Some restaurants are worth the wait and Momofuku Noodle Bar falls into that category. During my many trips to New York City I have passed by Momofuku Noodle Bar. I always wanted to try it, but the line was always out the door. The East Village location does not take reservations. Momofuku was started by David Chang in 2004. The New York Times credits him with the rise of Asian-American. Bon Appetit Magazine named Momofuku the most important restaurant in the United States. Momofuku means lucky peach.
Avoid The Crowd, Get There When They Open.
One summer evening, my daughter Nicole and I were in the area. It was before the dinner rush and we were able to grab two seats at the bar top for dinner without waiting in line. We started with drinks. Nicole had a Hibiscus Yuzu Iced Tea and I had a Tiger Lager from Singapore. It was a typical hot and humid evening in NYC, so both drinks were refreshing. We decided that we had to try the famous buns. As an appetizer we shared an order of the pork bellys buns. It comes with hoisin sauce, scallions and cucumbers. The buns were light and airy and the meat was a nice mix of sweet and savory.
For dinner Nicole ordered the Ginger Scallion Noodles. It comes with Momofuku barley noodles, pickled shiitake, cucumber and wakame. I ordered the Spicy Hozon Ramen. This ramen also comes with the Momofuku barley noodles and instead of meat it has chickpeas, scallion, and bok choy. I wasn’t sure if it would be too spicy, but it had a nice level of heat. The combination of the chickpeas and the ramen made this a very filling dish. Both ramens tasted fresh, they had depth of flavor and they didn’t taste overly salty.
Go Ahead And Try Dessert
Although we were both stuffed from dinner we decided to split a dessert. We ordered the soft-serve with puffed rice. The puffed rice added a pop to the creaminess to the soft-serve and it was a good way to end our meal. Overall, the services was amazing. Our water was continuously refilled and the wait staff was very attentive. Momofuku is a small restaurant so you will be in tight quarters. It doesn’t look like they can accommodate parties larger than 6. After walking past this restaurant so many times, I’m happy that we finally got a chance to try it and I wouldn’t hesitate to eat there again.
Everybody has their favorite style of pizza and the best part of visiting New York City is you can try it all. There is a pizza place on every block. While visiting my daughter Nicole in Brooklyn we decided to give some a try.
Our first stop was Juliana’s Pizza on Old Fulton Street in Brooklyn. Juliana’s is an old school pizzeria that opened in 2012. The proprietor is Patsy Grimaldi. Patsy owned Grimaldi’s under the Manhattan Bridge just a few doors down from Juliana’s. Grimaldi’s was a New York institution. Lines would snake down the street for blocks. About 10 years ago Patsy and his wife sold Grimaldi’s and settled into retirement. Much to the delight of Brooklyn after a few years of retirement, he opened Juliana’s Pizza named after his mother. We went for lunch on a rainy afternoon. There was a line outside, but we were a party of two and we agreed to sit at the bar so we were seated quickly. We had an amazing view of the coal pizza oven.
We split a salad and decided on the classic Margherita. It has a typical New York thin crust, with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil. We also tried the War Flag an American Pilsner brewed in Brooklyn. The salad was a nice start. It was fresh and tasty.
While we waited for our pizza we sipped our beer and watched the pizzas go in and out of the coal oven. Our pizza came out piping hot. The crust was thin and golden. The cheese tasted fresh and it was gooey. The pizza was basically perfection. Between the two of us, we ate a whole pizza, and that left no room to try dessert. Maybe next time. I paid in cash, but I did notice that you can use your credit card, unlike at Grimaldi’s which is cash only. The restaurant was very busy, but at no time did we feel rushed and the service was excellent. I believe Juliana’s is a must-try for an authentic New York City Pizza.
The first Saturday in April was opening day for Luna Park at Coney Island. We took the train to Coney Island and rode the old wooden Cyclone. After the roller coaster ride and the walk along the boardwalk, we decided to go try some pizza at Spumoni Gardens. We took the train one stop and then walked to the restaurant. Spumoni Gardens is located in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
When we got there it was a lively Saturday afternoon on their patio. Spumoni Gardens is known for its Sicilian pizza. They sell their pizzas as whole pies or by the slice. Their Sicilian pizza is made in a rectangle. One slice is $3.00. It was a thick crust and the sauce is on top of the cheese. We ate on the patio and they serve it up on a paper plate. We each got a slice and sat on the patio with a lemonade. The crust is thick and the sauce is plentiful and it was easier to eat it with a fork. It was good and I’m glad we tried it.
