Duck noodle soup and chicken veggie dumplings at Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles

Busy little noodle joint – Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles in Chinatown

Doyer’s Street is kind of a weird looking spot, but it has the best noodle shop I’ve been to in New York City: Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles. The location subtitle on Google Maps, “Busy little noodle joint”, sums the place up pretty well. It’s a hole in the wall establishment. You could easily walk by and not even notice it was there. It’s cramped inside. In the summer, it’s hot. And, it’s always busy. Seating is very limited and you have to shift around to let people move past you. It’s totally worth it, though.

The first time I went to Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles, I wandered in by accident while on a break from jury duty. Each time, I somehow wound up at the tiny table squeezed into the corner by the front door. I haven’t come close to working my way through the menu. I usually stick with the noodle soup dishes and I’m really partial to the duck noodle soup, but I find it hard to believe I would be really disappointed by something they prepared. The food just has a good, authentic, quality taste to it without being unreasonably expensive. Most of the soups are about $9 – $10 a bowl, but the portions are large.

Chinatown, New York City

The only thing that’s a little annoying about the place is that it’s a cash-only establishment. Luckily, there’s a Chase bank across the street with ATMs so it’s not too big a deal. I’ve noticed that a lot of Asian restaurants are switching to cash-only lately. I wonder why? I try to not carry cash. Lately, I’ve even cut down on the cards I carry. My Galaxy S7 has Samsung Pay and it works really well. It also has a rewards program.

If you want dessert, you can stop by Taiyaki NYC over on Baxter Street on your way to the train station on Canal Street. It’s a Japanese ice cream place that is pretty popular. The original, vanilla soft-serve in a fish pastry with warm custard, chocolate syrup, strawberries and a wafer cookie is pretty awesome.

View of the Statue of Liberty in the distance from the water taxi to Red Hook, Brooklyn from Pier 11 Slip A in Manhattan.

The Water Taxi Ride from Manhattan Pier 11 Slip A to Red Hook IKEA/Fairways

On the weekends, there is a free water taxi that travels between Pier 11, Slip A, in Manhattan and piers at Fairways and IKEA in Red Hook, Brooklyn on a regular schedule. It also operates on weekdays but it’s not free. On weekdays, each ticket is $5, but if you keep your ticket receipt and make a purchase at IKEA they’ll deduct that $5, making the ride to the store essentially free.

These are some pictures from the ride there and back:

Water Taxi from Manhattan to Brooklyn and Back Again
On the way out, it started raining right as we boarded, but the boat traveled out from under the clouds and I took a few pictures. On the way back it was much nicer.The boat passes Governor’s Island and the Statue of Liberty is visible in the distance, though I wouldn’t recommend this ride as a good way to get a close, free view of that statue. You’re better off riding the Staten Island Ferry for that, which is also free and passes close to Ellis Island.

The boat passes Governor’s Island and the Statue of Liberty is visible in the distance. I don’t recommend riding this water taxi for a free view of the Statue of Liberty, though. It’s too far away. You’re better off riding the Staten Island Ferry for that, which is also free and passes close to Ellis Island. You just have to make sure you board near the front of the line and stand on the balcony on the correct side of the boat.

When we exited the boat at IKEA, a lot of families walked straight to the parking lot and got in their cars to leave. It looks like they used IKEA’s parking lot for free parking and the boat for a free ride into the city. It makes sense, from a money point of view. Parking isn’t cheap in NYC and the boat drops you off a short walk from Battery Park and quite a few museums.

I also noticed that when you’re leaving the IKEA pier, you pass an NYPD impound lot on the left. There are hundreds of vehicles there, including lots of motorcycles. The motorcycles weren’t covered and they were right by the ocean. I can’t imagine the salt water spray is very good for them.

Anyhow, the water taxi ride is a great way to have some free fun if you’re on your way to IKEA, Fairways, or just Brooklyn in general and you have the time. Or if the trains aren’t running between Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn on the weekend, which is almost every weekend.

Facing South on Broadway at 168th Street

Winter Storm Jonas in Washington Heights, Manhattan, NYC

My wife and I went out walking around in Winter Storm Jonas for a while, just to see what the blizzard was doing to the city. The last time there was a storm like this, we stayed indoors and by the time we went out, there was nothing left but slush and those crappy puddles on the corners that you have to wade through to cross the street.

