City skyline

New York from a Long Island City view.

I spent part of the day sipping tea at Cha-an Teahouse, a cafe that I kept on my bucket list since working at a boba shop in college. During this trip, I ate one of the best meals of my life at Hearth. My friends and I explored the 12-course tasting menu and left with full bellies and smiles on our faces.

After spending the entire day in the city, I trekked back to Long Island City where my cousin lives to watch the sun fall behind the Manhattan skyline. The illuminated pier glowed once the sun disappeared, but it made for a calm evening away from one of the busiest areas in the nation.

Cruffin

This delicious pastry at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse Seoul.

It felt like bakeries and coffee shops flooded every street in Seoul. I made a point to visit Mr. Holmes Bakehouse after my sister raved about all the business’ desserts. This famed cruffin is a hybrid of a croissant and muffin. The consistency reminded me of Dominique Ansel Bakery‘s cronut since it was light and fluffy. Inside the venue, I found marble tables, this “I got baked”neon sign and an array of other delicious baked goods. I highly recommend trying everything if calories mean nothing to you.

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse is located in Gangnam-gu and San Francisco, California.

Checked Yona off my ramen bucket list

But I fell in love with Uni Waffles (and potentially anything Chef Jonah Kim creates).

A year ago, I tried a bowl of ramen at the Yona pop-up at G by Mike Isabella. While I admit I didn’t have the best palette back then for the Japanese noodle bowl, I can say that the restaurant made leaps of changes that can be seen at its Ballston location.

Yona’s interior embodied contemporary simplicity with natural light flooding the venue from full-sized windows and dim lights suspended from the ceiling. Everything felt minimalistic but artistic with light-colored wood tables and butt frames for comfort engraved on bar chairs. You can even watch Chef Jonah Kim whip up your order from behind the open kitchen.

While more ramen shops continue to open in the greater Washington DC area, Yona made its mark in Northern Virginia. I ate a delicious, perfectly seasoned miso porky ramen. Justin and I split the miso Porky and deemed it one of the best in the city as far as sticking with a traditional dish. The broth wasn’t too greasy or rich with its heavy flavoring of miso and ideal amount of noodles to split between two. I would come back for you miso porky.

Our biggest takeaway though was the Uni Waffle. Who would have thought the creaminess from sea urchin would bounce off the flavors of a not-too-sweet breakfast favorite topped off with bits of Ikura (salmon roe)? The dish offers such depth that the Washington Post deemed it worthy of one of its best eats this year. Yum.

To accompany any good ramen bowl, Justin and I ate pork buns before digging into our shared noodle dish. They were subpar and we wished there was a moisture component to add in addition to the vegetable inside. Either way, it’s much better than some others.

Dessert is an excellent way to end a meal and potentially show off your culinary expertise in a posh setting. With three options available, we chose the Roasted Pineapple Ice Cream Sundae. The bittersweet chocolate covered a vanilla scoop of ice cream with a slice of pineapple aligning the frozen ball. The bits of maple bacon added that salty component alongside the sweet and sour flavors from the fruit.

This restaurant is a gem with plenty of reasons to return ranging from guided sake flights, Sunday Fried Chicken Buckets and lunch sets. I forgot to mention my thirst to try the entire alcoholic beverage menu after enjoying a boo rad.

My suggestion: Go. Now.

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Yona is located 4000 Wilson Blvd in Arlington, VA. 

Puff-Tastic!

A shop with delicious cream puffs everywhere.

If I could eat dessert and nothing else for the rest of my life, I just might be okay with that. I walked by Beard Papa several times before it opened and when it finally did, I never crave a cream puff because they usually taste far too rich and sweet for my tastebuds. Yet at this shop, you can find a treat that will satisfy your sweet tooth cravings.

Bright yellow walls align the well-lit shop as daylight floods into most of the room. A giant decal of what I assume is papa himself adds a cute decorative way to brand what could be a plain wall. Bright boxes sit on shelves and small wooden crates hold boxes and empty shells. Customers choose different puffs ranging from mini sizes to larger portions perfect to split between two people. I ordered a chocolate covered puff with hints of green tea melted along the top. You can choose your flavor of filling from vanilla, chocolate and a seasonal flavor (right now it’s strawberry cream). I chose the vanilla custard and in minutes my order came out.


It’s not too sugary and the bit of white chocolate on top added a nice touch since it melted immediately in my mouth. Stop by and be sure to greet the friendly staff!

 

Beard Papa is located on 1332 Wisconsin Ave NW.

Celebrating 24

Birthday festivities at il Canale in Georgetown and a pit stop at momofuku CCDC.

The end of February closes with my birthday! A wide array of feelings swirl through my mind every year, but I always find a way to celebrate my special day.

For the first time, I decided to keep festivities low-key and opt out for my usual celebration including clubbing and drinking the night away. Although I wanted a large party, I found it difficult to find accommodations for a group of 20 friends without a hefty minimum on food and beverage to reserve the space.

il Canale remains one of my favorite restaurants in D.C. I chose this Italian establishment because it’s affordable (ballin on a young professional budget) and the pizza reminds me of Rome.

All 20 of my friends don’t exactly know, or get along with each other and getting everyone together proves to be a difficult task. Either way, I pulled it off and am thankful for everyone coming together in honor of me. (Chris & Vivian bought the cutest balloons!)

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Afterwards, I indulged in momofuku‘s cereal milk twisted with salted pretzel and topped with corn flakes. Justin bought a cookie, which we split the next day.

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A special shout to everyone who joined me that evening: Brianna, Burton, Chris, Jenna, Justin, Kevin, Kristen, MaryAnn, Rick, Ryan, Stephen, Sunny, Thomas, Vivian.

Thanks to il Canale for hosting such a large party on possibly the busiest night of the week.

 

Jacket: Nanette Lepore.

Scarf: Burberry.

Boots: Vince Camuto.

Make a mark on St. Marks

Stopped for dinner at Yakitori Taisho and satisfied my sweet tooth cravings at Spot Dessert Bar.

I couldn’t leave New York without stopping by St. Marks. I made my way to the East Village to enjoy classic Japanese skewers.

We ordered hot saké, okonomiyaki and 30 skewers. Both dishes fed four of us with a variety of vegetables, meats and seafood (3 pieces per skewer, 2 skewers per type) grilled to perfection.


A few steps away, we fled to Spot dessert for three of my favorite desserts (4 for $30.95). When I lived in the city, I regularly satisfied my sweet tooth with a late-night bite. This dessert bar is my go-to whenever I want something sweet.

The golden toast is crispy, honey coated bread sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with a scoop of condensed milk ice cream and whipped cream on the side. The inside is fluffy and light, making this one of the most popular dishes.

The coconut monkey bread topped with coconut ice cream isn’t your average tear and eat dessert. Brown sugar syrup fils the bottom, so I suggest grabbing your fork instead of using your hands.

We also ordered the Chocolate Green Tea Lava Cake, but I didn’t grab a picture since I normally eat this whenever in town. In my eyes, it’s the best of the desserts.
  

Finally, the Yuzu Eskimo is usually the dish I order when I want something cold and citrusy. Chocolate ganache and a strawberry syrup fills the bottom of the plate. The pieces are small enough to pick up with your hands, but feel free to cut them in half to share.

Whatever you decide to order at Spot, you can’t go wrong.

 

See more of my New York adventure below!

Yakitori Taisho is located on 5 St Marks Place in Manhattan. Go early because the establishment does not accept reservations and you could be left outside waiting for more than an hour. 

Spot Dessert Bar has several locations throughout the city, but I went to the one on 13 St Marks Place. They do not accept reservations, but you’ll usually be seated quickly.