Aria in Vegas: Serve me another Diet Coke, please

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The big thing in Las Vegas, and perhaps an extension of their trashiness, are these decadent buffets. There are <a href=””>rankings and some serious competition among the hotels for the best food feast</a>. Access to the buffets is not exclusive in that non-hotel guests can go to the buffet. So, in short: You aren’t limited to the shitty buffet in your hotel and can easily head over to another hotel. It all sounds a little stupid because it is stupid.

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Though <a title=”Who said I had to tip room service?” href=””>I stayed at the LVH Las Vegas</a>, I quickly checked out and left to visit the Aria’s buffet. It was recommended through a friend and a self-considered “Las Vegas buffet expert” so I really trusted them. I ate the world, but literally: the buffet offered world cuisines with great sushi, naan, hummus, Italian pizza and pasta, and then an exorbitant amount of treats and crepes and wow magic bars. I was blown away and I couldn’t stop.

The sad and pathetic part is that, about an hour in, I was away from the table grabbing more food and the waiters had assumed, given all of the empty plates, that I was done and proceded to clean the table. They were shocked and sincerely apologetic when I returned – two big plates in hand – to the empty table and instantly served me another Diet Coke. I ate all of that and ended the meal with a strawberry gelato. I tipped very generously as I felt terrible that they’ve had to refill my Diet Coke and clean at least twelve plates over the two hours.

It was all so worth it.

Just a reminder…

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Lox, Nova, and more Yiddish

There is a right and a wrong way to eat a bagel. Actually, there are several wrong ways to eat a bagel. You can’t be in a hurry. You can’t eat it quickly. And you can’t pick it up on the way to work at some half-ass coffee shop. Eating a bagel has an aristocratic flare to it. You need to be lighthearted, embracing, and indulgent. (There’s seriously no other justifiable reason to starting your day off with that many calories.) It’s a simple pleasure and it shows a sense of careful carelessness.

You can have a plain bagel with cream cheese. You can have a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and jelly. You can have an sesame seed bagel with tofu vegetable cream cheese. Jewish delis have spent the past few centuries cultivating the bagel and its spreads. Wednesday was the only sunny day this week – every other day was ruined by thunderstorms – so I thought to take the day to relax and enjoy a bagel. I casually woke up around 11AM, toasted a bagel, smeared on chive and onion cream cheese, slapped on four ounces of nova (smoked salmon), and poured myself a big glass of Diet Coke. I spent the afternoon tanning, reading, and resting. It was a perfect day in the suburbs – couldn’t have asked for more.

A proliferation of sorts

I think it goes without saying that I’ve gained weight these past few months. I’ve mentioned to family and friends that I’ve ballooned, only to hear that I am crazy and that I haven’t gained any weight. I inform them how much the scale said I gained, leaving to be outraged and awestruck. (I weighed myself three times in twelve hours only to read three different weights in a range of ten pounds.) While I do not agree with scales – water weight, lack of accounting for muscle gained – I do have some dependable measuring devices, like a pairs of pants and shirts that used to fit perfectly but now are too small, to help quantify weight loss. Although I think that my gained weight is part of a greater problem, so I’m taking my time in the suburbs to jump start my health and hygiene. Here are a few activities that I am striving to accomplish and start again:

  • Exercise: I used to run a few miles every day in high school, but I stopped once college started. I went for a 45-minute bike ride and a 15-minute run today – I haven’t felt better! As long as the weather holds up, I would like to double the length of each.
  • Tan: Who doesn’t look better with a tan? I’ve been pale all summer. It’s time to change that.
  • White Teeth: I used to pride myself on my teeth. My hygiene has slipped a bit, so I am starting an intensive whitening treatment in efforts to be as white as they used to be in two weeks.
  • Reading: There’s nothing better than a good book. I’ve racked up quite a wish list over the year, so I’m going to try to tackle a few before the end of summer. I also annotated a few articles from The Atlantic earlier tonight. It’s astonishing how much reading comprehension increases when jotting down notes. (Ultimately, I’d like to establish a moleskine of collected notes and articles, but that might be too ambitious for now.)
Perhaps this sounds too idealistic. And perhaps I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling like a twig and forget the need to diet. (The latter always happens.) But I’d like to try to stay on this path for a while.

