WALKING NYC: Through the Eyes of a Local


You guys asked for it; here's a list of all my new favorite spots I discovered on my last trip to NYC. I did visit some popular places but decided to instead list super niche or hole-in-the-wall spots instead.

(Disclaimer: I'm not the local. My cousin is, and he's the one that showed us around, haha.)


After hearing about this place on Mind of a Chef (Season 1; it's on Netflix, check it out when you can!), I knew I had to make a visit. What was supposedly an hour wait despite how much we tried to "single-ride" our way to a table, ended up being a quick 20 minute wait for our group of four.
I didn't realize how popular and packed this place became especially since we arrived before opening (and had to wait at a nearby cafe (See #2 on the list) for the rest of our party). We each tried to order something different to get a range of what the caliber of Ivan's menu tasted like: I opted for his Tsukemen, while the others tried his Shoyu Ramen and Triple Pork Triple Garlic Mazemen (say that three times fast).
We tried his Miso-roasted Cauliflower and if every vegetable tasted that way, I would eat vegetables only for every meal.
I loved the Tskumen's heavy broth, which I had to ask for a second one, as its dipping options heavily out-ratioed that of its soupy partner. I'd have to admit that was my only downside that didn't quite justify its price since it was the most expensive of our choices. I have a thing for ratios. However, I did get the most food compared to everyone else at the table so that did make me feel a little better about spending $19 on not even a full bowl of ramen.
If I could choose, the Shoyu ramen was the best for its average price and light broth; whereas the Triple Triple Soup Thing was more toppings than soup, and on a 20 degree day in New York, I'd rather have the latter. As a garlic lover myself, I did love its punch, but don't think I'd order it myself.
We ended up here while waiting for the rest of our party before getting situated at Ivan's Ramen. It was a small yet cozy spot a few doors down with a charismatic barman. I ordered a Tumeric Ginger Latte while my brother got the Matcha Hot Chocolate.
Known for its eclectic range of hot chocolate options, I can definitely see why Cocoa Bar garnered a ton of media attention and awards. Its looks don't show it, but it is a highly decorated hot beverage spot, of which I can compare to the Chocolate Room in Brooklyn. Definitely the perfect spot for hiding out and warming up during the cold season.
I was told there were a ton of cute brunch gems hidden throughout Williamsburg, but that wasn't where I was going. Our schedule led us to Soho almost every day during our trip and a friend of ours recommended Coco and Cru: a cute, yet tight restaurant that let in just the right amount of sunlight needed for the perfect brunch.
My brother got the Green Bowl (broccoli, avocado, spinach, kale, pesto, poached egg) and I customized my own omelette with goat cheese, spinach, and smoked salmon. What can I say? The rest was history. It was Whole30 friendly, despite the majority of our trip not being so, and it was the perfect meal to jumpstart my day.
NYC isn't widely known for its AYCE options lining every corner like LA is, but I did accidentally find one spot that capitalized on the movement and very successfully, might I add.
We were given options to have hoptpot, barbecue, or both, in which most places wouldn't even think about doing that here. Though we chose hotpot, we were greeted with an endless selection of beef, dumplings, and every vegetable in every form possible. It was magical.
We also had the option of choosing up to three broths to cook our meat and vegetable in, in which we chose two: Chinese Herbal and Tom Yum. It was the first time in a long time that I got to pig out; part of me wishes I went all out like the ladies next to me and ordered wine with my hotpot and barbecue.
The restaurant had a self-serve dipping sauce buffet including oyster sauce, hoisen, sesame oil, soy sauce, and ones I've never even heard of before. So I took three sauce containers - which held up to three sauce options - and poured every sauce known to man in each. Our dinner was like a game: we kept making crazy combinations and convincing each other to try it.
A little pricy for the experience as it is a rare one to come by out there, but the included dessert made it worth it: peanut butter frosted flowers and red bean soup. So. Good.
We walked around Brooklyn to an area that was predominately Italian eateries. I promise any of which you happen upon in that area, they'll show you a good time. My cousin introduced the spot to us because most Italian places don't highlight street food or come with waiters with heavy, yet passionate Italian accents like they used to.
This place in particular showed us Italian food in a completely different and authentic light than we're used to. In fact, they hardly had pizza and pasta options, cause face it, that's not what we're here for.
We ended up having Porkchop Pizzaiola (the waiter described it as porkchop so tender, you could cut through it with a fork and we were sold), Panelle (fried chickpeas), and Pani ca Meusa: directly translated to "Bread with spleen". Obviously, this is a place for the adventurous, but worth a try to open-up your palette.
I don't even know where to start but this is my FAVORITE place hands-down. We were taken here for what was supposed to be a snack, but ended up grubbing out. This hole-in-the-wall treasure was so low-key. Overhead, they played a continuous loop of their favorite rappers from west to east coast and the dining situation was a very communal one. Everyone felt at home in Cheeky's quaint quarters.
We started with their fried chicken biscuits, topped generously with gravy over a bed of the most crumbly biscuit ever known to mankind. It just kinda withers away in your mouth. We had also bought Hot Ones hot sauce and their infamous last dab to top it off. I think it needed the heat, to be honest.
After sharing a few dabs of our sauces with the chef, we instantly became friends. He surprised us with homemade beignets and jelly sauce on the side for dipping. Powdery, fluffy on the inside, and the perfect crunch on the outside. I was in love.
He then made some off-the-menu sandwiches since we kept asking for more. We were introduced to the Jayjay - a breakfast sandwich of sorts that comes with the most satisfactory cheese pull and another sandwich of which I couldn't recall as I was too busy stuffing my face. If there's anywhere you absolutely need to go, it's here.
We all know that NYC is known for their dollar pizzas, but what about their dollar dumplings? Hidden away in an enclave of Chinese characters and outdoor markets is Vanessa's dumplings. Adorned with sticky tables, limited seating (eating on the curb is always the second best choice), and a largely impressive menu of the best, greasiest Chinese food in the big apple, is the biggest bang for your buck.
My cousin threw down $15 for a meal that fed a group of four and left us stuffed. If you ever come to New York on a budget or you're coming down to last of your spenditures after days of splurging, this is the biggest cheat to surviving.
We always get their spicy wontons, but you can never go wrong with their sesame noodles. This place has easily become one of our favorite traditions when visiting the east coast.


