Today is Chinese New Year, so B, E, and I decided to head down to Chinatown for the festivities. Today we made a group decision to drive into the city. One, it’s friggin’ cold. Two, it’s Sunday, so street parking (when found) is free. So we get E’s car out of the frozen slush it’s parked in, pile in, and head for the Holland Tunnel.
Lucky us, we do manage to find street parking, and not too far from Little Italy or Chinatown. We bundle up and start walking.
First stop, we decide we need coffee and treats. So we head for Ferrara, who E swears has the best cannolis on earth. Unfortunately, I can’t vouch for them, because there was an hour wait for a table. But I can confirm that they have very nice bathrooms.
On into Chinatown. It was insanity. People everywhere, streamers and confetti in the streets, dragons and drums and cymbals, it’s insanity, I tell you. Insanity. We wander for awhile, and then start looking for food. E leads us to a place that has 5 dumplings for a dollar. One dollar. That’s it for 5 dumplings from heaven. We got 10 and split them. A nice appetizer.
Next stop, buns. We head to the Mei Lai Wah coffeehouse and bakery. We decide to go for a table, although it’s not exactly warm in the shop with people coming in and out for take-away. There’s 4 old men behind the counter, and 2 old ladies running around taking orders from people and giving orders to the men. E orders coffee and a plain roll with butter. B orders Horlick’s (a hot malt, kind of like Ovaltine) and I order coffee. We also ask for 2 steamed pork buns and coconut buns. We’re told they have no coconut buns and it will be a 10 minute wait for the pork buns. OK. We’ll wait. In the meantime, let’s have 2 orders of those deep-fried wonton bowties with honey. They disappear fast. Fifteen minutes later, we ask about our buns…10 more minutes. OK. We’ll wait. 10 minutes later, we’re still waiting. The people that come in behind us also ask for coconut buns and steamed pork buns. They are also told a 10 minute wait for the steamed pork buns, but they get coconut buns, and from a different lady than we have. So we wait a bit more. We inquire again, and are told 10 more minutes. OK. We give up. We get two more bowties to go, pay and head out, in search of pork buns and coconut buns.
We stop at every bakery along the way, and everyone is out of coconut buns. We are in Chinatown, searching for a Chinese restaurant that has steamed pork buns and coconut buns. Ironically, we have NO luck. None. The cold rapidly turning our feet into ice, we admit defeat and head for the car to drive to another part of the city for dinner. We end up at a great little Cuban place called Cafe Habana and get some burritos. Our tummies full, we head for Magnolia Bakery again. This time for Ice Box cake. Layers of chocolate wafers and whipped cream. We start drooling before we even leave the Bakery.
Our quarry safely secured in the car, the heat on high to thaw our toes, we find our way back to the Holland Tunnel. This requires several conversations including the following: “NO, not the Lincoln Tunnel!” and “The Lincoln Tunnel signs are green, the Holland Tunnel signs are brown” and “Alternate merge, dammit! Alternate merge! Let me in, motherf**ker!” and finally, “Stop tail gating me, you dirty little b*tch!”.
Once we make it safely back to New Jersey, we have to find our way back to the house. This is not simple. From the backseat, I listened to the following:
B: “Uh, E, this is a two way street.”
E: “Oh, yeah. Sorry.”
Thank God there was no oncoming traffic.