Friday, May 30, 2014

It's Friday! [Dog on 1st Ave]

This is me when I see sushi...

Not our dog but I wouldn't mind if he were. Actually, I'd be bothered by his drooling all over...

Happy Weekend Y'all! xx

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My #TBT=#ThrowbackTravels #10: Surfing in Indonesia, Bali 2009

Here I am surfing or falling....

I paid a super tanned Indonesian dude $5 USD to get me on a surfboard for an hour. Actually, I have a picture of me shaking on that deal. 

My instructor was actually this friendly dude with his floating hat.

I bargained to get this super deal but couldn't even make it pass one hour. I remember being exhausted about half way through. To keep swimming back against the waves over and over again. Surfin' ain't easy duuude. The waves weren't even big that day which facilitated me staying on my surfboard. For real surfers, the waves were probably something they would scoff at. I don't care. I still love saying that I've tried surfboarding in Indonesia anyway!

 All pictures are courtesy of my dad. He had just purchased his first SLR camera and documented my surfing experience from beginning to end. I giggle remembering how my dad was careful with taking pictures and rarely took any consecutive shots. He was not used to the concept of digital memory and constantly worried about running out of film. When I'd be snapping away multiple shots, he would scold me for wasting "film". But he's better now. In fact, he's taken photography classes and has a camera lens ten times the cost of my own!

(Damn, I miss my 25 year old body)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pieces of Home: Plant and vase

Home decorating is underway but not quite done yet. I can't wait to show it off so here are some sneak peaks...

Vase on sale at Urban Outfitters for $5 (was $35). Plant was a gift :)

Monday, May 26, 2014

nykeiko shops: Shop Shop Shop

Sandra Spannan Gold mirror and monochromatic industrial white lamp

Uh oh. Memorial Day weekend means for many BBQs, picnics, relaxing and of course, sales! All these sale alerts flooding my inbox is kiiiillling me! Despite attending a lot of sample sales, I actually have not bought anything for a while (clothing-wise because I have been dropping dough elsewhere as you will see). As mentioned before, having to move all my stuff from the old apartment to our new one made me realize how much shit I own so I kinda slowed down a bit in the shopping department.

During the past month, my purchases have been mostly for the apartment, big and small. This includes an Aerobed mattress (on sale for $50!), white industrial floor lamp (on sale $25!), shower head (rain shower!), toilet seat (necessity), West Elm coffee table (we didn't receive this yet as it is on backorder. This was major $$ even with a discount), a large sheepskin rug (best purchase ever!), air purifier (we live near a highway), kitchenware (in need of matching plates), West Elm faux fur throw (we did not need this but it was on sale for only $14! Usually retails for $119) and window curtains (still looking for blackout curtains)! This is just to name a few because the list does not end here for sure. New home = $$$$.

Based on my credit card statements, my last clothing purchase was back early April  at the Elizabeth and James sample sale. I bought just one pair of black jeans for only $55 to replace one I discarded due to a large tear in the rear (my only black skinny jeans). And before that, purchases at the J.Mendel sample sale early March! So I have been pretty good lately (of course, not according to the husband who practically buys clothes probably once a year) up until this past weekend where I might take advantage of this Bloomingdale's Memorial Day sale going on. Bloomies is offering an extra 20% off clearance items + $50 worth of Loyalist points with a purchase of over $200 + a 6% cash back with ebates. I have been looking for a light long jacket to replace an old one I've had and worn since my collegiate years. I have sewn shut holes in the pockets multiple times, a broken zipper, lost the fur trimming, a hoodie that has somehow shrunk and does not fit my head anymore; and most annoyingly, the color has long faded which makes it look dirty and old (not like vintage old, just old old). It's almost 10 years old I believe. Yes I have other jackets but I need one that is functional and practical and not afraid to get dirty.  I was looking at all these feminine bright colored jackets but I probably won't wear it on a day to day basis. I ordered it online so I hope I'll like it in when it arrives. shopping shopping.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

nykeiko play: An evening inside New York's most iconic Plaza hotel...

The Plaza hotel, built in 1907 is over a hundred years old and is an official New York City landmark. This place holds a lot of history and although a popular tourist attraction, it was placed back on the map after last year's The Great Gatsby movie which was based on one of Scott Fitzgerald's most famous novel. Before that, I knew it best from movies like Home Alone 2 and Bride War. Man, I really liked Home Alone 2. I would love to stay at The Plaza hotel, order a bunch of pizza and candies, and then charge it on someone else's credit card...Hey Plaza, call me maybe?

