Labor Day Eeeeeats| NYC 2017

(Previously, on NYC 2017, we enjoyed some Manhattan fan favorites, a cultural festival that shut down several city blocks, and a great Broadway musical.)

Labor Day rolled around and, after sleeping in a bit (necessary after our strange ritual of watching lat night movies during our stay…), we headed out for lunch at Momosan Ramen (review). I didn’t realize this until we sat down, but this is one of Chef Morimoto’s restaurants. (I don’t follow celebrity chefs at all, so I am often very oblivious about their restaurants and never recognize them in my friends’ excited photos.) They were offering a sake flight and the waitress looked intimidatingly too-cool-for-school so we decided to go for it because the restaurant is technically Momosan Ramen & Sake, despite the fact that I don’t really drink and I definitely don’t really drink sake. I only lament that they weren’t serving the Peking duck baos during lunch, as I could see a roast duck literally dangling in front of my face as I ate, but when I asked what deliciousness I could order to acquire it, I was told that duck was only on the dinner menu.

Momosan interior
Our seat at the bar gave us a great view of the front of the house and these roast ducks
Chashu don
Ben’s chashu don (pork rice bowl)
Kakuni bao
Kakuni bao (pork belly bun)
Zuke don
My zuke don (raw marinated tuna rice bowl)
Sake flight
Our sake flight
Tonkotsu ramen
Yum tonkotsu ramen!
The spread
The complete spread for lunch

From there, we decided to walk the High Line from beginning to end, since it is one of our favorite spots in New York (and one of my favorite spots of all time) but we’ve always started walking from somewhere in the middle. We quickly realized that walking the High Line on a weekday evening is very different from walking on a weekend during daylight hours, as the park was crazy crowded. It was also still very warm out, so the many ice cream, paleta, and gelato vendors were doing really well up there. I swiped a yellow watermelon + mint paleta and it was oh-so-refreshing.

Enjoying a yellow watermelon and mint paleta on the High Line
Mmm that paleta really hit the spot

I held back from getting any ice cream or gelato because I actually wanted us to get ice cream in Chelsea when we finished walking the High Line. We first walked past Dominique Ansel Bakery, which I learned was selling their Japan-exclusive Crème de la Corn only during Labor Day weekend. Our timing was pretty perfect, because it was the last day they were serving this treat in New York and they were about to open the ice cream window. (By the time we walked away with our ice cream, the line was very long.)

Creme de la Corn
Caramel sweet corn soft serve on a soy sauce and butter-glazed cob of sweet corn. Messy, and a bit weird, but tasty!

Caramel and corn soft serve was a novel and interesting flavor experience that I liked! It was a different kind of summery taste that wasn’t too sweet, and the actual corn was very delicious. (It is grilled and then glazed with soy sauce and butter! So yum!) That was a fun and unexpected detour, since I honestly did not think I would be able to make it before it ran out. But on to the ice cream I planned for! I wanted to try some of the other ice cream flavors, but we had more ice cream plans ahead of us! From Dominique Ansel, we walked a few blocks to Van Leeuwen Ice Cream. There was a line wrapping around the corner shop but we didn’t mind waiting because it was kind of a perfect golden afternoon moment. That part of the city is quiet and residential, we were approaching golden hour with warm, golden rays of sunshine filtering through the brownstones and the trees, and we were about to eat ice cream after having just eaten ice cream. The ice cream itself wasn’t as sweet as the idyllic moment we enjoyed walking to the shop but it was still very yummy.

Van Leeuwen ice cream
Sesame and pistachio at golden hour at Van Leeuwen’s

There was no way in heck we were going to not visit Joe’s Pizza (review) while we were in their neck of the woods. Joe’s is one of my favorite places to get a New York slice and is one of the few establishments I revisit nearly every time I come back to the city, if for no other reason than to see if the wall of celebrity faces has been updated while biting into that perfect crust + sauce.

Pizza at Joe's
A plain and a pep’. These slices bring me to happy tears every time.

Bellies full of pizza and ice cream (honestly, why do we front so much as though children’s birthday party menus are beneath us), we strolled over to Washington Square Park for our annual sit and chill there. It was cooling down, golden hour was in full swing, there was music and laughter and doggos. And this time, I didn’t even run into any rats, it was pretty blissful.

