Saturday, January 31, 2009

Superbowl XLIII

It's here at last..the long awaited Superbowl XLIII! Tomorrow, the Steelers will face the Cardinals in Tampa Bay. The Steelers have played well and hard all season and without a doubt, the Steelers will bring back their 6th Superbowl ring to Pittsburgh!!

So, bring out the terrible towel and wave it high in the air. Pittsburgh's gonna win the Superbowl!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dim Sum Go Go

After wandering around Chinatown, watching the lion dances and confetti canons being shot everywhere, we decided to go get some lunch. I felt like having some dim sum but it was already 2pm. Dim sum in most big dim sum halls like Jing Fong and Golden Unicorn would have been sold out by now. We ended up in Dim Sum Go Go, located in the trendier part of Chinatown, near Chatham Square.

Dim Sum Go Go is a double story dim sum restaurant that serves dim sum all day (it's the only restaurant in Chinatown where you can get dim sum all day).They do not have push carts like the more traditional restaurants but we get to pick the dim sum from a piece of paper and the dim sum would be made fresh. I find that this is a better option if we are not looking for that 'typical' dim sum hall experience and we know what we want to order. The dim sum here are always freshly made and we know that its not being pushed around in those carts for goodness knows how long. Dim Sum Go Go is also way cleaner than most of the other bigger dim sum restaurants.

The waiters were really friendly, and we were seated almost immediately. This is another thing I like about Dim Sum Go Go is, you get your own table no matter how small the party is. Those other big restaurants sometimes put you in communal tables if your party is too small. The menu pretty much has all the basic dim sum items and also a big vegetarian section. They also have a regular menu where you can order noodles, rice & dishes as well as the usual roast pork, roast duck, ect.

This is some of the food we ordered. There were more but I was too busy eating, so I stopped taking photos after a while but the food just kept on coming. I love the deep fried shrimp and mango roll ($3.50) and chicken feet with black bean sauce ($3.00). The char siew pau ($3.50) and char siew sou ($3.50) is good too. Most of the dim sum cost around $3.00-$7.00 for lunch and $4.00-$7.95 for dinner. It's a little bit more expensive compared to the other dim sum halls, but the food quality is better, it's way cleaner and you don't have to fight with crowds of people.

We were so stuffed that we only managed to share one dessert. We ordered the fresh mango pudding ($3.50) and it's really good. Big chunks of fresh mango in every bite! Our total bill came up to about $27.00. It's pretty reasonable for freshly made to order dim sum. Dim Sum Go Go is open from 10am-11pm everyday and accepts all major credit cards. You should check it out the next time you are in Chinatown!

Dim Sum Go Go
5 East Broadway,
New York, NY 10038
Tel: (212) 732-0797
Fax: (212) 964-3149

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Streets of Chinatown on CNY

After the Firecracker Ceremony at SRD Park, we headed back to the heart of Chinatown. We were told that there will be more celebrations there but we didn't really know what to expect. As we wandered through the narrow streets, Chinese New Year music and lion dance drum beats filled the air. The closer we got, the louder it became. We could also hear lots of cheers, laughter and children squealing with excitement coming from around the corner. This is what we saw when we made that turn.

It was just crazy!!! The streets were just packed with people and they were shooting confetti cannons into the air! Some were really big and they shot out parachutes with 'lucky sayings' attached to it. It was just a sight to behold. The ground was just covered with confetti!! There was so much confetti that when we got home later on, we still found confetti tucked in our coat pockets and in our hair! :D It seems that it's a Chinatown tradition that they shoot confetti cannons every year, on the 1st day of Chinese New Year. You could buy them from street vendors at $5 a piece for a big cannon and 3 for $10 for the small ones.

This is the aftermath. Empty cannons laying everywhere and confetti just covering every inch of the ground. When I took this photo, they were still shooting the cannons. I bet you can't even see the ground by the end of the day.

