New York City – Day 1

Last August, I took a 5 day 4 night getaway to New York City with one of my best friends, Serene.  As we have similar taste and interests, it wasn’t hard to plan our trip at all.

Both of us had been to New York City multiple times in the past, but this trip in particular, we actually planned our itinerary based on where we wanted to eat, and everything else was sort of proximity to the restaurants!

We booked our flights through Porter Airlines during its 40% off sale, and our hotel through which we felt was the best deal for the price.  There were various boutique hotels we considered, but the reviews seemed to be hit and miss.  We decided why not pay for a chain hotel, with a guaranteed minimal standard/quality, as well as larger room sizes for expensive real estate in NYC?

Day 1:

We flew with Porter Airlines to get to Newark New Jersey.  I cannot say how much I consistently impressed by Porter and their level of quality of service.  Having skipped breakfast for the early flight, I took the luxury to enjoy the free wifi in the Porter Lounge while having a fresh cappuccino and enjoying its selection of butter cookies.  What a great way to start the morning.  On the flight, we had the choice of complimentary in-flight drink with selection of wine, beer, pop, juice and water followed by a mini two course meal of a muffin and fruits.  Did I mention the flight only lasts less than an hour?  Talk about flying, refined!

To save time and hassle from Newark, we took a cab that weaved through the later morning rush hour to our hotel at Intercontinental Barclay located conveniently in Midtown Manhattan, and within walking distance to the subways (5 minutes), MOMA, the Rockefeller Centre (10 minutes) and Times Square (15 minutes).

We left our luggage and immediately set off westwards for a pre-lunch snack at Kyotofu.  Along the way, we passed by the Rockefeller Centre where there was a farmer’s market and made a shopping pit stop at JCrew and Anthropologie.  We continued on our way through the crowds, past Times Square until we finally arrived half an hour later.

Kyotofu, if you haven’t guessed it serves sweet tofu desserts but also has light meal options, in a quaint part of town.  The front section had the kitchen/bakery, with most of the seating in the back.  Surprisingly, the restaurant was more or less empty given its numerous good reviews.  I got the black sesame sweet tofu, while Serene got the regular one, and both were quite delicious.

Free muffins came with our bill!

After being recharged by dessert, we were ready for lunch a few blocks south.  It’s funny how a few blocks can make a huge difference in terms of traffic in the city (then again we were technically in Theatre District)!

I’ve heard a lot about these burgers at Shake Shack.  According to a friend, the Burger Joint at the Parker Meridian tastes better, but we decided to save that for next time.  By the time we got there a little past 2 pm, there was a huge line-up which went out the door and down the street!  Late lunch?  We shared their Shake Stack burger ($8.60) and although it was relatively small size-wise, boy did it pack a punch in goodness!  It is basically a cheeseburger and a ’Shroom Burger topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce.  A little heavy, but a definite must try!

The tuna tatare (top right) is to DIE FOR!

From there, we took the subway to Soho for some well-deserved retail therapy.  Three hours, a minor migraine and a couple of very large shopping bags later we headed to the highly anticipated Morimoto for dinner for the omakase multi-course set menu.  The restaurant was all the way on the western edge of Manhattan, near the Chelsea market.  The exterior is non-descript, and I may have missed it if it wasn’t for the distinct large red curtains on the outside.  The décor inside felt more like a modern lounge than a Japanese restaurant, but I guess it fits the theme of Japanese-Western fusion.  As it was a weekday, it was surprising that there was a full house half-way through the night!  Both the service and presentation were very good and you get what you paid for.  The food quality was top-notch, especially the tuna tartar which was absolutely delicious and to die for.  People often compare Morimoto to Nobu, though both have excellent reviews.  I’ll have to try Nobu next time I’m in the city to see for myself, but no regrets about Morimoto!

The Artichoke's near Morimoto

As we left, I discovered an Artichokes pizza a block up, so of course I grabbed a slice to before flagging a cab back to the hotel to finally rest and unwind.

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