food tour

24 Hours in New York City // The Food Edition

Sharing my 24-Hours adventure in New York CIty // The Food Edition. Shown: Spot Dessert.

I flew down to New York City recently to meet up with my brother, who flew in from Asia for a short visit.  How short?  It's literally 24 hours in total!  We both have our must-do list - His was museums and mine was k-beauty shopping in Korea Town (read about this part of the adventure here).  But there is one thing we both want and love and that is food!  Given our limited time, here are the two spots we hit in our 24-hours adventure in the Big Apple!

~ caracas arepa bar ~

At first glance, Caracas is not one of those flashy eateries on Manhattan.  If you aren't looking for it, you most likely would have missed it during normal hours. During my first visit many years ago, there was a long wait for a table, so we accepted the offer to sit at this tiny bar in the very back of the restaurant.  I was a bit taken aback at first because it was so dark and cramped, but as soon as the food came out, all my doubts were gone.  And I've been hooked ever since...

Sharing my 24-hours adventure in New York City // Caracas Arepa Bar in East Village.   // HIGHLIGHT //    V  e  n  e  z  u  e  l  a  n  -  S  t  y  l  e     A  r  e  p  a    // HIGHLY RECOMMENDED //      A  r  e  p  a  ,     Y  o  y  o  s  ,     C  o  c  a  d  a  ,     W  e  e  k  l  y     S  p  e  c  i  a  l  s    N  Y  C     h  a  s     a  n     e  n  d  l  e  s  s     l  i  s  t     o  f     g  o  o  d  -  e  a  t  s     t  h  a  t     w  i  l  l     t  a  k  e     a     l  i  f  e  t  i  m  e     t  o     t  r  y     t  h  e  m     a  l  l  ,     b  u  t     t  h  e  r  e     a  r  e     f  e  w     s  p  o  t  s     t  h  a  t     I     j  u  s  t     w  o  u  l  d  n  '  t     m  i  n  d     g  o  i  n  g     b  a  c  k     t  o     o  v  e  r     &     o  v  e  r     a  g  a  i  n     a  n  d     t  h  i  s     i  s     o  n  e     o  f     t  h  e  m  !     A  l  s  o  ,     s  i  n  c  e     m  y     b  r  o  t  h  e  r     i  s     v  i  s  i  t  i  n  g  ,     I     w  a  n  t     t  o     m  a  d  e     s  u  r  e     h  e     h  a  d     a     c  h  a  n  c  e     t  o     t  r  y     s  o  m  e  t  h  i  n  g     h  e     w  o  u  l  d  n  '  t     f  i  n  d     i  n     H  o  n  g     K  o  n  g  .        I  f     y  o  u     d  o  n  '  t     m  i  n  d     t  h  e     p  o  o  r     l  i  g  h  t  i  n  g  ,     s  i  t  t  i  n  g     a  t     t  h  e     b  a  r     l  i  k  e     w  e     d  i  d     g  o  t     u  s     s  e  a  t  e  d     r  i  g  h  t     a  w  a  y  .     O  t  h  e  r  w  i  s  e  ,     i  t     c  a  n     b  e     a     l  o  n  g     w  a  i  t     f  o  r     a     t  a  b  l  e  .
Sharing my 24-hours adventure in New York City // Caracas Aprepa Bar in East Village.  The selection is huge, but we stick with some of my favorite ingredients - Avocado, grilled squid, chicken, plantain...   Hot Queen //   "Pulled  CHICKEN  sauteed with mixed peppers, purple onions & scallions over a spread of house-made herb mayo &  AVOCADO  slices".    Chupe Caraqueno (Limited-Time)  //  "Chicken broth with shredded  CHICKEN , potato, carrot, corn,  AVOCADO , white cheese & a touch of cream".    De Pabellon //   "Shredded beef, black beans, white salty cheese & sweet   PLANTAINS  ".    La Oriental (Limited-Time) //   "Filled with sauteed  SQUID , lots of garlic & herbs crowned with tomato &  AVOCADO  slices".
Sharing my 24-hours adventure in New York City // Caracas Arepa Bar in East Village.  Besides arepa, these goodies are also worth ordering...   Cocada //   "Coconut milkshake with a touch of cinnamon".   *They forgot to mention the generous serving of coconut-flavored whipped cream on top.    Yoyos //   "Sweet plantains with white cheese, fried in a cinnamon plantain batter".   *  This a perfect mix of savory & sweet between the cheese & plantain.

Ordering Tips //

Do it tapas style and share among your party - That way, everyone will get to try different arepas + the delicious starters.  If you order the soup, get small for individual serving or large for sharing.

