Thursday, February 9, 2012

Super Blue

Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Four years ago, when the New York Giants last won the Super Bowl, I was working at 26 Broadway, precisely on the congratulatory parade route that will be used again today. In fact, my office overlooked lower Broadway and I could view the busses arriving with players and their families to climb onto the floats to carry them to City Hall. That office was the best (most comfortable, spacious, furnished, view) I’ve ever had in my working life, although the job itself left a lot to be desired. This morning, as I walked from the subway, I saw hundreds of fans heading to good vantage points for the festivities. Although the courthouse is four short blocks from City Hall, I won’t attend the celebration which would entail crowding through paths narrower than the aisles of Fairway before the recent renovations. The game itself Sunday night was a celebration even though Boaz had to go to sleep around 8 PM and was not around for the finish. The Giants victory was especially important to him because all the other kids in his pre-school (outside Boston) wore Patriots gear to school at the urging of the teachers on Friday, his birthday and the anniversary of the previous Giants Super Bowl win over the Patriots. Fortunately, his wise father dressed him in a bright blue Giants T-shirt for the day and he held his own.

Surprise, surprise! When I went out to lunch around noon, I found Foley Square, the area in front of the courthouse, packed with people, because the parade route was altered to accommodate more spectators. Instead of turning off Broadway at City Hall, the parade continued several more blocks to Worth Street, went over one block and then south to merge with Centre Street back to City Hall. With this unexpected sense of participation, I walked over to Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street downstairs, just ahead of thousands of people who waited for the end of the parade a few minutes after I left. Although I had to share a table with a lawyer reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, I was seated almost immediately. However, when I left, not lingering over an old crossword I had brought for company, the line to get in was up the stairs and up the block for a couple of storefronts. Apparently, many other restaurants were deservedly doing as well.

In my e-inbox this morning:
“Thank you for sending us the details of your recent record attempt for ‘Most lunches in New York’s Chinatown.’ We are afraid to say that we are unable to accept this as a Guinness World Record. Guinness World Records has absolute discretion as to which record applications are accepted and our decision is final. Guinness World Records may at its discretion and for whatever reason identify some records as either no longer monitored by Guinness World Records or no longer viable. As your record application has not been accepted, Guinness World Records is in no way associated with the activity relating to your record proposal and we in no way endorse this activity. If you choose to proceed with this activity then this is will be of your own volition and at your own risk.”

Risk-taker that I am, I will proceed, not for the glory, but for the sake of my fellow Americans who may need to be reminded, as they contemplate a choice among Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, that there will always be a tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Big Wong Restaurant, 67 Mott Street, is the favored destination of many seeking classic Chinatown Chinese food. I’ve had mixed results on prior visits (March 17, 2010, August 24, 2010, October 19, 2011), more minus than plus. I tried again today and the results did not advance Big Wong’s standing. I ordered shrimp omelet ($6.75), partly to see if this was a simple way to identify shrimp egg foo young, a dish that I have a weakness for. Well, shrimp omelet was precisely that, 7-8" round, probably 2 eggs beaten, five or so medium-sized shrimp, a few pieces of green onion, with a mound of white rice on the side. Nothing like anyone’s shrimp egg foo young, or even the shrimp and scrambled eggs at Mee Noodle Shop and Grill, 922 Second Avenue, which I haunted when I lived on the East Side for over 20 years. However, I applied soy sauce liberally and made all gone, since I was hungry. Seemingly not content to leave me mildly contented with a full belly, the waiter hustled me from my table in order to seat two people who just walked in. So, Big Wong’s getting littler each time.

Thursday, February 9, 2012
Ann’s Chinese Restaurant, 1 East Broadway, is the fourth restaurant at that famous address, although only a new sign in front and the health department inspection sticker in the window, dated January 3, 2102, identify it as such. In fact, signs outside and printed material inside still refer to the prior existence of both Accord Asian Cuisine and Yi Hao Chinese Restaurant. Fortunately, the Funhouse remains only as a dim memory (January 27, 2010).

Even with its new name, the restaurant is leaning more Japanese in decor and on the menu than Chinese these days, although the sushi chef was idle for the entire lunchtime. In fact, the staff outnumbered the patrons. I had a lunch special, all $6.45 including choice of rice or egg roll, soup or soda. I ordered sesame chicken, hot and sour soup and fried rice, none of which were worse than served at a neighborhood joint. The best part was the unadvertised 25% discount which brought the bill down to $5.41 including sales tax.

Friday, February 10, 2012
Tiny's & the Bar Upstairs, 135 West Broadway, is not an Asian restaurant, so it does not increase my count. However, it it interesting for several reasons and I will report my lunch there. One of its owner is Sean Avery, recently of the New York Rangers, consistently voted by his peers as the most hated man in hockey. Avery is the sort of player adored by fans when on their team, otherwise reviled for unusual conduct on and off the ice. Most recently, he made a public service announcement supporting gay marriage in New York just before the legislature voted on the subject. Another part owner is Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers goalie and key to their league-leading season so far. Avery and Lundqvist were not on the premises when I entered the very appropriately named Tiny's. I should have phoned ahead. The restaurant occupies a space that I recall as a grubby novelty store, candy, newspapers, cigarettes, lottery tickets. While open less than a year, Tiny's appears to have been around forever with exposed brick walls, battered tin ceiling, a brick fireplace and funky stools that evoke places you are anxious to leave. However, the hostess gave me a warm greeting and told me that the only available space was upstairs where a party of 15 women were celebrating a birthday. Ever the risk taker I went upstairs and even managed to make progress on the crossword puzzle amid the soprano chirpings. I had the Cobb salad ($18), which had all fresh ingredients. The party girls and I co-existed quite well; they even offered me a glass of wine which I had to refuse because I still had an errand requiring some time on the New Jersey Turnpike. In all I was treated quite well for a guy not holding a stick in his hand.

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