I love food – I mean, who doesn’t? I love myself a great slice of brick oven pizza, a great brick of chocolate cake, a few good fries, haha – the varieties of foods that please my palette are countless and varied! Here are some of my latest dining experiences that I’ve checked off my list (I have a literal running Evernote list of restaurants on my phone that I consult and cross off from!) Enjoy! SRO Pizza Speakeasy: This place is just a cool experience, as all speakeasies are! There are no “walk-ins” to this place because in order to enter, you have to go to the back of an existing restaurant where someone will press a button for you and leave you standing outside of a nondescript door. Once someone opens, you are then ushered into an intimate candlelit restaurant where the brick oven is visible and roaring. Aren’t you enticed already? Of course, the food must hold up in order for you to make the leap. Well, it does – I won’t say it’s mind-blowing, but it’s good and paired with the experience, worth a visit! I kicked things off with the Burrata appetizer. I had always wanted to try burrata, only understanding it to be a creamy cheese, but not knowing much else. Well, it certainly was creamy and light and perfectly paired with the basil and cherry tomatoes served alongside it. The combination reminded me of a Caprese salad, but taken to the next level! For our pizzas, I dug into a Houston Street Pizza which isn’t exactly the picture below, but the closest I could find…haha! It was very good coming straight out of the oven. My friend ordered the Montanara and it was his first time trying fried pizza dough and brick oven pizza at that and he really enjoyed it! He finished his entire pie, so that counts for something – although being from Ohio might offset that….anyways… Dessert was Nutella Pizza, which was delicious straight outta the oven, but in my opinion has to be eaten quickly as it doesn’t stay that way. I took half of it home and heated it for a delicious bite that night! The verdict for SRO Pizza Speakeasy is to definitely go and get the pre-fixe if you want the best value. Be sure to go hungry and don’t hesitate to take something home. It’s a delicious, leisurely, & unique dining experience! the Mermaid Inn: This place is most famous for it’s daily happy hour. That is: daily, including weekends, and from 5-7pm without fail. In turn, without fail, a line begins to build around 4:30 as people await the Inn’s opening. They open at Happy Hour and then usher in the line, promptly filling the restaurant – ti’s fascinating! I had only planned on ordering a dozen oysters for $12 and calling it a day, but that also came with these delicious flatbreads and the sign of a restaurant after my own heart – a complimentary chocolate pudding dessert! It was the perfect end to a perfect casual outdoor upper west side dining experience. Definitely go here during happy hour and you might run into me like I ran into my friends – regulars at this spot (who recommend the fried clam sliders, btw) Good Enough to Eat: This place is always packed and seems to be one of the most happening brunch spots on the UWS. I remember turning down a 40-minute wait once and finally had the excuse and motivation to try again during an out-of-town friend’s visit. It was a rainy day and that seemed to thin out the crowd so we jumped on line with only 3 parties ahead of us. After a painless 15 minutes, we were the “next two” and promptly scurried to our tables! I ordered the Provencal Omelette which came with some very exciting biscuits (biscuits are exiting by nature, no?!) and had about one refill of coffee. The experience was great and I’m glad that I finally got to try this place out. They have a pretty famous dessert case, so that might be a fun adventure one night as well – although I’d probably opt for Peace Food’s all-vegan dessert case just for my peace of mind – haha! The Verdict: I wouldn’t wait 40 minutes for this food, but if the wait is short, jump in line, you won’t be disappointed. B Side Pizza Bar: This is an incredible gem of a pizza place that had my jaw dropping as soon as I walked by one day. I just needed an excuse to go – well, I’ve since gone three times and every time, it’s been fulfilling. The first time, I got the Oscar the Grouch – I had already been drooling over it via Yelp pictures, so I sat down and promptly ordered one for myself and a girlfriend – it was ah-mah-zing – the crunch of the kale, the greens and the cheese – just all very very good. The second time, I went for my favorite style of pizza – white cheese, no sauce, the closest that I could get to that. They pulled together a Carbonara combination for me and it also was very very good. I love the slicing of the pizza – they cut it up into squares for really easy eating – the open kitchen allows you to follow your food from assembly to baking straight to your plate. I am ready to go again and try their avocado salad and another type of pizza! The verdict: You can’t go wrong with this spot, so just roll up and order a pie to split if you’re not so hungry or get a personal pie if you’re eating with a hungry man or just want more variety. They’ve got nice take-out containers (plastic lidded) so you that’s not a problem! Don Antonio’s Pizza: This is another spot where you can get the famous “fried pizza” and it really does look pretty amazing, I mean, look! I have been here twice and have enjoyed the pizza, the sophisticated decor, and the reasonable prices. They actually have a hard-to-believe lunch special where you can get an 8 inch pie for under $10 – now THAT is worth checking out! This is another winning pizza joint – head over! Tenth Ave CookShop: So, I have been hearing about this place over and over again as well. The wait is typically extensive, so it’s probably a great idea that it’s near the Highline for time-killing. Luckily, I went for an early dinner one night and there was zero wait so expectations were eased up right off the bat! Well, the bread basket was varied (always judge a restaurant by its bread basket!), the food was delicious and the decor was amazing! I want to go back for brunch and brave those lines (for oatmeal brûlée, I would!) I heard that their biscuits are amazing and their pumpkin monkey bread looks out of this world. This place is definitely sophisticated and eclectic, yet approachable with its menu – I love what they’re doing. So, I’ll be back, as you should as well!