When we went out, the snow was still coming down really hard, but it was supposed to snow well into the night, so that wasn’t surprising. It was oddly quiet outside, besides the wind. There were more people out than we expected, but the neighborhood was mostly deserted. Even Starbucks was closed. We didn’t expect anything to be open. We just wanted to have a look around. I was pretty surprised to see a few stores open and some people trying to deliver food. Gristedes was open. It looked like Famiglia was open. I saw two guys come out carrying delivery bags. They ran to a car though and drove off so I’m not sure if they were trying to do a delivery or leave for the day. One of the guys was the franchise owner. I recognized him from when they were moving and renovating the store.

Delivery man pushing his bicycle through the snow.

Delivery man pushing his bicycle through the snow.

There was a delivery guy trying to ride his bicycle through the snow in the road at 168th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, but he wasn’t really doing too well and gave up. I watched him get off his bike and then start pushing it through the snow. There were no snow plows on the roads keeping them clear, or if there were they weren’t doing the job well enough because of the rate of snow accumulation. I felt bad for the guy.

After we took some pictures we decided to go grab a few things from Gristedes. It was fun walking inside, covered in snow and I took some time to warm my hands by the rotisserie chicken display. When we left the store, we saw a dog sitting there in the snow, tied to the guard around the bottom of the tree. I was pretty concerned. The dog had a layer of snow on its fur and it was holding one paw up. The dog was obviously uncomfortable and didn’t want to stand in the snow. He was angry and barking. We couldn’t leave until we knew the dog was okay. Other people walking by kept commenting that they couldn’t believe someone left the dog like that. People inside Gristedes were looking out the window at the dog. A guy walked out of Gristedes and said he’d seen the dog sitting there when he went into the store about 10 minutes prior, so me and the guy went inside to look for the owner.

It’s too much, you know? Leaving a dog out there, tied up with snow falling on him. So, I went inside and yelled out, “Does anyone here own the dog that is tied to the tree outside? It’s been there for more than 10 minutes. That’s really inhumane! If you don’t get your dog I’m going to call the police!” When people realized a dog had been left outside in the blizzard, a few people started to comment angrily on the situation. No one acknowledged that they owned the dog, so I walked further back into the store and yelled, “If someone owns the dog that has been tied up to the tree outside for more than 10 minutes, you need to go get your dog and take him home. It’s inhumane to leave a dog outside in a blizzard and I’m going to call the police. Also, you’re an asshole!” Because really, you have to be an asshole to leave the dog tied up outside, exposed to weather conditions so severe. This was the second worst blizzard the city has ever had and the wind chill brought the temperature down to about 14° F.

While I was doing this, my wife and another woman untied the dog and brought him under the shelter of the canopy along the edge of the building. The dog was visibly relieved. By the time I got back outside, the owner had run out there to take the dog home. I hope she doesn’t do it again. I wonder if I should have just called the police and/or animal control anyway? What if this is normal for this person?

Anyhow, it was sort of a damper on the fun we were having, but we were glad we saved the dog from a bit of suffering he might have otherwise experienced if we had chosen not to go out, or not stop. We also enjoyed the adventure of walking around out in the blizzard. We were going to try to do our laundry today, but it just didn’t happen. I looked at the news about how the transit system wasn’t even up and running around noon today, so we just did some cleaning around the house and I’ll have to do the laundry tomorrow night after I get home from work. By then, shop owners should have salted the sidewalks and everything should be open. It would have been really disappointing to haul laundry through snow drifts to the laundromat only to find out it wasn’t open.

We never lost power or heat or any other service, so it was a pretty cozy, awesome kind of weekend, mostly holed up at home watching TV and staying warm. I have my snow boots ready for tomorrow.

Allegiance, with George Takei & Lea Salonga

In November, I told my wife that we would go see Allegiance for her birthday. She wasn’t so much interested in the show for the sake of the story, but because she’s a big fan of Lea Salonga and Miss Saigon. Miss Saigon hasn’t played in New York City since we’ve been here, but Lea has a starring role in Allegiance. As a bonus, George Takei stars in the play as well and I’ve really enjoyed him as an actor and as a person since I first saw him in Star Trek as a kid. His Facebook account is hilarious.

