i’m in a new york state of mind

An overdue post, but I need to summarize my February trip to NYC. I love visiting New York, no matter how cold or hot it gets!

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Brooklyn Bridge

Coincidentally, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra was performing at Carnegie Hall Thursday and Friday. I’ve always wanted to see the RCO perform. They are one of the world’s best orchestras and have been consistently lauded for their unique sound. That weekend, they were performing Schumann’s Manfred Overture, Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4. Prior to this year, I hadn’t stepped foot in Carnegie Hall before. I was very excited about not only visiting one of the most prestigious and well-known concert venues in the world but also to see one of the world’s leading orchestras perform. Carnegie Hall is a beautiful venue with top-notch acoustics. The only downside to me was the seats, particularly in the second tier. These seats are so small and cramped. The gentleman next to me was very tall and had long legs, and he could barely squeeze into the seats. I can’t imagine his discomfort for the whole evening. Nonetheless, I enjoyed being able to see and hear the RCO perform such timeless classical masterpieces. It was a lovely start to the long weekend.

On this trip, I walked the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time! It’s something I’ve wanted to do almost every time I’ve been in NYC, but I never got around to it. This time, however, we were in the vicinity and we decided to check it out. What an engineering masterpiece of a bridge!

I tried a couple of new restaurants, including Café China and Ai Fiori. Both are one Michelin-starred restaurants. I visited Café China for lunch and ordered dan dan noodles, pork dumplings in chili oil, braised fish filet with tofu, and a-choy. This is a very affordable Michelin-rated restaurant; most of the entrées are under $30. Although Sichuan cuisine is one of my favorite styles of Chinese cuisine, I find that many Sichuan-centric restaurants tend to overspice all the entrées or the food is entirely too oily. Café China is able to strike the right balance of flavors. Everything tasted delicious, but not overwhelmingly fiery, mouth-tingling, or greasy. Highly recommend, and would come again anytime.

Cafe China
Braised fish filet with tofu at Café China

I booked Ai Fiori ages ago, so this was a special treat. The restaurant focuses on traditional Italian cuisine mixed with contemporary panache. I opted for the seven-course tasting. It is a beautiful restaurant with so much potential. I don’t know if I went on an off-night because although the food was delicious, it wasn’t on a Michelin-star level that we expected. It was also pretty inconsistent. Most courses were delectable, but there were a couple where the overall taste was a little too salty. And while the courses were coming out pretty steadily, some other tables were experiencing extremely slow While I’m glad I was able to experience Ai Fiori together for a special occasion, I’m not sure I’ll be back anytime soon.

Ai Fiori
Ai Fiori

During this trip, we also checked out the Morgan Library & Museum. I had never visited this museum before, but it caught my attention when I was searching for an attraction after lunch at Café China. Admission costs $22/adult. There are rotating exhibits, but my favorite is definitely J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library.

Morgan LibraryMorgan Library 3Morgan Library 2

Other highlights included:

  • The A5 Miyazaki katsu sando at Don Wagyu. Yes, that sandwich costs $80.
  • The aesthetics of Maman, which serves coffee, pastries, sandwiches, salads, and desesrts (including their famous nutty chocolate chip cookie which was one of Oprah’s ‘favorite things of 2017’)
  • Checking out the Innisfree shop in Union Square. I love the botanical wall! I stocked up on some skincare goodies here, as well as a lovely perfumed diffuser for my friend’s birthday.
  • Also stumbled upon Fishs Eddy, a whimiscal home goods store in Union Square.
  • Had Doughnut Plant for the first time! I really wanted the matcha green tea one, but it’s only available during select days. I bought a couple of the crème brûlées for us and my parents, but my favorite by far was the wild blueberry.
  • Went to BlackTail for drinks with a local friend. I hadn’t Yelped or Googled this place prior to us heading there, but later I found out it was named the best new cocktail bar in the U.S. in 2017. It’s a Cuban-inspired cantina in Battery Park City. The reason we decided to go was because my fiancé knew that the duo behind BlackTail were also founders of The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog, which we had been to before and absolutely enjoyed.
A5 Miyazaki
A5 Miyazaki Katsu Sando, Don Wagyu
Croissant from Maman

Another great NYC trip in the books! There’s always something new to check out in the city, and I look forward to going time and time again. If you have recommendations for places I haven’t visited before, please let me know in the comments below!

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