The past two weekends I’ve been fortunate enough to attend weddings that actually had really good food. Last weekend it was my cousin’s wedding where the ceremony was held at a church in the luxe neighborhood of Forest Hills Gardens (voted the #1 cottage community in the U.S., whatever that means). I knew the neighborhood well because it’s just a few blocks from where Stoopid Viv used to live, so I took advantage of my local knowledge by taking my nieces and nephews to Eddie’s Sweet Shop after the ceremony. As some of you know, that’s my favorite ice cream place in NY, because it is got the authentic 1950’s ice cream parlor/soda jerk feel, and their orange and raspberry freezes are to die for.
After loading up on ice cream we headed over to the banquet at East Manor in my old hood, Elmhurst. East is a chain known for their great buffet food (imagine a buffet with things like peking duck!), but this banquet was held in traditional sit-down fashion in the upstairs dining room. I’ve been to countless Chinese banquets in my day, to the point where they usually feel like total non-events to me. In fact, when food at one of these things is actually good it surprises me, as it did during Dawg’s banquet at Tony Lin’s down in MD. East Manor was the same; surprisingly good considering it was the usual traditional dishes. But somehow the details were just better all around. The greens were sweeter and crisper, the fried items not greasy, and the meat was of a higher quality than at any other banquet I’ve ever been to. I’m convinced, if I ever host a banquet, East Manor will be the place.
This past weekend was Henry and Melinda’s wedding at the Desmond Tutu Center in Manhattan. It was a quaint outdoor setting almost like a dormitory quad, but it was too darn cold and there were probably four times as many people in attendance as there were chairs. By the end of the ceremony everyone was freezing and we all rushed inside for the reception. Apparently the event was organized exactly the way they would have done it in Korea; everything from the way the mailed invites requested no rsvp’s to the traditional outfits and ceremony in the middle of the reception hall. Most importantly to me, it was also buffet style with assigned seats like it would be at a traditional Korean wedding. And boy was it a nice spread. The line to get food was long and slow but well worth the wait. There was plenty of kalbi, jop chae, sushi, mussels, king crab legs, different types of kimchi and on and on and on. The open bar also featured McCallan 12yr, so we dipped into that pretty good as well. It was a really nice wedding and the highlight was Henry getting on stage with his acoustic guitar and serenading Melinda with a Korean love song. Even though I didn’t understand a single word, I thought he did an awesome job. It was really sweet moment for a really great couple.
After the wedding we hit The Park for some more drinks before calling it a night. Ricky and Kat let me crash at their place again (thanks to their hospitality, I can now actually drink till all hours with everyone instead of always leaving early to catch the last train home) which was perfect because it set up a morning trip to Ippudo Ramen! This is the second time we’ve done this Ippudo-as-hangover-remedy routine, so I think we’ve got ourselves a nice little ritual now. Kat has been trying to get over a cough for a while now and that mega-pork soup at Ippudo was the perfect thing for it. We got to the restaurant right as they opened and were seated immediately. Only one person was ahead of us and as we walked in I happened to notice who it was- none other than the legendary restaurant impresario Drew Nieporent. He ate quickly, finishing up and leaving just as we started tucking into our ramen. Just as I was slurping my soup and thinking how cool it is was that Drew Nieporent was there, I looked up from my bowl and who did I see getting seated at the table in front of us? Holy cow, it was restaurant critic Alan Richman! He looked kind of tired and worn out, like he didn’t really want to wake up early to go eat ramen that day. Or who knows, maybe he had just been drinking the night before too. But one thing’s for sure, if you’re in the industry, or if you just don’t want to wait two hours for a seat, apparently the time to go to Ippudo is for lunch on a rainy Sunday.