Friday, March 6, 2015

Alan's Restaurant?

Monday, March 2, 2015
The twain has met. Saturday evening, when returning from running errands, we passed the door of apartment 17M just as it opened. Out emerged Eli (pronounced Ell-ee) and Hanna Gothelf, our new neighbors. The Gothelfs are a middle-aged couple from Israel who have moved to the Upper West Side apparently to live among Jews. Actually, their new apartment is a part-time residence. They are returning to Israel later this week, but their four adult children (and families), all from Israel as well, will be cycling in and out in months to come. While we did not have time standing in the hallway to examine our respective origins, I felt a connection to Eli’s handsome, strong features and wavy gray hair. 

NASDAQ, on a six-year bull market run, is less than 100 points from its all-time high of 5,048.62, reached March 10, 2000. So, it makes perfect sense for Republicans to insist on a major change in economic policy just in case people have forgotten what bad times feel like.

I must have brought the warm weather with me, because it was 38 degrees at lunchtime. Under those circumstances, a good walk seemed in order and I was able to discover a new restaurant. However, you wouldn’t know from the name that AK US Group Corp, 95 Chrystie Street, is a restaurant, no less a Chinese restaurant. It’s a small joint, down a few steps, off the beaten path. The food preparation area takes about 1/3 of the small space, and the rest is occupied by one large round table, two small ones, and 5 four tops. One or two Chinese people were at each table. I received a friendly greeting and the menu is bilingual. However, my command of broken English proved deficient when I asked the waiter for unlisted Singapore chow fun, not the Singapore mei fun that appears on the menu. He brought me a huge portion of Singapore mei fun, the angel hair noodle, instead of the thick, broad chow fun ($7.95). It was very good, as well as seemingly endless, with egg, two meats, shrimp, green pepper, red pepper, onion and scallions cooked in a gentle spicy curry. I ate only slightly more than half, but felt that I got my money’s worth.

My first name is Alan, so I don’t count in this interesting survey of women’s leadership of large businesses. It seems that there are more CEOs named John (5.3%) among Standard & Poor’s 1500 (1,500 publicly-traded US companies) than women (4.1%).

The article ends with the amusing observation that, in the future, the emergence of Jacobs, Tylers and Zacharys may disrupt this simple comparison.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015
As a result of being apprehended for driving 20 feet into New Jersey with snow on the roof of my car, I have to report to Central Municipal Court of Bergen County today. Simply mailing in a payment with a confession of guilt is inadequate. A personal appearance, presumably accompanied by public shaming, is prescribed for the offense of driving across the George Washington Bridge with snow on the roof of your car. Mind you, I understand the safety considerations, and know that ignorance of the law is no excuse (even though, for once, Chris Christie makes no effort to ballyhoo his legislative record and no notice is provided to foreigners aiming, for instance, to enjoy the odors along the New Jersey Turnpike). Also, the automated message providing directions to the courthouse only includes driving instructions. No mention is made of arriving at the courthouse by public transportation. Fortunately, I was able to discern a path between here and there, and back from there to here.

I was directed into a gathering place for defendants awaiting the start of the court’s afternoon session, and I immediately recognized that I was in "Alice’s Restaurant."* Admittedly, none of my fellow defendants were in shackles, and the court officers, while snappily outfitted in blue uniforms with a bright gold stripe down the trousers, seemed to be relaxed around us. My case was heard among the first in the crowd. I politely rejected the judge’s offer of an adjournment to allow me time to hire a lawyer without explaining the redundancy. I also waived my right to trial, not because I feared taking on the State of New Jersey’s legal system, but to spare me the time and trouble of returning to Hackensack to pursue justice. I pled guilty to driving a motor vehicle on the highways of New Jersey with snow on its roof and was fined $56 plus $33 court costs. The judge allowed me to make a statement on the record and I said that I would have paid this fine in January, when the offense arose, if given the opportunity, which would have placed less of a demand on the resources of the State of New Jersey and me, and would have improved the state’s cash flow much earlier in the new year. I continued that public shaming seemed to be the only excuse for forcing a personal appearance on the charge of driving a motor vehicle on the highways of New Jersey with snow on its roof. The judge only acknowledged that he had no control over the scheduling of appearances for the various offenses under his jurisdiction. The round trip bus fare, for a senior, to and from the Port Authority bus terminal to Hackensack off-peak is $3.80.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015
I’ve recommended Ben’s Best Kosher Delicatessen, 96-40 Queens Boulevard, Rego Park, as, in fact, the best Kosher delicatessen in New York. Further information may be gained at

Thursday, March 5, 2015
Buddha Bodai Vegetarian Restaurant, 5 Mott Street, was the only certified Kosher restaurant in Chinatown (May 4, 2010), although two other restaurants are authentically vegetarian. Now, it seems to have opened a second spot, while the original remains in operation. More on that in a moment. The new location at 77 Mulberry Street is easily one of the most attractive eating spots in Chinatown. The walls are a buttery yellow, although no dairy products are on the menu. The 16 or so two tops are lacquered Chinese red; the four square four tops are dark brown, and they have those little wings that swing up to make a round table. Four fixed round tables are in back, in a semi-private space. Attractive semi-abstract drawings of flowers and trees are on the walls, which are otherwise free of clutter. The staff is very attentive, and fully bi-lingual, that is Chinese and English. I didn’t try any Yiddish on them. 

A small dish of boiled peanuts is presented with the menu. The menu lists about 100 main dishes, about half trying to imitate beef, lamb, chicken or duck in one form or another. 25 lunch specials include a choice of soup or spring roll and white or brown rice, all priced at $7.50. Buddha also offers 55 dim sum items, to be ordered from a list, priced at $2.95, $3.25 or $4.95, with a handful at $5.95 or $6.95. I ordered sticky rice shumai, baked vegetarian meat bun, steamed watercress dumpling and steamed Cantonese dumpling. I had to jazz up the Cantonese dumpling with soy sauce, but the other dishes had distinct tastes. Although I am usually disdainful of the imitation dishes, the baked vegetarian meat bun was particularly good, flaky pastry triangles containing what could pass for barbecued pork to the unsuspecting. The steamed watercress dumpling was also very good, without attempting to be anything but itself.

A dozen to fifteen Chinese patrons were in the restaurant, along with one round-eyed woman. I spoke to the Chinese owner/manager who knew that today was Purim, an occasion for observant Jews to go to synagogue, not work. I would expect a decent showing of intense tribe members on a normal day. He explained that the original site remains open, renamed Buddha Bodai Vegetarian Restaurant One, operated by the landlord who allegedly did not offer a lease renewal after ten years.

Buddha won’t go to the top of my hit list, but I’ll try to stop in periodically. I will also recommend it heartily to my friends and relatives who pay closer attention to the Book than I do.

Friday, March 6, 2015
The title of the following article is self-explanatory:
"This Man Is Trying To Eat And Review Every Dollar Slice Of Pizza In New York City"

* "Alice's Restaurant" was a songspiel, running over 18 minutes, recorded by Arlo Guthrie, Woody’s son, in 1967, and later made into a movie. It was based on an actual incident, where teenage Arlo was arrested for putting garbage from his friend Alice’s restaurant, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in the wrong dump. He was fined and ordered to pick up his garbage, but this offense became, so he sang, an excuse to keep him from being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. When he was placed in an area with other malefactors being rejected by the US Army, "all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly-lookin’ people on the bench there . . . there was mother-rapers . . . father-stabbers . . . father-rapers," he was asked what had he been arrested for. He answered honestly "Litterin’".

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