Adventures in Eating & Cooking
After 6 years, it’s good to be back in my hometown, NYC!~ Right in time to send my Unnie off for her trip to her hometown, Seoul, Korea. It all comes full circle. And what better way to catch up and celebrate than supper at St. Mark’s Place?! I love this random rambunctious NYU college neighborhood. It’s a fun cultural hub of trending ethnic foods. Not as crazy diverse as some of the mom & pop shops in Queens, but more accessible and in-style!
We finally went to the famous Veselka (becenka) – a half-deli, half-sit-down Ukrainian 24-hr diner. (Conveniently located by NYU to allow drunken/high college students to stuff their faces in the middle of the night.) Unnie and I split a bunch of goodies – starting off with the Meat-Stuffed Cabbage. This tasted like really down-to-earth, Ukrainian grandmom’s comfort food. The cabbage was stuffed with ground meat & rice, smothered in a home-cooked gravy. This dish was reminiscent of the Shanghainese dish 狮子头 (literally translated to lion’s head), a soy-sauce-based, softly simmered meatball. Veselka’s Meat-Stuffed Cabbage tasted similar because the meatball-rice mixture is extremely tender and soft.
And of course, we haaaad to try the award-winning pierogis! This comes with seven fillings, which we had trouble deciphering from the menu. We decided on potato, sweet potato, spinach & cheese, sauerkraut & mushroom. They were all very delicious!!! Of course, I have a soft spot for the traditional potato pierogi, because who doesn’t love CARB WRAPPED IN MORE CARB?! Those Eastern Europeans are geniuses (though the potato pierogi likely developed from a need rather than a want since there wasn’t anything except for carb to eat back in the day…) But still – potato pierogis = yum!
Feeling adventurous, I prodded Unnie to share a Cold Borscht with me as well. Despite the bright pink, radioactive appearance, this soup has none of that artificial food coloring. It is the beets which comprise the base of this soup, that produces the magenta hue and earthy aromatic scent.
For dessert we went to Snowdays, a new face at St. Mark’s Place that looks like it’s hear to stay! Opened in 2014, this cute shop specializes in super-soft Taiwanese shaved ice with a modern-Asian fusion twist~ There’s a wide selection of shaved ice flavors – ranging from East (black sesame) to West (NY cheesecake). The best!~ I tried the Made in Taiwan cup consisting of matcha shaved ice, grass jelly, mochi, and condensed milk. What elevates Snowdays from the rest is the consistency of the shaved ice – so soft, fluffy, and light that it tastes almost like a custardy ice cream. I was astounded that it wasn’t. Toppings are top-notch and fresh with soft, chewy mochi and cool grass jelly. Snowdays has me hooked, and I’ll be glad for a second visit when I’m in the neighborhood~