Last time on NYC 2016, we wrapped up Friday with a lot of food adventuring with my brother before finishing out the evening dancing in Koreatown with Ben’s college friends. Saturday, I finally ventured off the island of Manhattan…
Saturday morning, Ben and I woke up bright-eyed and ready for something we had been waiting months to taste again: bagels. Bagels are one of those foods I really took for granted when I left the New York metropolitan area. I like them in general, but I have a special feeling when I eat the ones from my home metro region. (And while I’ll eat basically any bagel I see, I know a bad bagel.) Pizza and bagels in my home city can bring tears to my eyes. So we headed to the nearest bagel shop to us. Luckily, it was a block away and a traditional Jewish bagel joint! We were in luck!
JUST KIDDING it was Ess-a-Bagel, one of the most popular bagel shops in the city, especially among tourists. We wound up waiting in line for literally 2 hours. I loathe waiting in line, especially for food, but there weren’t many bagels shops nearby and I figured if I was going to wait for something while in New York, a really great bagel was worth it.
I also decided to finally try a bialy! Yet another food item that I didn’t know I was taking for granted until I left the area and saw nary a mention of the traditional Polish pastry.
After filling up on bagels… it was time for us to meet my friend Ying to leave the island (!!!) and head to Brooklyn for Smorgasburg. Smorgasburg is the “Brooklyn food flea market” and has become really well-known as a spot where many innovative food vendors can set up shop on the weekends for foodies to try their wares. It is home to many Instagram-famous foods, like the Ramenburger. Now I was pretty apprehensive about Smorgasburg for a bunch of reasons, like my hesitance to leave Manhattan for food when there is food aplenty all over the island, my general side-eyed skepticism of Brooklyn and Williamsburg’s hipster scene, my extreme side-eyed skepticism about the hype of the food at Smorgasburg, to name a few. But I was still excited to finally experience this foodie haven that so many people have been urging me to try out, despite already knowing that nothing would taste as good as the Instagram hype was big.
It was a very grey day, but the people were very colorful. And some of the food was really colorful, too! Ying really wanted to see if the Raindrop Cake was worth the Instagram hype, despite my many warnings that it would not be. (Verdict: It is really not. It’s colorless, flavorless gelatin with a decent sauce on top.) While he was being disappointed by that, Ben and I wandered around to take it all in. I rarely go to Brooklyn, so it was nice to take in the people there and the little slice of life I could see. There were a LOT of options, and I was already seeing what was popular with other people on that dreary day, like this fresh and bright mango on a stick from Vaquero’s.
We shared a bunch of delicious foods like scallion pancake wraps (food wrapped in scallion pancakes!) from Outer Borough and a sampling of lumpia from Lumpia Shack. We also saw the smh-inducing large lines at Jianbing Co, where they are selling Chinese street food jianbing, this delicious stuff, for waaaay way more than you can get it for in China. (The reaction of Chinese street vendors to the US prices was essentially a stern head shaking.) Also, I had unplanned encounter #2 with a college friend while walking around Smorgasburg. It was so uncanny to see someone I knew waiting in line for food at Smorgasburg without pre-arranging it.
After Smorgasburg, we wandered around Artists & Fleas, this really hip indoor market that sells a lot of artisan crafts and vintage goods. There were a lot of amazing things being sold by these artists, but I was most taken by these caps that I wanted badly but knew I was not cool enough to pull off. (Maybe someday, I will achieve the right level of cool.)
After parting ways, Ben and I braved Times Square to see what tkts had to offer. I’ve never gotten Broadway tickets from tkts before, but since I had also never waited so late to buy day-of show tickets, I figured it was worth it to try! tkts is a great resource for discounted, day-of tickets. We did learn the hard way that we couldn’t go in the morning to pick up evening tickets. (Only matinee tickets were available when we first stopped by.) We picked up tickets and then headed to the Aeropostale that my friend Mimi told me was having a huge store closing sale. It was a little crazy in there, so I mostly came away with some basic items like socks. (You can never have too many socks!) (I also picked up some socks from the Disney Store because the Times Square store is magical if a bit chaotic.) Super delighted with my really cheap socks, I had unplanned encounter #3 as I walked out of Aeropostale – with Mimi herself! The kismet was strong this day and Mimi and I were really shocked to see each other at the store we had been texting about just a few hours ago.
We dropped off my socks back at the hotel, along with the sack of stuff I had Ben carrying around all day (mostly my cardigan and umbrella) since we hadn’t really needed anything in that bag. Then we went to go see Matilda, a movie I loved a lot when I was younger.
I thought the musical was a little campier and cheesier than I usually like them, but there was one musical number that really wowed me, which was “School Song” performed by the ensemble of school kids and involves some clever wordplay with the alphabet. This cast of kids was really impressive, and I had a lot of fun watching the musical.
During the show, I remember hearing a lot of thumping and drumming about. I heard whispers that it was #BlackLivesMatter protests in the wake of the shooting in Dallas that had happened just under 24 hours prior. Maybe it was people sending off Lin-Manuel Miranda on his last night performing Hamilton, the musical whose hype could not be contained and exceede it every single night it was performed.
All we knew was that when the music stopped and the lights came up, we could hear the unmistakable sound of pouring torrential rain, a few hours after deciding to stop hauling my umbrella around all day every day.
Yes, mistakes were made. There was absolutely no chance of us catching a cab with the rain, so we just… went for it. We ran from theater awning to theater awning and ducked into a souvenir shop, where we contemplated buying one of the few remaining clear bubble umbrellas for the last few blocks to the hotel.
And then we just decided whatever, briskly walked to get more Halal Guys (our priorities were in order), and then briskly walked to the hotel to dry off and to finally eat, as we hadn’t really had dinner before the show!
What Broadway show are you looking forward to seeing? (Besides Hamilton…)
What foods at Smorgasburg do you think are worth the hype? Or are you really hyped to try?