NYC-Mini GTG

Jul 19th, 2009, 04:11 PM
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NYC-Mini GTG

This weekend, the pandas and the RhkKmks traveled to NYC for a few mini GTG's with Asia Fodorites. We've survived and have a few amusing tales of friends and Asian food. Tengohambre, Nywoman and Ekscrunchy, in that chronological order, were great hosts for us Red Sox fans.

On Friday, we departed the dred Needham in the pandamobile at about 9:15 a.m.. The ride down was smooth and enjoyable. Bob was asleep. Naturally, we began to talk about food after we passed Hartford, about half way. We concluded that we would go to the Shanghai Tea Garden, a spot of a former NYC GTG. The restaurant is in mid-town on the East Side. Navigator Bob had us go over to the West Side and come back through the park and crawl slowly doen Second Avenue. I suspect he did not want us to get there early. I found a legal spot across the street and in we went. We had the soup dumplings, very good, slippery chicken, very good, chicken with rice cakes, very good and Bob had normal dumplings, very mediocre.

Beth had two places in the garment district that she wanted to see, so we went over to Sixth Ave. No parking, so I waited in the car while the three little bears wandered off. Beth bought a few little things and I managed to get a $115 parking ticket. the meter maid began writing the ticket 20 feet away, so by the time I saw her , she said "Sorry, i've already started." A fine welcome. No Red Sox stickers or anything. Just the usual warm hug from the Big Apple. I was standing next to the car, reading my book on top of the car. I was obviously with the car. Actually, Bob is to blame. He got us a good deal on a hotel in Godforsaken Jersey City. Beth called it, Kimball's Folly. If we had gotten a Manhattan hotel like normal people, we would have checked in and the car would have been in the lot. That would have been too easy. No, we saved $50 per night and got a $115 ticket. Nice, eh?

To compound matters, it was now 3:45 and we had to be back in Manhattan at 6:00 so we could follow Tengohambre out to Queens. We started to go to GFS Jersey City, but traffic was crawling. Fortunately, Tengohambre picked this time to check on our well- being. When I explained the situation (I talked even though I was driving because Bob cannot be trusted to communicate properly), he (Tengohambre) graciiously offered to let us rest at his apartment in mid-town instead of crawling to Jersey City and back. We took him up on his suggestion. we parked in the basement of his building after we realized that the spot I had gotten earlier was actually not legal. In other words, I managed to park unticketed in an illegal spot for an hour and one half. However, when standing next to my car, i managed to get a ticket. Some sort of Kharma. Jill, Tengohambre's wife put up with us for what must have seemed like an endless afternoon with grace and charm. That's Jill with the grace and charm, not the afternoon.

TH appeared and we were off. The original plan was to dine at SRI, but that was closed for the week. maybe this was a coincidence, but I have my suspicions. TH had discovered a new Thai place in Queens Ayada. We followed Jill, who said I drived too slowly. Compared to her, I did. Of course, with my previous parking violation, I did not want to add a moving violation, so I obeyed the speed limit. That made one of us. Several times, She had to wait for us.

The restaurant was great. TH ordered and the food was delicious. From eggplant, papaya salad and Pad Thai, we meandered to several curry dishes. This was topped off with mango with Sticky Rice. Wonderful. Even better, we got to meet, NYwoman. She is delightful and funny. In truth, if she were only funny, that would have been plenty for me. But she was also delighful. She jumped right into the conversation and easily held her own. The next night, she admitted that she was determining whether Bob and I were OK or complete flakes. She claimed that we met her standards and we had passed muster. This says more about her than anything else. I'm guessing she liked Laurel and Hardy as well.

