Susy Bando coco chanel

My Extra-long Birthday Weekend in NYC – Part 2

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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.

Williamsburg bridge
Much less conventionally pretty than the Brooklyn bridge, I love the industrial look of this bridge. I also enjoyed having a leisurely Sunday morning stroll with the locals, as opposed to wading through the chaos of tourists that jam the Brooklyn bridge.

Williamsburg bridge Brooklyn.jpg

Mona Lisa Williamsburg
The “Mona Lisa of Williamsburg” – Colossal Media and Steven Paul

The walk to Williamsburg was very intentional as it led to my favourite New York spot for cocktails and oysters, Maison Premiere.

Maison Premiere Brooklyn oysters
A selection of their Happy Hour oysters, not from the west coast.
Maison Premiere oyster Brooklyn
A happy, albeit overheating me sitting in one of my favourite spaces.
Maison Premiere Brooklyn avocado toast
Avocado toast with watermelon radishes, feta, and seed mix
Maison Premiere Brooklyn hash
Duck confit hash with pimenton, rosemary, bell pepper and 2 luscious poached eggs
Maison Premiere Brooklyn cocktail
I asked for something citrusy, refreshing but not sweet (as always) and this is what I got. Not sure exactly what it was other than delicious!

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.

Brooklyn mural armstrong brolga
Brooklyn-based Brolga’s Louis Armstrong mural

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.

Dante Genuine negroni sour
Negroni sour with cana brava, contratto bitter, mancino bianco, egg white, lemon, orange blossom


Dante genuine flatbread
Funghi flatbread with truffled crema, pickled red onion, provolone
Susy Bando Dante Genuine frozen Paloma
When I saw they had a slushy machine serving frozen paloma’s, I couldn’t resist!

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.

New York U2 MSG.jpg

U2 New York MSG

U2 MSG New York

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.

Katz's deli
The iconic front view of Katz’s was obscured by scaffolding, so I had to settle with this photo of the secondary view.
Katz's deli pastrami cutter
The cutter working on my pastrami, not lean.
Katz's NYC pickles
Half-done pickles are my favourite. I was happy when I was served an extra large portion of them.
While the outcome of the match wasn’t what I’d hoped, my sandwich was birthday breakfast perfection.

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.

Cosme NYC paloma
Paloma with Cimarrón Reposado, house-made grapefruit syrup, lime, soda and grapefruit salt
Cosme NYC Olvera tostada
Arctic char tostada with peanut salsa macha and salmon roe
Cosme Olvera al pastor
Cobia al pastor with pineapple puree and cilantro
Cosme Olvera husk meringue
The also much-photographed Husk meringue with corn mousse

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.

Susy Bando coco chanel
“I only drink champagne on two occasions, when I’m in love and when I’m not”. – Coco Chanel

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.

Tokyo Record Bar caviar
Caviar on crispy nori
Tokyo Record bar oyster
Oyster karaage with wasabi crack sauce

Tokyo Record Bar vinyl

Tokyo Record Bar NYC gyoza
English pea gyoza
Tokyo Record Bar tater tots
Barbecue pork tater tots with cauliflower
Tokyo Record Bar pavlova
Blueberry yuzu pavlova

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.

Tokyo Record Bar pizza
Take home pizza served by Josh

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.

I lift my lamp.jpg

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.

Miznon Chelsea Cauliflower
Whole roasted baby cauliflower – pull-apart tender, sweet and nutty.
Miznon Chelsea falafel
Miznon is all about the pillowy soft yet springy pita and the fillings are almost secondary. While the folded cheeseburger in a pita came highly recommended, it was nothing in comparison to the crunchy flavourful falafel patty.

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.


NYC skyline






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