Getting Here //

Address:  93 1/2 East 7th St, New York (East Village). 

Closest subway stop is Astor Place, but if you're not familiar with NYC's subway system, I highly recommend taking a cab or Uber for convenience.

~ spot dessert bar ~

I was introduced to this East Village dessert hotspot a few years ago.  And I've been coming back to Spot every time I visit NYC because they are just that good!  The staff here is also exceptionally nice and patient even when this place gets super busy during the post-dinner hours.

Sharing my 24-hours adventure in New York City // Spot Dessert Bar in East Village.   // HIGHLIGHT //    A  s  i  a  n  -  S  t  y  l  e     D  e  s  s  e  r  t  s    // HIGHLY RECOMMENDED //      E  v  e  r  y  t  h  i  n  g  !       I meant it when I say "everything" is highly recommended!  Good news is that they have a short menu.      I do recommend going there just before the post-dinner crowd arrives (before 8:00pm). Otherwise, the wait can be more than 30 minutes. We arrived a little before 8pm and got a table right away, but soon after that, a line was formed!
Sharing my 24-hours adventure in New York City // Spot Dessert Bar in East Village.  We opted for Spot's two signature dishes...  Golden Toast //  "Crispy honey-buttered toast with strawberries & condensed milk ice cream". The toast is so crunchy and the condensed milk ice cream is just beyond words!   Chocolate Green Tea Lava Cake //  "Warm dark chocolate cake filled with green tea ganache, with green tea ice cream". This is matcha heaven for me! The cake is so moist and the g/t ganache makes it like no other lava cake.

Ordering Tips //

If you're coming here after dinner like we did, I recommend ordering 1 less dessert than the number of people in your party, for example, order 2 to share among 3 people.  These desserts are pretty rich and heavy!

Getting Here //

Address:  13 St Marks Place, New York (East Village).  There are 2 other locations.

Closest subway stop is Astor Place (less than 1 block from the stop), but if you're not familiar with NYC's subway system, I highly recommend taking a cab or Uber for convenience.  And if you stop by Caracas first, you can walk over here (less than 5 minutes).

~ it's all about the food ~

One of the great things about New York is the extremely wide variety of foods you get to try.  You can go super high-end or budget-friendly.  And what I love is that you also get to choose between fusion and authentic cooking or both, whatever you prefer.  

What are some of your favorite good-eats from your travels? Do share with me here!

Thanks for stopping by!

If you're curious about the other pegs of my NYC adventure, click links below to previous posts:

Korea Town Beauty Shopping & Yummy Dessert Tasting @ Grace Street Cafe

All About MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)


MORE FROM THE GOOD EATS SERIES


Hidden Gems Of Boston // Brunching at McCabe's

Canary Islands Food Finds - O'Fado Portuguese Restaurant

#thecanaryislands #foodtour
Canary Islands Food Finds - O'Fado Portuguese Restaurant

I've been exposed to food with a Portuguese influence since I was little because my mom was born and raised in Macau, a Portuguese colony in Asia.  We'd spend our summer vacations there and I'd be eating my three favorite things almost everyday - Grilled bacalhau (cod fish), caldo verde (potatoes and kale soup), and pastéis de nata (custard tarts).  On our first day on Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, we ventured to the neighborhood around our hotel.  When we came across O'Fado Restaurante Portugues, I was beyond excited!  

The Owners - Two Kind Souls

O'Fado looks empty when we arrive during lunch hours.  We hesitate just a bit because of that, but I'm so glad that we've decided to go in.  Americo and Helena make up the husband and wife team here.  I start chatting with Americo and realize he's Portuguese, so I share my childhood stories about Macau with him.  He is super nice and friendly, always have this slight smile on him, and seems happy to bump into someone who knows a little about the Portuguese cuisine. 

The Atmosphere - A Small Taste of Portuguese Culture

The atmosphere is very relax, with soft Portuguese music playing in the background and wide windows allowing loads of sunlight to come through.  Portuguese tile art can be seen adorning some of their walls, along with personal touches like a painting of a Lisbon cable car.

Canary Islands Food Finds - O'Fado Portuguese Restaurant
Canary Islands Food Finds - O'Fado Portuguese Restaurant. Portuguese tile art as part of the decoration.
Canary Islands Food Finds - O'Fado Portuguese Restaurant
Canary Islands Food Finds - O'Fado Portuguese Restaurant. Painting of Lisbon cable car as part of the decoration.

The Food - Serving Up Authentic Portuguese Dishes

Although O'Fado does not have caldo verde on the menu, I still enjoy my dishes - Grilled fresh fish and their version of the acorda alentejana.  