While the West Coast has Mr. Holmes, the East Coast has Supermoon, which basically means, you get the same sugar tossed cream-filled pastries in a pretentiously Instagram-worthy bakehouse.
Although expensive per pastry, Supermoon is the B-side of Mr. Holmes minus the matcha donuts (which are a fave). Supermoon offers a smaller range in comparison to its sister store but its retro and millennial pink flavored accents seem to make it that much more approachable and long-line worthy.
Although my disposition on this place seems indifferent, I'm not expecting anything different as opposed to what we have here in LA. Maybe if I hadn't experience Mr. Holmes already, I'd be a little more excited but cruffins are still a highly-anticipated breakfast, snack, dessert thing for me.
Stop by here if you're craving your much needed cronut-fill.
I loved this place so much I went twice. Cha An is a sophisticated tea house that sits atop a narrow set of steps. Past its bamboo divider are a few tables and the careful hands of their dessert maker.
We tried out two of their tea options, a Matcha Affogato, their special maple parfait for the season, and their jewelry box, which is a $30 Japanese-style high-tea experience. It was carefully prepared and its presentation was high-quality, but for the price that it was, I wish it came with a lot more. You get two desserts per bento box, in which you get three, and that's it.
Their menu isn't really for sharing, but is rather for a more intimate experience. The tea can only be shared up to three people and there is a small minimum charge per person, so even if you don't want tea, you have to get tea. I don't see why you wouldn't though.
Their tea is fresh, fragrant, and their menu is more of an art form than it is just food. Definitely don't come here on an empty stomach.
I found this place after heavy amounts of scrolling through New York bloggers, and thought this was a straight-forward flower shop, only to find that it was so much more than that.
Roman and Williams Guild has their guests walk through a pair of velvet pink curtains, leaving the outside world at their door. Immediately, you're greeted by a server, in which you can opt to take a sit in the arms of their restaurant long blue velvet couches, or you can walk through their gallery of interior decors.
Roman and Williams is a husband and wife team of interior decorators who have worked on places such as the Ace Hotel and their guild is a visual archive of the several items they've scavenged for in order to create the most aesthetically pleasing hotel rooms. They have the softest of fur rugs and Japanese blown glass as well as some Instagrammable corners if you can catch the light.
Upon their dining situation, they've limited their menu to only pastries, cocktails, coffees, and teas. It's basically a gorgeously, candle-lit Blue Bottle but the elegance of their ambiance and the carefulness of their service makes for high-end dining experience. I'd recommend their Pain au Chocolat (chocolate croissant), which is the fluffiest and flakiest I've ever experienced, along with their flourless chocolate cake: a rich, dreamy dessert with heaven in every bite.
They also have a cute little flower shop in the corner if you're ever in need of a "just because" purchase. Although it seems like an aimless stop, it's definitely a home of aesthetics and just the right place to make you feel luxurious, even if it's for a second.
This was the one place I wish I had the time to actually stay and hang out in. After a breathless three flights of stairs, is Kellog's permanent home in Union Square. By the windows, they have hanging hammock chairs, quilted leather seats to lounge on, free wifi for hours of working, and a cereal buffet.
Yes, you read that right. A cereal buffet. Lined with pull-down funnels of cereal options, fresh breakfast toppings to satisfy your savory and sweet tooth, and a flatlay area for all my fellow bloggers. (Marble slabs and photography lights are at the ready.) Did I mention they also have a private room in the back with a ping pong table?
While they offer fool-proof recipes to build your own bowl, I went for chocolate frosted flakes, topped with chocolate chips, cut strawberries, espresso and matcha powder, and a drizzle of Greek yogurt.
I'm craving it all over again. It was so good and you refills are an absolute yes.
They do have different milk options, in which ya favorite lactose Asian girl opted out of. Kellog's also offers standard coffee options, and of course, matcha options. Can't go wrong with that!



