Tag Archives: Sweet Churro

Food Gallery 32

Day One Hundred and Ninety-Two Walking the Streets of Koreatown/Midtown South/ NoNaNe February 28-March 4th 2021

I have experienced many cold but sunny days when I finished walking the Streets of Koreatown/Midtown South/NoNaNe. I have never seen so many named neighborhoods overlap one another in Manhattan. The one major thing I did observe is how the whole neighborhood is going through a rebirth and either being gutted, sandblasted or rebuilt. For a City in the throngs of COVID, I have never seen such building activity. The City continues to roll ahead without the business people and will look different when they return.

I returned to the neighborhood a few days after exploring the borders of the neighborhood on a sunny afternoon. On a cool Sunday Koreatown was in full swing a big difference from the downtown streets of Chinatown which seems to have been forgotten by office workers and tourists. It is the proximity to the southern part of Midtown, the shopping district of 34th Street, the location near Penn Station and location next to Macy’s Herald Square that keeps this area of the City vibrant. Plus a lot of Koreans who live and work near the neighborhood keep the restaurants and shops filled at all time of the day.

My day started with organizing notes in Greeley Square and using one of the few decent public bathrooms in the area where you do not have to eat anything (the other being the lower level Men’s Store at Macy’s). Still I want to let readers know that it closes by 4:30pm. Even in Greeley Square in the cold afternoons that I was there every seat was taken and as the restaurants have started to open indoor dining not every restaurant was doing it so people had to take their lunches outside in 43 degree weather.

I started my walk of the Streets of Koreatown at West 31st Street having walked the borders of West 30th Street so many times that I could start naming the buildings. Being on the cusp of Midtown South, the area transitions from the old Beaux Arts style buildings to the newer Art Deco styles that started to come in the 1930’s. This is as businesses started to move uptown.

As I rounded Sixth Avenue onto West 31st on my way to Lexington Avenue, I passed the beauty of 1234 Broadway again. This amazing Victorian building is currently being renovated back to its original glory.

1234 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and West 31st Street, a elegant Victorian building with a standout mansard roof and elaborate details on the roof and windows. I did not realize that it was the Grand Hotel built in 1868 as a residential hotel. The hotel was commissioned by Elias Higgins, a carpet manufacturer and designed by Henry Engelbert. Currently it is being renovated into apartments (Daytonian). It shows how the City keeps morphing over time as this area has become fashionable again.

1234 Broadway

1234 Broadway in all its elegance, the former Grand Hotel

Walking west to east down 31st Street revealed a treasure trove on interesting buildings and hotels with graceful architecture and richly embellished features. The first building I passed was 38 West 31st Street which I discovered is the back part of the same building. I had read some horrible reviews on TripAdvisor that this was an operating hotel. The reviews were scary to say the least.

38 West 31st Street

38 West 31st Street, the side of former Grand Hotel

Another old hotel with interesting design was at 19 West 31st Street The Luxe Life Hotel New York. This elegant building was originally the Life Magazine Building and was designed by architects Carrere & Hastings in the Beaux Arts style and built in 1895 for the magazine’s offices. The gilded design of the cherub “Winged Life” above the doorway was the symbol of the magazine. The magazine left the building during the Great Depression and was left as a residence hotel. It was renovated in 1988 as the Herald Square Hotel and now serves as the Luxe Life Hotel (Daytonian).

19 West 31st Street

19 West 31st Street-The Luxe Life Hotel New York

https://www.luxehotels.com/hotels/life-new-york

Another hotel stands out down the block with the beautiful and graceful Hotel Wolcott at 4 West 31st Street. This elegant hotel was built in 1904 by architect John H. Duncan in the French Beaux Arts and French Neo-Classical styles and was named after businessman Henry Roger Wolcott. In the beginning of its illustrious history famous guest lived here such a dancer Isadore Duncan and socialite Doris Duke. It also has a reputation of being haunted. Since 2020, it has been turned into a transitory hotel (Wiki).