The grilled fish is great - Simple seasoning with mainly olive oil sprinkled over the fish and is garnished with a salad and the Canary Island's famous wrinkly potato dish.  Fish at its freshest and simplest...Add a dash of fresh lemon juice, I am in heaven.

Canary Islands Food Finds - O'Fado Portuguese Restaurant. Grilled fresh fish seasoned with olive oil; Canarian wrinkly potatoes side dish; a glass of sangria.

The acorda alentejana is a soup-like dish cooked with garlic, coriander, olive oil, vinegar, eggs, along with sliced bread.  Americo explains that this is a staple in a Portuguese family meal.  I love garlic, and the strong garlic flavor in this soup is right up my alley.  The taste of olive oil is also very prominent.  Overall, another simple yet flavorful dish.

Canary Islands Food Finds - O'Fado Portuguese Restaurant. Acorda alentejana - a soup-like dish cooked with garlic, coriander, olive oil, vinegar, eggs, along with sliced bread; a glass of sangria.

My friend orders a vegetarian dish and it's just called grilled vegetables.  We assume it would be served in slices on a plate.  Well, when the dish arrives, we collectively let out a "wow". 

Canary Islands Food Finds - O'Fado Portuguese Restaurant. Grilled vegetables on a iron skewer.

The veggies are cooked just right, with a sprinkle of salt over them.  And even though it's a plate with just veggies, the pieces are cut into thick chunks.  My friend has a hard time finishing her dish.  Our other friend has ordered what she calls a "normal dish" - She jokingly says that she now feels left out as her dish does not have the wow factor like ours.

Needless to say, we're pretty full by now.  We ask Americo for the check and he surprises us with a full plate of pastéis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) along with a whole bottle of Portuguese port wine, on the house!  It's nothing fancy, but it's a very thoughtful gesture for sure.

Canary Islands Food Finds - O'Fado Portuguese Restaurant. Pastéis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) and Portuguese port wine.

Highly Recommended

I ask Americo and Helena for a photo because I just love their hospitality and their food so much.  And Americo stops us for a moment, grabs his heart-shaped pillow and says, "'we need to add this" while his signature smile is all over his face.  The next night, as we walk by O'Fado, Helena waves hello and comes out to chat just briefly.  She knows we have already dined at a different place, but she's not concerned about that and just wants to say hello to us.  Just amazingly kind people.

O'Fado on Fuerterventura...Highly recommended.

Canary Islands Food Finds - O'Fado Portuguese Restaurant - The owners. 

 

Getting Here

One thing to note is that the address for O'Fado listed on websites such as Trip Advisor is incorrect.  Unfortunately, I do not have their exact address.  It is located in the town of Antigua on Fuerteventura, the second biggest island among The Canary Islands. 

Below is a visual guide based on two properties that are listed correctly on the web - the Barceló Fuerteventura Thalasso Spa Hotel and Fado Rock Steak House.  We will use the Barceló Hotel as the starting point (follow green arrows).

1) From Barceló , turn right at the first cross street that you will see on your right side.

2) Walk along this tree-lined street.  Walk two blocks of this street.

3) At the end of the second block, you will see O'Fado on your left side, right at the corner.

4) For reference, O'Fado is: a) Next to Great Wall, a Chinese restaurant.  b) Across the street from Fado Rock Steak House (Has an outdoor patio).

Thanks for letting me share this food find with you!
What are some of your favorite food finds from your travels?

FROM THE CANARY ISLANDS SERIES


Eating Our Way Through Seoul

#exploreseoul #foodtour 
Food stands at Namsangol Hanok Village, Seoul, Korea

Seoul is an absolute food heaven for those who love to eat, like myself.  It's also hard not to think about food all the time while walking around the city because every corner you turn, there is something to eat!  Many of our food finds are chance encounters while some are recommendations from Korean friends.  Either way, I'd be happy to go for seconds at any of these places we've come across.

 

MILKY BEE

Rose gelato at Milky Bee Ice Creamery, Myeongdong, Seoul, Korea

The long line at Milky Bee never seems to disperse.  And one taste (and look) of their ice cream explains it all!  You can choose from their visually-pleasing rose gelato in a cone or their signature milky ice cream series.  Whatever your final choice is, you won't be disappointed. 

Milky ice cream and rose gelato at Milky Bee Ice Creamery, Myeongdong, Seoul, Korea

I opted for their top 2 item on the menu called the Honey Combs - milky ice cream with a piece of honey comb + drizzles of honey.  My mom opted for the rose gelato on a cone with yogart + strawberry flavors.  The ice cream is ultra smooth and has a delicious whole milk flavor.  It reminds me of the Japanese milk-flavored chewy candies I had as a child in Hong Kong.  The gelato is equally tasty.