I was told later that Allegiance was based on Takei’s childhood. He actually went through a Japanese internment camp during World War II. We really did go into the show blind, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying the story or the actors’ performances. The parts were well played. Everyone knew their lines. There was no stuttering. The dancing scenes were a lot of fun. The music was good.

I think what I enjoyed most about the show was the way it attempted to address complex ideas of identity, belonging and citizenship. Questions 27 and 28 of a loyalty questionnaire given to Japanese internees played a prominent role in the play. The audience is told what those questions are, but I felt like there should have been more explanation about why answering “yes” to those two questions was such a huge moral dilemma for many Japanese-Americans. Having the main character’s father say it impinges Japanese “honor” did not really convey the complexity of being singled out as a group and being made to affirm loyalty to the United States when one was already an American by birth and upbringing. You kind of pick up on it throughout the play, but only if you’re really paying attention. I suppose one doesn’t go to a play to be mindlessly entertained, though. It’s supposed to be thought provoking.

Not to take away from the suffering of Japanese-Americans during World War II, but I was reminded of the problems that many Muslim-Americans are facing today. They are being singled out as a group and subjected to additional scrutiny. Their loyalty, or allegiance to the United States, is questioned in the same way that Japanese-Americans’ allegiance to the United States was questioned.

The fact that Muslim Americans weren’t rounded up and placed in internment camps shows that most of us learned something from our previous mistakes, or at least the people who can make those sorts of decisions learned something. But, we’re walking on a thin line. It wouldn’t be hard for the balance to shift and to wake up one day and find people being deported to concentration/internment camps again. I mean, look at how popular Trump is with Republican voters. Sometimes the guy says something that makes sense, but even a monkey could type a coherent sentence if he sits in front of a keyboard long enough. Trump represents the worst of our past and the desire of some to return to a period of selective privilege that leaves everyone who isn’t a white male in second place at best.

Anyhow, coming back to the topic of this post, the play was excellent, thought provoking, a critical look at our past and relevant to contemporary affairs. I would recommend it to anyone interested in human drama, history, US politics, race relations, or just a good story.

The Longacre theater, where the play is shown, is a little cold. The seats are a little close together and they didn’t open the doors until 6:30 PM, meaning the line was still out the door at 7:00 PM when the curtain was supposed to go up. If you’re planning on going, show up around 6:15 PM to be at the front of the line.

Also, the concessions stand wasn’t impressive, but I haven’t been to a lot of plays so I don’t have a frame of reference and I imagine the audience is expected to be different from the one you find packed into a typical movie theater.

 

Sunday Afternoon in Central Park – Pictures

It’s really hot today. We were going to do something fun, like go over the Brooklyn bridge, but with it being over 90, with the heat advisory and the air quality advisory, we decided to just stay at home. I dragged our portable air conditioner out of the back of the closet and set it up, to take the edge off the heat. Now we’re watching a True Detective Marathon to catch up to the second season. It seems pretty good, so far.

19085556263_e5681e0060_o

Last Sunday, the weather wasn’t that bad, so after we visited FAO Schwarz for the last time, we sat in Central Park for a while, by that little pond (called “The Pond”) in the southeast corner by the Central Park Zoo, and had a mini-picnic. It was nice. There were a lot of people out there hanging out, relaxing. Smooth breeze, a lot of chatter, the sun shining on the water as it set. It was nice, sitting there, doing nothing for a while. I read for a bit. I picked up this book called Ready Player One, about a future where the world is suffering an energy crisis and most people retreat to an online 3D virtual simulation called the OASIS. I’m liking it so far.

19085563253_68c8c035c3_o

The Pond, looking south towards 59th Street.

A girl laying on the huge rock overlooking the Victoria Gardens Amusement Park.

A girl laying on the huge rock overlooking the Victoria Gardens Amusement Park.

Southern Central Park

Southern Central Park

The Sheep Meadow

The Sheep Meadow

Just a cool lightpost.

Just a cool light post.

After we’d sat for a while and it was starting to get dark, we packed up to leave. We walked across to the west side and exited by 70th street afterwards to catch the train. It was a really great way to spend a late afternoon and evening.

A neat looking building on the west side of Central Park, around 67th Street or so.

A neat looking building on the west side of Central Park, around 67th Street or so.