Also see: part 1.
Community Bookstore (Park Slope) communitybookstore.net
A cozy bookstore in my neighborhood. The selection isn’t as extensive as the Strand, as well categorized as McNally Jackson, or as anime as Kinokuniya, but it’s still quite reasonable.
Food and Restaurants
Apparently, I spend all my time in Flushing and Chinatown.
These locations are in no particular order, though I roughly sort places I liked more first.
Takeout/Street Food/Fast Casual
Worth dropping by if in the area:
Banhmigos (Park Slope) banhmigosbrooklyn.com
A decent banh mi spot in my neighborhood, though admittedly I’m not familiar with what makes them good or not.
Thanh Da (Sunset Park)
$5.50, banh mi
Another banh mi spot, which seems to be held in high regard; also offers pho for dine-in, and coffee & Asian pastries for a quick snack.
Yiwanmen (Chinatown) yiwanmen-cq.com
A Chinese noodle shop that closes relatively early, but is definitely recommended for rich, warm broth. Make sure to bring cash, and don’t expect too much meat in your bowl.
Dumplings & Things (Park Slope) dumplingsandthings.com
A cash-only dumpling shop, offering very good pot stickers with doughier wrappers.
Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles (Chinatown) tastyhandpullednoodles.com
Another Chinese noodle shop! The space is not as nice is Yiwanmen’s, but you get lots more options, including various choices of noodles.
Wang’s (Park Slope) wangsbk.com
Fried chicken with Asian-inspired condiments. Solid and only a block away from home.
Golden Steamer (Chinatown)
$5 for a pack of 4 包子
A small shop selling packages of baozi with various fillings, which you can then take home and steam. Their baozi are enormous; the filling-to-wrapper ratio is maybe a little off (too much dough, in my opinion), but one (maybe two) by itself makes a good meal.
Japan Village (Industry City) japanvillage.com
Both a large Japanese grocery and food hall; going off memory, this place is bigger than Sunrise Mart’s East Village location (and much bigger than their SoHo location, which is more a takeout place with an attached grocery shelf). Lots of food vendors here, including a bakery, takoyaki/okonomiyaki, and other choices.
Maya Taqueria (Park Slope) mayataqueria.com
A Tex-Mex takeout spot with the types of food you’d expect (burritos, quesadillas, bowls), great horchata, and a build-your-own-salsa station. Solid, comfortable, and always open when I get home from work after 8 PM (which is fortunately rare).
Souk and Sandwich (SoHo) soukandsandwich.com
A tiny takeout place serving kebabs, pita wraps, etc.
Ba’al Cafe & Falafel (SoHo) baalfalafel.com
Another tiny Mediterranean takeout place.
“Peking Duck Sandwich Stall” (Flushing)
Not sure of the actual name, but this place offers Peking duck in a steamed bun for $1.25. Make sure you know a little Chinese, and if you see something else you want, buy it right away before someone else does (RIP youtiao).
Maybe worth considering:
Nacho Macho Taco (Park Slope) nachomachotaco.net
Fairly similar to Maya Taqueria, but not as good.
Ho Foods (East Village) hofoodsnyc.com
This got some hype recently for bringing Taiwanese breakfast to NYC. While decent food (example: fan tuan with you tiao, zhacai, and rousong wrapped in rice), it’s pricey ($8 with tax) and not at all filling.
The Mill (Soho) themilltogo.com
One of the quick takeout lunch spots near the office, that charged me $8 for what isn’t even half as good as a Subway sandwich. I don’t understand why my coworkers would go here, except it’s the closest spot (except for Souk and Sandwich) and is fairly quick.
Korilla (Hudson Yards) korillabbq.com
100% not worth it: for $15, you get a bowl of pretty boring food, essentially Chipotle with some kimchi. Admittedly, we went here because we were at a convention nearby, so we definitely paid for convenience.
Drinks & Dessert
Yeh’s Bakery (Flushing)
Quite a walk from the station, but worth it around Mid-Autumn Festival for Taiwanese-style mooncakes. Unlike their mainland counterparts, which are large and dense, these mooncakes are small (< 2 inches in diameter) with a flaky crust.
