Rock Center Cafe

MadelinesOur uncle, who I was staying with over Christmas, highly recommended tracking down some pretty fancy french toast somewhere around the Rockefeller centre for breakfast. He told us that they apparently soaked brioche overnight in the egg mixture for the next morning and they were somewhat unique. After a bit of trial and error (note that the Sea Grill do not do breakfast), we found the french toast dish served at the Rock Center Cafe, an extremely popular place overlooking onto the scenic ice skating rink and Adonis statue.

Prices at the cafe are overpriced for breakfast with coffees around USD4 but I can understand this given the popularity of the ice skating rink and the cafe’s prime location looking onto the centre of the rink. When seated a waitress served us a shot of a strawberry smoothie and some madelines (surprisingly we didn’t get charged for either), and then some water almost immediately. Throughout the meal service was pretty consistent and it was just about right – not too much in your face but someone around to ask for something.

French toast at the Rock Center CafeSince we came here for one dish alone, we decided to both get it and a side of bacon (for its salty contrast). As you can tell from the picture in this post (click on it to get a larger version), the four slices of bread was absolutely massive, covered in berries and icing sugar. So the verdict… Perhaps its an American thing but I thought that everything was far too sweet and I found myself constantly reaching for anything to counteract it including my coffee, water and the bacon. Other than that, the bread was nice and soft and eggy and the berries extremely fresh (and just as sweet). The bread was a touch dry but I think that’s the nature of brioche and the maple syrup that accompanies the toast can help counteract that. It was a delicious treat that certainly got you going for the day, and a great experience to sit next to the ice skating rink.

Details: Rock Center Cafe (Breakfast only from 7am to 10am)
Found on: 20 W 50th Street, New York, NY, 10020
Contactable on: +1 212 332 7620
Highlights: Lovely location next to ice skating rink with decent food and decent service.
Room for improvement:The french toast was excessively sweet and prices a little bit excessive for the food.
The Kua Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Teany (Not so Itsy Bitsy)

Tea NYTeany is owned by Moby and is one of the many tea rooms that surprisingly exist in New York. It’s located in the East Village and serves over one hundred types of specialities in addition to vegetarian and vegan foods including sandwiches, scones, biscuits and cakes. I think you pronounce the story as “Tea NY” opposed to “teeny” but it wasn’t quite clear to me. As I sat and had my tea and scone I noticed that the majority of people appeared to be tourists with their lonely planet guides in tow, or a few local fashionably dressed New Yorkers.

Tea and SconeThe tea menu is overwhelming and although the prices are over inflated for New York some of the teas are definitely unique blends that are worth the try. The pot of tea is also excessively large and easily serves two people. I ordered the Earl Grey Creme, a scented black tea infused with vanilla flavours and as I just found out on their site, apparently one of their best sellers. I found it nice and light without any need for sugar what so ever. I also ordered a scone with clotted cream and jam that I thought was okay for the United States. Like most things on the continent I could taste the large amount of sugar or sweetener they’d added so each bite didn’t really need much jam other than for a different flavour. I think it would have went well with a tea that tasted slightly more bitter.

The atmosphere was bustling without being too crowded and if New York has good weather, I suggest sitting outside in the canvas-covered area where you can absorb the maximum amount of sun and warmth.

Details: Teany Cafe
Found on: 90 Rivington Street, New York, NY 10002
Contactable on: +1 (212) 475-9190
Highlights: Huge selection of teas, vegan selection of food and a nice relaxed atmosphere.
Room for improvement: Slightly overpriced in all aspects but understandable considering the name behind it
The Kua Rating: 6.5 out of 10


When I was in New York, I managed to catch up with Gerrod and Kristy a couple of times and we visited a couple of nice restaurants together with their current visitors Karl and Caroline. The most recent one we visited was Pescatore that conveniently wasn’t too far from where they lived. This restaurant is split into two floors with apparently the bottom floor a totally different and definitely more positive experience than if you sat on the top floor. Gerrod thankfully booked in advance (it’s one of those things that you just have to do if you want to go eat somewhere in Manhattan at a normal dining hour) and they seated us at a nice round table as soon as we arrived.

As it sounds by the name, this restaurant serves Italian food and after dinner I concluded it was pretty decent stuff too. By the time we sat down I think we were all pretty hungry so we ordered appetisers and an entree (a main course dish) soon after we arrived. When the first course arrived I think we were all stunned by the size of the plates and could have easily been almost a meal on its own. The calamari plate was huge as was the bruschetta and the bowl of lobster bisque I ordered was absolutely massive. I thought the lobster bisque was fantastic – it had the right level of creaminess and just enough flavour without being overbearingly fishy. Better yet was the huge number of lobster chunks all throughout it and the small toasted bread to give it additional contrast. My mail meal, a grilled snapper was also nice though I thought it was slightly overcooked and their effort to completely debone the fish was incomplete. Service was pretty good all night around and the waiters seemed to top up our water glasses just enough times and they were never in our face.

