In the Heart of New York City’s China Town, one might not be surprised to find a Chopstick’s boutique. This is for good reason, as Yunhong Chopsticks is filled with over 200 different styles of the ancient utensil. Yunhong Chopsticks is a well known Chinese franchise, and this is the first outlet in the US.
The chopsticks are crafted from materials as wide spread as ebony, silver, bamboo, ox horn, Stainless steel, bone, mahogany, mother of pearl, and even plastic! The very special chopsticks can be purchase as single pairs, while others come in special gift boxes. There are many lines that include special editions such as hand-painted representations of the Chinese calendar or inscribed with Chinese poetry. Of course the boutique also carries small bowls and chopsticks stands.
If you are in the neighborhood, Yunhong makes a great quick stop to marvel at the myriad of colors, styles and designs available.
Perhaps it is because of Pulino’s Italian theme, in contrast to the French of it’s NYC sisters – Balthazar, Pastis, Schiller’s –that we were pleasantly surprised by the cordial welcome, relaxed atmosphere and the general level of politeness received. Such a nice exchange from the snobby service we had experienced over the years from its siblings.
After passing by for longer then we should have, avoiding Pulino’s as one does a member of an obnoxious family, one random day we finally entered; lured inside by the amber glow, tinkling of cutlery and boisterous laughter spilling out into the street. As we made our our way to the bar through the bustling scene, under the infused light projected through various liquor bottles lining the walls and a warm fluorescent ceiling sequence of hanging lamps that extends all the way into the restrooms, clips of restaruants in movies played through the mind. Here one could imagine that they were in the film version of New York.
Our first experience had us enjyoing a strong, cold artisanal beer and a confidence inspiring glass of Montepulciano. The Italian bartender was so nice we decided to come back the following evening for dinner. Again we sat at the bar, as the table wait was a bit long, and to our fortune – there was May. The incredibly charming bartender who happily advised us in the different food options, sampled wines and joined in our enjoyment of life. This seduction brought us back again, and again. We became such pure ‘fans’ that for a week last year I made an office for myself at the end of the bar – coming daily for 10am breakfast and coffee and staying through lunch. 🙂
Besides the attentive. friendly service and excellent location; the food is just superb. The Eggplant Caviar is perfectly smoked and marinaded with a smooth olive oil and warm spices; accompanied by a paper thin Italian flat bread. It is so delectable, I still think about it throughout the day. The pizzas are light and not over seasoned, allowing each ingredient to be individually counted as part of the whole. The Melon Salad with Bulgar and the Pumpkin salad with Morels were stand-outs; the morels being especially meaty and fresh. Though these were followed with one of the lightest Eggplant Parmesan and the agonizingly delicious Burrata with oven roasted tomatoes and balsamic reduction that was described by May’s as “14 year old crack!”. Yes it IS that good.
Pulino’s, in a quick one-two, punched its way directly towards the top of the list of favorite New York restaurants. We are looking forward to our return this autumn and are excited to see what is new on the menu. Head to Pulino’s for excellent value – lunch special allows for a half-salad and personal-size pizza – cinematic atmosphere and top-notch fare on the northern edge of SoHo.
In one of the more secret and quiet streets of Soho, there resides a lovely oasis of dark wood shelving, carefully populated with exotic scents from the world’s varied cultures. Some are well known, while others are obscure and seductive from seldom heard brand names like, Keiko Mecheri, Frapin, Amouage, Kilian, Cire Trudon. These are products that must be experienced to truly understand the capabilities of your fourth sense.
Min also carries a delightful selection of decorative objects, as well as the ancient cosmetic line Santa Maria Novella; who crafted numerous cosmetics for Catherine of Medici
Owner/curator Chad Murawczyk, has done a terrific job fishing the world for unique products from amber crystals from eastern Europe to artisan grapefruit bubble bath, specialized grooming tools and a few select fashion accessories .
An overall dark masculine atmosphere makes Min a place to escape the street bustle. Relax and spend time lounging on the plush chesterfields, while your nose is choosing the perfect gift.
The design pulled us in, and the coffee had us coming back. We were pleasantly surprised by La Colombe (no relationship to Colombia, fyi). The Soho, New York location is excellent in its centrality, you are sure to be near it on any journey downtown, and it fills a major geographical coffee gap between the East & West Villages’ cafes. There are 2 other locations in New York city, 2 in Philadelphia and a representative in Chicago and Seoul, South Korea.
The Soho location, the only we have been to, is a bustling low-key affair with the chimes of clinking cups on saucers and the hum of conversation, pleasantly without any of the attitude that can invade other cafes serving premium coffees. All coffees are served in beautiful ceramic cups and that certainly helps the flavor. The Cappuccinos and Macchiatos are made with care and come out very smooth and creamy, with a nice balance of coffee to fat. They have a few pastries and savories to enjoy along with the liquid happiness. They also sell a “Cold Pressed” bottled coffee that looks quite serious and could be a go-to item come summer.
While the store is blissfully free of propaganda, it is good to know that La Colombe a is Fair Trade, organic certified, child saving do-gooder organization. The matching badges that can make you feel as justified as you need to are on display on their website. I believe that this type of activism is quite effective, and I appreciate it more then someone using their actions to sell product. Thumbs up to La Colombe for creating an effective, quality and well-rounded brand.
Continuing our culinary journey of the week, we made our way down the street to Balaboosta., with a top recommendation from the lovely May at Paulino’s. Here we were lucky to have one of THE most impressive meals we’ve had since, well, last night. Because truly, Paulino’s was excellent.
However, Balaboosta is a step beyond in refinement, taste, construction and delicacy. Our third ‘small-plate’ was a truly world class gazpacho. It featured a cantaloupe base and was embedded with Almond Brittle and Jicama-Mint relish. The mix of the sweetness of the cantaloupe combined with the fresh tomato and hint of spice from the relish make this as flavorful as fresh garden with the lightness of a granita. As we are wont to do, we ordered a second Gazpacho for dessert!
There is a varied selection of vegetarian appetizers and pizzas. Standouts being the Fried Olives with Organic Labne & Harissa Oil and the Smoked Eggplant Bruschetta accompanied by an Herb & Citrus Salad. A treat is the the Humus, which is served mashed by hand in a Mortar with the pestle included so you can mash to your hearts content!
The dessert we chose, listed simply as Wild-Berry Crumble with Whipped Cream, was truly surprising in the most wonderful of ways. What was left out of this overly simplistic description in the menu was the custard créme at the bottom of the ramekin. It added a beautiful sweetness that just made the entire body sing. The mix of blueberries, strawberries with red & black raspberries put just enough tart into the dish to really excite you about the vanilla-bean laden sweet créme. We plan on going returning to Balaboosta just for this dessert!
The brunch service is also quite creative – thank you for no Eggs Florentine or Normandy! There is a delicious coconut french toast and Shakshouka – the Moroccan dish of Baked Eggs in Spicy Tomato bell pepper sauce with Spinach. The green scrambled eggs with feta is another lovely palette for both the palate . Let’s also not forget the grilled breakfast pizza with caramelized onions, spinach, zucchini and organic eggs. Yum!
Green Scrambled Eggs, Served with Quinoa Hash Brown, with Feta, Tomato, Feta and Arugula Salad
Grilled Breakfast Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Spinach, Zucchini, Two Sunny Side Eggs, Feta and Za’atar