NYC: Tacos, Soft Serve, and Big Bambu

July 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Last week, Laura and I took our annual trip to see the rooftop and Costume Institute exhibits at the Met. This year, they’re featuring Big Bambu by Doug and Mike Starn and a display on the fashion evolution of the American woman.

But first, of course, we had to get some lunch. We decided to stop by Dos Toros (because I had a serious craving for Mexican food) and Momofuku Milk Bar (mainly because it’s only a couple blocks away from the Union Square station).

Dos Toros is a tiny restaurant with a set-up that’s very similar to the Chipotles and Qdobas in this world. You wait in a quick-moving line, choose your tortilla size, meat, and whatever toppings you want. In this case, we got two carne asada tacos with guacamole, salsa, and their green hot sauce as well as their carnitas quesadilla.

And while its appearance resembles Chipotle, the food Dos Toros offers is infinitely better. Far from bland, the tortillas themselves had a ton of corn-masa-y flavor and the carne asada was much more tender than I expected. However, I think what impressed me the most was the generous amount of meat they put in each taco. Normally, similar places would be stingy, but not here. Everything else, the salsa, the guacamole, was super fresh and well seasoned, adding even more layers of flavor. The quesadilla, though a bit on the thick side (I confess I’m used to those flattened ones from Taco Bell) was a little messy and incredibly satisfying, and I especially loved the extra browned bits of fresh tortilla. Considering that Dos Toros’ prices are almost identical to Chipotle’s, I’d much rather spend my money here than on a sodium-laden burrito from the latter.

Afterwards, even though we were already pretty full, Laura and I walked a couple blocks over to Momofuku, where we indulged in more porkiness and some sweets. The pork buns were still as fatty and delicious as always, and this time, since we were hankering for dessert, we got a cup of the bright fuschia raspberry lemonade soft serve (wonderfully tart and refreshing on such a hot day) as well as a couple cookies to take home for family…blueberry and cream, compost, and cornmeal.

Finally, after all that eating, we made our way uptown to the Met. When our elevator opened onto the rooftop, the view in front of us was jaw-dropping. The Starn brothers were not lying when they called their exhibit “Big Bambu.” There were even elevated walkways made of bamboo stalks that climbed 30-40 feet in the air. If you have time, I highly suggest that you get out to NYC before the exhibits ends, especially since people continue to work on the installation every day, making it a living and growing sculpture.

And while you’re there, also check out the American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity exhibit. We weren’t allowed to take photos, but the display is essentially a look at different periods in American fashion…from the “heiress” and the “Gibson girl” all the way to the “flappers” (the dresses in this part were exquisite) and “screen sirens.” There were gorgeous dresses by Liberty, Molyneux, and even Poiret and Lanvin, as well as some head-turning shoes and accessories in each section. So far, every Costume Institute exhibit I’ve seen has never disappointed, and this one is as good as the rest.

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Post-LSAT visit to Momofuku Ssam and Milk Bar

September 28, 2009 § 1 Comment

I’m not getting test result for another three weeks, and even though I’m still pretty nervous, thank goodness the LSAT is finally over (for September anyway).

Sunday, our entire family went to New York City since Laura had to take pictures with the Wall Street Bull and some other historic NYC sites for her US History course. The weather was pretty awful, a drizzle that came at us sideways, but when we got out of the car to take a photo with the bull, there was a film crew surrounding it! Turns out Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell were in town filming a new comedy called The Other Guys.

Even with our intrusion onto a film set, the highlight of our day definitely had to be a visit to Momofuku Ssam and Milk Bars near Union Square. The last time I had visited was two summers again and I missed those pork buns like no other. Plus, I was dying to try the awe-inspiring desserts (with names like “Crack Pie”) at the new bakery.

The Momofukus did not disappoint. For savory, we got the famous pork buns, spicy rice cakes with chinese broccoli and sausage, and braised beef brisket pho. The pork belly oozed of fatty delicious and I loved how the cucumbers and Sriracha cut the richness just enough. The rice cakes were Korean ddukbokgi on steroids, fried so they had a crispy outer crust and gnocchi-soft on the inside. Plus, they were spicy as hell, mixed with a good amount of greens and…of course, more pork. And what is more comforting than a good bowl of pho? ‘Course, the $16 bowl was more expensive than an even larger portion at Pho 99, but after walking in the rain for so long, I thought it was well worth it.

Ssam Bar is the place for savory Asian food with a twist, but Milk bar just reminded me of my childhood. There aren’t any seats, just tables where you stand and eat your food. Laura and I tried the horchata soft-serve with the cinnamon sugar and tortilla toppings, a blueberry cream cookie, and the biggest slice of strawberry cake I have ever seen.

Everything tasted wonderful. The ice cream was rich and the toppings were inventive and delightful, the blueberry cream cookie (85 cents since they were actually from yesterday’s batch) was heavenly and still soft – Laura and I later regretted that we didn’t snag more – and the cake…with strawberry jam and sweet corn crumble fillings (which definitely reminded me of Cap’n Crunch cereal) was so large but so delicious that we felt obligated to finish it all regardless of the calories. Laura now demands that she gets such a cake for her birthday. We’ll see what happens.

Our visit to New York concluded with a visit to the Met, where we had hoped to see the roof garden exhibit, but it was closed due to the weather. However, the new Egyptian wings and American wing were more than interesting enough to keep us occupied until we had to head home. What started out as a rainy, gloomy day ended up being quite memorable.

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