On our NYC trip, After Little Italy we traveled to the LES, or Lower East Side. This is an area that everyone says is “up and coming”.
When we got there we realized it was a little more “coming” than “up”. It reminded me of neighborhoods around the garment district in L.A. One street has fancy boutiques and specialty sweet, the next is bordered up with graffiti pawn shops.
We walked to our first destination: The Pickle Guys. A small hall way of a store, you stand in line immediately on your left are giant 3 foot tall tubs of foods brineing in spices; everything from pineapples, to olives, onions, beets, carrots etc. We wanted a tasting sample so we got two spicy sour pickles and a small container of garlic stuffed green olives and kalimata olives. They were wonderfully crunchy and full or spicy brine.
Then we traveled over to the tenement museum but were too late for any of their many tours. Instead we were watched a free 30 minute video about the neighborhood. In which we learned that this was the primary neighborhood for immigrants to Manhattan. It was amazing to hear the waves of ethic groups who transformed this neighborhood over the years and their struggles to establish themselves, work, and live in poor and crowded conditions.
We then sought out our dinner place: Ivan ramen which we had been told would be good. We both order ramen bowls with slight differences in broth flavorings: one with soy, the other sea salt. When food arrived we found it basic and plain. We our used to vibrant aromatic broths with plenty of vegetables in addition to noodles and egg. We walked away disappointed realizing that our Rochester ramen place was much better.
We then traveled North to NYU, an area full of Japanese Yakitori shops and Asian fusion restaurants. Immediately regretted not heading there for dinner, we stopped at Barcade, yes that is a bar that is also an old-school arcade. There we enjoyed hard cider and stout beer while playing pinball, PacMan, Tetris, bust-a-move, and more.
We left just in time to walk over to the Astor Theatre where the Blue Man group was preforming. The show was good, not my cup of tea with un-known audience participation, but L loved it. Since he has wanted to see them for years and this was his birthday present, it was worth it.
After the show we found a bubble tea place for dessert, then headed back to the subway and our hotel room for the night.