Billyboy's Family Takes a Few Bites Out of the Big Apple (with pics!)
Thursday November 26, 2009 - After a jaunt on Amtrak from Syracuse, NY, my mom, her husband Harold, my sister, her husband Dennis and my 4 year old niece arrived in Penn Station around 12:30pm on Thanksgiving, just in time to be greeted by the teeming masses of fellow travelers! We met them at the station and guided them to their hotel, the Grand Hyatt (attached to Grand Central Station). They managed to get a pretty good deal, $225 per night on Thanksgiving weekend! After a short rest, we headed down to Tribeca for Thanksgiving dinner at my girlfriend's cousin's apartment. It was a bit tight, but everyone had a great time and the food was great: roast turkey with truffle butter, stuffed mushrooms, Ritz cracker stuffing, cornbread stuffing with sage and onions, baked yams and sweet potatoes with streusel and marshmallows, roasted brussels sprouts, homemade cranberry-orange relish, apple pie, and chocolate pudding pie with a graham cracker crust among the lot. My girlfriend's family even went to Economy Candy and picked up candy necklaces and bracelets for my niece. My family brought down some Central NY wines and bottle of Turkey Joints. This was the first time they had met, but everyone was very comfortable with one another.
Friday, November 27, 2009 - We showed my family around Midtown Manhattan, taking in Rockefeller Center, Times Square, the massive Toy's R' Us store (only about 15 minutes there before the Black Friday crowd got to be too much). Mom and Harold had tickets to see Jersey Boys on Broadway and they absolutely loved it. A belated wedding gift from Dayna and I. After some down time at the hotel, we all headed down to the South Street Seaport to see the first tree lighting of the season. Unfortunately, I had my times wrong and they wouldn't be lighting it for another 45 minutes, so we taxied it up to Chinatown to have dinner at Wo Hop. My friend Ian had been telling me to come here for years and I trust his Roadfood radar without question, especially when it comes to all things Chinatown. This definitely was an adventure down into the underside of the city! The first thing to know about Wo Hop is that there are two of them, #15 and #17. #15 is on street level and is almost always nearly empty, while #17 is under the sidewalk and always has a line out the door. When I say under the sidewalk, I don't mean "garden level". I'm talkin' deep UNDERGROUND! They have separate kitchens and everyone I have talked to has told me that I MUST go to #17! Being the clever plan-ahead chap that I am I called ahead to see how long the wait was. They said about 10-15 minutes. Not bad. My family isn't used to the waits that we have in the city. Well, 1 hour later, after waiting on the stairs, we made it to our table, but I have to say that there was a real sense of camaraderie in that line and everyone was making jokes about the wait. Literally everyone who came out had a doggie bag and said that there is a good reason there is a line!
Mom and Harold outside of Wo Hop.
I love this review, especially the 2nd sentence. Totally New York!
Out hot tea and waters as soon as we got to the table. This place is a closet! There couldn't have been more than 10 tables in the whole place. People do linger over their meals, so expect to wait in line to get in, but the service is very quick!
They've been doing it right for 71 years.
The walls are covered with mirrors and headshots of many C-list actors and celebrities. As Triumph, the Insult-Comic Dog would say, "It's a Who's Who of Who Cares?!"
The waiters in action. Our waiter wrote everything down in Chinese and I'm not sure he wrote all of it down, but he didn't miss a thing.
Our appetizer of fried noodles with sweet & sour sauce and hot mustard. Man, were these good! Greasy, crispy and exactly what I was hoping for.
Roast Pork Wonton soup. The Vietnamese have Pho, the Jewish community has Matzoh Ball and Mexicans have Menudo, but anyway you spell it, this is comfort food.
Steamed pork dumplings in a thick, savory garlic/soy sauce. Very delicious.
