If you've been wondering why I haven't posted in a while, I've been on vacation in New York, one of my favorite cities to visit only second to Tokyo. I just got back from the trip a few days ago with a ton of photos and decided to share them rather then keeping them in my Lightroom library. Also, to keep things interesting, I'll do a quick writeup of a few places with a rating. The last time I did this is over a year ago and many readers seem to miss this type of content. Enjoy, this is part 1 of 2.
Avoid, a waste of time.
Good, but mediocre.
Great. Worth a visit.
Exceptional. A spiritual experience.
City Bus Tour
What a shit show. A poorly organized circus with incompetent staff that is simply staggering. Finding the damn place was chaos and everyone’s English was so bad people were boarding wrong buses. On top of that, our bus was 40 minutes late and not a single apology was made. There are a few companies that offer a similar service and but be sure to avoid CitySightsNY. Bus tours can offer a nice overview of a city that you don't know and provide some decent photo opportunities. But these things don’t happen when it’s being run by people that aren’t passionate about the city.
Located in an unmarked, fluorescent orange shed of some sort, Cocoron Soba is well hidden, as they're confident you'll spread word of their magnificence. I highly recommend their dip soba menus that offer delicious dipping broths that take inspiration from Indian and Korean dishes. A soba enthusiast will recognize that the noodles are too thick but the restaurant isn't trying to be traditional. They do still provide sobayu at the end of the meal though.
Grand Central Terminal
An absolutely stunning piece of architecture clearly from another era. The Grand Central Terminal’s splendor will leave anyone speechless. It's honestly the most impressive landmark I've seen in all of New York. A visit here will also allow you to take a look at the legendary Apple Store Grand Central. It's elegantly integrated into the station and almost invisible if you aren't looking.
Everyone talks about Shake Shack so I had to go. I did it properly in Madison Sq Park after waiting in an Apple-esque line. I'll admit, these burgers are damn good. The defining characteristic seems to come from the insanely soft potato buns and the perfectly crisp fries. The only reason I'm giving this place two stars is because the patties are too dry. Umami Burger still takes the crown for me.
This was easily the most recommended placed to me. I'm a big fan of ramen so I was ecstatic to give it a try. Sadly, Ippudo is overrated and overpriced. I actually went twice to make sure the kitchen wasn' t just having a bad day. But nope, this place is just mediocre at best. The broth is universally bland, the noodles over-cooked and the pork stiff. Fans of Ippudo must really visit Tokyo or LA and taste proper ramen. Heck, we here in Bellevue even have better ramen - Santouka.
Quite possibly one of the best dining experiences I've ever had. Like a great movie, it’s best experienced alone at the bar as an omakase. The chefs choices in sushi had a beautiful flow with lighter dishes arriving right when you needed them. And you know this place is serious because soy sauce is pre applied. If you eat more than a mouse though, be prepared to pay $200+ per person. The saving grace is that Sushi Yasuda doesn't take tips, in keeping with Japanese customs. I also love how the restaurant is completely unmarked except for a small illustration of a fish. An early reservation is a must, and they clearly don't need to advertise themselves to fill the tables.
Ninth Street Espresso
Rich, smooth espressos, probably the best I've had in NYC. The only complaint is that they come off as being too hipster and pretentious. They call lattes "espresso with milk". Why? Also, a bit on the pricey side and cash only.
When you're in SoHo in the summer and feel tired from the NYC humidity, what's the best cure? Turns out, it's mango sold off carts for $3 in zip-lock bags. I've had the best luck with a hispanic lady on the corner of Prince and Broadway on the same block as Uniqlo. Do some shopping and pay her a visit.
National September 11 Memorial
A truly moving and beautiful experience. Two giant holes rest where the two towers once stood. The scale of the monument’s voids inevitably makes you reflect on the sheer scale of horror the terrorist attacks had caused. As far as memorials go, this has got to be the most beautiful I've seen. Visiting the memorial also lets you get a close-up look at the One World Trade Center. Even as a non-American, you can't help but feel a bit of pride looking up at the gleaming tower.