Details: Pescatore
Found on: 955 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10022, USA
Contactable on: +1 212-752-7151
Highlights: Great dining atmosphere on the ground floor. Great valued appetisers.
Room for improvement: My fish was slightly overcooked and my fish still had a couple of bones left in them.
The Kua Rating: 7 out of 10

New York Subways

SubwayOne big difference I’ve noticed since coming to New York after living in London is how upfront people asking for money are. In one day alone I think I had about five different groups of people go through my subway car asking for money. Some of the more memorable ones since being here include:

  • A Mexican guy that played his guitar who never spoke a word of English, singing in Spanish, tipping his hat as a suggestion and saying thank you in Spanish.
  • A group of young kids (12 or 13 years old) who went outright and admitted they were trying to make money for themselves accepting donations and selling Starburst lollies (or candies as they say here)
  • A guy who had had his legs amputated sitting in a wheelchair who moved down a carriage at a time at each subway stop asking for donations.
  • A normal homeless guy rattling his cup as he walks through all the carriages.
  • Another homeless guy asking for anything (food, clothing or money to spare) using a story that he just had an operation on his leg.

The Color Purple

The Color PurpleUnlike most West End tickets in the UK, tickets for Broadway shows seem to have a great variation with almost all tickets on last minute sites going for several hundred US dollars even though the original price is about twenty to forty US dollars. However thanks to a little hunting around I found a decently priced ticket offered by Razor Gator to see the Oprah Winfrey presented Broadway show, The Color Purple (sorry for the American spelling but I think it’s more correct in this case). At first I thought Razor Gator seemed a little dodgy when they told me to pick up my ticket from a bartender at an Italian restaurant just off Broadway but it all worked in the end and I got my ticket in the nose-bleed section of the theatre. The seat was actually not bad since they hadn’t sold out the entire theatre and there weren’t that many people sitting in front of me so I had a good view of the stage.

This musical follows the life of a small African American girl as she goes through all the trials and tribulations of living in the early 1900s. We see her mistreated as a child, abused as a wife, make friends with stronger female characters and ultimately triumph over all adversity in the typical heartfelt manner. Unsurprisingly, given the theme of this musical, the crowd was largely composed of large groups of African Americans. The set and the costumes are simple but very appropriate given the setting. The music on the other hand is extremely colourful and the songs are very catchy including that little bit of jazz, bit of blues, a touch of gospel and a hint of ragtime.

I’m glad that I saw this show in Broadway as I think it’s most apt played by Americans and the strong appreciation of the audience and it certainly makes up for the last show I saw. Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Doyer’s Vietnamese Restaurant

Lemongrass ChickenAlthough the name of this restaurant sounds nothing like a real Vietnamese name, this place that our Time Out book recommended turned out to be pretty decent. Easily found with a bright yellow sign, and named after the street it sits on, this restaurant serves some great valued Vietnamese food. Its decor is a little bit dated and a little bit old, but is common amongst most restaurants that offer great value for money seem to share.

One of Doyer’s unique aspects are that they serve a big variety of bubble tea – a popular drink found in Asia that is typically made out of some sort of sweetened black or green tea and mixed with ice and chewy tapioca balls that you drink via a very think straw. Our meal first started with the crab spring rolls that actually could have been a meal on their own since they were so big. Each had been wrapped in the classic Vietnamese rice paper wrapped instead of the standard Chinese spring roll wrapper so their crispy skin had a rougher exterior. The filling was extremely tasty but had a little bit too much of a salt for our tastes. The grilled pork chop and the lemongrass grilled chicken and rice dishes were equally pretty good. The chicken was a little dry but the pork was nice and moist, but at least both were extremely flavoursome.

Details: Doyer’s Vietnamese Restaurant
Found on: 11 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013-5104
Contactable on: +1 (212) 513-1521
Highlights: Cheap Vietnamese food served with a large variety of bubble tea. A good variety of both Vietnamese and Chinese dishes.
Room for improvement: After ordering and receiving your food, expect service that matches the price of the food.
The Kua Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Bubba Gump Shrimp Company

Run Forest, RunBubba Gump’s Shrimp Company is a highly successful chain restaurant based on the idea taken from the movie Forest Gump (then again, there are plenty of chain restaurants in America). Its central theme is very simple – serving shrimp in many different ways in each dish including salads, fried shrimp (far too many ways), grilled shrimp, and shrimp in a bourbon sauce. The restaurant does offer more than just shrimp on their menu including chicken, fish, BBQ ribs and several options for vegetarians.

Each restaurant is excessively dressed to look like a real ol’ southern restaurant with far too many tacky memorabilia and items hanging from the roof, and a rusty tin bucket holding all the sauces and a roll of brown paper working as your serviettes (or napkins as they’re referred to as here). Popcorn ShrimpAn interesting variation and probably the only other thing from the movie is a sign that sits at your table that you use to grab the attention of the staff that walk up and down. Leaving it on the blue “Run Forest, Run” sign and for the most part the waiters and waitresses will leave you to your own devices, but if you do need some attention of some sort, you can flip it over to the red “Stop Forest, Stop” sign. It’s a novelty system that although is kind of fun to do the first time, still quite isn’t as effective as actually stopping someone who is going by and asking them for something.

Details: Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
Found on: New York – 1501 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
Contactable on: +1 212-391-7100
Highlights: A different chain restaurant themed on the Forest Gump movie. Each dish has plenty of shrimp and some of it is actually quite tasty. It’s a fun restaurant with a strong family vibe going
Room for improvement: Almost to the point where it’s overbearingly tacky, Bubba Gump is fine as a first time but I couldn’t see myself there all the time. The novelty stop/go signs aren’t as effective as they make out they are.
The Kua Rating: 5 out of 10