Friday, May 23, 2014

nykeiko eats: Cho Dang Gol - authentic Korean comfort food

My husband's mama loves her some korean food. For special occasions, we like to bring her to try different korean restaurants in New York City. There are little koreatowns sprouting all over. There is one in Flushing, in Woodside (live octopus at Sik Gaek!) and a big one in Fort Lee (New Jersey). We've tried them all but midtown Manhattan remains the most convenient for us even though it does not offer the best korean food. So out of convenience, we took Dave's mom there for Mother's day. Not wanting to eat at the same old place, we choose to go to Cho Dang Gol based on a friend's recommendation. This place looks rustic, feels cozy and exudes authenticity. Their slogans: "Cho Dang Gol, the authentic taste of regional korean cuisine" is very convincing and "the most famous korean restaurant in New York city" made me wonder why I have never heard of this place before. We rarely venture off Korea street (32nd street) which is a big mistake since there are so many good restaurants close by.

The food:

I'm a fan of sundubu jjigae (tofu stew) and almost order it whenever we try a new korean restaurant. I thought the tofu at Cho Dang Gol was actually flavorful compared to what I have tried elsewhere. I am no tofu expert but I know good tofu when I taste it! Cho Dang Gol is known to be one of the first restaurant to serve bean curd to Manhattan since 1997. It's got to be good if it has been around for this long! Other restaurant serve fresh tofu daily as well (BCD Tofu for example) but I personally think that Cho Dang Gol's tofu taste better.

We also tried the Dol Sot Bibimbap with beef. If a restaurant can't make the most typical korean comfort food taste good then they can't make anything else right, right? It was good! Someone's recommendation was to try the Spicy Galbi Jjim with rice cakes. Dave thought it was too sweet while I thought the beef was not tender enough; and Dave's mom was just not impressed with the rice cakes. Gosh we're so picky. Finally, we ordered some BBQ ribs just to make sure we got enough vitamin B12 that day.

Despite our picky criticism, this place is filled up every night for a good reason. I would certainly go back when I am craving spicy sundubu. But mostly, we can also stay away from Korea street which is usually crowded and annoying with no outstanding restaurants to try anymore. I also feel like a grandma when I walk up and down that street with all the younglings hanging out. And what's up with all the young asian men in suits with well-coiffed hair standing around? I always joke that they are gigolos but really, who knows. I sound so old....

Thanks for reading xx

Thursday, May 22, 2014

#TBT=#ThrowbackTravels #9: Gaspésie, Québec 1999

My real first road trip was with my best friend from high school. Two underage gals (I think we were 15?) without adult supervision (parental approval was a challenge) on an 18-hour bus ride from Montreal to the tip of the St-Lawrence River. Destination:Gaspésie.

It was one of the most memorable trip of my life. We had spooky ghost tales (the window we probably forgot we opened), one drunken night with half a bottle of wine (party like it's 1999), we made Blair Witch Project-type shooting in the middle of the night by the ocean, ate fresh lobsters and even went kayaking by the famous Percé Rock. But what I remember doing most is the laughing until-you-can't-breathe-pee-in-your-pants moments.

Here's my friend, eyes closed, basking in the sun with the Percé Rock as the backdrop. Enjoying our blissful youth. No worries, no heartbreaks, no job, no bills, bills, bills...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

nykeiko shops: James Perse Sample Sale [May 2014 NYC Sample Sale]

I checked out the James Perse sample sale being held this week at 260 Sample Sale. Here's my review on RackedNY. I didn't buy anything because I was looking for really rock-bottom prices. Somehow, $30 tees just doesn't do it for me. I buy similar styles of tees from Everlane for just $15.

Monday, May 19, 2014

In pictures: Lykke Li performs at the legendary Apollo theater

It was exciting to see Lykke Li live in concert again in New York city but it was even more exciting when she performed at the legendary Apollo theater in Harlem. This is just one of the many evidence that Harlem is changing big time! Last time we saw Lykke Li in concert was in Central Park for Summer Stage with two of our friends- Viro and Boravy - who came all the down from Montreal to see her. It was hot and humid but her show was totally worth the heat wave. Three years later, we reunite again in the comfort of our seats in a hundred year old theater.   Although there was a bright bar light situation in the lower mezz which ruined the experience for Viro. Apollo, can you fix this?