More later.
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Jul 19th, 2009, 04:50 PM
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now the truth must be told.....i was not asleep, i had my eyes closed in prayerful silence, praying for our safety from the unsafe situation that developed in the pandamobile....its called reckless driving...

in short, we arrived safely....well sort of....the other 7 cars he cut off have been towed to the car cemetery....

our encounters: Fanny, aka nywoman, is a hoot....she is simply lovely, gracious and easy to chat with on any range of subjects---its her european roots i guess... she is a real gem, like so many other fodorites....

i guess i skipped ahead as i should have started with the Tengohombres... robert, jill and their offspring are the most perfect hosts....the kids, aaron and zoe, are true life sophisticated new yorker kids....a joy to be with... throughout the weekend robert kept checking on us to see if everything was ok...

ekcrunchy joined us on saturday, or i should say we joined her for a trip back to queens for the second nite of asina dining.....she too is an interesting and fun person to share time with...

both E and NTW made our trip tons of fun....their knowledge of asian food and the asian food scene in the ny area is fantastic... and robert follows right behind them....i vote for the 3 of them to have a regular spot on the today show weekly....

the food: it was varried....it was good to excellent, it was abundant....it was well cooked, it was all asian until we had indian today for lunch, but that also was in queens on 74th street...

restaurants visited:

shanghai tea garden, about #257 E 55th st nyc...site of an earlier GTG

Ayada thai; 77-08 Woodside Av, queens...718-424-0844---small place with fantastic thai food...maybe only 8 tables...BYOB...cheap but excellent...street parking...as good as SriPraPhai, also on queens...$130 for 10 people...

Le Pescadeux, only 4 weeks old... 90 Thompson st, soho, nyc
212-966-0021...excellent.... canadian french bistro.... highly recomm. front of restaurant opens to sidewalk in pleasant weather...

Hunan House...137-40 Northern Blvd, flushing...718-353-1808...authentic hunan chinese in ny....good....also $130 for 9 people

Delhi Palace...74th street, queens....fantastic neighborhood to wander in, all indian... we had the buffet $10.95, which was excellent, but they are never good to judge by....i'm sure the food a la carte is fantastic, based on the buffet...

so other than the mis observations of the gpanda this was a fantastic weekend....our westin hotel in jersey city was very nice in deed and the panda forgot to report that they neglected to charge us for parking, which if we had stayed in the city would have been as much as $60 per nite with no in/out privledges....$91 on priceline....i can't think of a better place to stay on a visit to nyc than in jersey city....the tram is right there to take you to manhattan in 5 minutes and the place is safe, clean and fun....but in truth its not manhattan proper...exactly 3 blocks from the jersy side of the holland tunnel...

don't forget the boston GTG on oct. 10, 2090
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Jul 19th, 2009, 04:53 PM
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above mistakes:: "second nite of asian dining"..."E and NTW"
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Jul 19th, 2009, 06:25 PM
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Isn't that NYW? Or am I confused.

Sounds like you all had a good time.
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Jul 19th, 2009, 06:36 PM
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LOL. In fact haven't laughed so hard in a while. NYC traffic, GFS Jersey City, the meter maid -- what a hoot! Four Asian/Indian restaurants in two days -- and a French Canadian bistro thrown in -- make it all worthwhile. Love it!
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Jul 19th, 2009, 06:44 PM
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here are a few pics

share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=8BauXDJw2aqOyA
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Jul 19th, 2009, 06:47 PM
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yes it is NYW---newyorkwoman-----your hands would not work right if you spent a weekend in a tiny volvo with a madman...
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Jul 19th, 2009, 06:48 PM
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ask him to tell the whole story of what he said to the lovely ny city police woman......you won't believe this one!!!!
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Jul 19th, 2009, 06:51 PM
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Is EK yet another guenmai, in front of the camera?
Thanks for sharing the photos.
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Jul 19th, 2009, 07:32 PM
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yes she is.....some time we are going to have a man who is camera shy???