This is a long overdue post – a write-up from an event that I attended this past summer – a latergram, if you will…haha! Over the summer, I attended Joel Osteen’s “Night of Hope” at Yankee Stadium. My church, Every Nation NYC, is a supporter of Joel, and because of this event, I became familiar with his sermons, books, and message…of hope! I’m a fan – and took copious notes as he spoke to us that night at Yankee Stadium. Here is what I managed to capture from the night. Keep in mind that these are in note-taking format – just phrases and bullet-points, but powerful and straight from God’s mouth to Joel’s ears to these notes!
- Start each day with faith. Say, “Thank you for another day, Lord!” The right perspective sets you up for a positive day.
- Your tape – many psychologists call it an internal dialogue – if it’s negative, you’ll never get to your potential
- Start each day fresh. Forgive people from yesterday, forgive the mistakes from yesterday, forgive yourself.
- God can use anybody and any situation. Abraham was old, Moses stuttered, Thomas doubted, Mariam gossiped, Zaccheaus was short, Lazarus was dead. What’s your excuse?! (this last one got a good laugh from the audience ;))
- When Joel’s mom was sick and given only weeks to live, she posted up pictures all over her house of herself – getting married, riding horses, being healthy and happy. At that time, looking in the mirror gave her a vision of death, so she put up the pictures of life. So see yourself accomplishing your dreams – use the power of vision.
- Sometimes, God will take you away from the fire but sometimes, God will make you fireproof and take you through the fire. His hedge of protection is that he’s made you fireproof. All that will burn off are your limitations.
- Quit worrying about what isn’t; it wasn’t meant to be.
- Praise precedes the victory
- It’s easy to have a good attitude when you’re on the mountaintop
- Shout before the walls come down
- Your darkest hour can be your brightest hour
- Joel shared about his father passing and how devastating it was for him to lose his father and for the church to lose their pastor. Joel never wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, but he was thrust into the role and found himself carrying out his father’s dreams of expanding the church until they now occupy the Compaq center in Texas!
- God’s dream for your life is so much bigger
- Call out the seeds of greatness
- Re: the Word-I am what it says I am, I can do what it says I can do
- The things that stink in your life, the stinky stuff, works for you. You can’t get through life without fertilizer. God wouldn’t have allowed it if it wasn’t meant to be used for your advantage. The more stink, the more fertilizer. Quit complaining about the fertilizer. Remember it is fertilizer, it can propel you into your destiny. There’s promotion in that stink. Embrace the stink. If you’ve had a lot of stink, it means God has a huge destiny for you. Think of the difficult people as fertilizer for you.
- Why are some victors and others victims?
- Don’t just go through it, grow through it
- Winning is in your DNA
- Ditch to prison all the way to the palace. You’re destined to live in the palace. These aren’t the ends-don’t get comfortable in the pit, get your fire back. Your story ends in the palace.
- David used the sword of Goliath to defeat Saul, the same exact swords that were meant to defeat you, you will use towards victory.