Takahachi Bakery (TriBeCa) takahachibakery.com
A high-end Japanese bakery with both classic treats (roll cakes, anpan, melon pan) and new inventions (a “flower” pastry with matcha filling). Any of the desserts/treats here is worth a shot—can’t speak to the sandwiches, though.
Grace Street Coffee and Desserts (Koreatown) bygracestreet.com
Around $4 for a drink, $10 for food
As the name implies, a cafe + dessert shop with fancy lattes, shaved ice, Korean doughnuts, and lots more, including this really cute latte:
Iris Bakery (Flushing) irisbakery.com
A standard Chinese bakery with a decent selection, including great fresh pineapple cakes (fènglísū 凤梨酥, not cakes in the Western sense1). Fresh ones are surprisingly hard to find! Even good packaged ones are rare—a friend gave me a ChiaTe one, which was incredible. Good ones have soft, buttery pastry (packaged ones are crumbly and plain) and a soft filling, not too sweet (packaged ones are too sweet and too hard, making them feel like they’ll take off your teeth).
Worth dropping by if in the area:
SkyIce (Park Slope) skyice.net
Cup of ice cream, $5
Both a Thai restaurant and an ice cream stand; their ice cream is quite good, with slightly “exotic” flavors available like durian.
Kulu Desserts (Flushing) kuludesserts.com
An Asian dessert shop featuring treats like taro balls and waffles with “homemade nuts”. So, er, maybe not the best place to go for someone with allergies. The desserts themselves are quite good, and not too sweet, if you’re not a fan of overly sugary treats.
Mango Mango (Flushing, Chinatown) mangomangodessert.com
An Asian dessert shop whose offerings mostly revolve around mango: mango ice cream, mango drinks, fresh mango, … There’s actually quite a bit of variety though, so as long as you’re OK with mango, you can have anything from mochi to a crepe cake.
Paris Baguette (Koreatown) parisbaguette.com
A Korean bakery chain (yes, really, ignore the name) with carefully crafted cakes, sponge cakes, cheesecakes, and more. Worth stopping by to stare and wonder how exactly they shaped and decorated their cakes.
Sweet Moment (Chinatown) sweetmoment.nyc
A dessert shop specializing in towers of shaved ice.
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream (FiDi) vanleeuwenicecream.com
Another ice cream shop, with a selection of non-dairy ice cream.
Maybe worth considering:
Almondine Bakery (Brooklyn Heights) almondinebakery.com
A patisserie that was on my radar due to their supposedly excellent croissants. After trying a couple places (see: next place) because of that recommendation, though, I’ve decided I’d rather have something less excellent and more warm and buttery. (Essentially, I’m being nostalgic for the Sunday brunch rolls served in the dining hall my freshman year.)
Ceci-Cela Patisserie (Lower East Side) www.cecicelanyc.com
Again, supposedly excellent croissants, but I just want warm flaky butter pastry. I do think theirs are better than Almondine’s—maybe it was the time of day, but Almondine’s croissant was almost crunchy, while Ceci-Cela’s was at least soft (but still flaky).
Hirohisa (Soho) hirohisa-nyc.com
A high-end Japanese restaurant serving sushi and rice bowls with raw fish on top. Get the ikura don, which consists of salmon roe over rice. Or honestly, get anything here. Apparently the omakase is amazing (as to be expected), but it’s a bit pricey…
You Garden (Flushing)
A cash-only Shanghai restaurant, serving everything from soup dumplings (you get a free order!) to perfect, crisp, fresh youtiao (FINALLY). Don’t get the giant soup dumpling, unless you really want to drink a cup of grease and fat with a straw.
Worth dropping by if in the area:
Abiko Curry (Koreatown) abikocurryrestaurant.com
A cash-preferred curry shop with large portions and lots of toppings/sides, including a great (well, not great for your health) cream cheese croquette.