Lion dance troupes were just everywhere! They would dance in front of shops and some shop owners would invite them into the shop or restaurant. The troupe would of course receive a hong bao from the shop owner after dancing in the shop. The whole atmosphere was just so festive. There were all kinds of lions, there must be at least 12 different troupes that day. Everything is so colorful and nice. Here, I'll just let the photos do the talking.

We ended the day by going to a Dim Sum restaurant for a late lunch. I will of course blog more about that in the next post. It was certainly as experience to celebrate Chinese New Year in Chinatown this year. Of course nothing beats celebrating Chinese New Year back home in Malaysia but I guess it was as good as it can get when you are so far away from home during this season. I'm also really glad that Kevin took the day off to head down to Chinatown to celebrate Chinese New Year with me. He knows that it can be tough sometimes to be away from the family during the holiday season and I know he did everything he could to make this a great CNY for me. That is why he is the best husband in the world!! :D

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Singapore Cafe

We were in Chinatown last weekend for some Chinese New Year shopping. After a long tiring day of walking all over Chinatown, we headed to Singapore Cafe for dinner and also to warm up from the frigid cold. It's located on Mott St, between Canal and Bayard St.

It's a pretty small but cosy restaurant. The staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful. Even though the name of the restaurant is Singapore Cafe, it's run by Malaysians! All the staff working there are Malaysians too. I had the opportunity to chat the owner for a bit and found out that he is actually from Penang!

We had some complimentary chinese tea to warm us up while we looked through the menu. I ordered the Soya Bean Cincau drink ($2.50) and it taste really good! The menu was predominantly Malaysian, with a small Thai and American-Chinese section.

We started off by sharing a plate of Home-Style Stir Fried Radish Cake ($6.00), better known as Loh Pak Koh. I just love this dish. It's really really authentic, with the overpowering smell of dried shrimp. I later found out that this is one of their specialities! It's so good, it can pass off as something we would order from the Penang hawker stalls.

Kevin ordered the Mee Siam ($7.00). It's pretty good, served with a generous amount of large shrimps, half of a hard boiled egg and peanuts, sprinkled at the top. The portion is really huge too, enough for two small eaters.

I ordered the Fish Head Noodles ($7.00). If you noticed, I always get the Fish Head Noodles whenever I go to a Malaysian restaurant for the first time. I am on quest to find the best Fish Head Noodles in the NY/NJ region! The Fish Head Noodles here is alright, nothing to shout about but it's not bad either. It came with a really huge amount of preserved vegetables and deep fried fish head. Regarding the Fish Head Noodle quest, Penang Restaurant in Edison, NJ is currently the front runner for Best Fish Head Noodle :P

Overall, we had a great meal at Singapore Cafe. We will most definitely return to try the other things on the menu. Affordable prices, friendly staff and pretty good food. That's a perfect combination for any restaurant!! Oh, and they do delivery too!

Singapore Cafe
69 Mott St,
New York, NY 10013
Tel: (212) 964-0003
Fax: (212) 964-3476

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CNY Firecracker Ceremony 2009

We woke up bright and early on the 1st day of Chinese New Year. Despite the frigid -7C temperature, we were all gung ho about heading to Chinatown to join in the Chinese New Year festivities. We took the PATH to the WTC station and started walking towards Chinatown. We saw online that there will be a Firecracker Ceremony, hosted by the Fukien American Association. There will be lion and dragon dances as well as lighting of firecrackers to usher in the new year.
We know that it's in Chinatown, but where in Chinatown? I looked it up online and found three different locations! Oh well, just head towards Chinatown and we can ask around :D We tried the first location, Chatham Square. It's nearest to the WTC Station and it was the location for last years Firecracker Ceremony. Guess what we saw there?

Nothing! Not a single person in sight.

Maybe the other side of Chatham Square? Nope...I guess it's not here either! We proceeded to ask a cop if he knew where the ceremony was. He said he has no idea, he was also waiting for further instructions! Wow, I think it's going to be a long day :P So, we continued walking towards the heart of Chinatown....

