travel food

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)


Hidden Gems Of Boston // Brunching at McCabe's

Strawberry Picking // Tanaka Farms in Irvine CA

My first strawberry-picking experience and it was a blast!

Fruits of our labor.

Hard at "work".

Learning about health benefits of strawberry.

Endless rows of strawberry plants.

Such vibrant colors...can't find these in the supermarket!

Our ride to the strawberry field.

I think I hear chocolate calling...

Pick-Pick-Pick or more like Eat-Pick-Eat!

These are not quite ready for picking yet.

My favorite memory of this experience - I looked back to find my mom and our guide strolling along. Here, the strawberry field and nature are the stars. We humans are merely companions.

My favorite memory of this experience - I looked back to find my mom and our guide strolling along. Here, the strawberry field and nature are the stars. We humans are merely companions.

a picture is worth a thousand words

I start out this post a little differently than others because when I was editing these photos, the colors, the imagery, and the backgrounds were so mesmerizing that I thought I should let them do the talking first!

Strawberry-picking has been on my bucket list...yes, my list includes simple pleasures like this one because sometimes, just sometimes, we find the biggest joy in doing small, simple things.  As I was going down the row, I couldn't stop saying "wow, look at how bright the color is!" or "look how big this one is!".  And, of course, the best part is that we get to eat as much as we want to while we are picking.  I probably ate a box full of these juicy creations!  Don't worry, Tanaka Farms is an organic farm and it's very safe to eat the fruits and vegetables straight off the plants. 

What's even better is that my bestie later made some delicious chocolate-covered strawberries for all of us...see picture below for her yummy creations.

Where are some of the local farms you've visited? I would love to hear about them!


A little about tanaka farms

Tanaka Farms is a family-owned and family-run organic farm located in the heart of Irvine, California.  It's a small oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of this rapidly-growing Orange County city.  The Tanaka family history traced back to Farmer Tanaka's great-grandfather who immigrated to the U.S. from Hiroshima-ken, Japan and eventually relocated to California with Farmer Tanaka's grandfather. 

Today, the farm is a working farm and is owned and operated by Farmer Tanaka, his wife, Shirley and his son, Kenny.  Together with their team, they produce fruits and vegetables that supply their produce stand and their own Community Supported Agriculture program where they donate produce to local organizations that help feed families in need.

The farm has been practicing "responsible farming methods" since 1998.  You can read more about it on Tanaka Farms' website, but essentially, they use organic growing methods whenever possible and use OMRI approved pesticides permitted under most organic licenses.

Different picking tours are available depending on the seasonal crop variety - Strawberry in March - June, Watermelon in July - August, "Harvest" in March - August (many other crops are grown at the farm), Pumpkin Patch in October, and Christmas Trees in December.

I definitely felt and enjoyed the family atmosphere when I was there.  Everyone who works there is very friendly and genuinely wants you to have a great time.  Our guide helped us filled our boxes when he realized that we couldn't fill them all the way to the top.  Just an example of how well they treat everyone who comes through their gate.   


Entrance to the farm and golf club.

Entrance to the farm and golf club.

Tanaka Farms is located at 5380-3/4 University Drive, Irvine, California.  It's adjacent to University of California, Irvine (UCI).  Depending on the direction you're coming from, you can get there by taking 405 and 73.

The Farm shares the entrance with Strawberry Farms Golf Club - In fact, as you turn into Strawberry Farm Road, you'll see the sign for the golf club. 


Do The Puffle // Trying Out Cauldron Ice Cream

The famous "puffle" at Cauldron Ice Cream in Orange County, CA.

I have been "eyeing" these puffles from Cauldron Ice Cream on Instagram for a long long time.  I may have planned this visit to see my best friend in Orange County, CA just for this. Haha, just kidding.  I love my bestie and her kids!

Trying out the Puffle Ice Cream at Cauldron Ice Cream in Orange County, CA

Flavors of the Month for March include some pretty unique options - Earl Grey Lavender, Milk and Cereal, S'Mores, Vietnamese Coffee. Yum!

The nitrogen ice cream making process at Cauldron Ice Care in Orange County, CA

Cauldron uses liquid nitrogen to prepare each ice cream order, so you know your ice cream is fresh.  Sorry Baskin Robbins, I no longer want frozen stiff ice cream that's been sitting in the freezer for who knows how long.

Trying out Puffle Ice Cream from Cauldron Ice Cream in Orange County, CA

We are very ambitious and each order our own puffle.  We probably could have ordered two and shared, but who wants to share when your ice cream can actually be called "cute"!

We opt for Earl Grey Lavender, Vietnamese Coffee and Speckled Vanilla. 

  • EGL tastes just like lavender and it's not very sweet.  It's a bit strange as I'm more used to "smelling" lavender.  Nevertheless, it's a very good flavor.
  • VC has a very strong coffee flavor as the name suggests.  I love how they garnish with a little chocolate "cigar".
  • SV is more my cup of tea - Simple yet flavorful. 
Puffle Ice Cream prepared with liquid nitrogen from Cauldron Ice Cream in Orange County, CA.

Because the ice cream is prepared with liquid nitrogen, the flavors are much more intense and it's ultra smooth and comes in this velvety, creamy texture.

Trying the puffle ice cream at Cauldron Ice Cream, Orange County, CA
Hong-Kong style egg waffle

As for the puffle, it is based on a childhood favorite of mine growing up in Hong Kong called the egg waffle.  Its Cantonese nickname is "little eggs" (鷄蛋仔) and it is THE most popular street food among the Hong-Konger's.  It's a must-eat for me every time I go home!

The original way of making "little egg" is using a sweet, egg-rich batter cooked in a sizzling hot special two-sided pan with little round cells that gives it its signature mini puff's.  See a story here by That Food Cray to see how it's made.

Enjoying Puffle Ice Cream prepared with liquid nitrogen at Cauldron Ice Cream in Orange County, CA
At a happy place. Cauldron Ice Cream, Orange County, CA

The "little egg" puffle takes my mom down memory lane and the liquid-nitrogen ice cream keeps my bestie happy.  And I am just excited that I get to finally try this yummy goodness.  We are all in a happy place.

Getting Here  Cauldron Ice Cream is located at 1421 W.MacArthur Blvd, Suite F, Santa Ana, CA.  It is part of a strip-mall type of shopping center, next to an urgent care medical clinic.  If you see the 7-Eleven, then you have gone too far.

Have you tried Cauldron or something similar? Do share with us!

Thanks for stopping by!