NYC: Day Two

Monday, 12 May 2014

Day two started bright and early at Hill Country Chicken for breakfast. We stuck to our original itinerary despite getting some food recommendations from a local (back at Smorgasburg) only because the place he told us about was too out of the way :( Regardless, I don't regret my meal at HCC at all.

Hill Country Chicken has that Southern charm that kind of reminded me of another restaurant I passed by while in Brooklyn. To me, the decor was a mash-up between the American 50's diner and the Southern style I just mentioned, which I see quite often in graphic design. As for the food, I remember when I first looked at the menu online, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted. Even as I was standing infront of the counter, it took me a good 10 minutes debating what I wanted. Don't get me wrong, the food isn't bad at all. It's just that when you've had fried chicken the night before you first arrived at NYC (Popeyes), and then you have fried chicken again in the morning (Jollibee), you kinda want to have something else, ya know? And as you can see in the picture above, I ended up ordering something that's not fried chicken. Man, looking back at that photo makes me wish I could have some for my next breakfast right now :( 

I had two breakfast tacos for $5. For the value and quantity, I was definitely satisfied. The two tacos had scrambled egg, cheddar cheese, potato tots and German sausage all wrapped up in a soft oven baked taco shell. The only thing I regret was my inability to realize that there was a ketchup station in the restaurant, which would've made the taco even better — not that it wasn't good already. And of course, my boyfriend being the troll that he is, would purposely order a taco for himself (after eating a whole fried chicken + biscuit order too...) and squirt ketchup on its contents in front of me just to spite me :( To be fair, he did offer me the last bite of his taco, but still. >:/

Next, we headed to SoHo/Canal Street. I've been in the area the last time I went to NYC as well, though I didn't get a chance to go into a couple of stores back when I had my first trip. I would always tell my friends, "One day, if I go back to NYC, I will go to that really cool store with the conveyor belt that would rotate T-shirts on display!" (AKA Uniqlo). It's funny how much can change in a 5 year period even though you've been to the same place before. There were some stores I recognized, as if no time has passed since I've been on SoHo. Then there's the brands that I see all the time: Forever21, Zara, etc etc that I don't remember seeing back in grade 11. Or maybe I did see them that time, but I was too preoccupied by having to hurry back to my school bus (due to tight itinerary) and the fact that I was limping the whole street up since one of my calves got strained from walking so much. Anyway, my boyfriend and I were walking around SoHo when I came across Muji. I've heard Youtube gurus rave about this place, and I've seen a couple of designer friends freak out from obtaining their pens. After going to that store, I don't blame them. The store had a very serene vibe to it, and it was essentially a Japanese version of Umbra and IKEA.

These are the things I bought from their store. Ya, I know, I didn't buy much. I just didn't want to buy a bunch of things that I only kinda wanted, so I stuck with the things I either really needed or wanted. I bought oil wipes in case I came out super greasy Tuesday morning (I forgot to pack my own), a notebook and a pen. Out of the three that I bought, I have only used the pen so far. The pen alone was probably my happiest purchase out of all of the things I bought that day. Remember when I said my designer friends would freak out about their pens? I repeat, I don't blame them, at all. I'm very particular about my pens. If the ink bleeds through the paper, that's a no go. If the pen's pigmentation is not consistent I would get peeved about that too. So when I came across this pen... I felt like a kid in a candy store. It was one of the smoothest pens I've ever written with; reminiscent of the pen I accidentally stole from a high school classmate (that I used up to it's very last day and couldn't find more of). I didn't think I would come across a pen like that for a very long time, so I had to buy it. Besides, it was only $3.75 USD :)

I also headed to Uniqlo —finally! This time, instead of having a conveyor belt rotate t-shirts on display, they had cascading glass panels of different colours set in varying distances, juxtaposing their shirts on display. Regardless, I was in awe of the quality of their clothes, intrigued by some of their packaging, and amused by some of their products (that aren't that common). Again, I bought something that I knew that I wanted for awhile, and all I can say is, their draped bottoms are friggin comfortable!

It was getting close to lunch time, so my boyfriend and I headed to the subway to get closer to Umami Burger. When we were planning our NYC trip, we were looking around for good food places that wouldn't break the bank but also provide a good tasting experience. That's when I came across a blog called Eat Like a Lady that had a post about Umami Burger. Just from the pictures alone, my boyfriend wanted to go. It was a good thing that we did.