We both got a serving of Spumoni Ice Cream for dessert. Their Spumoni is a mix of Vanilla, Chocolate, and Pistachio. In my opinion, it was the star of the meal. We ate on the patio, but they have a full-service restaurant inside. The whole area had a down-home family vibe.
Joe’s Pizza is a Greenwich Village institution. It was founded in 1975 and has been listed on NYC’s best pizzas over and over. They have a simple menu. Whole pies or by the slice. They also have Sicilian pizza on the menu, but I have never tried it.
Joe’s Pizza is a walk up and orders pizzeria. There are a few stools and stand up tables, but mostly you order to go. The day Nicole and I went she saved us seats on a bench in the square across the street. The square is officially Father Demo Square. It has a fountain and benches and is a good place to sit and people watch. I went and ordered our pizza.
We both chose a slice of cheese pizza. It is a huge slice and they serve it on a paper plate. They have cans of soda and bottled water for sale as well. They do not accept credit cards. Joe’s pizza is the quintessential New York slice of pizza. The crust is thin and if you look around you will see people folding their slice in half. This is what all walk-up pizza should taste like, flavorful and not greasy and a perfect not floppy crust. Joe’s Pizza serves both the local neighborhood and hungry tourists. Joe has become so popular they now have 4 other locations scattered throughout New York City.
These 3 pizzas are just the tip of the iceberg. There are 100’s of other pizza places in New York City to try, but I would definitely make a return trip to all three of these locations.
I landed at JFK on a gorgeous spring day in April. After dropping my suitcase at my daughter’s apartment in Brooklyn we set off on a walking tour of Bushwick. I wanted to see the graffiti and street art that is part of The Bushwick Collective.
The Bushwick Collective
The Bushwick Collective is located off of Flushing Ave. in Bushwick. There are blocks and blocks of murals that you can visit by just walking around the neighborhood. There really is something for everyone. We saw both portraits and cartoon type murals. It appears that this area of Bushwick is up and coming. We walked past fancy new coffee shops that we were next to functioning machine shops. We were also able to peruse a couple of eclectic vintage shops.
Finding a Lunch Spot in Bushwick
After walking around we decided it was time to eat. I had heard about a restaurant in Bushwick Called Dock. We weren’t sure they would be open because we were there during the weird hours after lunch and before dinner, however, when we go there we found that they were still serving lunch specials for another 40 minutes. Dock is a busy restaurant and reservations are usually a must, but this was the perfect time to try it. Dock was started by three chefs that have different backgrounds. They have combined their talents into one fabulous restaurant. Dock has 3 different head chefs one for sushi, one for Thai cuisine and one for ramen.
Our lunch special was $10.95 and included a soup, egg roll, or salad and one entree. I had the Oyster Soup and Pad See Ew. Nicole had an egg roll and Ramen. We split a Kyoto Matcha IPA . I’ll start with the Matcha IPA. I’m not a fan of IPAs they are usually too bitter for me, however, this one was great. I could taste the bitter hops, but it was balanced out by the matcha. The color was fantastic. It was a deep grassy, green. My oyster soup was delicious. It had the perfect amount of heat and sourness mixed together. It lots of fresh oyster mushrooms and fresh vegetables. My Pad See Ew was also good. I had it with tofu. It wasn’t overly spiced and that allowed me to add my favorite chili oil to enhance the flavors. Nicole’s egg roll was ok. Probably not the star of our meal, however, she liked her Ramen. I give The Dock 5 stars out of 5 and I will be going back to try something else on their extensive menu next time I’m in the area.
Exploring Cobble Hill
After lunch, we headed to the subway and went to the Cobble Hill area of Brooklyn. I wanted to go to an independent bookstore that I follow online called Books Are Magic. Of course, I loved it. They have the cutest mural painted outside and inside is filled with books. Their staff has curated sections and titles that they recommend and they have an amazing section for children’s books. We spent a long time looking at books and I had to buy a Books Are Magic t-shirt before I left so that I can wear it at home in my library.
Heading to Dumbo, Brooklyn
After the bookstore, we hopped back on the subway and head to Dumbo. For those not familiar with Dumbo it is an acronym for down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass. It is one of my favorite areas of Brooklyn because of the amazing views of Manhattan. We went to the Empire Store on the waterfront. We walked up the stairs to the top and had an amazing view of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and the Manhattan skyline.
Perfect Views in Brooklyn
Walking along the waterfront is always entertaining. The views are amazing. There are always lots of photoshoots going on. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops to stop at. Because it was April as soon as the sun went down it got very chilly. We decided that it was time to get back on the subway and head back to Nicole’s apartment. We had an amazing day wandering around Brooklyn.
