Greenlight Bookstore (Fort Greene) greenlightbookstore.com
A medium-sized bookstore in the neighborhood adjacent to mine. A decent selection, especially for a neighborhood shop. Compared to Community Bookstore, the space is organized better—lots of
light, space to move around—but the selection is comparable.
Unnameable Books (Prospect Heights) unnameablebooks.blogspot.com
A small used bookstore. A broad, but not too deep selection, with lots of subcategories and a mix of new books.
Food and Restaurants
These locations are in no particular order, though I roughly sort places I liked more first.
Takeout/Street Food/Fast Casual
Soft-serve ice cream, $5
An outpost of a Korean soft-serve chain. Get the ube flavor, or add honeycomb on top (or both!)
Morganstern’s (NoHo) morgansternsnyc.com
Unusual ice cream, $5
An ice cream shop with a wide variety of…out-there flavors, such as laoganma chocolate and curry banana, as well as pie slices.
Worth dropping by if in the area:
Kopitiam (Lower East Side) kopitiamnyc.com
A Malaysian cafe offering a variety of small plates, dishes, and drinks. Try the curry puff!
Konditori (Park Slope) konditori.com
A Swedish-themed coffee shop. I can’t rate their coffee, but the cardamom bread is a nice treat that isn’t too sweet.
Blue Marble (Prospect Heights) bluemarbleicecream.com
Ice cream, $5
A local ice cream and sorbet shop, with standard flavors—nothing unusual or weird. Pints are offered as well, and allergens are clearly displayed.
Thanh Da (Sunset Park)
Banh mi, $6
A cash-only banh mi and pho shop. Crispy bread, and cheaper than other such places here.
Kotti Berliner Doner Kebab (Industry City) kottidoner.com
A German-style doner kebab counter in Industry City. While solid, their food was also expensive; what I really want is the old VertsKebap, which sadly rebranded to chase health food trends.
Maybe worth considering:
Just your average chain fast-casual salad shop.
Liuyishou Hot Pot (Flushing) liuyishouna.com
An American outpost of a Chinese hot pot chain. It may not be as good a value as some other places around town, but is still affordable, and has the best spicy broth you’ll find.
Shanghai Dumpling (Chinatown) yelp.com
Soup dumplings, $6 for 8
A cash-only restaurant known mostly for their soup dumplings (xiaolongbao). Although there’s an extensive menu, we’ve never really ordered much else despite having been here several times.
Used to be known as Shanghai Cafe Deluxe.
Topaz Noodle Bar (Hell’s Kitchen) topaznoodlebar.com
A Thai restaurant that does not just specialize in noodles, despite the name.
Ramen Danbo (Park Slope) ramendanbo.com
Bowl of ramen, $10
An outpost of a Japanese chain from Fukuoka, with rich tonkotsu broth and full customization over your meal, from the thickness and firmness of the noodles to the amount of spicy paste in the broth. Chashu here is thin, but melts in your mouth (vs Ippudo which has more of a chew).
Worth dropping by if in the area:
Ajisen (Chinatown) ajisenramennewyork.com
A solid ramen spot with somewhat unusual toppings (chicken teriyaki?).
Ramen-ya (Greenwich Village) ramenya.nyc
Another ramen spot with lots of less common styles, including dipping ramen and brothless ramen, as well as a wide variety of appetizers, such as several kinds of fried and steamed gyoza. Cash only!
Upstate (East Village) upstatenyc.com
A seafood restaurant with happy hour oyster deals.
Nippori (Hell’s Kitchen) nipporinewyork.com
A standard Japanese restaurant offering up donburi and ramen. They have some tables in booths, kind of like a traditional Japanese restaurant, but without requiring you to sit on the floor.
Han Dynasty (Upper West Side) handynasty.net
A trendy Sichuan-style Chinese restaurant known for spicy food (though, I didn’t feel that the food was noticeably spicier than other restaurants).
Shigure (TriBeCa) shigurenyc.com
A Japanese sake bar and restaurant, featuring some washoku (Western-style) dishes like hamburg steak as well as standard dishes (curry, ramen, donburi, etc).
Aux Epices (Chinatown) auxepices.com
A French-Malaysian restaurant. Cash only! A rather small space, with a “garden” and some benches out front to sit in.
Maybe worth considering:
Bricolage (Park Slope) bricolage.nyc
A Vietnamese fusion restaurant/bar (example: roast duck banh mi). Reasonable food, with a pleasant garden dining area in the back, but not quite worth the prices.
The Milton (Upper East Side) themiltonnyc.com
A British (or American? but hey, fish and chips) restaurant.
The Smith (NoMad) thesmithrestaurant.com
Your standard hip brunch spot with a forgettably hip interior and dishes consisting of eggs or pancakes along with the latest trendy ingredients.
Aroy Dee (FiDi) aroydeethaikitchennewyork.mycafepage.site
A Thai restaurant with rather large portions (and good value, for the neighborhood), but a small space.
Sushi Damo (Hell’s Kitchen) sushidamo58.com
A sushi restaurant with some donburi. I didn’t feel it was anything special, and it was pricey; their unagi don (eel on rice) was too sweet, and tasted like it was store-bought.