Washington Square on Labor Day
Chillin’ with some doggos in the square

From there, it was time to meet up with my old friend Elvin, so we headed back uptown to meet at Socarrat for tapas and paella. I got to finally meet his girlfriend Emily (after years of us missing each other during my visits) and we had a lot of laughs together over food.

Seafood paella at Soccarat
A giant seafood paella at Soccarat

Half-jokingly, I asked “Where to for dessert?”, fully aware that I had just eaten ice cream at two different establishments. But dessert is no joking matter, and we found ourselves walking to Serendipity 3. Despite having heard about this famous restaurant for so long, this was my first ever visit! We were way too stuffed for the famous frozen hot chocolate, so we tried to get the least unhealthy dessert we could manage and wound up with a very fruity sundae. (They let the 4 of us split one dessert because the restaurant wasn’t too crowded, but ordinarily they have a minimum spend amount per person.) It was very yummy, despite the fact that I was eating mostly whipped cream most of the time because the lemon ice cream I was looking forward to was hidden on the other side of the bowl. I don’t know if I get the hype about the Tiffany lamps, which just made the entire restaurant look really kitschy, but I watched Serendipity for the first time fairly recently and it was pretty magical to be there with good friends and a super duper full belly.

Seasonal icebox sundae
We justified getting this amazing icebox cake + lemon ice cream sundae because… it had the most fruit in it of all the desserts?
Friends at Serendipity
So happy to be making responsible choices like eating a third serving of ice cream that day

We parted ways from Elvin and Emily and slowly ambled our way back to the hotel. It was a beautiful night, and we weren’t quite ready to leave New York, even though we had another adventure waiting on the other side.

Do you have go-to ramen / pizza / ice cream places in the city? We always stop by Joe’s, and our fondest ramen memory is of Ippudo because that was our first-ever ramen experience! I don’t know if I have a go-to for ice cream yet.

Do you like Serendipity 3? I knew it for a long time because of the Babysitters Club (it was Stacy’s favorite!) and then came to know of its rom-com fame (Kate Beckinsale is a beautiful goddess walking among mortals). I have been trying to plan out a NYC rom-com guide blog so let me know if you’d be interested in that!

3 Northern Virginia Ramen Spots

Ah yes, the cooler months have finally arrived (after a second summer heat wave…), so you know that means I will be all over that noodles in hot broth game. I have been living in Northern Virginia for a little bit, so I thought I’d take some time to talk to you about the ramen options you have in this region. And we’re not talking about ramen the instant noodle, but rather that picturesque big ol’ bowl of noodles, an umami-licious broth, and yummy toppings. (Not knocking the instant variety of ramen!)

MARUMEN // 3250 Old Pickett Rd Fairfax, VA 22031 // (703) 352-6278


Marumen is one of our go-to spots when we are craving ramen. It is not the most expensive option of the ones in the area, the broth is always on point, and they give all the toppings I want in bowl of ramen. Taste-wise and value-wise, this is the spot I most recommend to folks. They also do tsukemen (dipping-style) ramen, with fun names: Astro Boy, Ultraman, and Godzilla. Bonus: Complimentary edamame at the beginning of your meal and free iced/hot black tea.

JINYA // 2911 District Ave Suite 140 Fairfax, VA, 22031 // (703) 992-7705


Jinya is one of the newer ramen joints in the area and is the first DMV location of the trendy California chain. When you walk in, all the servers in their plaid shirts shout… something. (I still don’t know what this is.) I really like the flavors of their ramen bowls here. They have some unique flavors and will give you a jar of garlic cloves and a garlic press – free of charge – if you want to add some freshly-pressed garlic puree to your bowl. I also like their combos, although we’ve had some issues with the appetizer part of the combo coming out before our ramen. They also have an extensive drink menu and are in the poppin’ Mosaic District in Fairfax.

KIZUNA // 8221 Leesburg Pike Vienna, VA 22182 // (703) 442-7888


Kizuna was the most convenient option for us to visit and their happy hour often appealed to us. You can get sushi, a sake tasting, and just a plethora of options, really. There is also a super lovely outdoor seating area when the weather is nice! However, I’ve found their bowls to be very hit-or-miss. My first visit here almost made me not want to come back. We visited several times after, but then one of the last times I went, the ramen simply didn’t taste good. I’m also a little salty that they don’t include the egg with a standard bowl; I don’t think this is an optional topping! Still, you can’t beat their happy hour options.

I haven’t tried all the options in DC yet, but I am making my way through a few of them.