You might think that while visiting New York the only round food you should try is a bagel, but then you will be missing out on some tasty donuts. While visiting NYC in April, my daughter and I decided to try out some of the specialty doughnuts the city has to offer.
First Stop: Dough
First stop was Dough in Brooklyn. Dough now has a few other locations throughout the city, but the Clinton Hill location in Brooklyn is the original. Dough makes traditional yeast doughnuts with untraditional glazes and toppings. Inside their storefront, you can take a peak and seem them making their fresh doughnuts. There is not enough room to eat inside, so plan on taking your doughnuts to go. I decided on the Lemon Poppy Seed. The lemony glaze had the perfect ratio of tartness and sweetness. The poppy seeds were more for aesthetics than taste. The donut had a nice rise from the yeast and wasn’t greasy or heavy. Overall, a very satisfying donut. Dough makes their doughnuts daily and they have seasonal as well as daily varieties to choose from.
Second Stop: Doughnut Plant
Day number 2 and our second stop for our donut tour was Doughnut Plant in Chelsea. Like Dough, they have other locations throughout Manhattan, but their Chelsea location was their first. We decided to order coffee and sit down and eat our doughnut inside because there are tables and chairs. We both order coffee of the day and I ordered a Peanut Butter & Blackberry Jam Doughnut. Nicole ordered the Hazelnut Chocolate Filling covered with Roasted Hazelnut Glaze. The first thing to notice is Doughnut Plant is home of the square doughnuts. They have been in business since 1994 and they make their doughnuts without preservatives, eggs, or trans fats. The peanut butter & blackberry doughnut tasted just like mom’s peanut butter & jam sandwich. It is a square donut filled with jam and covered with the peanut butter glaze and because of its square shape you get jam with every bite. It was yummy and super filling. The hazelnut doughnut was round, rich and delicious. The Doughnut Plant has a nice mix of yeast and cake doughnuts to choose from. In addition to their delectable doughnuts, they also have some amazing stuffed doughnuts decorating their walls. There is a stuffed doughnut to represent each one of their doughnuts that they serve.
Third Stop: The Donut Pub
Stop number 3 on our doughnut tour was at The Donut Pub in the West Village. The Donut Pub is known for their doughnuts, pastries, and cookies. They are open 24 hours a day. Inside the Donut Pub is a small counter to sit at and also a few tables. We tried the French Cruller and the Croissant Donut. The Cruller was a fancy, twisted design. It was light and had sugar glaze over the top. We sat at the counter and they served it to me on a paper plate and I need lots of napkins. It wasn’t greasy, but the glaze stuck to my fingers. The Croissant Donut was served warmed up on a small paper plate. After the first bite, you could tell that butter had to be one of the main ingredients in this doughnut. Out of all the doughnuts that we tasted this one was definitely the richest and most filling. It had so much butter in it that it left a buttered ring on the paper plate. We were happy we tasted the cronut, but I don’t think either of us needs to eat one again. I would go back for a cruller and maybe try one of their other flavors. I would also like to try their Black & White cookie. It’s been rumored to be the best in New York City.
Fourth Stop: The Doughnuttery
Our 4th stop was The Doughnuttery in the Chelsea Market. While our other doughnuts were regular size, the Doughnuttery makes their doughnuts in a small bite-size version. We ordered 6 minis for $6.00. We watched the small cake doughnuts plop into the fryer. They are then scooped out and covered with your choice of a sugar and spice topping. With the minis, you can pick two toppings. We choose House of Cardamon which was cardamon, orange zest and star anise and Paris Time which was lavender, vanilla, and pistachio. I liked the House of Cardamon best. The orange zest gave it a fresh taste. Nicole liked the Paris Time, because of the pistachio. The mix of sugar and spices coating the doughnuts made them flavorful without being too sweet, however, out of all the doughnuts we tasted these tasted the most fried. I would order them again to try a different topping, but these were not my favorite.
Fifth Stop: The Doughnut Project
Our 5th and final stop was The Doughnut Project in the West Village. They are now for their unique and seasonal doughnuts. I had previously been to the Doughnut Project and ordered their famous Everything Doughnut, so this time I wanted to try something different. I ordered The Black Gold AKA Brownie Batter and Nicole ordered the Bronx (Olive Oil and Black Pepper.) They have a few bar stools to sit at, but they were all occupied so we took out doughnuts to Washington Square Park to eat them. The Black Gold had an extra dark chocolate glaze with house-made chocolate cookie crumbles and sea salt. It was like biting into a light and airy brownie. If you are a chocolate lover then I say this is a must-try. Nicole’s Bronx was also light and airy. You could taste the olive oil and you got a little zing from the black pepper.