A Dean and Deluca Kind of Birthday

I used to hate birthdays, but now that I’ve started to acknowledge them a day to eat everything, I think I like them now. I went to bed at 2 AM disappointed because no one wished me a happy birthday, but when I woke up the next morning, I had dozens of missed calls, voicemails, text messages, and Facebook alerts. I went to bed thinking the day would suck, but woke up thinking it was promising.

I started off the day with homemade scrambled scallion and asiago eggs, turkey bacon, orange juice, and a Starbucks coffee. (I don’t really like bacon, but I figured it’d be nice to have with eggs.) I opened all of the windows so there was a beautiful breeze flowing through the apartment. The air in the apartment is usually thick, but the mix of the fresh air from outside and the smells from breakfast lingered for hours. It felt like a refreshing summer day in the suburbs.

I made my way down to Dean and Deluca in Soho to pick up a macaron and an iced coffee. I’ve been dying to try their coffee, but I don’t know how to make my own coffee, so I never bought it to avoid putting my own sugar in. I figured today was the day to try it. I just bought a coffee macaron from the bakery area and I glanced up at the menu – iced mocha, iced this, iced that, Strawberry Italian Soda. It has been years since I’ve had Italian soda, but it so delicious that I instantly ordered one. I turned around and my friend surprised me with a red velvet birthday cake.

Of course I picked Cafetasia for my birthday dinner. It is my favorite Thai restaurant and one of my favorite restaurants of all time. The food is always delicious. The service is always fast and excellent. The atmosphere is trendy and awesome. Even if I could, I wouldn’t change anything about Cafetasia.

We ordered Mango Batita drinks, which were described as a mango and pineapple drink. I expected them to be yellow, or even orange, but they came out green. Weird. (On second thought, it is green because it is mixed with blue liquor.) They didn’t taste too strong, but half way through the drink, I was drunk. I quickly drank the rest as I saw the appetizers coming over, so I turned into drunken eating mode and just devoured it all. It was the best food at Cafetasia that I’ve ever had. I don’t know if it was because the chef was especially amazing that night or because everything tastes better when drunk. Leaning towards the latter, but I devoured BBQ beef skewers, chicken satay and toast, gyoza, extra spicy chicken basil udon, and then some of my friend’s pad thai.

We didn’t eat the cake until later that night, but it took us two minutes from start to finish. It was the most dense and delicious cake I have ever had. It was such a rich and dark red velvet. I seriously wonder what Dean and Deluca can’t do. When it comes to food, especially bakery treats, they are truly the best of the best.

I laid down for a bit to recover from dinner and the cake and then made hard lemonade with Belvedere. Turned on Iron Man, and passed out somewhere within the next hour. I didn’t expect my ship to sink that quickly, but it was the perfect end to my birthday.

Hard Lemonade Recipe

Hard Lemonade is a refreshing and sweet summer drink that will maintain a nice buzz throughout the night. This recipe is a mix between Mike Hard’s Lemonade and Long Island Iced Tea. (The former being entirely ineffective and the latter being the easiest way to sink your ship.)


  • Country Time Lemonade Powder
  • Fresca
  • Vodka (brand of your choice!)
  • Water, preferably cold
  • A container or a bowl, depending on your class
  • Pour 4 cups (1 quart) of water into the container
  • Use the Country Time container to measure 1 quarter’s worth of powder, pour into container
  • Pour 2 (or 3) cups of Fresca into container
  • Pour vodka – a lot of vodka
  • Shake well and serve with ice cubes
Of course, take the liberty to adjust certain steps. I personally like to use a little more of the powder so my drink is sweeter. The powder and soda shouldn’t cost more than $5 and they make well over ten drinks. This recipe is cost effective and delicious!

Chinatown in photos

I’ve always wanted to take photos of Chinatown, but I never felt like I could capture the mood and feeling of Chinatown. I went down a few weeks ago and I snapped some shots. Unfortunately, the lights in the street were overwhelming and turning on HDR yielded minimal changes, but here they are:

This is a street off of Pell Street, which is tucked away next to Mulberry and Bowery. The street can only accomodate one car at a time and the buildings are relatively short compared to Soho. I read a book years ago, Low Life, and it talked about the old Chinese gangs and how they’d hide in the little alley and doorways. There are chambers and passages visible from the street that certainly live up to the description that I had in my head.