We all wished we had ordered more of these Boneless BBQ Pork Ribs. Baah Ben
, these were way better than the ones we had at Great NY Noodle Town
Shrimp Chow Mai Fon
Shrimp Ding with Cashew Nuts
Pork Fried Rice Honey Crispy Chicken
[<font]Orange Chicken - all of these dishes were fantastic and exactly what we were looking for. Thick sauced, old-school, cheap and filling Cantonese food. The experience of eating in this little hole in the wall, underground place packed with people was just perfect. And most of us bought the also cheap $6 t-shirts at the counter. The portions are so huge and we definitely ordered way more than we could have eaten. Next time I go (and believe you me, there will be a next time for sure!) I'll share. We gave out leftovers away to someone living on the street. I made sure it wasn't someone hanging on the corner, but someone sleeping on the street, lest I get caught up in a police raid a la Michael Stern!!
[<font]Saturday, November 28, 2009 - while Mom and Harold slept in, the rest of us went down to Battery Park to look at the Statue of Liberty. Sorry, I didn't get any good shots of it. I did get a nice shot of the globe and eternal flame from the World Trade site. It was pretty windy outside, so we hopped on the subway and headed to the Lower East Side to check out the Doughnut Plant. I had been talking it up to my brother-in-law (shocking, right?) and he really wanted to try it.
[<font]I couldn't wait to try out the Roasted Chestnut!
[<font]Doughnuts make great decorations!
[<font]To go. It was packed, but we found a spot and my brother-in-law was able to chat up the owner, Mark Isreal, as we ate. He was really loving the Cranberry and the Blackout doughnuts and couldn't get over how much he loved them. I was very happy! The Roasted Chestnut was pretty good, but I liked the Cranberry even more. Tart with a very pronounced flavor. Nothing can replace the one on the bottom right in my mind though, the peanut butter glazed, strawberry filled yeast doughnut.
[<font]In the afternoon, the ladies and gentlemen split off with the ladies going to an advance screening of Disney's "Princess and the Frog" complete with an after movie "Princess Party" for the kids, while Harold, Dennis and I hopped the 1 train to Harlem for some Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. I like that they don't use paper labels any more on the bottles. The new logo is cool and very "green" of them, intentional
[<font]Dennis' Big Ass Pork Plate with Cajun Corn, Iceberg wedge with Bar-B-Blues dressing and cornbread. A small order of Wango Tango wings.
[<font]My Cuban Sandwich platter. I had tried this years ago at the Syracuse location and remember not being liking it very much, However, after reading about it in Ayersian's cross-country trip, I was craving it and vowed to give it another chance. I'm so happy I did! The pulled pork, smoked ham, swiss cheese , pickles and crunchy bread all came together quite harmoniously and won me over. Thanks
[<font]Chris and Amy!!
[<font][<font]My beans, laced with pulled pork and sausage. BBQ Fried Rice. The love child of BBQ and Chinese takeout. Throughout the weekend, we took the shuttle train from Times Square to Grand Central and on our way back from Dinosaur, we saw these two guys doing their thing for the masses. I can't imagine standing like that for hours! I had planned to bring the whole family out for true NYC pizza, but everyone was pretty tired from all of the walking around and my niece wasn't up for any more and was a bit overtired. So, we just went downstairs into Grand Central and had dinner at Junior's. I started out with a Chocolate Egg Cream which was okay, but not the best I've ever had. I was jonesing for this corned beef/pastrami combo on twin onion rolls. So simple and slathered with some deli mustard, it's just perfect to me. And a close-up of that moist, tender, cured meat. Ellen, hungry yet?? Some so-so onion rings. Just a bit too greasy for me on this outing. The free pickle bowl for the table. A perfect complement to the sandwiches. As Willy Loman once said "Attention must be paid!". We, however, took than to mean to the desserts at Junior's and picked up a huge slice of Red Velvet cake and cheesecake to eat back in the hotel room. Seriously, look at how big this thing is!
Moist and layered with tangy cream cheese frosting, I only took two bites when I really wanted to curl up and sleep inside of this baked goodie.
Still the best cheesecake I have ever eaten. I have yet to find one as light as Junior's. I am so glad my family decided to spend the weekend down with us in NYC. The energy of the city and the sheer numbers of people can be a bit overwhelming at times, but they packed in a lot of experiences and I think they had a great visit. I saw them off at the train station on Sunday and arrived with a "Broker's Dozen" of mixed bagels from my favorite bagel shop, Leo's Bagels, in the Financial District for the trip back to Central NY.
post edited by billyboy - 2010/05/12 14:46:59