Eating 8th Avenue – Wong Wong Noodle Soup

IMG_2564My search for the platonic ideal of hand-pull noodle places on 8th avenue is over. I found it in a packed dining room behind a big window on the west side of the avenue, between 54th and 55th streets.

I’ll confess here to a bit of Chinese restaurant timidity. Not about the food, which I love (up to and including offal and strange sea creatures and slippery textures and pungent preserved vegetables), but about navigating an unfamiliar language and culture. When I saw the crowded tables, the seemingly chaotic line at the cash register, and the Chinese-only menu on the wall, I almost slunk out.  I’m very glad I didn’t. Continue reading


Hipster business names

thistle and clover

Fort Greene

A few months back, someone sent me a “hipster business name generator” that  randomly creates quirky names like “Mortar & Smoke,” “Bath & Sandstone,” “Coil & Death,” and so on.

As these examples make clear, a good hipster business name does not blurt out the nature of the business. To give a counterexample: although it includes two nouns linked by an ampersand, “KC Tasty Deli & Grill” down the street is decidedly not a hipster business. Hipster business names whisper and wink.  It’s acceptable to hint at what goes on inside, so long as the reference is obscure, archaic, or both (I’m looking at you, Runner & Stone, with love). Ideally, one or both nouns give off a musty whiff of 19th century London.  And while ampersands do look superior on logos, spelling out the word “and” is (barely) permitted. You may substitute a plus sign if your establishment’s esthetic is more mid-century modern than steampunk.

This first-ever Not another Brooklyn blog quiz invites you to match wits with local hipster entrepreneurs. Most of the names are taken from establishments spotted on runs around Brooklyn (specifically, Park Slope and points north) and lower Manhattan. (I did cheat a little by looking up other examples on Yelp to round out the list to an even 20. The alternative was a long run to Williamsburg, and I just wasn’t up to it.) Continue reading

Eating 8th Avenue – “no fried buns today”

IMG_2544I’m touched by the response to Friday’s post on breast cancer surgery and body image, and grateful to the women who reached out afterwards. Thank you for sharing your stories. If reading mine helped at all, I’m very, very glad.

Now for a lighter topic: let’s talk about food.

Last week’s excursion along Brooklyn’s 8th avenue was a solo stroll & snack affair. I began with a destination in mind, a place on 49th street just off the avenue called “Shaxian Delicacies” (Katie and I had walked by it the week before). The pictures on the sign looked tasty, and I was curious about the “Shaxian Delicacy” phenomenon. Shaxian, as I understand it, is a poor county within Fujian province where a sizeable proportion of the rural population have responded to their bleak economic prospects by opening snack bars in major cities. Local government authorities are encouraging the growth of the snack food industry, no doubt because of the economic and political safety valve it provides, and the “Shaxian Delicacies” logo (see photo) is officially trademarked. I’m not sure whether its use in Sunset Park attests to the operation’s authenticity, or to the owner’s confidence that he’s beyond the long arm of the Shaxian Snack Bureau (yes, there is such a thing). Continue reading

On non-reconstruction

swimsuit cropExactly seven years ago today, I had a unilateral mastectomy (they threw the lymph node dissection in as a bonus). I wasn’t supposed to have cancer. My cancer wasn’t supposed to be in a lymph node. And I certainly wasn’t supposed to have a mastectomy.

Things don’t always happen the way they’re supposed to.

Roughly a week before my scheduled lumpectomy, some suspicious MRI results meant my surgery had to be canceled to accommodate follow-up tests. (Can I mention here that you haven’t lived until you’ve had an MRI-guided breast biopsy? I was immobilized on a table, my breasts dangling through a hatch so that technicians with drills could access them from below. It was like being the car at Jiffy Lube.)  When it was all over, the surgical plan had changed to mastectomy.

I got the word about the new biopsy results and met with my surgeon on Wednesday, March 5.  Surgery was scheduled for Thursday, March 13. That didn’t leave much time to think about options. I was pretty sure I didn’t want reconstruction, and a hastily-scheduled consultation with a plastic surgeon two days before my surgery didn’t change that.  If anything, it solidified my negative feelings – a mixture of queasiness, fear, and horror. Continue reading

Eating 8th Avenue – Yun Nan Flavour Garden

IMG_2533Friday was the last day of Katie’s spring (hah!) break, and it didn’t take much arm-twisting to persuade her to head back to Sunset Park for one more 8th avenue lunch. This time, we had a specific destination in mind.


Yun Nan Flavour hits the big time: an 8th Avenue location.

Yun Nan Flavour Garden is an old favorite. It used to be called Yun Nan Flavour Snack and occupied a tiny storefront (basically just a kitchen with a narrow counter) around the corner from the commercial avenue. Something about it called out to me right from the start: was it the promise of flavors from an under-represented region? the British spelling? the modesty of its name?  Whatever . . . having spotted it on a dumpling outing with my good friend Shelley, I dragged Eric there on one of our bike excursions around town. (Photos exist of me slurping down cold rice noodles while wearing a helmet and padded cycling shorts, but I will not be posting them.) Continue reading

Search terms leading to this blog

google screenshot

The first time my WordPress “stats” page showed that a handful of people had stumbled on this blog via an online search, I experienced a frisson of excitement: this was the big time, for sure!  I was no longer writing just for Facebook friends and friends of friends, but for the entire Googleverse.

What kinds of search terms, I wondered, had led people here?

Thanks to WordPress’s datamongers, I can tell you. The list isn’t complete, since some searches are encrypted, but it’s still revealing. And weird:

  • bangladeshi pigeon association
  • food blogs brooklyn
  • prospect lefferts gardens blog
  • running prospect lefferts gardens
  • prospect lefferts brooklyn neighborhood
  • flatbush brooklyn blogs
  • bay ridge brooklyn blog
  • broklyn blogs
  • restaurante salvadorena continental
  • “dii stores astoria”
  • santander + thrifty
  • “cafe rokhat” chowhound
  • gino’s focacceria festival stand
  • breast cancer with lymph node involvement
  • nyc marathon 2014 wind

and finally

  • having sex in prospect park good idea

I hope this blog convinced the last searcher that the answer is generally “no.” (Still, with 2.9 million hits, there seems to be a lot of interest in the question.)


Eating 8th Avenue – Wong Good Hand Pull Noodle Restaurant

IMG_2526Another month, another avenue: for the rest of March, and possibly into April, I plan to eat my way up and down 8th Ave, Sunset Park Chinatown’s restaurant row.

This week, I had a co-eater. My daughter is visiting from Chicago, where Chinese food offerings are much more limited. She was, if anything, even more eager than I to chow down on noodles. Or pancakes. Or dumplings. Or dumplings, pancakes and noodles. Preferably at a counter in a small shop with steamed-up windows and a guy roughing up dough in front of us. Continue reading