And then this is actually Pell Street. As you can see, it is a little more commercialized than the previous photo. I sort of think that is why the people in the previous photo were not receptive to my taking photos. They look tense with their arms crossed where as the people in this photo are freely walking and minding their own business. (Although a group of people kept waving and saying hi as they passed me. Not sure who they were or why they did that but I didn’t think twice.)

Joe’s Shanghai is the most famous and well-known Chinese restaurant in New York. Tourists always line the street waiting to be seated here. My friends and I just laugh at them and walk into the dive restaurant across the street. It doesn’t have the best health rating, but we are usually the only ones in there, the prices are great, and the food is delicious.

This is the inside of my favorite restaurant in Chinatown. The wall on my left has to be my favorite because it has imaginary windows. One of them has a waterfall and the next is an open meadow – contradictory and hilarious. The TV in the top lefthand corner is usually either playing Chinese soap operas or Chinese karaoke, both of which have subtitles in Chinese. We joke around and say that the staff is all the same family and that the only male and forgetful waiter is the dumb cousin. The funnier part is that it is most likely true.

Di Di Dumpling in Flatiron

What is a good Chinese restaurant without a stupid name? We’ve all had our fair share of Famous Sichuan, Joe’s Shanghai, Golden Jade, Grand Sichuan, Tokyo Kitchen, but I think Di Di Dumpling takes the top of the list of stupid Chinese restaurant names. (I know that Tokyo is in Japan, but the restaurant is labeled, “Tokyo Kitchen: Chinese Restaurant.”) Di Di specializes in making dumplings. They offer both pot stickers and then the traditional dumpling. You can make it a meal with hot and sour soup, lo mein, or tempura. I’d just like to reinforce that their speciality is dumplings, the hot and sour soup is mostly sour, the lo mein has no taste, and the tempura was just too scary looking to try.

The counters have sets of four sauces: potstickers, dumpling, red chili, and rice vinegar. The potstickers sauce was sweet, so I poured tons of that in the hot and sour soup to try to balance out the flavors. The dumpling sauce tasted like soy sauce, so that was added to everything. And then of course hot sauce was added to everything too. After draining half of each bottle, the side dishes were excellent. The potsitckers didn’t need much sauce because those were delicious. I’d certainly recommend the potstickers, and even the dumplings, but stay far away from the lo mein.

51 stories high in Brooklyn

A friend was having their birthday at another friend’s apartment in Brooklyn. I figured that it’d be the typical Brooklyn apartment: eighth floor walk-up, a brick wall, and crappy hardwood floors. Sort of like the East Village, but cheaper and across the river. It took six years to get there – the NR wasn’t running, so I had to walk two avenues to the 6 which took me down to Brooklyn Bridge, transfered to a 5, only to find out that it was limited service and going to Bowling Green. Waited at Bowling Green for ten minutes to  board a 4. And then I arrived at Borough Hall. Total trip: hour and a half. But whatever. There was tons of alcohol and I didn’t plan on remembering the night.

I arrived at the address and called my friend, “Which floor is the apartment on?” “The roof!” 51 stories in the elevator later, I was on top of Brooklyn. The view was absolutely breathtaking. I could see the cars below, crossing the streets, bridges, and highways. There was a thick glass wall, so it distorted the photo a bit, but the view was ten times clearer in person. The bright lights on the far right side are the Empire State Building and midtown Manhattan. The lights on the left side are the Financial District. It looks farther in the photo, but it felt like the buildings were no less than five hundred feet away. It was the best view I have ever seen from Brooklyn.

Shortly after, I left the roof and downed three glasses of Jungle Juice. A hookah was pulled out an hour or two later, and I smoked that for the rest of the night. I remember the whole night, especially when I asked a black lady on the street for the direction of the Brooklyn Bridge and she spoke into her cell phone, “Hold on, Dirty” and proceeded to tell me the directions. I held my laughter until I got into the taxi which I bursted out laughing for thirty seconds. His nickname was Dirty. Wow.