Felix (SoHo) felixnyc.com
A Brazilian restaurant with an open-air space. Pretty, but nothing notable.
Flaming Kitchen (Chinatown) flamingkitchenny.com
A standard Chinese-American restaurant with a nice space, but nothing notable food-wise. Take less adventurous friends here; it feels more upscale than your standard Chinese place.
Cafe China (Midtown) cafechinanyc.com
While Michelin starred, there’s nothing special here: food is solid, but not exceptional. Laziji was dry and overcooked, with leathery (not crispy) chicken, and dishes were often too oily. Shuizhuyu was mostly soup, whereas even in a second-rate Chinese restaurant in Phoenix it would normally be a heaping bowl of highly spiced fish.
Chuko (Prospect Heights) chukobk.com
Reasonable ramen, but an extremely poor value: the base bowl includes no toppings (except a few vegetables), with a single piece of pork costing $1.50. Just head over to Ramen Danbo instead.
Hao Noodle (Greenwich Village) haonoodle.com
An upscale Chinese restaurant (though I couldn’t place it to any particular region). Food is actually quite nice: try the eight-spice fried tofu, mildly spiced with a thin, crisp outer shell and soft tofu inside. Unfortunately, portions are rather tiny for what you get.
Kiin Thai (Greenwich Village)
A Thai restaurant with large portions—the roast duck on rice was practically half a duck and impressively crisp.
Sadly closed, as of June 2019.
A standard Italian seafood restaurant, with high prices, outsized portions, rubbery calamari, and waterfront views.
Bonus: 2019 Film Ranking (So Far)
Into the Spider-Verse
Things I couldn’t handle: oh man, Spider-Man takes the Q train.
A Dog’s Journey
It’s really weird to see an Asian male as the primary love interest in a film.
(Koe no Katachi/A Silent Voice was a rewatch, so it doesn’t count—but it would be at the top of the list.)
Museums, Classes, Concerts, and Other Things
Dumpling Class at King’s Co. Imperial kingscoimperial.com
Here, we learned to make dumpling filling, including for soup dumplings, roll out dumpling wrappers, and fold dumplings three ways (soup dumplings, with the twist at the top; boiled dumplings, with a bit of pleating; and pot stickers, simply pinched together). The chef isn’t Asian, but he and his staff know their stuff well, and this didn’t feel like one of those “fusion” or “modern” takes on ethnic cuisine. We made a decent amount of food, and the chef made lots of dishes for us afterwards (sesame noodles, spicy cucumber, etc) to go with the dumplings.
Japanese Baking Class at Cha-An Teahouse chaanteahouse.com
Cha-An is a small Japanese cafe in the East Village with a third floor where they hold small group classes. This was actually a fairly serious class: the staff handled the actual baking, but let us do all the shaping, and we made quite a bit of food (lots of anpan, melon pan, and shokupan). They provided pre-made dough, but circled back at the end to make milk bread dough for us. There were only eight of us, and the instructors walked around and helped us out individually.
Japanese Street Food class at Cook Space cookspacebrooklyn.com
In contrast to the other two classes, this was a giant letdown. Mostly that was on me, for not really looking at the target audience of the space; most of Cook Space’s classes are date night-oriented events, times to chill and try cooking something exotic (“exotic”) in a hip space. This was one such class, with BYOB and not too much hands-on work. While the food seemed authentic (however you feel about “authenticity”) and the chef and staff cared about the class, a lot of the cooking and work was simply taken away from you. Now, Cha-An’s class also pre-prepared everything, simply due to time constraints, but here, everything was completely prepared and nothing was explained afterwards. We chopped some vegetables and assembled some foods, nothing more—so even though they had lots of staff on hand to help us, there was nothing worth helping us with.
Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy ffdistantworlds.com
Ever since I started listening to Nobuo Uematsu at 13, I’ve wanted to see a Final Fantasy concert, and this was finally my chance. Yoko Shimomura attended; she didn’t conduct or play, but they did put a couple tracks from FFXV on the setlist. Arnie Roth was definitely the highlight as the conductor and occasional violin soloist, stopping several times in between pieces to talk about the history of the series and its concerts.
Here’s a review of the concert that goes more in depth.
Harry Potter exhibit at the New York Historical Society nyhistory.org
This was frankly a disappointment, even though I don’t consider myself a particular fan of the series. The exhibition focused mostly on real-world artifacts (botanical books, astronomical tools, etc.) related to Rowling’s series, which were somewhat interesting, but weren’t particularly tied to the books except incidentally. They had a few drafts of the novels, which were actually fun to read as a “what-if”, as well as merchandise, including a book featuring everything on display. They did not allow photos, so the book would have been a requirement if you liked the exhibits.
The Brooklyn Museum brooklynmuseum.org
Although I’ve lived here nearly a year, I didn’t visit here until May 2019. The Brooklyn Museum was actually quite a bit larger than I expected, with a mix of art from all regions and time periods, from paintings of colonial America to modern exhibitions on sexuality.
J+B Design (Park Slope) jplusbdesign.com
A small Japanese cafe, grocery, and concept shop, featuring household goods and clothes from Japanese designers. Interesting to walk around, but rather pricey. The grocery selection is laughable, with just a fridge and a freezer, but the grocery isn’t really the focus here.