When my boyfriend, his friend and I got seated, we started looking over the menus. I came across their Korean BBQ burger which I thought would be a good choice. Indeed it was! The presentation of it was unlike most burgers that you would see (the photos of the first burger) and the taste was something I enjoyed as well. It was the first time I had an egg in my burger (ya I don't eat gourmet burgers very often...) and also the first time I had ever seen a restaurant brand their buns, which I thought was pretty cool. Only thing was, because there were so many components to my burger already, I had no choice but to eat my burger with a fork and knife because otherwise, everything would slip out (I tried to use my hands but that just didn't end up well). Burger noob? Totally. My boyfriend ordered their Truffle Especiale and loved it. He even ordered a basic burger just to gauge their quality. For a burger that just had a patty, some tomatoes and mushrooms, it was still quite well done. The patty was moist and well marinated; the tomatoes and mushrooms were a good amount that it didn't overwhelm the experience. Anyone who is a burger person and happens to be in NYC should go to this place!

After lunch, we headed back to SoHo. I felt kind of bad that my boyfriend and his friend were just standing there waiting for me while I was in Forever21 and Necessary Clothing, but some of it wasn't entirely my fault!

I didn't have a basic swing camisole for versatile dressing so I was on a mission to look for one...

We also headed to Made by Melissa because I heard good things about that place. I split a box of 12 bite sized cupcakes with my boyfriend's friend as a mid-day snack.

They had a good variety of flavors to choose from, such as red velvet, triple chocolate and cinnamon. I loved that they were bite sized, which gave you the freedom to try their other flavors without having to eat a whole regular sized cupcake. The icing wasn't a complete overload either, which I see a lot in cupcake enthusiasts. I love decorating pastries too, I just don't have the capacity to take in large amounts of sugar : /

I put an end to my shopping around 5 PM, so the three of us still had some time to kill before dinner. We ended up at a bar on the way to our dinner location to watch the basketball game inside/chat for awhile. When it was nearing 7 PM, we headed our way to Emmett's.

I didn't realize my photo got photobombed until said photobomber pointed it out to me.

As you can tell from the photos above, Emmett's is a restaurant that serves deep dish pizza. I haven't been to Chicago to eat their kind of deep dish pizza, so I can't compare the two unfortunately. I can say that I wasn't super hungry that night (I would partially blame the mini cupcakes) so one slice out of the 12" pizza was enough to satisfy me. Before going to Emmett's, I actually kind of dreaded the idea of having to consume deep dish pizza. Okay, maybe dread is too strong of a word... I just felt intimidated by the idea of a very thick pizza. Mickey's back at home was (from my memory) about twice as thick as the pizza at Emmett's, and I felt stuffed after having only half of their small 8" pizza.

The restaurant itself was quaint, cozy and full of vintage posters and signage. The lighting was dim, with 'elevator music' accompanying the surroundings. I found it interesting how the decor and the atmosphere seemed to be polar opposites and yet it meshed pretty well. Usually you would hear this type of music at a "sleek modern" restaurant like Moxie's or Joey's. so that was a bit unexpected. I thought the lighting would be brighter and warmer, with vintage American music or something similar. Ah well, I'm not complaining.

Despite my fear at first, I was okay by the end of it. The pizza slice was manageable — it was relatively in one piece without oozing most of it's contents onto the plate and if I was hungrier, I might have been able to down another slice. We ordered a 12" pizza with sausage and mushroom toppings to share amongst the three of us. Out of the six slices, we still had two left, so we packed it away.

My boyfriend's friend wanted to get his stuff from another friend's apartment, so we walked with him after dinner. We walked through Chinatown (yes, I know I've been on Canal Street, but walking beyond that to the rest of Chinatown wasn't something I had done prior), which made me realize how big it was compared to the one in Toronto. Back home, Spadina street was essentially Chinatown. Here in NYC, it stretched beyond one street. When we got to our destination, we had a group chat and in a way, it was a nice little mini reunion for my boyfriend and his old schoolmates.

Afterwards, we visited Times Square. I went to Times Square the first night of my high school trip so there wasn't anything new to me. My boyfriend never went before, so that's why. After seeing it once, it was one of those things where it's, "you go to that place just to see it and say you've been there" and you realize that aside from shopping, (if you're a girl) avoiding creepy people at night, and taking pictures of the iconic flashing billboards, there's really not much for you to do there.

We also went to the M&M's and Hershey store since my boyfriend was curious. I didn't buy anything, but I did appreciate that the Hershey's store would give you a free sample when you come in :) Soonafter, we were on our way back to the hotel. I bought a couple of souvenirs on the way, and then it was 20 minutes of cardio workout before drifting off to sleep.

That wraps up Day 2 at NYC! Day 3 coming up sometime later this week... or next week... who knows? :P

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