(Through January 28)
A friend of mine told me the Whitney was free after 7 on Fridays and when I researched other museums, the MOMA was apparently also free every certain Friday of the month. Though our plan was to go to both, the MOMA was so packed, it took us forever to go through the entire thing.
Nevertheless, I didn't expect anything from the Items Exhibit. I didn't know anything about it but when I walked through its first room, I was stunned. Mannequins were evenly placed around the room donning ribbed knit YSL jumpsuits and puffed longline Moncler jackets. Each lifeless display was wearing years and years of money, hard-work, and rich, rich fashion history.
These were the trends we were capitalizing on, reworking, and falling in love with on a regular basis; recycling these ideas and creating hybrids on hybrids of new trends. It was absolutely insane.
I had been yearning to wear some of these brands from a very young age and seeing them exhibited to the public made me appreciate the industry's roots and origin stories so much more. It was beautiful seeing people understand and educate themselves on the value of these brands and what they've done over the years. I felt like my "passion for fashion" was finally understood.
I've been wanting to visit one of the Lines on either coast for a while and have heard many things particularly about the one in Soho. A friend took us here on a morning dedicated to rooftop hunting (in which we spent forever walking in circles trying to find)  and between the two of us, she was the only one brave enough to step through the furniture and into the fire escape even after being caught.
Aside from its views, The Apartment is gorgeously decorated and beautifully curated with high-end brands from furniture to clothing. It is every girl's dream studio. What I didn't know, was that it was a store to visit and explore. I thought it was an actual apartment you had to make an appointment for in order to stop by. Turns out, it's just a beautifully aesthetic concept storefront open to the public.
I stumbled upon this spot via IG the day before our last full day and was so happy that I did. 3-Legged Dog is a series of animated and programmed projections played on a huge canvas from wall to ceiling in which viewers can sit in, making themselves a part of the art installation.
The entire series has a run-time of 45 minutes (60 seconds per video) in which we were only able to view 3-4 projections since we entered near closing time. Luckily though, the owner gave us discounted prices knowing that we couldn't experience the entire thing.
After hanging up our large jackets, we slipped on shoe covers, propped ourselves down in the viewing area, and we were in for a ride. Heavy beats accompanied trippy geometric images that flowed into the next shape, telling a story with just shapes. Each video different from the last, yet the impressions they left were lasting, aka it was super overwhelming in the best way possible.
I went to New York looking for inspiration and motivation to create again. I thought deviating myself from the content I digest on the regular and throwing myself into new surroundings in a less-familiar place than what I'm used to would be the answer.
And the 3-Legged Dog was that answer. Though my experience was short-lived, I was enthralled and immersed by the creativity and perspective each artist embraced. I'm not sure how long it's up for, but if you get the chance to stop by, make sure to watch the entire screening. I promise you, you will not regret it.
A quick walk away from Vanessa'a Dumplings, Yokkohama lacks signage and visibility, which is what adds to its charm. Upon walking down to the lower level of which the shop resides is a small selection of handmade hats and its long-haired owner and craftsman seated comfortably to the side.
Not many come by to his store but we always make a stop when we're in the area. His hats are high quality and insanely unique - inspired from his Japanese street style background. There is so much love and passion for what he does, it's hard not to appreciate his work. Though we can't afford to splurge on his hatwear, we buy a shirt or knick-knack every now and then to show our support.
What I love most about Canal Street Market is that it's basically and indoor farmers' market only with a curated section of artisan goods and millennial-esque food booths from existing restaurants you may already know such as Ippudo.
I do recommend stopping for some pour-over miso soup at Izakaya's where they literally pour-over hot water through bonito flakes for a smooth broth topped with green onions. To be honest, you can't go wrong with any of your choices there. I wanted to try out the Japanese shaved ice booth but the cold weather had me craving the former!