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Paan and the city

There is a bunch of weird looking stuff (not really sure what) wrapped in a betel leaf and you eat it. Think of it as a lettuce wrap but instead with a betel leaf. That’s pretty much all I know about the making of “Paan”.

If you ever go to India, you will find what Indians call a “paan ka galla” on about every street corner (kinda like dunkin donuts in NY). It’s a small little shack that sells candy, cigarettes but most importantly Paan!! Indians love Paan. While there are many that have a Paan after every meal as a mouth freshener, for my family it was more like a once in a month outing after dinner where the whole family took a drive out to our favorite “paan ka galla” to get ourselves paan. Now the concept of eating a stuffed leaf sounds weird, looks even weirder, but I gotta admit, it tastes amazing.

A good (or bad) thing about living on the east coast is that there is no shortage of Indians here. This also means that where you find Indians, you are also likely to find a … You guessed it right , a “paan ka galla”. I found one such “paan ka galla” in curry hill called Charlie’s paan shop (25th and Lexington). For those of you in the area trying out some Indian food, definitely head over there after dinner for some paan.


The Yard @ SoHo Grand Hotel – The Perfect Summer Hangout Place in NYC

Cute waitresses, good drinks, located in the happening neighborhood of SoHo and last but not the least, its outdoors!!! Ladies and Gentleman, say hello to “The Yard”.

Now some of you that actually read my “About me” section know that I just moved to NY (Shame on the rest of you for not reading it!!!!). Prior to moving here, I lived in Seattle for 5 years. And as most of you might have heard, living in Seattle = NO SUNSHINE FOR MOST OF THE YEAR. So most people from Seattle really learn to appreciate the summer because its pretty much the only time of the year when you actually see sunshine. As such, I try to go to as many summer friendly places as I can so that I can soak up the sun and enjoy the good weather. The Yard definitely serves this cause. It doesn’t have blaring music; so you can actually enjoy a conversation, and at the same time, is outdoors, so you can enjoy the weather as well.

Drinks are a bit on the expensive side (mixed drinks cost about $14) and the food comes in small portions…but hey, thats a small price to pay for a good summer joint and some eye candy walking around. I am looking into finding a lot more of these summer friendly places, so if you have any suggestions, leave a comment and let me know.

P.S…. I wish I had taken a camera. Totally forgot to. Photo below is one I found online.

Hookah in the city!! – Falucka

This is one of the 3 hookah places I have been to in the city and by far my favorite. Its really hard to pin point what I like about the place other than the fact that it has a good vibe. The music here is good (mixed variety with lots of international music) and the staff is friendly. Hoohahs range at about $15 and drinks aren’t that expensive either. And how can I forget, its right next to Mac Dougal Street. And if you are not sure why thats such an awesome thing, read my blog post about Mac Dougal and Bleecker. Over all, if you want a good place to unwind after work and hookah is your thing, then check this place out. Place isn’t too crowded, but gets packed very fast after 11 on Thursdays-Saturdays.

BTW, the place has extremely small bathrooms, that start getting pretty nasty pretty quick as the night progresses…so empty your bladder out somewhere else if you are a germaphobe.

The pictures below make the place look lit up but that’s only because of the flash. The lights are pretty dim at Falucka which gives you the feeling of sitting in a middle eastern tent enjoying hookah as the sun goes down!

P.S….Thanks for the pics Daphne! Your camera rocks!

MacDougal and Bleecker

I have been waiting to write this blog entry for a long time as this is by far one of my most favorite spots to hang out in NY!! The stretch of MacDougal street, right by the intersection of MacDougal and Bleecker is hands down my favorite part of NYC! Falafel Sandwiches, Kati rolls, Crepes, awesome bars, cheap drinks, this area has it all.

Mamoun’s Falafel Restaurant [http://www.mamouns.com/]: Best Falafels I have ever had. Having grown up in the middle east, I can comfortably say that I have tried Falafel sandwiches at a lot of places. Been eating them over the years, but to this date, no Falafel sandwich has blown me away like the one at Mamoun’s. At first, I was like, yeh this is good. But now its almost like an addiction. Guys and gals…definitely check out mamoun’s. They are open till late (and almost always have a line that runs out the store). Oh..and beware of the infamous hot sauce. Only for the brave!!

Kati Roll [http://www.thekatirollcompany.com/]: Kati roll is an indian food item that this particular restaurant is famous for and is the only thing it serves. Its a tortilla wrapped with either meat, or eggs or beans or cheese inside. Their menu is fairly simple – you have a variety of 10 Kati rolls to choose from. If you like spice, but don’t want too much of it, its the perfect place! And if you are drunk, this will definitely hit the spot. And lets not forget that its tightly wrapped in a tortilla, so your drunk senses will definitely be able to handle a kati roll without making a mess.