Hotel Wolcott

The Hotel Wolcott at 4 West 31st Street

https://www.wolcott.com/

Reaching Fifth Avenue I noticed the beauty of 303 Fifth Avenue on the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 31st Street. This interesting building was designed by architect Buchman & Fox in the Beaux Arts style and was built in 1909. Known as the ‘Jewelry Building’, it has been home to many prominent retailers in the past such as FAO Schwarz and now serves as office and retail space (MetroManhattan).

303 Fi

303 Fifth Avenue-The Jewelry Building

Another impressive hotel is the Hotel Chandler at 12 East 31st Street. The hotel was built in 1905 by architects Buchman & Fox as the Hotel Le Marquis. The hotel was designed in the Beaux Arts style and served as a high end hotel going through major renovation in 2012. It now serves as a homeless shelter for City families during the pandemic (Hospitality History).

Chandler Hotel

12 East 31st Street-The Chandler Hotel

http://www.hotelchandler.com/

As I walked back towards the border of the neighborhood with Kips Bay at Lexington Avenue, I passed Hotel 31 at 120 East 31st Street. This recently renovated hotel was built in 1902 and was designed in the Beaux Arts style it had opened as The Dunsbro, a resident hotel. The hotel has had an interesting history until its renovation in 2007 to the Hotel 31 (Daytonian). The hotel is an interesting addition to the block of small brownstones on this tree lined block.

Hotel 31

120 East 31st Street-The Hotel 31

Hotel 31

At the end of the block as you head towards Lexington Avenue that shares the border with Kips Bay are all the old brownstones that line this part of East 31st Street. It is a reminder that it is still a residential neighborhood.

As you back down East 31st Street to Greeley Square, you pass two more impressive buildings. At 35 East 31st Street is a beautiful apartment building that was built in 1914. It looked more like it was once an office building but has been sandblasted back to life as a luxury apartment building. Look at the interesting details of this Neo-Classical Beaux Arts building.

31 East 31st Street

The final building that impressed me in their treasure trove of architectural styles was 35 East 31st Street. Built in 1904, this intricate building now houses renovated apartments.

I needed a break after walking back and forth to Kips Bay again and I stopped by my new favorite restaurant in the neighborhood Fresh Pizza and Deli at 826 Sixth Avenue and ordered an vegetable Samosa (see my review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).

Fresh Pizza & Deli

Fresh Pizza and Deli at 826 Sixth Avenue

For a dollar, it made an amazing snack that packed with flavors of the well spiced ingredients. I took my snack and relaxed in Greeley Square watching the people snake in and out of the park, heading for the Korean restaurants that line West 32nd Street. It was nice to just relax and soak up the sunshine.

The Samosas here are really good

I headed down West 32nd Street next following the crowds into the heart of Koreatown. As I walked out of Greeley Square I saw to the left the scaffolding of the old Martinique Hotel. It brought back a floor of memories and not such good ones of the days when this was a welfare hotel and was nothing but problems for the neighborhood. I remember one evening when I was working in Training Squad at Macy’s that there was a line of fire trucks in front of the hotel with people screaming out the windows at them and then all the crime at the store that was talked about. Now it sits idle awaiting it current renovation to be finished.

The former Martinique Hotel is at 49 West 32nd Street (1260-1266 Broadway). This was also built by William R. H. Martin in 1898 with the design by architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh in the French Renaissance style. The hotel had a notorious reputation in the 1970’s and 80’s as a welfare hotel that closed in 1988. It is now a Curio Hotel of Hilton Hotels (Wiki).

1260 Broadway

1260 Broadway-49 West 32nd Street-The Martinique Hotel

https://www.themartinique.com/

Next to The Martinique Hotel is the Stanford Hotel with its Beaux Arts design and intricate details. The hotel was built in 1896 by architect Ralph S. Townsend and opened as the Hotel Pierrepont. In 1986, the whole received a gut renovation and opened as the Hotel Stanford (Wiki).

43 West 32nd Street-Hotel Stanford

https://www.hotelstanford.com/

Once you pass the hotels, you are in the heart of Koreatown with all its interesting restaurants and shops. One of my favorite places to go for a snack is the Food Gallery 32 at 11 West 32nd Street.