What DMV ramen spots are your favorite that I should try?

Hot Air Balloons, Lieutenant Dan, and Chaplin’s

This was one of my more eventful weekends that have come to pass, so I thought I’d take some time to share these memories so that I can look back and remember them fondly.

Turf Valley Hot Air Balloon Festival (Friday)

I nearly didn’t go, and honestly, I don’t think I would’ve missed out on much if I opted not to go. I had been excited about the festival because I’ve only ever seen one hot air balloon at a time at fairs and the like, and friends’ photos from the Thursday night festivities. Thursday night photos got me very excited because the sun finally came out on Thursday (that rainy weather streak just hasn’t let up much…) so the bright balloons against the blue sky and white clouds, or in the golden hour glow, were really beautiful…

Look at how perfect this day looks? Photo by Laurie, aka @dccitygirl

Well, my outing to Turf Valley wasn’t quite as successful. It took me an hour and a half to drive over, whereas it usually takes me about an hour to drive to that area. I was planning on parking at my friend’s house, as he lives about a mile away from Turf Valley Resort, but there was so much traffic in this residential neighborhood that I had to just park my car where I was and walk two miles, adding another half an hour to the amount of time I had invested in this outing…Read More »

January Favorites

I know that I’ve been a bit all over the place with update schedules (and I completely dropped the ball on my daily photo resolution this weekend)  but I thought this might be a nice time to just do an end-of-month recap!


What can I say, I really loved this movie. I cannot recommend it enough. My write-up was really long, I know, but please consider seeing it. It didn’t get 9 Oscar nominations for nothing! Run, do not walk, to go see it.

Seeing an old friend after 10+ years

In 2004, I met my friend Tammy at nerd camp. As per usual for me, we fell out of touch over the years. BUT our friendship was rekindled in the past few years as we both struggled with the decision to leave the pre-med life. She helped me a lot with the decision to walk away from something I was no longer happy to do. She was in town this past weekend — and actually used to live in the building next to mine! — so we caught up for brunch. It was a lot of fun to see her again after soooooo long.

We didn’t take any photos Sunday, so here is — apparently — the most recent photo of us. From 2004. I’ll let you guess who is me and who is Tammy (and who is everyone else).


Kale chips

Okay, so. I have been 5 months potato chip-clean. Prior to this, I was eating an entire family-sized bag of crispy, crunchy goodness every day. Maybe two bags a day. It was bad. I’m finally getting control of my life back to the point where I am not thinking about chips all day, every day. (It was a serious problem, there was a lot of crying.)

I also haven’t been eating as healthily as I should be, so I went and bought a big bag of kale the last time I went grocery shopping and tried my hand at making some kale chips.

YOU GUYS they were surprisingly so tasty and practically healthy! My recipe is simple:

Put washed and dried kale on a baking sheet. (Removing stalks optional.) Drizzle olive oil over top. Sprinkle seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, Old Bay, whatever) over top BUT be sure to sprinkle sparingly. Use less than you think you’ll need, as kale shrinks significantly when roasting. Massage oil+seasoning into the kale until all coated. Put in oven at 375-400°F for 20 minutes.

Super yummy, really easy, almost healthy, and helps avoid potato-chip relapse.

Chinese sausage (lapchang)

I went vegetarian a few years ago and I was doing just fine with that. But there were 3 reasons I could not fully give up meat:

  1. Korean barbecue
  2. Hotpot/shabu-shabu
  3. Chinese sausage

That’s how good Chinese sausage is, you guys. If you haven’t had it before, it’s a cured sausage that has a lot of rendered fat in it. It tastes sweet and is juicy and makes everything taste good. I’m planning on attempting a recipe that I have never tried before featuring Chinese sausage so keep an eye out for that! And go buy a package if you know what’s good for you. I just added a sausage to some leftovers I wasn’t really thrilled about finishing and I ate every last morsel.

Peanut butter in ramen

I’ve heard this as a “hack” for ramen many, many times, but I was always very hesitant to try it. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! I love ramen and my specific brands of instant noodles; why would I do anything to alter it?

But peanut butter is real good, lemme tell ya. It thickens the broth a bit and adds a little sumfin-sumfin to the whole ramen experience. Adding a dollop of peanut butter is now part of my standard ramen process, along with adding veggies and poaching an egg.