Rose gelato at Milky Bee Ice Creamery, Myeongdong, Seoul, Korea

The rose gelato is gorgeously done and my mom keeps saying it's too pretty to eat!  3 to 4 people behind the counter feverishly work on each rose petal creation.  I watch them for a while and truly appreciate their patience and dedication to making every cone the most perfect one.  Every time I see such passion in food-creation, it makes me enjoy it that much more.  

Milky ice cream at Milky Bee Ice Creamery, Myeongdong, Seoul, Korea

My second try of another Milky Bee signature - The Milky Bee Original.  This time it's just the milky ice cream without any toppings - I want to taste the pure flavor of their milky creation.  I am in ice cream heaven.

 

Milky Bee Ice Creamery, Myeongdong, Seoul, Korea

Pricing 

Milky Ice Cream Series:  Small 3500 - 4800 Won / USD $2.99 - $4.10.  Large 6300 - 7600 Won / USD $5.38 - $6.49 (Photos showed small)

Rose Gelato:  2 flavors 5500 Won / USD $4.70;  3 flavors 6000 Won / USD $5.12 (Photo showed 2 flavors)

Getting There 

Milky Bee is located in the Myeongdong neighborhood, also known as the beauty district where every street is filled with retail stores of all the popular Korean beauty brands. 

The exact address is "11 Myeongdong 8 ga-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul", with "8 ga-gil" being the street name.  Be careful not to confuse this with a perpendicular street called "8-gil".  The actual cross street is "10-gil".  If your app has trouble locating it, try searching for Creto Hotel Myeongdong or The Grand Hotel Myeongdong first.  Milky Bee is on the same street, about a 5-7 minutes walk from these hotels, in the direction toward the hustle and bustle of the beauty district.

Using Seoul Subway System - Easy & Straightforward

You can also take the subway.  Exit at the Myeongdong station on Line 4 (lighter blue).  Seoul subway system is very easy to use, from using ticket machines to locating stations on maps.  Multiple languages, including English, are available.  If you buy single-use ticket, you have the option to obtain a 500 Won refund after exiting your destination station.  There is a refund machine where you can insert the used ticket.  Location of this machine varies by station, so you will have to spend a few minutes looking for it.  It's not a big amount, but money is money!

The official tourism site has an extremely helpful and detailed page showing you everything you need to know about using the subway.  Go here for info on maps, basic fare, ticket machine, gate, refund, etc.. 


MYEONGDONG KYOJA

Myeongdong kyoja, a dumpling house in Myeongdong, Seoul, Korea.

The Myeongdong Kyoja came highly recommended by a friend's spouse, who's Korean.  Their signature item is their "kyoja", aka dumplings.  The restaurant began in 1964 and officially became Meyongdong Kyoja in 1978 in order to distinguish themselves from the copycats.

We actually passed by this place on the first day without noticing it - That's how unassuming it is.  And their menu is simple with only 4 choices - Kalguksu (A traditional Korean chopped noodle that comes with dumplings), Kongguksu (Another traditional Korean noodle dish served in cold soy milk broth), their signature dumplings steamed without broth or noodles, and a spicy noodle dish.    

Each order comes with a small serving of kimchi.  Perfect compliment to the noodle dish.

We really want to order all 4 dishes, but knowing that there's no way we could finish that much food, we went for the Kalguksu (chopped noodles).  

Myeongdong kyoja, a dumpling house in Myeongdong, Seoul, Korea.

Both me and my mom let out a "wow" after our first bite.  The noodles are chewy.  The broth seems thicker than what I am used to, but it is tasty.  And the dumplings may be on the skinny side, but they are super yummy and the skin is made so thin that it must require some skills to make the dumplings without breaking the skin.  All the flavors are just right.  We vow to come back for a second visit.  

Getting Here

Myeongdong Kyoja has two locations.  The one we visited is located at "29 Myeongdong 10-gil, Jung-su, Seoul".  The cross street is "8-gil".  The other location is just up the same street.  The entrance may appear to be a tourist trap kind of place at first glance, but look here for some photos of the entrance to help you locate the restaurant.  If using the subway, exit at Myeongdong station on Line 4 (lighter blue).

Know the Drills

One thing that maybe surprising is that the waiting staff will ask you to pay immediately after they have taken your order.  Each dish is 8000 Won / USD $6.83.  Also, try to go before or after the usual lunch and dinner rush hours.  We did that and waited for a few minutes for a table.  Otherwise, the wait can be 45 minutes. 