Food Gallery 32

Food Gallery 32 at 11 West 32nd Street

https://foodgallery32nyc.com/

Ever since the City reopened indoor dining and the weather has gotten nicer, this food court has been very busy. It is so much fun to walk around and see the sites and smells of all the food vendors. You could spend about two hours just watching everyone cook and then observe what people are ordering making it harder to choose.

Many of the booths offer Korean dishes and barbeque but there is also please to buy simple but amusing looking desserts in the shape of fish and the vendor by the front door offers churro desserts and ice cream in whimsical shapes and colors. They are desserts for the senses. I am slowly eating my way through the food court.

My first visit to the Food Gallery, I made an exploration trip just to see what was available and took some mental notes and then on the second trip I knew where my first stop would be and I chose MaMa K-food, a stall that sells buns, croissants, Matcha Taiyaki a type of fish shaped waffle that is filled with either red bean paste, custard, cream cheese or Nutella chocolate and Delimanjoo which is a smaller version of the fish shaped treat in original or chocolate filled. I chose the Matcha Taiyaki filled with custard ($6.50-see review on TripAdvisor).The waffle was good but it was not as creamy as I thought it would be. Still it warmed me up on a cool afternoon.

MaMa

MaMa K Food at Food Gallery 32

My third trip to the food court I visited Sweet Churro for their specialty the Churro Dog ($6.50-see review on TripAdvisor). I have never had something so simple and so mind blowingly good. The stall takes a hot dog, cooks it and then wraps it in sweet churro batter and then deep fries it. When it comes out, the churro is crisp and golden brown and the hot dog crackles. Then they dip the churro in cinnamon sugar and tops it with a honey mustard glaze. I took it into Greeley Square to eat and I swear that people were observing me have a good time untangling it and happily chomping it down. It is a great combination of sweet and savory flavors.

Sweet Churros

Sweet Churros is located to the left as you walk into the Food Gallery 32

The Sweet Churro dog

Don’t miss the Sweet Churro Dog with its sweet and savory flavors

After eating my lunch that warmed me up, I continued walking down West 32nd Street past all the busy restaurants and people happily eating both outside and inside on this cool day. As I made my way to Fifth Avenue that splits the neighborhood from west to east, I passed the elegant 315 Fifth Avenue.

The Rock Building

315 Fifth Avenue-The Rock Building

The building is known as “The Rock Building” and was built in 1907 for owner Mathias Rock, a local merchant and tailor who made a fortune in his trade and had this building built for his business. The architects for the building were Maynicke & Franke and the building was a hybrid of French Classical and Beaux Arts trim with cast iron show windows and heavy decoration are the room and around the top windows (Daytonian). The beauty of this building is that it is tall and narrow and the way it fits into its space on Fifth Avenue.

Sitting at the end of the block between East 32st and East 33nd is the Design Building on Lexington Avenue at 200 Lexington Avenue on the border with Kips Bay. You have to walk the width of this building to appreciate its beauty.

The New York Design Center Building at 200 Lexington Avenue stands out for its detailed beauty and its embellishments that accent the outside of the building. It was built in 1926 and designed by architect Ely Jacques Khan as the New York Furniture Exchange. The building was to cater to furniture and department store buyers. It now caters to the full interior design experience with furniture, lighting and textiles.

200 Lexington Avenue

200 Lexington Avenue-The New York Design Center

What I love about this building is the beautiful merchandise you can see in its windows and the displays of furniture. The upper part of this neighborhood has a lot of design and home furnishings stores on the side streets.

On the way back down the block I passed the the HG Hotel at 34 East 32nd Street, one of the Small Luxury Hotels in the World. The hotel was built in 1920 as the St. Louis Hotel and was designed in the Beaux Arts style (HGU Hotel History and StreetEasy).

