Last Saturday, I spent a day in New York City alongside good friends from university. The frigid weather seeped into my bones, and my legs about disintegrated by evening, nevertheless… did I enjoy myself! Delicious food, pleasant company – all while exploring one of my favorite cities in the world. What more could I ask for?
My adventure started fairly early, at 6:30 AM to be exact. My train was at 9:00 AM, but I set my alarm early so I could doll myself up. To be frank, I did not get much sleep the night before – perhaps four hours at best. Regular sleep cycle? What is that? The excitement kept me energized, though! I met some of my friends at the station, and we were off!
At around 10:30 AM, we arrived at Grand Central Terminal. This being my first time seeing it, I was in awe. My photograph does not do it any justice hah. We stayed there for half an hour while the rest of the group trickled in. When they arrived, we headed to Times Square. Our destination? The Nintendo World Store!
As a recreational gamer and future video game engineer, I placed this as the very first stop on my personal itinerary. The trip itself had no set plans, but we collectively agreed to go here first, fortunately for me. I love the energy of the store and the clean presentation, not to mention all the interactive displays!
The second floor is my favorite floor, mostly due to the little exhibits they have. The last time I went, there was an informative display about gaming devices. This time, there was an adorable set-up of Yoshi’s Woolly World. Some of my friends took over one of the demo gaming stations and actually played said game for a while. It looked incredibly fun!
There were also some collectible Legend of Zelda figurines displayed. I have never played any of the Zelda games, but I love the style of art.
The level of detail is insane, no?
We looked through the Pokémon plushes and some other merchandise, then decided to head outside to see the Rockefeller Center tree while waiting for some more friends to meet us. I – and some of my other friends – felt a bit peckish by then. So we got chicken kebabs from a halal street cart. Having never eaten street food before, I found it was really quite tasty. I got it with both the “white sauce”, which is mayonnaise based, and “red sauce”, which is chilli based.
Feeling more energized, we set out to Kinokuniya, a Japanese bookstore. The second floor is entirely dedicated to manga, anime, and video game art books. Basically, my idea of heaven. The basement floor is dedicated to Korean and Japanese stationery. Need I say more? I ended up getting the One Piece Color Walk 2 art book, and The Art of Fullmetal Alchemist 2.
Look at all that shojo manga!
There were also dozens of anime figurines displayed in glass shelves.
We took a long while in the bookstore, and it was then that we thought of getting lunch. After a long walk to Koreatown and a few moments of being completely lost, we finally sat down to eat lunch at Jongro BBQ – a Korean BBQ restaurant. Since I do not consume beef or pork, and some of my friends felt lighter fare would suffice, we ordered tteokbokki, jeon, and seafood kalguksu to share.
Tteokbokki consists of rice cakes, fish cake, and onions cooked with gochujang (Korean chili sauce). It is absolutely delicious; the sweet, spicy gochujang-based broth is addictive and the rice cakes are tender with a chewy texture I have never experienced before.
The jeon tasted wonderful. A savory fried pancake containing spring onions and seafood, served with a dip made of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce? Nothing could go wrong!
Seafood kalguksu – as we discovered – is cooked right at the table on a stove top next to the grill! The waiters (who, by the way, were extremely attentive) brought over a pot of seafood broth filled with vegetables and seafood, along with a separate dish of fresh noodles. They told us to add the noodles into the pot once the broth started boiling. As I was the one sitting closest to the pot, my friends delegated that task to me, and I firmly believe I added the noodles at just the perfect time. They ended up being bouncy, with just the right amount of bite. The broth was so flavorful and refreshing! We were each served a bowl of white rice and we also had two side dishes to go with our meal. One was pickled onions, and the other was sliced spring onions mixed with gochujang. I took care to eat sparingly since we had much more walking ahead of us.
When lunch ended, I wanted to walk around a bit through Koreatown so I went to Paris Baguette and the Face Shop while the rest of the group sorted out the bill for the meat (since I did not eat BBQ, paying was easier for me ahah). They were right next door, so I thought I would poke around while everyone else paid their bills.
Paris Baguette is a quaint Korean bakery that serves a variety of sweet or savory options. There is a wide array to choose from, and I got slightly dizzy while attempting to select what I wanted. Honestly, I would have happily purchased everything, but I can only eat/carry so much.
In the end, I bought a choux cream bread for myself, and a chocolate cream bread for my brother. The choux cream bread was fluffy and filled with a sweet custard cream. Full points!
Once I finished, I went to The Face Shop – a Korean cosmetics store which I have always wanted to visit. The cosmetics are beautifully packaged, albeit a bit pricey. I eyed some facial masks with interest but unfortunately, my friends whisked me away before I could explore the store more thoroughly. Next time!
Our next destination was The American Museum of Natural History, and it was closing quite soon. So it was imperative to hurry! We took the subway over (my first time) and got there with forty-five minutes to spare, which we spent in the Rose Center for Earth and Space and the Akeley Hall of African Mammals.
I spotted Kwang Soo being his majestic self. Thumbs up if you got the Running Man reference!
Also, here is a Barosaurus skeleton from the museum entrance. It is colossal; hard to believe such creatures walked the Earth so many eons ago!
I guess I should include the Allosaurus skeleton too. Looking at the size of its jaws, it is rather fortunate for us that these creatures do not walk the Earth anymore, right?
Then we took a stroll in Central Park, which was by far the coldest part of our trip. Even with the five layers I wore, the chill permeated through everything. By this time, the sky had darkened and I could now feel the burn in my legs (walking through NYC is a great workout). No one wanted dinner, so we just went to Momofuku Milk Bar for some refreshments. I got an affogato with crack pie flavored ice cream. Nothing like battling the cold with more cold! Crack pie is my favorite dessert item at Momofuku, so I thought I would give the ice cream version a go. In conclusion, the coffee was so strong I immediately felt like a new human. So I ate a bit of it and gave the rest away, as I was not willing to potentially explode from excess caffeine consumption.
Around this time, I – along with the friends I came to New York with in the train – decided that we wanted to go home. We parted from the rest of the group with lots of hugs and plans for future trips. I got home at 10:30 PM, and took a bubble bath immediately to help alleviate sore muscles. Then, I ate some cereal (Reese’s Puffs) while uploading some photos to my Facebook, brushed my teeth, and called it a day as I headed off to sleep – ready for some more exploring in the world of dreams.
What a day! I ended up writing a novella, eh? I hope you enjoyed this post! Expect more such adventures to come in the future.