Spice World/Xiang Hot Pot (Flushing) xianghotpot.com
A hot pot restaurant in Flushing’s New World Mall that appeals to social media with some sort of edible teddy bear to place in your pot. Be warned; they charge for the sauce bar (though you could consider this just a table fee). You’ll want to eat here as soon as you walk past, however, as you smell all the spices coming from their restaurant.
Raku (SoHo) www.rakunyc.com
An udon shop with lots of options, such as the chicken-and-mochi bowl and the beef bowl I had. Warm, filling, and affordable, especially given the area.
Little Sheep (Flushing, Chinatown) littlesheephotpot.com
A Mongolian hot pot place, with different broth options and discouraging the use of the sauce bar. They also offer sides of skewers and roasted meat; the skewers are definitely worth trying.
Namaste (Park Slope) namasteparkslope.com
A solid Indian restaurant right under my apartment. (Unfortunately, I’m not familiar enough with Indian food to really say more.) Usually not too busy.
Nargi’s Bar and Grill (Park Slope) nargiscafe.com
An Uzbek restaurant, specializing in amazing meat skewers—moist, juicy, and perfectly spiced. Also try the manti (dumplings).
Nagomi (Soho) nagomijapanesenyc.com
A solid sushi spot in SoHo—well worth it if you’re after quality sushi, but not something extravagant.
Hog Pit (Midtown) hogpit.com
A Southern restaurant/bar. Get the fried chicken sandwich, which is fried chicken in a biscuit—messy and amazing.
Aurora (SoHo) aurorasoho.com
An upscale Italian place near the office. Honestly, I’m not super familiar with Italian food, and I don’t really remember what I ordered, but it was good.
Pera Soho (Soho) pera-soho.com
A Mediterranean restaurant, also near the office. Grab a bunch of small plates, especially the adana (lamb/chicken rolls).
Gunbae (TriBeCa) gunbaetribeca.com
A solid Korean BBQ restaurant. Honestly, to me, it’s hard for a KBBQ place to distinguish itself unless it’s exceptionally bad—otherwise, to me, it’s all just (marinated) meat.
Five Senses (Koreatown) fivesensesnyc.com
An eternally crowded, more casual Korean restaurant in Koreatown. Get the seafood pajeon, a scallion pancake with seafood embedded inside. (I could honestly eat one by itself for a meal.)
Cho Dang Gol (Koreatown) chodanggolnyc.com
Another Korean restaurant—solid, but I don’t remember anything that made it stand out in particular.
Miss Korea (Koreatown) misskoreabbq.com
Another Korean BBQ spot. This one distinguishes itself with its drinks: get a bottle (or two) of the lychee soju and the rice wine.
Dons Bogam (Koreatown) donsbogam.com
Yet another Korean BBQ spot. Nothing particularly standout here, in my opinion.
Piccola Cucina Osteria Siciliana (SoHo) piccolacucinagroup.com
A decent Italian place with good lunch deals: $10–15 for a quite sizable portion of pasta.
Chow House (Greenwich Village) chowhousenyc.com
A solid Chinese (Sichuan?) restaurant. Somewhat spicy, but not notably so.
Golden Unicorn (Chinatown) goldenunicornnyc.com
A well-known dim sum house. I didn’t find it anything special, but I was also there as part of an enormous group.
Maybe worth considering:
Carmine’s (Upper West Side) carminesnyc.com
An Italian restaurant. To be fair, I don’t particularly care for Italian, and I visited as part of a very large group—likely their food is better when they’re not trying to serve a group of 50.
Let’s Meat (Koreatown) letsmeatnyc.com
An all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ spot. The food itself was fine, but the restaurant just can’t handle the amount of traffic it gets—we had to wait nearly two hours (admittedly, on a Saturday night) for a table. While understandable, the staff were not so forthcoming on how long exactly the delay would be.
Bogota Latin Bistro (Park Slope) bogotabistro.com
Solid Columbian/pan-Latin(?) restaurant, but nothing particularly memorable to me here.
Altesi Downtown (SoHo) www.altesinyc.com
An Italian place. Nothing standout.
