It is coronavirus season, and so many of the restaurants here started offering takeout instead. Hence they probably don’t do as well as usual.

Bookstores

  • The Center for Fiction (Downtown Brooklyn) centerforfiction.org

    A nonprofit bookstore hosting events, with a members-only reading area. (See below for Ken Liu’s book tour, which stopped here.)

    I have mixed feelings about the layout. There are not actually all that many books, and most of them are on a set of tall bookshelves on a wall, making them hard to browse (you can’t even reach >60% of them without a ladder). But their display tables are thoughtfully arranged; I ended up picking up an extra book on a whim from one of them, and finding several more I wanted to read.

Food and Restaurants

These locations are in no particular order, though I roughly sort places I liked more first.

Takeout/Street Food/Fast Casual

Maybe worth considering:

  • Bagel World (Park Slope) bagelworldparkslope.com
  • Bergen Bagels (Park Slope) bergenbagels.com

    Local bagel shops. They give a generous amount of lox with your bagel. Bergen Bagels has slightly nicer bagels, but is far more expensive, and since Bagel World is closer, it gets my vote.

  • Lotus (Park Slope) lotusvietnamesesandwiches.com

    A Vietnamese takeout place. Not as good a value as Sunset Park, but good enough. They do offer decent bubble tea and sardine banh mi.

  • Purbird (Park Slope) purbird.com

    A chicken-focused takeout place. The chicken thigh sandwich didn’t have too much chicken, but was decent overall.

  • Russo’s Mozzarella and Pasta (Park Slope) russosmozzarellaandpasta.net

    A sandwich shop with some groceries. Sandwiches are large, filling, and definitely not healthy for you, though I wish they’d hollow out the bread a bit to make it more manageable. Their chorizo was disappointing: they seemed exactly like regular sausage.

Meh:

  • Pita Pan (Park Slope) thepitapan.com

    The falafel wrap was tiny; not worth the price.

  • Oxaca Taqueria (Park Slope) oaxacatacos.com

    “Chorizo” enchilada was just dry ground beef; there was little sauce, either. Now that Maya Taqueria reopened, there’s no reason to go here.

Actual Restaurants

Worth dropping by if in the area:

  • Insa (Park Slope) insabrooklyn.com

    Normally sit-down, now takeout.

    A Korean restaurant. Even their takeout includes banchan! Bibimbap does not work well as takeout, unfortunately, but this is not their fault.

  • Haenyeo (Park Slope) haenyeobk.com

    Normally sit-down, now takeout.

    Another Korean restaurant. Decent, but I’d like to try some of their other dishes—wings and kimbop were decent. They don’t give banchan (at least with the dishes I ordered), but for now they offer make-at-home kits that I’d also like to try.

  • SkyIce (Park Slope) skyice.net

    Normally sit-down, now takeout.

    A Thai restaurant—comparable to the others I’ve been to. Their standout feature is a wide array of homemade ice cream, offered by the scoop or by the pint, with lots of unusual flavors like durian as well as more…accessible…ones like Thai tea.

  • Peaches HotHouse (Fort Greene) bcrestaurantgroup.com

    A fried chicken restaurant offering several generously sized pieces of chicken along with your choice of sides. Absolutely messy, but worth it. I do feel like they spice the chicken to request after cooking—so a lot of ground pepper will just fall off the chicken once you pick it up.

  • Sushi Yashin (Park Slope) sushiyashinbrooklyn.com{.place-link0}

    Normally sit-down, now takeout.

    A solid sushi spot; not among the top tier, but won’t disappoint you. They offer omakase, though not during the crisis.

Maybe worth considering:

  • Takahachi (Tribeca) takahachi.net

    An upscale Japanese restaurant with a wide array of dishes, sushi, etc. Decent, but nothing special; for anything they offer, a nearby restaurant probably does it better. Check out their sister bakery instead!

Other

centerforfiction.org

Honestly, Liu and Onyebuchi said some things, but mostly it was fun watching them riff off each other, drop BnHA references (while all the adults in the room got confused looks), and talk about playing Stardew Valley.

The Values of Stories; Stories of Values with Ken Liu

newburyportliteraryfestival.org

Ken Liu did a short Q&A here via Zoom. He believes that people understand things by constructing stories out of them; for instance, we understand our values by carrying them out, turning them into stores other people tell. He talks a bit about a genre label he coined for his novel The Grace of Kings, “silkpunk”, by analogy to steampunk. Liu also talks about his translation work: he feels translation is actually a common form of storytelling. For example, if you explain the news to your children, you’re engaging in a form of translation, even if not between languages. Finally, he gives a book recommendation for W. Brian Arthur’s “The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves”.

Bonus: 2020 Film Ranking

On haibane.moe.