Donuts, Rain and Cathedrals

NYC Day four: Chinatown, Little Italy and Midtown Manhatten

It was a raining day in NYC. We rattled along in the old Metro system and found our way to Chinatown to grab some things that Helena and Mom needed as well as to eat some delicious food. Mom quickly found and bought everything that she was searching for so we spent the rest of the morning just meandering through the streets and alleys.

Our wandering led us to Little Italy which brought back our memories from our time in Florence and Rome. Though not exactly the same, there was a definite European charm to the area which was in stark contrast with the Asian influences of Chinatown right next door.

We walked past the Cannoli King at Caffe Pallermo and it didn’t take a lot of convincing to grab one of their famous cannolis. Unfortunately, I found the cannoli to be a slight disappointment. The cannoli shell was crisp and shattered when we bit into it. That crunch of the shell was nicely countered by the creamy filling, but the latter I found to be a tad too sweet. My final opnion of the cannoli is that the fame only increased the price of the cannoli and not it’s taste.

After that somewhat disappointing cannoli, we decided to find Vanessa’s Dumplings for lunch. We entered the little hole-in-the-wall joint and ordered 锅贴 (potstickers), 水饺 (the classic boiled dumplings), 生煎包 (pan-fried pork buns) and 红油抄手 (spicy red-oil wontons). All in all it was a delicious meal for an amazing price. Each dish came steaming hot, stuffed plump and juicy. It was one of the best valued meals we had all trip. The only dish that we were not impressed by was the pan-fried pork buns. Coming from a Shanghainese background, these were just sad and truly inauthentic. Too much dough and not crisp on the bottom at all. Our only other complaint was that all the dishes were served on disposable plastic containers regardless of if customers were eating-in or getting take-out. Regardless of these two small concerns, it was a tasty and cheap meal.

Thought we were done eating? Nope. I had one more stop in Chinatown on my list. Alimama tea.

This Asian fusion, bubble tea and donut cafe has received a lot of attention on social media in the past couple of years. All the hype was well deserved. The shop, located right beside a flower shop, screams cute, hip and cozy all at once. We tried their taro munchkins, boba milk tea cream puff and brulée mochi donut. The taro munchkins are absolutely to die for. Freshly made to order, these taro mochi donuts balls were warm, chewy and perfectly sweetened. I could’ve eaten 2 dozen. The cream puff was bursting with a delicious milk tea pastry cream and actual mini boba, and the creme brulée mochi donut found the perfect balance between chew and crunch.

With my mouth finally satisfied, we decided to head home to drop off our purchases, then head back out to landmark hop through Midtown.

*side note: we got caught in one of the worst showers on the way back to the metro to back home. Our feet were sloshing in our shoes and our umbrella’s did little to shelter us from the torrential downpour.*

Our first stop on the landmark hopping tour was at St. Vincent’s cathedral. We spontaneously decided to go in when we were walking by and didn’t regret it a bit. A lesser known cathedral in NYC, St. Vincent’s cathedral is quiet, peaceful and no less grand than its tourist ridden cousin, St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The  Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (AKA the main branch of the NYPL)
The stunning Rose Main Reading Room in the NYPL

Our second stop was the New York Public library, one of my favourite places in Manhatten, followed by St. Patrick’s cathedral, Rockefellar Centre and Grand Central station. At Grand Central station, we tested out a well-known secret architectural phenomenon hidden in the walls and ceilings of Grand Central. If you and a friend stand at opposite corners of the archways underneath the main concourse and talk straight into the wall, your friend will hear you from the other side loud and clear. Speaking at the right distance and the right volume is a little tricky at first but once we got it, it was such a fun activity.

Rockefellar Centre
St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Right before leaving Grand Central, we also made sure to grab some treats from the Magnolia Bakery branch within the dining concourse.

We then headed out to grab a quick dinner from 2Bros Pizzas for their dollar slices. These cheese slices are an iconic part of the New York food scene and must be tried when you come. For only a dollar, you get an oven-fresh, crispy bottomed, cheesy perfect slice that is larger than your face. They always have a few shakers of oregano or chili flakes if you feel like jazzing up that simple cheese slice. If you want to really go fancy like Dad, try one of the many other delicious topping combinations for only 1-3 dollars more.

With our mouths and tummies full, we headed back to the apartment to rest up for another busy day.

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