...stopped to take a photo with Confucius and continued walking. We decided to head towards the famous information kiosk under the big dragon to get more details about the location for the ceremony. We found a group of 'lost' people asking the same question and the helpful guy at the counter pointed us to the correct direction. It's at SDR Park, at the corner of Canal and Forsyth St. OK, now we know where to go! Another 6 blocks to go.

By then we were feeling a little hungry and started to look out for roadside food carts. Anywhere else in NYC, when we are hungry...we buy Hot Dogs, Kebabs or Pretzels from the street vendors. In Chinatown, it's Egg Rolls and Fishballs on a Stick!!! Only in Chinatown....

After getting our Egg Rolls, we continued walking and we saw some Lion Dance troupes getting ready to head towards the same direction as us. Woohoo!! We are on the right track!

At last we saw a park with flags waving in the air. Yes! We are at the SDR Park at last! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the firecrackers!! Since the ban of firecrackers in Malaysia, I have not seen many firecrackers around, let alone so many! They must be at least 15ft least. There were not many people there yet, so we managed to get a good spot, right in front.

The crowd soon began to grow and the dragon and lion dance troupes started to arrive. There were reporters and news crews from various news networks too.

I believe 'Choy San' was spotted in the crowd too! ;P

The crowd started to get excited when a large group of important looking Chinese businessmen in long coats and gangster hats walked in with their wives in thick fur coats. They must be some really important people in Chinatown. They were lead to seats specially reserved for them and something tells me the ceremony is about to begin.

It started with the Veterans marching in and both the American and China national anthem being sung by some lady.

With that, the ceremony began! Fireworks started shooting out from behind the firecrackers followed by the firecrackers! Boy, I have forgotten how loud they can be! It just went on and on and on!! I had my fingers plugged in my ears for the entire time. Poor Kevin had to take this video clip, I bet his ears were ringing for a bit after the firecrackers stopped!!

After the firecrackers, the lion and dragon dances began. It was followed by some cultural dances by the ladies of the association.

The 'important' people walked around to greet the crowd for a while and left with their 'bodyguards'. With that, it marks the end of the ceremony. We then headed to the heart of Chinatown to join in more CNY celebrations but I will blog about it more in my next post :D

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gong Xi Fa Cai!!

We would like to wish all our readers...


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Our CNY Eve

We wanted to have some yee sang for our Chinese New Year eve dinner, so we started to look around to see where we can buy it ready made. Since the yee sang is predominantly a Malaysian and Singaporean thing, it's pretty hard to find. The other option was to make it ourselves, but that would be really troublesome, especially since we are only making it for two people. At last, we found a few restaurants here in the NY/NJ region that sells yee sang during this Chinese New Year season.

Singapore Cafe in Chinatown sells them as well as Penang Restaurant in Edison, NJ. We decided to head to Penang, since we were planning to go to the asian grocery store next to it anyway. Penang Restaurant was a mad house!! It was so packed with people, you would think that they were giving out free food. I overheard a lady complaining that they were waiting for a table for almost an hour! Thank goodness we were not planning to eat there but just to pick up the yee sang and eat it at home. While we were there, we also bought some CNY cookies from Penang.

The yee sang was very fresh and tasted great. Just like the ones we have in Malaysia. It's pretty affordable too. We ordered the extra small portion (which was meant to be for 2 people) and it cost $10.90. The portion was really huge though, I'm pretty sure it would have been enough for even 4-5 people.

The yee sang came with fresh salmon and jellyfish. Really yummy!

Here is Kevin getting ready to 'loh sang'! Of course he must wear his red chinese shirt to get into the CNY mood..hahaha!

I made chicken rice and we ate that with crispy siew yok (roast pork), smoked chicken and hainanese chicken. Not the typical CNY dinner but hey, at least we had the mandatory Fanta Orange to go with dinner ;P

Saturday, January 24, 2009

One Afternoon In Chinatown

It was a nice and sunny day today (tad bit chilly though, around -3C), so we decided to head down to Chinatown to get into the Chinese New Year mood. We took the PATH to the city and then the subway to Chinatown. There is no way were we going to drive into Chinatown today, the last weekend before Chinese New Year...that place was packed with people everywhere! We got off at the Canal St station and WHAM! We were greeted with the lovely sights and sounds of Chinatown :P You know you are in Chinatown when....