Lykke Li performed songs from her latest album I Never Learn with all her heart and even warned the crowd, "I have to admit, my new album is kind of a bummer." I certainly didn't mind. Her experiences and heartbreaks conceive some of my favorite songs from her. Hearing 'I never learn', 'Like a dream' and 'Love Me like I'm not made of stone' live in person was riveting. I'm in a happy moment in my life right now where I can't relate with the pain expressed in her music but I can certainly appreciate it.  The show wasn't entirely a bummer. She made the crowd get up and dance by filling her set with old classics such as 'Little Bit', 'I Follow Rivers', 'Rich Kids Blues' and 'Get Some'. And finally, closing the show with one of my favorite songs 'Sadness is a blessing' totally made my night. Here are some pictures I took all the way up from our upper mezzanine seats. The seats were so steep that the view was actually not as bad as I thought they would be!

Lykke Li performing at the legendary Apollo theater

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My #TBT = #ThrowbackTravels #8: Reed Flute Cave in Guilin, China

Reed Flute Cave
The Reed Flute Cave is apparently over 180 million years old which was totally obvious by the aging rocks (totally not). The grotto is filled with all types of stone formation leaving it up for interpretation by the public. Of course, in true Chinese style, every large formation has been named based on what it reminds people most of. I remember there were monkeys, lions and even the empire state building in there. This cave is very close to city-center and has been a must-see attraction for many tourists. The place is cool (free AC) even during scorching hot summers so it is an excellent place to spend the day.

Thanks for stopping by xx

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

nykeiko eats: Lucky Luna [Greenpoint,Brooklyn]

I'm Taiwanese and Dave likes tacos (okay, that was a bad introduction because it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke). Lucky Luna serves Taiwanese-Mexican  dishes which seems like the perfect marriage... just likes ours (awww). Actually, not really perfect. When I heard about this place, I thought it was the oddest flavor combo ever but it is probably because Mexican food isn't something I crave, ever. Except for guacamole, who doesn't like guac?? What I would love to find is a Taiwanese-French eatery...mmm. Foie gras with smelly tofu. Right, that doesn't sound so appetizing. Well, that is why I am not a chef!

After taking a quick look at their menu, I saw that there was no real fusion dishes happening. They served popular dishes from each country and maybe swapped out some ingredients with healthier alternatives and maybe mixed a dash of ingredients from each country. There were no crazy things like a chunk of guacamole in your beef noodles or something like that. You'll find popular Mexican dishes such as chips and salsa, tacos and pozole; and some Taiwanese dishes I grew up loving like lu rou fan (braised ground pork stew), cucumber salad and beef noodle soup. Oddities were the Hong Kong-style congee and Peking duck confit baos (which came highly recommended). While looking at the menu, I kept thinking about how I could probably get a bowl of congee at half the price somewhere in Chinatown and tacos from a food truck at a quarter of the price. But of course, it is not the same here. In order to operate in Brooklyn and stand out from other places that offer the same things, Lucky Luna incorporates organic and locally-made ingredients (tortillas and buns) and uses all-natural, free range meat in their dishes. Will this make you trek out to Brooklyn to grab a bite? Maybe not but when you live in Greenpoint with no authentic Asian restaurant in sight, this might fill the gap. We went there for our "last" meal in Williamsburg-Greenpoint-Brooklyn before our big move to the city last month.

Below are the dishes we tried at Lucky Luna. Since I am very attached to my traditional Taiwanese food, I got very critical. In fact, I didn't dare order my beloved lu rou fan because no one can make it better than my mommy :) I should have been more open-minded about their efforts though. As for the Mexican dishes, they didn't serve guacamole so that's that.

Kim Chi bloody mary

The waitress sold us this Kim Chi Bloody Mary which won a contest earlier that day at the 1st annual Brooklyn Bloody Mary festival. They were on special for $5 each so we took two (I'm a sucker for deals). It was too spicy for me on an empty stomach and I got tipsy right away but it was an interesting cocktail.

Duck confit bao
The duck confit bao might be the only I would come back for except it cost $5...and that time I had it, the bun was soggy wet at the bottom.

