Louis to meet us to go to lunch. While we waited, I decided to look at one of the magazines to feed our celebrity gossip side. I grabbed two and sat down with Mark to finish my coffee. It seemed less rude then to continue to concentrate completely on the book I was reading while in the company of a friend. Ting and Louis showed up shortly after and they sat down to figure out how to get to our lunch destination. An old guy, who had seen me walk in from the beginning, came over with a concerned look on his face and said quite rudely, “there is a minimum in here, YOU KNOW? You can just sit here and not buy anything.” I waved my empty cup at him and said “I just finished my drink. We’re leaving.” This was the very first time I encountered anyone straight out rude in NYC, totally diminishing my perspective I had on New Yorkers which -up until this point- was against the stereotype of NYers being assholes. I picked up the magazines to put the back, one of which i didn’t even get to look at and he started up again with his foreign accent that I couldn’t pick out “you have to pay for those! you can’t just read them!” I just wanted to leave and eat- whatever, he was going to be an asshole no matter what, he saw us looking at a map of the subway, and I’m sure he overheard me talking about Michigan to the barista. “Fine, I’ll pay for it, whatever”. Ting started getting angry, and you don’t want to make Ting angry, she gets fiesty. She started rolling her eyes and sighing loudly making sure he could hear it. When he was getting my change, she yelled him “OH MY GOD, You’re taking SO LONG to get CHANGE. IT’S NOT THAT HARD. $13.55. OKAY? JESUS!”
god I love Ting.

I wanted to just give him Ari’s book: The Art of Giving Great Service (which is what I was reading there), but he probably would’ve just tossed it and I didn’t want to give him anymore freebies.

We made it to Chinatown without me giving away any more money and ate at my first noodle bar. It decorated nicely like a traditional asian restaurant and lit dimly with cool latern lights. I had a big bowl of miso ramen with some shittake mushrooms (crunchy), sprouts, soy sauce marinated hard boiled egg, and 4 pieces of pork. The pork was kind of dry and the fat was the only thing giving it flavor. The noodles reminded me of spaghetti, not curly like I know ramen (I’m not sure yet which one is more accurate to traditional ramen). They had a nice texture and flavor though. The miso broth was also good- flavorful, but not overbearing. I could easily drink the broth after everything was eaten without it being too salty or overwhelmingly spiced. The complimentary tea was horrible though. It was completely watered down and we had trouble decifering the difference between the water and the tea.

The service also was horrible. We had to argue with a punk young asian guy to bring all four of us both water and hot tea. He wanted to bring half of us water and half of us tea because 8 cups on the table seemed absurd to him. He also sat at the table behind us and when we said we were ready to order, he had some lady walk across the restaurant to take our order while he relaxed.

I took a take-out menu. They also offered the traditionally Taiwanese flavored ice. After eating, we got ice cream at the famous Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. They had mainly asian flavors (green tea, lychee, black sesame, ginger, red bean, etc.) It was really good and I knew there had to be some place in NY that served asian flavored ice cream. We went down the block and got 4 big bottles of sweet asian tea which cost a total of $3 at a store that served almost all soy products. I should go back and get a bottle of chinese soy milk (tastes very different from american soy milk).

Ting and Louis had class, so Mark and I made our way over to the WTC site. I was expecting a big hole in the ground- which was what we found, although I was expecting some tasteful pictures during and after the event. There were some really good pictures by a professional photographer who had the pictures on display on the fence with the site beyond the fence. It was surprising to look at the pictures and feel my stomach twist, not having a direct connection to anyone or the WTC. It never was a symbol to me since this is my first visit to NYC and it’s not an association I make to the US (like the Statue of Liberty).

We navigated our way up to Chelsea to 23rd and 8th ave to meet Jason and Niamh. We walked around a few blocks to 4 or 5 different art galleries (among a lot more that were open). They all served free cheap wine, beer, bottled water, and sometimes other things like ginger ale and bananas (for an art gallery of monkey portraits). Most of the art was pretty bad, and we just drank the alcohol and left. I could see how many “hip” people could get sucked into a social elite group of going to art gallery openings, drinking wine, and talking about philosophies of life. It was fun though.

We ate at The Venus Restaurant (had some good burgers) and went for beers at a bar/lounge called The Living Room and just chatted on a couch in a room lit in red lights.

On our subway ride back to the Upper West Side (Manhattan), two people came in carrying a snare drum (that had no more snares left and the skin of the drum was duct taped together) and an electronic keyboard. Too bad they only used the drum, because I’m sure the keyboard would have been twice as entertaining. The guy rapped while the lady banged the shit out of the drum.
He sang/rapped while rhyming. I don’t remember exactly how it went but something like: we are poor, cuz we aint got jobs. but we don’t steal we just wish we had YOUR job and YOUR job and YOUR job (while pointing at everyone on the subway car)… etc. it was mildly entertaining, and I would’ve given them a quarter, but I decided against rummaging through my bag of a digital camera, cell phone, Not For Tourists guide to NY book, and my wallet at midnight on the subway for some bums.

Tomorrow is going to be filled with a day of shopping, site seeing, and more chinatown and eating with Ting. She has the day off and Mark is traveling to Princeton for another interview. Matt arrives via Chinatown bus from Baltimore tomorrow night too.

West 4 subway stop. Nothing special about this particular stop, we were just waiting almost 20 minutes for our train before we realized it stopped running for the night and had to hop on another one and make two transfers. I’m quickly figuring out how to best navigate the subway systems since I’m awesome at finding my way through cities.

beer at The Living Room

The Living Room bar/lounge. It did look like a living room.

A sign out side of a bar that read: “Drinking till you blackout means your not responsible for your actions”. The “your” mistake pissed me off and I wanted to fix it, but I had no chalk. I took a picture instead.

one of the pictures at the WTC make-shift memorial photos:

Ajisen. I like the dark wood, bamboo ceiling, and dimly lit lantern lights.

ramen noodlesAjisen chefs and noodle bar

my miso ramen soup with pork.

Ting and Louis at Ajisen, our first noodle stop:

The Little Magazine Cafe: (those fuckers)

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