Yup, even the Burger King and Starbucks have Chinese characters and looks Chinese!!

You can basically get anything you want in Chinatown. From scarfs to pirated DVDs to fake handbags. The fake handbag sellers were extra hardworking today. They were everywhere! At every crossroads, street corners, alleyways..they will whisper "Handbag? cheap handbag..veli nice...Coach, LV, Gucci...?" and show you photo albums of their merchandise.

Chinatown was bustling with activity today. People we busy buying things in preparation for Chinese New Year. The fresh seafood shop was so packed with people, we couldn't even go into the shop to take a look. I had to zoom in from a distance to take this photo.

It must have been one of the busier times of the year for fruits and flowers stalls. Tons of fresh bamboos, peonies, pussy willows...all kinds of Chinese New Year flowers for sale.

There were new stock of flowers constantly coming in. The moment the new stock arrives, it will be bought up by customers within the first 15 minutes or so. People were just buying and buying and buying!

I just love the smells of Chinatown. It's a mixture of freshly made pastries and buns from the Hong Kong style bakeries to freshly roasted duck and pork hanging from the store windows. One whole Peking duck for $25...not too bad at all!

There were also a lot of shops selling all kinds of Chinese New Year decorations. I just love this particular shop, you can see the various types of 'hong bao' for sale! They are just so cute and nice. $1 for a pack! The little girl was staring at that particular hong bao for the longest time. She must be dreaming of all the money she will be collecting, come Monday.

I just love how there is a mixture of everything in Chinatown. This shop sells traditional Chinese winter wear and I love NY t shirts. All on the same rack! :P

There is also an information centre right in the heart of Chinatown. If you are in Chinatown and need to look for something but you don't know where to go, just head to the bright red information centre under the big dragon. It's one of our favorite places in Chinatown. We have asked countless questions like "Where is the nearest Malaysian restaurant? Where can we get good dim sum? Is there a Malaysian grocery store here? How do we get to the nearest PATH station?". If they gave out loyalty cards, I think we would have racked up enough points to do anything we want!

After a long afternoon of walking around Chinatown, just soaking in all the sights, sounds and smells...we headed to Singapore Cafe for dinner. Don't be fooled by the name, it's actually run by Malaysians and it serves Malaysian food. Well, I guess Singapore food is pretty close to Malaysian food. We talked to the owner for a bit and found out that he has been living in the States for about 30 years but he is originally from Penang. The waitress (we think she is his wife) says that she used to stay in SS23! Wow, what a small world! They were pretty excited to learn that I grew up in Penang and my parents live in D'sara Jaya. I will write more about the food in Singapore Cafe in my next post.

I asked the Uncle from Singapore Cafe if there is a Malaysian grocery store nearby and he pointed us two blocks up from his restaurant. I have actually heard about this place but never got around to finding it. Asia Market Corp is relatively small compared to the other asian grocery stores, but you can find all kinds of Malaysian groceries there! It somewhat reminds me of our 'kedai runcit' back home. You can get things like fresh durian fruits to durian ice cream, five different types of kaya to choose from, aik cheong coffee to milo, all kinds of maggi noodles and different types of perencah to make curries....heck, they even have assam laksa noodles and paste! I was so impressed with this little shop. I can go on and on and on about what else they have in that shop..haha. Oh, I even managed to buy tambun biscuits there!!!

Overall, we had a great time in Chinatown today. Yes, it was a bit cold to be walking around in the outdoors but it was worth it. It somehow made spending Chinese New Year away from home a little bit easier. We will be going back to Chinatown on the 1st day of CNY to watch the lion and dragon dance troupes perform as well as the lighting of firecrackers to usher in the Chinese New Year!!