The HGU Hotel-34 East

34 East 32nd Street-The HG Hotel

https://www.hgunyc.com/

As I walked further down the street, I peeked over some of the scaffolding to see another interesting building being renovated at 29 East 32nd Street, The Grolier Club building. This was the second home of this private club now located at 87 East 60th Street. This building was the second home for the club and was built in 1890 and designed by architect Charles W Romeyn in the Romanesque Revival design. The club left this building in 1917 for its new home uptown (Wiki and Daytonian).

29 East 32nd Street

29 East 32nd Street-The old Grolier Club buildings

Two other hotel buildings stood out on the walk back down to the west side of 32nd Street. The first one being at 15 West 32nd Street, The Hotel at Fifth Avenue. This was the former Aberdeen Hotel. This beautiful hotel was designed by architect Harry B. Mulliken in the Beaux Arts style with immense detail and opened in 1904 as an ‘apartment hotel’ (Daytonian).

15 West 32nd Street-The Hotel at Fifth Avenue

https://www.hotelatfifthavenuenyc.com/

Crossing the street, I took a detour back to Keki Modern Cakes at 315 Fifth Avenue, a small Korean bakery that sells cream puffs and fluffy cheese cakes. I had to try one of their Milk flavored cream puffs.

The Ube Cream Puff at Keki Modern Cakes is amazing

At $4.00, these were a little pricey but the quality is excellent. The outside is crisp and sweet and the inside is a silky creamy filling. I was so impressed that I came back at second time to try the Ube version of the cream puff and was told that it is a type of sweet potato. This version had a sweet purple cream inside.

Keki Modern Cakes

Keki Modern Cakes at 315 Fifth Avenue

Having a little sugar inside me gave me that extra boost of energy and turned the corner to walk down West 33rd Street. Here’s where the architecture starts to change from the beautiful Beaux Arts buildings of the lower 30’s to the more Art Deco style and contemporary designs of the progress of the neighborhood.

There were still the holdouts with the Herald Towers, the old Hotel McAlpin, 1282-1300 Broadway once the largest hotel in the world. The hotel was built in 1912 by architect Frank Mills Andrews for hotelier General Edwin A. Alpin. The hotel had the most modern touches of its era and remained a hotel until it was converted into apartments in the 1980’s (Wiki).

McAlpin Hotel

1282-1300 Broadway-The Herald Towers/McAlpin Hotel

Across the street is 1270 Broadway

1270 Broadway

1270 Broadway, known once as the Wilson Building, was built between 1912 and 1913 in the class Beaux Arts style. It now serves as an office building. You have to look up from the square to admire its beauty.

Still the most amazing building in the neighborhood is the Empire State Building on the corner of Fifth Avenue between West 33rd and 34th Streets. It’s the most impressive and well known building in the neighborhood is the former tallest building in the world at 102 floors, the Empire State Building at 2-20 West 34th Street.

The Empire State Building is probably the most famous building in New York City outside of maybe Rockefeller Center and one of the most prominent. The building sits on the side of the former Astor Mansion and the first Waldorf-Astoria Hotel before the current one was built in the 1930’s on Park Avenue.

The Empire State Building was inspired during the “Race to the Sky” movement in New York City during the 1920’s prosperity with builders vying for the “World’s Tallest Building” title. This was going on in cities all over the US at a time of great innovation in building. The building was conceived in 1929 long before the Stock Market Crash of 1929 as 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building were being constructed (Wiki).

Empire State Building

The Empire State building at 20 West 34th Street

https://www.esbnyc.com/

The building is known just by its appearance and is probably best known for the movie “King Kong” back in the 1930’s and most recently “Sleepless in Seattle” in the 1990’s. The movies don’t do the building justice from its sky decks with views of Manhattan and beautiful Art Deco details on the elevators and in the lobby. The 102 story building is one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Modern World’ and was the tallest building in the world until the World Trade Center opened in 1970 (Wiki). It is now the second tallest building in New York City.

The famous clip of the original “King Kong”

The security has gotten tighter around the building lately so you have to move quickly if you are going to take pictures. The Skydeck and the Museum at the Empire State Building just reopened and is opened with timed tickets.