Friday, May 9, 2014

In Pictures: Frieze Art Fair New York May 8th 2014

Frieze Art Fair is a four-day event happening this weekend on Randall's island in New York City. I had the chance to preview the fair for CitizenMag (see my post here) along with VIP peeps, and so I am excited to share some of the pictures I took with you! It was my first time going to Frieze and loved it! Some pieces were a yawner but some were definitely conversation starters; it basically felt like strolling through a contemporary art museum except here, you can purchase the art if you have a few thousands of dollars to spare. I don't have money to spare so I was just happy poking around looking at million dollar art pieces.

Food was available for purchase and there was no plain cafeteria food served here. The fair partnered with a few of the best eateries in town including Blue Bottle Coffee, Court Street Grocers, Marlow & Sons, Mission Cantina, Momofuku Milk Bar, The Fat Radish and Roberta's! What a crazy line-up of deliciousness right?! 

Here are just some of the few pieces I enjoyed...

Yayoi Kusama

Thursday, May 8, 2014

M #TBT= My #ThrowbackTravels #7: Vancouver killer whales sightseeing in2006!

Free Willy!
Back in 2006, I traveled to Vancouver to experience my first wild killer whales encounter! If you know me, you probably already know that I have a profound love for orcas and most of marine life since watching Free Willy circa 1995. (My nickname Keiko is from the name of the orca that played Willy!). Before visiting Vancouver, the only times I have seen killer whales up close was in teeny tiny fish tanks in Marineland and Sea World (both Orlando and San Diego). My mom brought me to see them every chance we got. Well, now that I'm an adult, I can choose not to visit them in captivity anymore. It is just more glorious to see in them in the wild albeit more difficult to do so. Anyone seen Blackfish?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

nykeiko eats: Narcissa in the East Village [NYC]

When a friend of mine- whom I have not seen for probably over a decade!!- was visiting from Hong Kong and we were picking a restaurant for dinner, I had to think hard about finding an eatery that is different from what is offered in Asia. While I lived in Asia for a short period of time, I had consuming desires for good steak and mashed potatoes. My friend's cravings turned out to be bagels and hot dogs; but I refused to accept that our only meal together in New York would be by a hot dog stand (nothing wrong with that neither). Therefore in the end, I picked Narcissa (helmed by Michelin-starred chef John Fraser) for its farm-to-table-esque dishes. They offer seasonal menus orchestrated by organic and local produce straight from an upstate farm in the Hudson Valley. Can't taste any more of New York than that (it's not always about pizza, pastrami and bagels people.)

Narcissa is booked a full month in advance but walking in on a rainy day gave us no troubles at all getting seats by the counter; where we watched countless chefs and sous-chefs prepare all the dishes in an open kitchen. No behind the scenes, "5-second rule" applied here.

The food tasted clean and fresh; and all the flavors were combined in sweet harmony without being drowned down by sauces or extra salt. I was able to taste the fresh oyster even if it was baked under truffle-bonito butter, melted cabbage and bread crumbs. The Barley Risotto did not feel heavy at all but actually very healthy; and being a floral gal, the flower petals on the risotto was a delightful but odd surprise. My favorite dishes were probably the Baked Oysters and the Lacquered duck breasts. Yum! Kind of regret skipping out on desserts but nothing enticed us that night.

Well-prepared fresh food does come at a price though. Dinner for two with drinks (Cocktails "So Pretty") cost us about $140 with tax and tip.

Narcissa- baked oysters

Thursday, May 1, 2014

#TBT = My #ThrowbackTravels #6: Ice fishing somewhere in Quebec

Here's our cow-pattern cabin...
Back in 2003, I went ice fishing with a bunch of friends and did not know what I was getting myself into. Having lived in Montreal most of my life, this was not a common activity amongst my inner or outer circles, although it could be. But when the idea came up to go ice fishing, I thought why not? It is perfectly safe and sane during the coldest month of winter in Canada to park a cabin on top of ice, in the middle of a lake and attempt to catch some fishies. Doesn't sound like fun? See how it could be very fun. This is how Anthony Bourdain and Joe Beef's Dave McMillan and Fred Morin did it (Video clip). Of course this is totally not representative of this traditional winter activity (but should be). We did not have truffle shaved meals or foie gras or any of that...what we had was each other and a good time.