Studying for the GMAT

At first, I was going to say that I love being post-GMAT. While I like it, I think I actually liked being in the throes of GMAT-studying just a wee bit more. Am I a masochist? Maybe. But it felt nice to have been able to — however temporarily — discipline myself to follow a study schedule and to be able to measure my progress concretely by ways of score increases. Being in-between full-time jobs as I am, I really miss having a more rigid structure in my day and being able to see improvements or progress in a concrete way.

Most of these were food-related, but who’s surprised?

February holds a lot of promise, I think. Chinese New Year is coming up! And right before then, I’ll be giving something up for Lent as per my annual tradition now. Valentine’s Day is coming up and I’m going to be mixing it up a bit this year for that.

PLUS look how gorgeous February looks on a [US] calendar [where the week begins on Sunday]:

  • Tell me about your January! What were some of your fond memories?

Friday Favorites (6)

Haven’t done a Friday Favorites in a while, so let’s just jump right in:

Hot Noodle Soups

We had a sudden drop in temperatures, from mid-60s to mid-30s, here in the DC area. And really, what satisfies you like a hot noodle soup? Specifically, I start to get very consistent cravings for pho, ramen, and jjampong.

Some of the pho and jjambbong I’ve had this past month

I also love going home to my parents’ house and eating bone soup with some rice noodles in them. (You know those big pork bones that you can just slurp the marrow out of? Yah, those are the ones.) There are so many comforting feelings that come with hot noodle soups: the smell coming up with steam, the first sensation as you take your first slurp of hot soup, the feeling as the hot soup goes down into your belly.

If you eat with me in the colder months and ask me what we should eat, there is a good chance I will suggest some form of hot noodle soup. I haven’t been able to have too many this week, but with another brutal winter up ahead, you can be sure I’ll have plenty.

Cooking Videos

Some of you may remember that I had a brief obsession with makeup tutorials a few years back. I never used any of them, but I felt like I was theoretically armed with the ability to create these stunning makeup looks. (I’m not.)

These days, I spend a lot more time watching cooking videos. Again, I’m not actually applying the stuff I’m watching, really, but I feel like I can apply this theory later on. This has been a lot more productive for me, as I do cook but I don’t wear makeup. Usually, I’ll end up watching Sorted Food or Gordon Ramsay. (I guess I just like watching British guys cook food? The accent makes it more compelling.)

Here’s one of my favorites by Sorted:

Warning: This chocolate cake looks sinfully good. You probably will drool watching.

And here’s the iconic video from Gordon Ramsay:

If you aren’t making eggs like this, apparently we’re wrong. Very wrong.

Big Hero 6 Easter Egg

I won’t spoil it for you, but, this is a Marvel film. And if you know Marvel movies, then you know Stan Lee shows up in [nearly] all of them in some way or another. (Since he didn’t have a hand in the Guardians of the Galaxy, he is not in that movie and likely will not be in any future GotG movies.)

So, with Marvel’s first animated feature, we do have a Stan Lee cameo! You might miss it for just a moment in the middle of the movie, but if you stick around after the credits, it’s a confirmed Generalissimo appearance.

Jasmine Tea

I don’t know why, but I put off buying new jasmine tea for a while. Partially because  I already have tea, partially because I could’ve sworn I had some at my parents’ house, partially because I’m lazy.

Finally got myself one of those yellow tins of looseleaf tea and I am so glad I finally did. Jasmine is maybe my favorite variety of tea because of the fragrance. (I love the smell of jasmine.) Drank maybe too many cups today but that’s all right, I have a bathroom, it’s all good.

National Museum of Natural History

After 8 years of living in Maryland, I haven’t been to a Smithsonian museum since the 3rd grade, when I lived in New Jersey. So, for Veteran’s Day/our anniversary, Ben and I went to the natural history museum. It was SO nice! Even though the dinosaur exhibit was closed for renovations, which really disappointed Ben. BUT BUT BUT the live butterfly room is free entry on Tuesdays and I got to just be enchanted by all these fluttering little butterflies. It’s so great, I love museums and the Smithsonians are cream of the crop. AND THEY’RE FREE.

Spending Time with Ben

This week had both our anniversary and Ben’s birthday, so I got to spend a lot of time with him and give him gifts! I feel like we got to spend some really quality time together and I am just really grateful to have him in my life. Spending time with my better half always makes me happy!

What have you been liking lately?
What do you crave in the cold months?
Any fun weekend plans?