carol....both women were delightful and tons of fun....we made encouragements for them to come to boston but nywoman with be in asia, but E may come we hope---she would be a nice addition....
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Jul 19th, 2009, 08:36 PM
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Using the latest software I was able to get a side profile of Eks from the reflection in Gpanda's eye. I'll upload the picture after work if anyone is interested.
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Jul 19th, 2009, 09:54 PM
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sounds like you all had GREAT time. LOL about getting a ticket.
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Jul 20th, 2009, 01:29 AM
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Where was I before I was so rudely interupted? Oh yeah, we finished dinner in Queens at Ayada and followed Jill back to Manhattan across the Queensboro Bridge. All of these driving minutiae are included because New Yorkers are all, everyone of them, obsessed with driving directions. It must be in the water. We wandered over to the West Side and slipped through the Holland Tunnel without problem. Immediately after exiting the tunnel, we took a right on Marin and another right on eighteenth. This bends around to become Washington and the Westin in GFS JC was there on our right.

We made the mistake of letting Bob initiate the check-in. Of course, this became a long drawn out process that went on for ever. Eventually, we were admitted to the "promised land". (Who ever thought a Westin in GFS JC would be called promised?) The elevator dinged on every floor for no apparent reason. The room was a standard Westin room overlooking the rest of the sterile part on JC known as Newport. If you stood just right in our room, you could see a slice of the Hudson River. Bob's room was not so blessed. We collapsed into bed.

Next morning, I was up early (big surprise) and went for a run along the river. The buildingd were all new construction and completely boring. There were other runners even though it was early. Naturally, there were no interesting places to eat anywhere near our space station. I went to Starbucks and bought some of their tedious muffins. Upon my return, Beth was just getting up. Later the Kimballs called and I went back to Starbucks to fetch them some tedious pastries.

Oh, I forgot to mention that Laurico and Eric joined us for dinner on Friday night. L was her usual energetic self regaling us with stories. She's a welcome addition at any GTG.

Our plan was to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. At Laurie's suggestion, we drove into Brooklyn and walked into manhattan. Bob went half way across and went back to get the car. This is a delightful stroll in good weather. We managed to meet up with Bob at Chambers St. in Manhattan.
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Jul 20th, 2009, 02:37 AM
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We drove over to SOHO and found a legal parking space. A slight diversion here. Beth and I have law degrees, Bob was a banker specializing in small print, Karen a detail oriented nurse. Nonetheless, we were barely able to decipher the parking signs to determine what was legal and what was not. the aforementioned spot near the Shanghai tea garden was legal on saturday, but restricted to commercial vehicles M-F. Each sign had three or four parts that needed to be read as a whole in order to uncode the meaning. Deliberately confusing to trap the unwary tourists. It made me feel like a country panda.

Undetered, we set off wandering in SOHO. For the non NYers, this is a charming section filled with unique shops and tons of good food. There's the occassional Tommy Hilfiger, etc., but plenty of individual stores. We spent a while in LePage on Thompson St south of Spring St.. This place has wonderful lucite constructions with very clean lines and splurges of color. It's very statue-like. Bob managed to put his foot in his mouth, but the owner graciously allowed him to extract it with a minimum of fuss. She recommended a lunch plane. Les Piscadueax north of Spring on Thompson.

Lunch at LP was very nice. Beth was brave enough to get a scrapple sandwich. She claimed she liked it. The shrimp toast was especially good. We chatted with the owner. The center for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ilgauskas, was also there.

As an aside, we managed to ask several of the shop owners how much they paid in monthly rent. A small shop was $5500. The restaurant was $13,000. A larger store was $30,000. Not cheap.

After lunch, we continued wandering with afew purchases hither and yon. This was a very pleasant way to pass the afternoon. The weather was cooperative and NYC can be beautiful. Beth did spend an inordinate amount of time in examining eyewear.

Throughout the day, we remained in contact with Tengohambre and Ekscrunchy to coordinate for dinner. My suspicion is that they were slightly concerned that the hicks from Massachusetts would get into further trouble in the Big Apple. They neglected to remember that NYC is just a distant suburb of Cambridge.
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Jul 20th, 2009, 03:37 AM
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Naturally, we began to talk about food after we passed Hartford
That's better than talking about food after you passed Ayer.