Overall, we have gone back and forth about which doughnut was our favorite and we can’t come to a conclusion. All 5 locations were good and they all offer something a little different. I think it all comes down to what you are in the mood for.
I love Top Chef and I am always excited to eat in a contestant’s restaurant. One hot and humid Saturday in August Nicole and I decided to spend the day in Brooklyn. We took the subway to the Prospect Park area. I wanted to eat at Butterfunk Kitchen. Butterfunk Kitchen is owned by Chef Chris Scott. He is know for his soulful take on southern food. Unfortunately, we got there in the afternoon and they do not open until 5:30 p.m.
We were starving and decided that we would try his new smaller restaurant next door. Sumner’s Luncheonette is also owned by Chef Chris Scott and they are open for breakfast and lunch.
We were there at 1:00 p.m. so I am assuming we missed the crowds. There was only one other couple eating inside when we were seated. The inside reminded me of having lunch at my grandma’s house. The decor is unpretentious and comfy. I really wanted to try his fried chicken, but it is not on the menu at Sumner’s. I decided on the next best thing a fried chicken sandwich with Old Bay and coleslaw. Nicole ordered the corn-meal crushed catfish with jalapeno jelly and southern aioli. We decided we would cut our sandwiches in half and split them. The fried chicken sandwich was moist and the chicken had a good crust. The coleslaw was fresh and tasty, however, the star of the lunch was the catfish sandwich. The jalapeno jelly added a nice spice along with the creaminess of the aioli. Both of our plates came with a side of potato salad and a pickle. The potato salad had a spicy mustard base instead of mayonnaise.
Fried chicken sandwich
Both sandwiches left us wanting to come back and try Butterfunk Kitchen.
Uncle Louie G’s
After lunch we started walking towards Prospect Park. Walking down a residential street we walked past Uncle Louie G’s.
Uncle Louie G’s
It had signboards out on the sidewalk that were advertising the best Italian Ice. I did not know what Italian Ice was, so I figured I better try it. I ordered creamsicle. Italian ice is a sweet frozen dessert made with fruit juice and ice. It has a similar texture to sorbet. I found out that is a popular treat for New Yorkers in the summer. I liked it. We took our across the street and went and started walking through Prospect Park.
Prospect Park is 526 acres. There are hiking, biking, and running trails. There are also small lakes with boat rentals, lots of sports fields and band shells where they hold concerts. We finished eating our Italian Ice while we watched some turtles sunning themselves on a log on the water’s edge.
A turtle sunning himself.
We brought a blanket and had plans of finding the perfect place to sit by the lake. Nicole was going to draw and I was going to read a book. We never found that spot. It had rained the night before so all the grass was way too wet. We kept walking. We walked on one trail that made it hard to believe that we were in a city, let alone Brooklyn.
A canopy of trees in the middle of the city.
He walked through a canopy of trees, we saw patches of mushrooms, crayfish in a stream, and lots of wild flowers.
A stream in the park.
So many mushrooms.
We were having a great time, until the mosquitoes started eating us alive. The combination of the heat and the mosquitoes was enough to convince us that it was time to find the subway and head back to Nicole’s apartment.
Nicole under one of the many bridges.
We met a couple picking these berries. I asked them what they were, but they didn’t speak English.
In August I stayed in Brooklyn with my daughter. One night after she got off work I met her in Manhattan for ramen. Never mind that it was 95 degrees outside and the humidity was about 70%. Nicole promised that this was the best ramen she had ever tried. Bassanova is located on the edge of Chinatown. The window fronts are street level, but the actual restaurant is down some stairs.
There is a big sign letting customers know that they are cash only. Bassanova is a transplant from Tokyo. I decided on a half order of the Tondaku Wadashi Lime Tonyum Goong Ramen. It was shrimp, mixed green onion, okra, red pepper and lime. The broth was a perfect mixture of sour and and spice. The noodles, shrimp and vegetables were perfect.
Tondaku Wadashi Lime Tonym Goong Ramen
We both decided that next time we would order a full order. We paid our bill and decided to walk around.
Little Italy and Chinatown run into each other. We wandered around Little Italy and looked at street graffiti.
It was a warm night and we decided to walk over to the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. I had a cup of coconut and green tea. Their store is barely wide enough for two people to stand side by side, so we took our ice cream to go.
We walked down a street that the asphalt was freshly painted. It looked like we were stepping into a painting.
This street looked like a movie set.
We did a little window shopping and then bought some Dragonfruit and an egg custard to take home with us.
Egg Custard Tart
We walked back through Little Italy to get to the Metro.
A flying Horse
We rode the train back to Brooklyn and called it a night.