Creperie [http://www.creperienyc.com/]: This is by far the most famous out of the 3 restaurants I mention in this post. Whether you want a crepe for lunch, dinner or dessert, they have it all. They have a VERY large selection of Crepes to chose from. I recommend #45 which is the smores crepe. I also see a lot of people order the ‘famous crepe’, which I guess is appropriately named :). Creperie has had a lot of media coverage including being featured on the food network. It is also frequented by celebrities (I have yet to spot one) [http://www.creperienyc.com/celebrities.html]. BTW, did you notice Scarlett Johhanason on their celebrities page…yumm! I would love to spot her there!

Over all, if you are a food lover, this is the spot to be. Cheap food, fun people, zero drama (except that one time some drunk kid tried to pick a fight with me)!

Trip to Six Flags!!

One word…ROLLERCOASTERS!!! (BTW, I wasn’t sure if rollercoaster was 1 word or two words..but dictionary.com confirmed that it can be either 🙂 Just an FYI for those that might be curious like I ).

This weekend, we decided to take a trip out to Six Flags in Jackson, NJ for our one year wedding anniversary. It was about an hour and a half drive. I hadn’t been on a rollercoaster since Six Flags in LA in 2003, so I was super excited! The Six Flags in NJ is actually a 3 in 1 package! It has a theme park, drive thru Safari and a water park. All 3 can’t be really covered in 1 day, but if you go early enough, you can definitely couple the Safari with either the theme park or water park.

The worst park of theme parks is the wait time for all the rides..some of these rides have up to a 3 hour wait. So here is a word of advise…get the flash pass! Totally worth it! We were able get through almost all the roller coasters in the park in less than 4 hours. I am not going to say much because I don’t want to ruin the ride experience for other people, but definitely try the Nitro and the Kingda Ka.

Next, we went to check out the drive thru Safari. If you have theme park tickets, the safari only costs $10 per person. Apparently its the biggest drive thru Safari outside Africa (4.5 miles). We stopped plenty to look at the animals, so it took us a whole hour and a half to complete it. Its a combination of animals out in the open, and animals in enclosures. The obvious ones such as tigers, lions, elephants are in enclosures, but the giraffes, rhinos, zebras, bisons, bears are out in the open and even walk up to your car. Check out all the pictures and videos below. Overall, a day spent well with tons to do and lots of fun!

Columbus Circle

Its the point from which all distances to and from New York City are measured…..Ladies and Gentleman…I’d like to introduce you to the Columbus Circle!

A couple of weekends back, we had some relatives visiting. And being the good hosts that we are, we decided to take them to some of the touristy spots in NY. Having been to NY a couple of times already, they had covered most of the major tourist spots. Somehow, we ended up deciding to go to Columbus circle. I had never been there and neither had they….so off we went to check it out.

When we got there, I realized that I had driven past the Columbus circle in the past, but had never actually stopped there. I wish I had because there is a ton to do there! From fine dining to shopping to just relaxing while reading a book!

At the center of it all is a monument. There is a lot of seating all around the monument, perfect for some afternoon reading (when its not so darn hot outside). There are also some rooftop restaurants close by that overlook the Columbus Circle. There is also a pretty big mall right across for some shopping. And for those of you that are geeks like me and don’t want to quite shop at the mall, you can pass time by taking pictures with the big lady (look below) or venture out to the Samsung store and check out their 3D TV and home theater set up.

All in all..the Columbus Circle is one of those places that you could take your friends and relative to when they come visit and at the same time, enjoy yourself. And not to forget, its close to Central Park..so maybe combine some shopping, reading and tourism in the same day without having to walk much.

Blogs..! Blogs..! Blogs..!

If you want to learn more about a city you have just moved to…look for some of the top bloggers in your area. I have recently started following some NY bloggers that blog about different aspects of NY. For example, AGuyWalksInto365Bars [http://www.aguywalksinto365bars.com] is literally a blog about a guy that will be walking into 365 bars this year (1 every day). The type of bars he goes to are very varied and so are his experiences. Its a really fun blog to read. Check out the rules of his visits as well. They are awesome. For example, one of his rules is that if he misses even a single day, he has to start back on day 1. Another rule is that he has to have at least 3 drinks at each bar (multiply that by 365 and thats a whole lot of drinks in one year).

Another blog I have started to love is the ‘New York Daily Photo’. The idea behind the blog is very simple, yet so innovative. Every day, a new photo, taken somewhere in NY is posted to the blog, and with it is some related information. One of my fav posts from his recent blog entries is one about New York’s infamous apartment hotels such as Hotel Carlyle [http://newyorkdailyphoto.blogspot.com/2010/07/carlyle.html] where the likes of the Kennedy’s, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra have had orgies!!….Only in New York!! 🙂

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