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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.

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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.

Last day at Club Monaco

As much as I would have liked to continue at Club Monaco, I decided that this Friday was an appropriate time to step down to an inactive associate. I met with the General Manager last week and told her that I lost my apartment and that I haven’t finalized my fall semester yet. She was concerned, but I assured her that everything will be fine and that I’ll return in a few weeks and give them my fall availability. I didn’t actually lose my apartment, but I never extended my stay at NYU, so I am staying with a friend for the next two weeks until I go home. (I had planned to explain that to her, but when I sat down, I broke into dramatics. Whoops.) Despite saying otherwise, I will not be returning in the fall, but I do want to return during the holidays and over winter break.

This is our poster downstairs of employees trying on the new collection. (Yes, that pink and blue stripped sweater is real and it looks ten times worse in person.) I want to say that I’ve grown to love some of these people and that they’ve changed me as a person, but they haven’t. I was only there for a month. They are who they are; some are nice, some aren’t. But each one is there for a reason. I couldn’t have asked for a better set of coworkers to make me love their company and to think of a hundred ways to murder them. There’s also a feeling of bittersweet liberation on your last day, in which I took the honors of subtly calling one of the managers an anal bitch.

If all else in my life fails, it is nice to know that I could do this for a living.

Dean and Deluca: Mango Nectarines

I was strolling around in Soho earlier and I stumbled into Dean and Deluca. The fruits line the front of the store, so it is hard to ignore them, especially when you see some exotic ones and names like “mango nectarine.” The description reads, “the taste of a mango. The color and shape of a golden plum.” So it is pretty much a mix of mango, nectarine, and plum. Sounds delicious. What could go wrong?

A lot of things. Came home and chopped it up. It had the texture of a plum, but tasted like a nectarine, but sort of had an aftertaste of a mango. I’m still debating about whether I like it or not. The sign reads $7 a pound, but the nice fruit clerk only charged me for $5 a pound, so I paid $1.25 for one of them. I think it is the one right in front of the stake. It isn’t worth the price though. I’d rather spend double that and buy a delicious mango from Whole Foods.

Drinks at Cafeteria

Last summer was filled with booze, restaurants, and stupidity. I went out to restaurants nearly three times a day (no breakfast, but certainly indulged in late night drunken meals), Starbucks multiple times a day, and then headed to the bar at least four times a week. I shudder on the thought of how much I spent. But it was my first summer of living in New York and I didn’t care.

I used to think this summer lived in the shadows of last, but I’ve come to stop comparing them. This summer is different. I’m not eating out as much. I only drink Starbucks once a week. And I can count the amount of times I went to a bar or club on my hand. (Half of my hand, even.) I’ve fully embraced my inner workaholic and I am working a full time job, part time job, and then an internship. I don’t need to work this much, but I find it fun. I find it fun to be productive and I love the discounts at Club Monaco. But the weeks have been flying by and I haven’t had the time to enjoy my summer.

I was invited out for drinks with a few friends at Cafeteria. I’ve always wanted to try this place, but it is on the 7th Avenue and we all know how often I venture that far west. So meeting up with friends was the perfect spark to head out there. The drinks were typical for Manhattan  – $12-14 a drink. I’m pretty sure they are aware of how ridiculous the prices are because there are no prices on the online cocktail menu. But we decided to skip individual drinks and order carafes.

We asked the waitress how many drinks we can expect to pour from the carafe. “Oh, five to six!” We figured that it would bring each drink to less than ten dollars and ordered two. A friend and I shared a White Peach Punch ($40) and the other two shared a White Sangria ($30). Five minutes later, the waitress returns to our table, “Your drinks are currently being made! So does this mean that you want to order any food?” So does this mean? Why would us ordering drinks imply ordering food as well? But being the fatasses that we are, we decided to go with the Rosemary Grilled Flatbread, which consisted of hand stretched foccacia, roasted artichokes, goat cheese, truffle oil, arugula and shaved parmesan. The waitress returned with two relatively small carafes, “Oh, I brought you the big glasses so you’ll get about 4 drinks from each!” I looked around the room – there weren’t any smaller glasses. But even with four drinks, that would make my drink $10 even, and then White Sangria would be even less per drink. No big deal.

The grilled flatbread came and it was out of this world. The drinks were strong and we were maintaining a nice buzz, but my friend and me decided to order another carafe. We tried a sip of our friends’ White Sangria and it was great, so we bought one of those. She came back with two new glasses – one of which was smaller than the other, so we realized that she wasn’t a conniving bitch. But we filled those to the brim and only received two glasses each from it. Chugged those.

The bill came and I just threw down my credit card. I’ll worry about how much I charged to it later. I just wanted the night to be fun. I’ve been working too hard and this was the perfect reward. I felt young and free again.

Dunkin Donuts: The NYU Way

NYU brilliantly extended their meal plans to include one special Dunkin Donuts located in their University Hall (UHall) building on 14th Street. You can either use your dining dollars or meal swipes to pay for it. A meal consists of a drink and a sandwich or two donuts. We regretfully ordered Dunkin Donuts coffee for our first few times, but after pleading to the workers, they informed us that we can order a latte instead. Iced large French vanilla latte with four splenda and non-fat milk? Solid order. It isn’t Starbucks, but it isn’t as bad as Dunkin Donuts coffee. Apparently the difference between coffee and a latte is pressing a different button. Who knew?

I always eat and hang out with the same best friend, so we thought to share a meal plan this summer. We only spent half of our twelve meal swipes this week and they were about to expire, so we went to Dunkin Donuts to spend the remaining six swipes. What did we order? Rather: what didn’t we order?

  • 2 Large iced lattes, non-fat milk, four splenda, one French vanilla and the other caramel
  • 2 Bottles of water
  • 1 Bottle of Mountain Dew (not sure why we bought that)
  • 1 Bottle of Orange Juice
  • 2 Sausage, egg and cheeses, one on garlic and the other on sesame
  • 1 Tuna fish sandwich on a plain bagel
  • 1 Turkey cheddar flat
  • 1 Boston cream donut
  • 1 Long John donut
  • 1 Bavarian cream donut
  • 1 Powdered donut
We devoured it all within eight hours.

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