The first few days of my extra-long birthday weekend were epic, but the major events of the trip, including my birthday, were still to come.
One of my reasons (of many) that I chose to stay in Chinatown was for convenient access to Brooklyn. It was my goal on this trip was to travel over more than once. Having walked the Brooklyn bridge already, the route on the second trip, was via the Williamsburg bridge.
The walk to Williamsburg was very intentional as it led to my favourite New York spot for cocktails and oysters, Maison Premiere.
Unfortunately, it was too hot to linger in Brooklyn for long, but we did run into this awesome piece of street art as we were waiting for our Uber.
Research for this trip led to the realization that U2 was playing at MSG and seeing as the tickets were reasonably priced, it was too amazing an event to pass up.
A pre-show bite/drink was in order and the timing worked perfectly to hit up Apertivo Afternoon (aka Happy Hour) at Dante at the Genuine.
Happy from happy hour, or perhaps giddy to be going to the see U2, it was on to Madison Square Garden, “the world’s most famous arena”, for the show.
The after-show plan was to hit Katz’s for a late night sandwich, which is a NYC ritual. But unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, Katz’s closes at 10:45pm, Sunday-Wednesday. Disappointed, but not down because I always have Plan B in my pocket. The always packed Great N.Y. Noodletown was a block from my hotel, and when a quick search resulted in recommendations from people like Ruth Reichl and David Chang, it definitely seemed worth a try.
Great N.Y. Noodletown ended up being good (not great like the name), but a solid choice for late night eats. But the next morning, on my birthday, I still had Katz’s on the brain. Seeing as I have no internal clock when it comes to the type of food I eat and when. Couple that with the fact I wanted to watch the World Cup match between Mexico and Brazil, a pastrami sandwich seemed like the perfect birthday breakfast to me.
Leading up to this trip, I’ve been insta-stalking images of an uni (sea urchin) tostada with avocado and bone marrow from Cosme to the point I couldn’t imagine being in New York and not trying it. Still full from breakfast and knowing I had a big birthday evening ahead of me, I went to the restaurant knowing a seat at the bar for a cocktail and a few small bites would be perfect. Unfortunately, even though the uni tostada was still on the online menu, they didn’t have it on the menu being served in the restaurant. But seeing Enrique Olvera and Danielle Soto both there during my lunch made up for that disappointment and to top it off, the dishes I did order were fantastic.
When I started researching where I wanted to go for my birthday dinner, options of Michelin stars weighed heavy on my list. But after last year’s extraordinary birthday meal at Single Thread, I didn’t want to try to match that peak experience. So instead, I wanted somewhere I could have a fun time indulging in good food and drink. Nothing seemed to match my celebratory feelings until I found Tokyo Record Bar‘s Vinyl Juke Box. Inspired by the vinyl bars in Japan, Tokyo Record Bar is a dining experience where music and food are paired together. Upon entry into what feels like a basement party, guests are handed a song list and everyone is asked to pick a song. The DJ then curates the evening based on the choices and the courses of food being served. Food comes out as small bites and served at a pace where seat dancing is encouraged between courses, and let’s be honest between bites as well.
Guests for Tokyo Record Bar are asked to check in for their reservation in the Air’s Champagne Parlor upstairs. Champagne bar do you say? Of course, I needed to start my night there.
All the guests enter the Record Bar at the same time and I was surprised, but also happy, that no one had chosen to sit in front of the chefs and beside the DJ. Being in the midst of all the action was definitely my seat of choice.
After the 5 courses of food was done and everyone had paid their bill, Chef Josh pulled out a bonus dish, just in case anyone was still hungry.
On my last day in NYC with just a few hours to spare before making the long trek back to EWR and my flight home to YVR, it seemed like there was just enough time for to walk the High Line and stop at the Chelsea market for one last NYC bite.
There seemed to be so many more choices in Chelsea Market to eat than the last time I’d been there a few years ago, but I had my eye focussed on one thing, Tel Aviv’s no-frills yet delicious Miznon.
5 nights in NYC was longer than I’d ever spent, but as always, it felt like it wasn’t long enough. I need to put NYC back onto my regular travel destination list.