New York, New York: Day 5

2 May

This was the first morning we got to sleep in. We began with a late breakfast/early lunch at Katz Deli (famous for “I’ll have what she’s having” in When Harry Met Sally).

There was a complicated eating system – we got some tickets when we went in and the the option to get table service or self-service. The tickets were for self-service (the counter staff would stamp or punch your ticket with what you ordered) but we thought that looked too complicated and figured it was worth paying an extra 20% to avoid the hassle. You can see the self-service line and seating area here.

They gave us some pickles to start with.

Jules and I ordered the Reuben with pastrami (I think $16.95?). Look how high the meat is stacked up!

It was a great sandwich but honestly I reckon my own Reuben measures up pretty well. My bread is definitely better – I butter the outside and toast it!

James ordered a pastrami sandwich (I can’t remember how much it was but vaguely recall it being within a dollar of the Reubens). He learned his lesson from the day before and went with something cheeseless.

James had a bite of my Reuben and said that mine was superior. It was such a massive sandwich and we’d already eaten so much in New York that we all agreed we would have been happy with one half the size.

Afterwards we hunted for my Rick Owens jacket at Bergdorf Goodman (sold out, boo) and went to see … Jersey Boys on Broadway!

We got fantastic seats (something like 6 from the front, right in the middle!) It was a fantastic show and I’ve been listening to it pretty much non-stop on Spotify. It was a last-minute thing and I’m really glad we managed to catch something on Broadway.

Afterwards we went to check out Times Square. There’s an area set up in the middle so all of the tourists can take their cheesy Times Square photos without getting in everyone else’s way.

Then it was almost time for our dinner at Momofuku Noodle Bar. We got there about half an hour before it opened so we headed to the nearest bar for a drink. It was Coyote Ugly. Yes like the movie. And no it was not like the movie. The bar was almost empty (there were maybe 10 old guys there) and there was one bored bartender who would occasionally dance on the bar while the men largely ignored her. Super awkward. 

But anyway at 5:30 we headed over to Momofuku, still pretty full from our lunch. We ordered a bottle of sake (around $60). It was alright but as far as I could tell it tasted like every other sake I’ve ever had.

I had prebooked the fried chicken meal for 4 ($100). When I made the booking I asked whether a party of 3 could book the fried chicken meal – they said that groups of 3 had really struggled with the fried chicken. I told the guys but we figured that we’re big eaters so should be able to manage it.

It doesn’t even look that big in the photo. But that was a massive plate of fried chicken – the waitress said it was 2.5 whole chickens. We got through like .. 2/3 of it. As Jules described it, we still had the bottom layer of the chicken pyramid remaining.

The chicken on the left was traditional fried chicken and the one on the right was glazed with a sweet/spicy Korean sauce. It came with vegies, sauces and pancakes and we wrapped it up like peking duck.

The vegies were beautiful. The tiny little carrots were amazing – I’ve never really understood people who snacked on carrots but they were totally snackworthy.

The pancakes were really thick which I didn’t care for. I much prefer the thinner texture of true peking duck wrappers. The sauces were fantastic though. From the top clockwise it was a jalapeno/soy (or was it sesame oil?) mix, chili sauce, hoisin sauce and a ginger/spring onion sauce.

The chicken was very well done (everyone seemed to prefer the regular chicken) and aside from a crispier breading I couldn’t really tell the difference between it and a place like Ezell’s. Oh actually I take that back – you could definitely tell that they’d used a really great quality chicken. There was just a cleaner chickeny taste than other chicken I’ve had. It’s hard to describe but I definitely noticed it.

In the end though, it was just way too much food for us. After all that food in NY it was Momofuku that finally broke us.

I reckon it would be a good amount for 5-6 and you could have even more people if you wanted to try other dishes. I think if I could do it over again I’d just order off the regular menu (I saw people slurping some really great looking ramen) instead of going for the chicken banquet. But if you’re in a large group then I reckon the chicken is really great value for money.

We headed back home for a nap because we were planning on doing the Empire State building around 11:30pm. I had heard horror stories of 4+ hour waits so wanted to avoid the crowds by going late.When we woke up – disaster! It was overcast and rainy! But it was our last night and we wanted to see all the lights so had no choice but to go. It was really weird seeing how (comparatively) empty the streets were when it was late and raining.

When we got to the Empire State the news was even worse: there was no visibility at the top. The front desk even stamped our tickets with a frowny face!

At least there was no wait. There were multiple levels that were entirely set up as waiting areas with those zig-zaggy velvet ropes. I can’t remember the exact layout but it was something like you waited to buy your tickets, then took an elevator to a massive waiting area, which lead to another elevator and another waiting area – I can’t remember if there was a third elevator/waiting area combo or if you reached the top after that. I can only imagine how utterly horrific those waits are in peak times.

When we got to the top it was nearly empty. There were maybe 15-20 people around and the visibility was awful. We could see some lights through the fog but none of the buildings. And the outside deck was closed because they were worried about lightning strikes (there was one cool moment where we got to see the sky illuminated by lightning).

We wandered around the inside peering through the windows. Gradually the fog cleared and we could see all the buildings but we still weren’t allowed to go outside. But our optimism paid off and after maybe 10 minutes they finally let us onto the deck. And we got to wander around, admire the view and take heaps of photos with nobody else around.

There were lights in every direction. It was incredible being up there alone – everything worked out perfectly for us and I don’t think we could recreate the conditions if we tried. It was bittersweet knowing it was our last night in New York but it was an amazing way to farewell an amazing city.

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