- Rummaging through garbage for hours. God can make music out of trash. He can take the very thing meant to defeat you and use it to promote you. The injustice, trash, mistakes, stink, etc will be used.
If you’re in NYC and in the Rockefeller Center area, swing by the phone booth on 6th Ave btwn 46th and 47th to get up close and personal with my bad self! This was a shoot in November booked through Ken Park for Design Firm Pentagram, photographer Sam Robinson, all for Rockefeller Center, for print and taxi videos! Here are some fruits of our labor! THE SHOOT: It was an early morning with a call time of 6am on Sunday morning, so I remember taking a taxi up and it being dark and cold! Go figure that our first shot was to be ON the ice skating rink! We were ushered onto the rink where bar tables and drinks were setup…remember it’s November and freezing…and we shot a “summer scene,” depicting the rink when it is transformed into a plaza in the summer! So, there we were, w/o jackets, smiling and toasting our glasses, standing on ice, in November…what a crazy sight! Everyone was shivering, but the talent especially, as we were dressed for summer! I remember getting back inside and a fellow talent turning the hair dryer on his feet! When it came to my solo shoot, I was dressed up in chic designer duds and my shot was walking along 50th Street with the Radio City Sign behind me. I just walked the 10 feet up and down the corner of 50th and 6th while the photographer walked backwards, shooting me. I walked, I looked, I smiled, I walked, I smiled, I looked around. One funny thing is that they were timing the shots with the taxi traffic behind me so that was interesting. It was like, “wait for it…ok, taxis are moving, walk, walk walk!” Again, it was FREEZING, but a short shoot because I still made it to church by 11am! Here are some shots and a video from the day of the shoot: I COULDN’T HELP BUT CREATE A LITTLE SKETCH WITH MY PHONE BOOTH! CHECK IT OUT!
For the past 8 weeks, I have been torchured by my performances during Chris Grigg’s Improv 101 class at the PIT Theatre Although I was probably my own harshest critic, I am not lying when I say that I was “torchured.” I would leave class wanting to drink or binge or both! It was, no pun intended, the pits! Certain few know of the anguish and anxiety that I experienced pre and post class and can testify. The point is, this was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do. Doing something at which you are utterly terrible at is enough to make you want to cry or die or poke out your eye! lol (at the rhyming, not the subject matter!) I wanted to quit so many times, but I didn’t want that track record: quitter, giver-upper, etc. I battled with what this all meant … whether this was a sign that I just wasn’t cut out for it or whether it was something that I simply had to work harder than everyone else at. After some digging, I learned that I simply had to work harder. Then, it became a question of, “Do I want to put the time in or do I want to walk away after this?” Of course, I wanted to run, not even walk, away! Unavoidably, graduation show night came upon us and it was time to show off our hard work! I was terrified all over again, despite the knowledge that I was not improv-handicapped or comedically defective or anything unusual, just another talented student grappling at a new craft. Even as I approached our show’s theatre, I wanted to turn around and run! I mentally gave myself permission to bail, citing excuses from irrelevance to insignificance to simply having other things to do. Eventually, I took those last few steps, purely through God’s strength. My class was so supportive, clapping as the last few of us arrived on stage, and EVERYONE was in attendance! It was a beautiful sight. My “terrified meter” was still on high, however, and I did the only thing I knew to do: ordered a drink. As I sipped my wine, I willed myself to slow down, believe in myself, shake it off, and have fun for christ’s sake! Eventually, my nervousness gave way to my usual heart pounding, temperature rising, typical Asian reaction to drinking. Once again, I entertained the idea of not performing…I could claim illness and get no flack for it! I knew better however, and I fought the cowardly urges. Our class’s first group had the audience cheering and we couldn’t have been prouder of our peers. Then came our turn and before I could say “Flying Buttresses (the name of our group)” we were all on stage asking for a suggestion. I wish I could recap everything, but to remain tactful, I will not! My two scenes involved a gift of hermit crabs between a couple and two cops from Animal Cops India investigating a case of bobcat abuse. It was quite funny and I was pleasantly surprised at myself. The lesson learned after all this is follow through, meet the challenge, and don’t be a strawberry! For so many reasons, I’m glad that I finished what I started.