BEANS BINS

Beans Bins, a dessert and coffee place in Myeongdong, Seoul, Korea that serves giant shaved ice desserts. 

I was poking around as my mom was shopping in a Myeongdong store.  I somehow walked into what I thought was an alleyway, but it turned out to be an entrance to a small hotel.  Then I looked up and saw this hidden gem. 

Beans Bins, a dessert and coffee place in Myeongdong, Seoul, Korea that serves giant shaved ice desserts. 

The coffee was just ok, but I didn't come here for that.  I came for these lovely and giant shaved ice dessert.  Just look at those giant mochi's with sweet red bean filling.  To die for.  The Korean dessert trend is becoming pretty popular in selected parts of the U.S. such as Southern California.  Boston is still trying to catch up with one store opened, so needless-to-say, I am in food heaven here, yet again.

Another place I'd recommend is Caffebene.  It's a popular chain in Seoul that serves similar giant shaved ice desserts.  There's one in Myeongdong as well.


SEOUL'S STREET FOOD CULTURE

Another Korean friend told me that my visit to Seoul wouldn't be complete if I didn't try the street foods...and so we did.  If only I could eat more, but here are a few that we tried and they were soooo good!

The Sweet Red Bean Bread  Homemade pastry with sweet red bean paste filling.  It was so toasty and every bite is filled with the sweet taste of red beans. The cute fish design just brings a smile to our face.  Also, the wife of this lovely husband and wife team always keeps a smile on her face and we all know how a smile can be so contagious!  I love the Japanese version of this tasty treat, but the Korean version is just as good.  There are similar stalls around Seoul.  This particular one is located on our way to Namsangol Hanok Village.  Price: 1000 Won / USD $0.85.

Seoul street food - Sweet Red Bean Bread
Seoul street food - Sweet Red Bean Bread

 

Grilled Squid  It's almost grill-to-order as the inventory at this stall disappears quickly with the beauty shopping crowd in Myeongdong.  The chef coats each squid skewer with a secret sauce as it is being cooked on the grill.  The combination of the grilling action and this secret sauce sets off this aromatic fragrance in the air and that's what drew us to this stall in the first place.  Price: 1000 Won / USD $0.85.

Seoul street food - Grilled squid
Seoul street food - Grilled squid

 

The Egg Bread  I couldn't resist this stall with their stacks of eggs as I love eating eggs.  I assumed it's some sort of seasoned boiled eggs, but as I pick up my piece, I realize it's a close-to-over-and-easy egg on top of a piece of bread.  And as I bite into it, Oh My God, it's a combination of the saltiness of the egg and the sweetness of the bread.  I tried to get a second one, but one is already so filling and I have to save space for other good stuff.  Location: Myeongdong, across from the large Nature Republic store (The one with green vines on the outside wall).  Price: 2000 Won / USD $1.71.

Seoul street food - The Egg Bread
Seoul street food - The Egg Bread
Seoul street food - The Egg Bread

 

The Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich  Not exactly a cultural food, but both me and my mom have a sweet tooth, so naturally we are drawn to this stall.  So was the little boy standing behind my mom (in the photo) who, after seeing my mom holding two of these delicious monsters, talked his mom into buying him one.  The stall-owner is super nice - There are already-made waffles, but my mom asks him for the fresh ones he's making and he kindly offers them to us.  A mix of sweet waffles and ice cream, who doesn't love that?!  Location:  Myeongdong, near TeenieWeenie.  Price:  3000 Won / USD $2.56. 

Seoul street food - The Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich
Seoul street food - The Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich

 

The Juice Stand  Finally, some refreshing and freshly-squeezed juice.  I'm usually not a huge fan of grapefruit, but for some reason, the grapefruit juice from this stand is so sweet (no sweetener added) and I totally love it!  I also love how this comes in foldable plastic bags that can be carried easily even if there's no trash can in sight.  I devour the first bag and order a second one.  The stall-owner chuckled at the sight of me sucking up the juice in 20-seconds time.  Location:  Myeongdong, near Banila Co.  Price:  I can't recall, but probably between 1000 & 3000 Won /  USD $0.85 -2.56.  

Seoul street food - The Juice Stand

 

Going Back for Seconds

There are so many other street food stalls and local food choices.  What we tried was just a fraction of them.  I was telling my friend that I spent most of our time shopping for K-beauty on this trip...and we'd have to go back just for a food tour.  I hope you've enjoyed this intro to Seoul food culture and maybe I'll bump into you on my next journey there!

 
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