I ended back at Lexington Avenue on the other side of the Design Building and then turned around as it started to get dark that evening. This is where the neighborhood starts to modernize with newer buildings along Park and Madison Avenue and the parts in between East 33rd Street.

I got back to Greeley Square as the sun started to go down. On my first night in the neighborhood before indoor dining opened, I stopped at BBQ Chicken Ktown at 25 West 32nd Street for dinner.

BBQ Chicken Ktown

BBQ Chicken Ktown at 25 West 32nd Street

They have a nice assortment of to go dinners and I grabbed a box of their Honey Garlic Glazed Chicken ($6.50). It was delicious and on a cold night was the perfect dinner. The only problem was I had to eat it on stone barrier in Greeley Square and it must have been 32 degrees and windy that night. Still the sticky sweetness of the chicken pieces warmed me up as the wind whipped by.

Honey Garlic Glazed Chicken

The Honey Garlic Glazed Chicken is delicious

On another trip to finish the neighborhood, I stopped at Teso Life at 1265 Broadway just off Greeley Square. This small but unique Japanese department store carries all sorts of cosmetic and care products on the first and second floor. On the second floor, it has a snack and small grocery department where they have the best assortment of unusual bagged snacks. I grabbed two bags of snacks, Wagaya Corn Hot & Salty puffs ($1.39) and Sanko Karikari Twist Cheese Swirls ($1.99). They were salty and savory and I devoured both bags in record time. I love it when you find such unique places to shop.

Teso Life Department Store

The Snack department at Teso Life Department store

When visiting Koreatown/Midtown South it offers such a distinct amount of experiences. You are seeing the old mix with the new in this ever changing neighborhood. Koreatown has expanded its original borders from West 32nd and 33rd Streets from Sixth to Fifth Avenues to almost Park Avenue with some new restaurants bordering Lexington Avenue.

NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) is expanding as well to what was once called Herald Square and Greeley Square with the ongoing renovation of the older buildings for newer businesses. The neighborhood is coming full circle again as the center for the Tech and Media industries and the expansion of the City’s colleges.

The old is becoming new again!

Read my other blogs on Exploring Koreatown/Midtown South/NoNaNe:

The Borders of the Neighborhood:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16912

The Avenues of the Neighborhood:

Places to visit:

Greeley Square

Between 33rd and 32nd Streets/Broadway to Sixth Avenue

New York , NY 10001

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/greeley-square-park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/greeley-square-park/history

Open: Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d3529407-Reviews-Greeley_Square_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

The Empire State Building/Skydeck and Museum

20 West 34th Street

New York, NY 10001

(212) 736-3100

https://www.esbnyc.com/

https://www.esbnyc.com/buy-tickets

Open: Sunday-Saturday 1:00pm-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d104365-Reviews-Empire_State_Building-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Teso Life Department Store

1265 Broadway

New York, NY 10001

https://www.tesolife.com/en/local-stores

(917)409-0462

Open: Sunday-Saturday 12:00pm-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

Places to Eat:

Fresh Pizza & Deli

876 Sixth Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 779-7498

https://99centsfreshpizzaanddelinewyork.mybistro.online/

Open: Sunday-Friday 6:00am-12:00am/Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d23125364-Reviews-Fresh_Pizza_And_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/2000

Food Gallery 32

11 West 32nd Street

New York, NY 10001

(718) 210-6577

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm

https://foodgallery32nyc.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d2306797-r783758087-Food_Gallery_32-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Sweet Churro

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d15173948-r784500382-Sweet_Churros-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

MaMa K Food

My review on TripAdvisor:

Keki Modern Cakes

315 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10016

(212) 889-0251

https://www.kekimoderncakes.com/locations

Open: Sunday-Thursday 12:00pm-7:00pm/Friday and Saturday 12:00pm-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d14208455-Reviews-Keki_Modern_Cakes-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

BBQ Chicken KTown

25 West 32nd Street

New York, NY 10001

https://bbqktownnyc.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d14990480-r782553557-BB_Q-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905