(Just a note: thanks for all your comments on the last few posts :) am working on responses…will get to them very soon ^-^)
I. Mitsuwa + Santoka
Sunday afternoon, pre-Abraço (see “II”), I suggested a meal of ramen to Don. He inquired as to where. I proposed Minca, just a few streets down from where we currently sat. Robyn did an awesome post on Minca last week, and I had been craving it ever since. Don paused. “Want to go to New Jersey?” he asked. And then, no less than two hours later we arrived by car at Mitsuwa, the biggest Japanese market I’ve seen on the East Coast.
Back in Hawaii, I frequented Japanese, Chinese or Korean markets much more often than ‘American’ markets. Marukai, 99 Ranch, Palama…these places must sound familiar to many of you ^_^ I’ve been a bit deprived of good Asian markets since moving to the city, so the opportunity to visit Mitsuwa left me gawking like the biggest supermarket nerd in the world.
First thought: Sensory Overload. To the right was the actual ‘market’ – rows of fresh produce, Japanese snacks, soba, ramen and rice cookers galore. Straight ahead were yards of mochi, a bakery further up, and yet another to the left. Or should we start with soft-serve in flavours of matcha and black sesame? Or maybe pause at the plastic displays of fake food, oddly comforting. But we headed straight to Santoka, obeying to the commands of our stomachs and quickly satisfied cravings with a soothing bowl of spicy miso ramen. We originally planned to order the “Toroniku (special pork) Ramen”…but they were sold out…reason enough to make a return trip :)
Two bowls of ramen, two cups of hot tea, and a window booth on a lovely day, there’s but little more one could ask for. However, my favourite ramen is still at back at Yotteko-Ya in Hawaii. That place spoiled me for all ramen to come…I swear I can still taste that fatty pork melting in my dreams far too often! Alas, there’s a new ramen place popping up in the East Village sometime soon, will definitely check it out.
We exercised round the market, post-ramen, pre-dessert, and went up and down nearly every single aisle with the exception of two. First: the international food aisle, just because we can get “international foods” elsewhere. Second: the home appliance aisle because, well, it just wasn’t an option. Bergen county has mighty funny laws!
back into the food court area…dessert time! I had my eye on the taiyaki stand since we first walked in, and when I crave something I need never to let it go until I’ve done it justice. The plan was to eat one of each: obanyaki, taiyaki, and a creamyaki. But alas. The wait was ridiculously long and we were told that only obanyakis could be had. But wait! The lady behind the counter paused. Okay. You can have taiyaki! Yay! So we ordered two and dashed to a table.
Soon enough, we headed out of the market and
One bite in. Taiyaki FAIL. Severely undercooked innards. Doughy. FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. Shame cause the crust looked so promising, the taiyaki warm to the touch, straight off the pan, steam released from the first bite. But. No. FAIL.
Luckily, the day was saved when Don brought back black sesame soft serve. Black sesame, along with ginger and avocado are my favourite flavours when it comes to sweets. Avocado milkshakes, avocado picked from Kristen’s backyard in Manoa, split with a sprinkle of raw sugar, black sesame pudding, black sesame dumplings in ginger syrup, ginger in everything and anything, candied, juiced, or raw…mmhhmmmmm.
Finally figured out why I was grumpy this whole week. It wasn’t due to fifteen hour workdays but alas, it was severe Abraço withdrawal! So I mended my problems and reinstated happiness by popping into Abraço three times this weekend.
Jamie started doing iced coffee last week, and goodness it is indeed a wonderful treat in the morning. Sweetened a tad, full-bodied and smooth all the way, it will be difficult to imagine drinking iced coffees anywhere else in the future. You know how some things/people/places just leave the biggest smile on your face? Abraço does that for me. I went to work right after as the happiest accountant ever on a Saturday morning, woohoo :)
Post work Saturday called for a return trip, this time with Diana and Ian. The weather was quite nice and Jamie had the windows open, making for a most picturesque setting. We sat on the outside bench, catching up on everything and anything. Iced coffee for Diana, a Cortado for Ian, while I went with a Sweet Little Thing. It honestly is called “Sweet Little Thing,” I kid you not!
Was back again on Sunday with Don and John. Iced coffee for the both of them, and an almond milk latte for myself. I ran into Kevin, the fellow whom I have to thank for introducing me to Abraço back in November. It is always rather strange/funny/pleasant when you run into people you know in this city. I tend to imagine NYC as this huge, packed, energetic place…but at the same time forget that it is composed of many small areas, communities, if you will. Most my free time is spent in the East Village, and I suppose after a while, you establish patterns and habits. Sooner or later, running into certain people on certain days becomes a part of these patterns. Last Saturday, on the way to the market, I ran into Olivia on the street, whom I just dined with the previous night. Days before that, I passed Tai on the way home from work. It always takes me by surprise and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. But I supposed that is oookay, because I like it that way, the element of surprise never gets boring.
III. Otafuku + Saint Alps
Had dinner with Shann the other night at Otafuku. We were lucky enough to get one of the bench seats right in front of the shop. The bench fits four people if you squeeze tight, but there’s always a long wait. Most of the time we take out monchings to eat at the church park right up the street on 2nd Avenue. I always get the Okominiyaki (with corn) & Yakisoba combo. Very fairly priced at $6, it’s a comforting meal that will fill you up quickly, perhaps a bit too much.
But then again, there’s always room for dessert right? We rounded the corner to Saint’s Alp to purchase warm liquids for the walk home. Green tea milk tea boba for Shann and black sesame boba for myself.
Hope the week is going well for everyone :)
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