I wanted to treat Ben (and myself) to a little something special for our recent trip to New York, so I booked us seats at Dominique Ansel’s after-hours, 7-course, dessert-only, 8-seat tasting menu, Unlimited Possibilities (U.P.).
I first learned of U.P. from my friend Michelle, who wrote an amazing write-up for the “First Memories Last Forever” menu that was available last year. The thought and execution of a menu that was designed around memorable “firsts” really drew me in, and I loved seeing how they used dessert to evoke these experiences and tell a story.
(I’m going to tell you right now that I was not impressed with the desserts. They were a lot more fun to look at than they were to eat. We left starving and unsatisfied.)
This season’s menu theme is “American Dreams“. (The theme changes every 6 months.) Each course is meant to evoke a different era of American dreams, beginning with the gold rush and ending with viral video. There is an additional wine pairing option, although we didn’t opt for that because we don’t drink very much so it didn’t seem worth it. We were, however, given a champagne flute of sparkling apple cider (one of my favorites!) to kick off the evening as they lowered the table from the ceiling.
We were then served a savory amuse-bouche because it’s supposed to be an inverted tasting, so because all our courses were sweet, courses that would ordinarily be sweet were savory.
Our first course, Eureka!, was meant to evoke the gold rush. This was an interactive course, where we had to sift for gold nuggets. The “dirt” was coffee grounds were brewed during our meal and given to us at the end of our meal as a cold brew to enjoy. I didn’t realize that one of the nuggets was a sourdough bread pudding…? This was pretty fun to sieve through and the cold dessert was refreshing considering how hot it was outside. (A little messy, though, with the coffee grounds and lack of utensils to eat this with… Not exactly finger food!)
Last time on NYC 2016, we were a lot more successful with the alliterative post titles… and we really tried to experience some more typical tourist activities like Smorgasburg (which I left the island of Manhattan for, yes) and Broadway and even some shopping in Times Square, which both of us have learned to avoid. It was time for our last full day in my home city.
Note: I took almost no photos this day EXCEPT at our dessert-dinner, which will get its own dedicated post, so brace yourself for a lot of text and not a lot of pictures to go with it, sorry!
One thing I came away from our latest trip to New York with was the feeling that we managed to do so much this trip without exhausting ourselves. We had a lot of activities, but I didn’t plan every minute of every hour. We had a lot of leisure time built in. (Remember those cuh-razy naps in the middle of the day? Unheard of for me.)
We made plans to get dim sum with Ben’s friends that we were partying with in Koreatown the other night (which was bonus time with them, as we had only planned for dim sum!), so Sunday morning we headed down to Chinatown. Dim sum in Chinatown on the weekends is a great opportunity for catching up, because you will be waiting in line for a while. We wound up being seated fastest at Joy Luck Palace, which, to be honest, I wouldn’t visit again. The food was all pretty meh and we had to specially ask for egg custard tarts, aka dan ta 蛋挞! Those should be standard, not something we ask them to make for us and then wait half an hour to eat. (But shout out to the manager who did acquiesce our request for those little golden delights.) Also, in a show of who is truly more popular in the New York metropolitan area, Ben’s old college roommate’s family showed up for dim sum and I got to meet a lot of family members that I didn’t get to see when they graduated!
(There was also a lot of Pokemon Go, as the app had just been released a few days prior to our trip and there were a lot of Pokestops in the area!)
After dim sum, we chilled for a bit in Columbus Park while waiting for some other folks to meet us. My friend Yufeng showed me Columbus Park for the first time when I visited a little while ago and it is like a tiny piece of China in the middle of Chinatown. There are seniors doing tai chi and a lot of small kids running around with their grandmothers calling after them. Old men playing Chinese chess in their singlets, middle-aged ladies doing choreography for fitness. Often, there will be some music playing to accompany the dancing and/or tai chi. It’s a really serene park that I love spending down time relaxing in. We chilled while watching a local league basketball game go down (they were really good!) and I panicked once when a small child ran directly to me for help in tying off his water balloon. (It’s like he knew that tying off water balloons is one of the skills I was too afraid to learn?!)
With the whole crew assembled (and a few new Pokemon for our friends), we walked over to the Bowery Beer Garden (located beneath the Wyndham Garden Chinatown) to watch the much-anticipated UEFA Euro Final between Portugal and France. We got there pretty late as far as a good view of the TVs went, but we were still able to enjoy the game. Soccer is one of the few sports that I get really into watching, but I haven’t been following for a while. When asked which team I was rooting for, I didn’t know until the end when Portugal scored their sole, game-winning goal and I felt devastated. Evidently, I was rooting for France! It was a lot of fun to watch the game, despite how hot and mosquito-y the day had started to feel.
Ben and I then parted ways with our friends to start heading over to Greenwich Village for our dinner reservation. Well, dinner might not be entirely accurate. I wanted to treat Ben to something special, so I got us seats at Unlimited Possibilities (U.P.) by Dominique Ansel. I will have a more in-depth review coming up soon, but it is an 8-seat tasting menu of all desserts. The theme of ours was American Dreams, with each course based on a different era of American success and ideals. I would definitely recommend eating a light dinner beforehand, as the courses, while well-thought out, aren’t very big. And it is dessert! (We scarfed down some more Joe’s Pizza in Washington Square Park before heading inside because duh.) It was a really nice experience that I’m glad we could try once.
Holding little silver balloons and bellies full of sweets, we headed back up to our hotel to meet one of my oldest friends, who lived just a few blocks away. (I thought he had moved, but he’s still there after a few years!) We had a quick catch-up late-night meal at BXL Eastand it was just like old times. I’ve known him since I was 12 and no matter how much time passes between us talking, we fall really easily back into laughter and jokes, which I appreciate so so much.
Our last morning in New York, we woke up, enjoyed our coffee parting gifts from U.P., and munched on pastries at the nearby Paris Baguette, which may be becoming a departure tradition for me. Then, one last yellow cab trip to the Javitz Center to reminisce about a very boring conference for Ben and away on our bus we went.
And you can bet we got Bojangles upon returning to DC this time.
What is a treat-yo-self meal that you like to indulge in when you visit New York? It was my first time doing a ~fancy~ meal but I know there are a lot of other ways to blow cash on good food in the city!
What are your favorite dim sum dishes? Mine are the 凤爪 chicken feet (!!), the 蝦肠粉shrimp in rice noodle rolls, and 蛋挞 egg custard tarts, among many others.
Where else should we have visited in New York? We can go next time!