An “Asian fusion” restaurant with creepy, mildly racist decor (giant statue of Buddha? Scrolls of geishas?) and forgettable, generic Asian-American food, mostly consisting of labeling Western meals in a cutesy, misleading Asian way. (No, appetizers are not the same as dim sum.) Especially given the price, there is nothing worthwhile in this restaurant.
A Japanese kaiseki restaurant that since permanently closed. Their tasting menu was quite impressive though; I still want their soft-shell crab tempura.
Aji Ichiban (Chinatown)
A tiny bulk candy shop selling various candies, dried fruit, and jerky by the pound. Find all your standard favorites (White Rabbit, pineapple cakes) and less common treats (vinegar dried ginger?).
Brooklyn Botanic Garden (Prospect Park)
A fairly large botanic garden nestled on the edge of Prospect Park, with an impressive rose garden and a Japanese garden (including a torii gate). Free admission on Fridays.
Worth dropping by if in the area:
- Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket (Park Slope) grownyc.org
Down to Earth Farmer’s Market (Park Slope) downtoearthmarkets.com
Two farmer’s markets, with the Greenmarket being larger and Down to Earth having more varied vendors. If you’re after produce, milk, cheese, etc., Greenmarket is a better bet, but Down to Earth has more food vendors, such as a pajeon stall.
Metrograph Cinema (Lower East Side) metrograph.com
A “hipster” movie theater that tends to show indie, older, or international films (OK, they show anime sometimes, you got me.) In particular, they ran a Makoto Shinkai retrospective, which was amazing just for the chance to see Five Centimeters Per Second on the big screen.
Tarzian West (Park Slope) tarzianwest.com
A home & kitchen goods store—they probably have everything you need to stock a kitchen, assuming you spot it in the cramped space. Focuses more on higher-end equipment; go somewhere else for your disposable non-stick pans.
B&H Photo Video (Hell’s Kitchen) bhphotovideo.com
An enormous electronics store in Midtown, notably not open on Saturdays.
Battalion Studios (Gowanus) battalionstudios.com
A music studio rental space, with a solo room open for $12/hour—quite a good deal.
Image Anime (Midtown) imageanime.com
An anime merchandise store—they really only stock items for fairly popular series, though.
liquor stores in Flushing
Reason: cheap soju, at ~$3–5/small bottle.
Conventions, Concerts, & Movies
One of the benefits of living in a large metropolitan city is better access to less mainstream media, which in my case consists of a lot of anime. (Though not everything I want to see comes here—Distant Worlds, please come someday!) For instance:
- Five Centimeters Per Second (Metrograph)
- Night is Short, Walk On Girl (Metrograph)
- Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms (Village East Cinema)
- Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Metrograph)
- Liz and the Blue Bird (Village East Cinema)
- Mirai (Quad Cinema)
- Haikara-san: Here Comes Miss Modern Part 2 (Village East Cinema)
Bonus: 2018 Film Ranking
- Night is Short, Walk On Girl
- Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
- The Ex-Files 3: Return of the Exes
- Crazy Rich Asians
- Haikara-san: Here Comes Miss Modern Part 1
- Tale of the Princess Kaguya
- Kase-san and Morning Glories
- Mary and the Witch’s Flower
- Liz and the Blue Bird
- The Incredibles 2
- Ralph Wrecks the Internet
- Seitokai Yakuindomo Movie
- Satellite Girl and Milk Cow
- Napping Princess
- Haikara-san: Here Comes Miss Modern Part 2
- Fireworks: Should We See Them From The Side or From The Bottom?
(Five Centimeters Per Second was a rewatch, so it’s not in this list.)
Other things from 2018:
AnimeNYC (Hudson Yards) animenyc.com
I only attended on Saturday, but it was a packed day. Just walking through all the various vendors took forever! The AnimeNewsNetwork CEO came to give a panel, and we also got to see a screening of Kase-san and Morning Glories. I also met one of the cartoonists I follow in person!
Studio Ghibli/Joe Hisaishi Concert (Carnegie Hall)
I GOT TO SEE JOE HISAISHI LIVE.