This entire trip sounds ridiculous. With all of those law degrees, bank degrees, and nurse degrees, was there no room left for common sense that says a car in NYC is not really a great asset? Common sense that says a room in the city beats anything in GFS JC? (Hint: There's an excellent Holiday Inn Express on 29th St, a 3-minute walk from Penn Station. Rooms typically go for less than $200 with a bit of planning.)

My favorite Asian food in NYC is a good corned beef sandwich (Israel's in Asia, no?). However, I'm also glad to hear of the places you visited -- I'll keep those in mind for upcoming trips.

Also, agree 100% about downtown areas being a lot more interesting and filled with character (and characters) compared to midtown and Upper E/W Sides.
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Jul 20th, 2009, 04:17 AM
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I'll bite -- What DID you say to the meter maid?
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Jul 20th, 2009, 05:26 AM
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I am glad Andy finally managed to quite talking about his self and remember that Laurie and Eric joined us on Friday night. Laurie had her usual humerous tales to tell, and her suggestion of walking the Brooklyn bridge was my favorite activity of the weekend. It was fun meeting NYW and E. As usual Tengohambre and his family were the consumate hosts, looking out for our welfare through out the weekend.

Just want to say thank you to all , incase the panda, and rhk forget.
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Jul 20th, 2009, 07:38 AM
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I will ignore the obvious fact that misspelling effects all members of the Kimball house.

Ok, here's the meter maid story in full.

The zone I was in was commercial parking only. So I stood at the back of the car reading my book that was placed on the car. My thinking was that any meter person could just tell me to move and off I would go. Apparently, I did not take into account the quota system in place in NYC. the meter maid began writing the ticket 20 feet from my car. By the time I became aware of her she was already writing the license plate number. The glee with which she told me that there was no leeway was obvious.

I'm not so good with authority, but even I knew that if I started a brouhaha, she would happily call the police and let them sort me out. We would have missed dinner and I never would have heard the end of that story, so I took a different approach. I ignored the ticket and began suggesting to the meter maid that perhaps when she was next in church and they were speaking of kindness to a fellow human being that she realize that this did not apply to her. I further suggested that she close her eyes and cross her fingers during the kindness part of the sermon. I guessed out loud that the deity to which she prayed would want her to show a greater level of mercy to people in general and me specifically. She said nothing, but her blood pressure visibly rose like in a cartoon.
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Jul 20th, 2009, 07:40 AM
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does he actually have the guts to repeat what he said to the lovely NYC policewoman??

his public wants to know
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Jul 20th, 2009, 08:07 AM
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Back to the trip report. Certain Ekscrunchy-type people should not the diligence that I'm applying in moving the narrative forward. In fact, the non-diligence was one motivating factor in planning this trip. Hers, not ours.

We had successfully negotiated the password protocol put in place by Ekscrunchy and arranged to pick her up at her apt. at 6:00 p.m.. We left SOHO early and arrived at 5:30. I called her to let her know and she said she would be down in five minutes. I then went to change from shorts into long pants. The doorman took pity and let me use a strorage room. When I emerged into the hall, EKS immediately said "Panda?" She recognized me without a speedo.

We then got in the car to ride out to Flushing for dinner at Hunan House. I submitted EKS to a gentle cross-examination, but have been sworn to secrecy. Suffice it to say that she's led an interesting life with lots of travel to Asia. I leave the details to her. I do note that she was quite capable of talking and directing my driving without missing a beat.

We arrived in Flushing early for our 7:00 p.m. reservation, so EKS took us on a walking tour of the Chinese section. This included a stop at a chinese grocer.

When we arrived at Hunan House, we were met by tenghambre, Jill and Zoe. He had traded children, not wanting to subject either to a full helping of Bostonians. Unsurprisingly, we were seated in the rear of the restaurant away from the good patrons.

Rizzutto-we ate in Queens three times, so a car was actually necessary. The GFS Westin in JC was only $91 per night. We did save some money even if we travelled widely.
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