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First Road Trip! Dim Sum and More in New York


cucas87
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We have decided to take our dim sum expedition on the road to see how our local dim sum favorites compare to a hot NYC dim sum spot. Our plan is to make a one day trip to NYC for dim sum. We hope you can join us. So, check your calendars and see if you can make it on Saturday, June 23rd for a NYC dim sum adventure.

Please note: we plan to travel to NYC by Amtrak and/or bus, not by car or caravan. It looks like we could take an early morning train or bus on Saturday and return home on Saturday night and still have enough time to have a great lunch, some gelato, maybe some NY pizza, get in some NYC shopping and then make it back to DC in time to recover on Sunday. Of course, people are welcome to stay over in the City and make a weekend of it. Since we all may not be traveling together, we'll be sure to coordinate our travel arrangements so that we all meet up in NYC.

We'll provide more travel information later, but for general information, Greyhound buses run from a location nearby to Union Station and a round trip bus ticket (absent a special promotion) costs approximately $69 (or $59 with a 3 day advance purchase). Roundtrip Amtrak tickets cost between $154 and $180 (or 10 percent less with a 3 day advance purchase and proof of AAA membership).

We plan to have dim sum at:

Dim Sum a Go Go

5 E. Broadway, New York, NY 10038 (between Catherine St. and Chatham Sq.)

212-732-0797

And we may just have to stop for some gelato at:

Il Laboratorio del Gelato

95 Orchard St. (between Broome & Delancey Sts)

212 343 9922

http://www.laboratoriodelgelato.com/

Please respond here in this thread if you are interested in joining the trip so that we can get an idea of how many people (including friends and/or guests) are interested. Finally, if anyone has other ideas about things to do in NYC while we are there, please suggest them here in this thread. And of course, if you have any specific questions about the trip, feel free to PM me.

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Sadly, I can't go on this trip, but I thought I'd mention that another bus option that I really enjoy. It's called Vamoose, and it's the nicest DC-to-NY bus that I've found. It's $25 each way, and it picks up in Arlington (Rosslyn) and Bethesda. It also drops you off at Penn Station in NYC, which is (in my opinion) WAY better than Port Authority. The buses are pretty darned clean and new (they usually show a movie), and the drivers/staff are really nice and helpful. I've ridden probably 5-6 times now, and it's always been a great experience.

Since the company is run by Hasidic Jews, their service is somewhat limited on Saturdays. However, they do have a 7:30 AM departure from Rosslyn (8 AM from Bethesda, as it is the same bus), and the return leg leaves Penn Station at 4:30 PM. So, if you're planning on a dim sum lunch, it's certainly something to consider. Let me know if you have any questions.

Enjoy! Wish I could join you...

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Sadly, I can't go on this trip, but I thought I'd mention that another bus option that I really enjoy. It's called Vamoose, and it's the nicest DC-to-NY bus that I've found.

Thanks for the information, that's great! Sorry we'll miss you.

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I'll be there, along with some local friends who love Dim Sum Go Go.

Dim Sum Go Go is one of my favorite ways to start a NY Chinatown adventure. I will also be making a stop at Shanghai Cafe for an order of soup dumplings at some point.

I've never tried Il Laboratorio del Gelato. Too many great (and unusual) sounding flavors to choose from!

thai chili chocolate

toasted sesame

bourbon pecan

corbezzolo honey

rose petal

tarragon with pink pepper

cinnamon with red pepper

mexican cinnamon basil

apple calvados

prune armagnac

cheddar cheese

aromatic bitters

avocado

cajeta

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I don't think I can join this expedition, but here's What I Would Do If I Were Your Cruise Director:

(1) Bus up cheap. Greyhound offers a $20 one-way / $35 roundtrip special online fare using coupon code "NYDCR". You must book online; the counter agents in DC will not sell you this fare. If you're buying last-minute and the system won't offer you the schedule you want, buy ANY schedule but show up for the one you want anyway, because Greyhound does not restrict seats to the particular time on an unused ticket, only the route. Ideally you'd want to catch the 7am bus (scheduled to arrive at 11:30), which is operated as a Peter Pan Lines bus - far nicer than the usual Greyhound service. Equipment is almost as nice as a Vamoose bus, best bus drivers I've seen anywhere, and they show a movie. Obvious downside: you'll need a ride, or a cab. The DC Greyhound terminal is actually equidistant between the Union Station and New York Ave metro stops, and metrorail doesn't open until 7am on weekends anyway.

(2) Stay out late. Heck, you're in NYC on a Saturday night! Besides, 10+ hours is a long time to sit in a bus seat for a mere afternoon of romping.

(3) Train back overnight and stretch out. Amtrak has a 3 am departure from NYC Penn Station arriving at 7:10 in DC. At the moment, it's a $67 fare, $61 with AAA discount.

Additional food ideas:

I enjoyed Dim Sum A-Go-Go last fall, but don't expect it to kick DC to the curb. After your meal, other things to do in Chinatown: quest for even better xiao long bao along the Mott St corridor, hit the numerous Chinese bakeries (which ARE extraordinary), or maybe even detour to investigate the "real" Chinatown in Flushing, Queens. When Gubeen visited Peter Chang's new place in Atlanta, she commented to the co-owner that we could no longer find Szechuan of this quality anywhere else. His response: "no, there is one place in Queens..."

Go wine shopping. Jake will tell you that in NYC, you only really need to know Chambers Street Wines, and Astor Wines & Spirits. If visiting the latter, hop around the corner for a cream puff from Beard Papa's.

One pizza combo of choice is to somehow beat the long tourist lines at Lombardi's (in NOLITA), which claims to be America's oldest pizzeria, and finish up across the street at Rice-to-Riches. Alternately, cross over to Brooklyn to pick up dessert first at Jacques Torres, then you'll have something to eat while heading two blocks over to wait for a table Grimaldi's Pizzeria.

For a nightcap: superb cocktails at Pegu Club (SoHo), or spirits straight-up from the extensive list at the Brandy Library (TriBeCa).

Hope that helps :blink:

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I just read in a Frommers newsletter that there are some good Amtrak discount codes that may help with this trip. According to Frommers, you still may need to purchase tickets 3 days in advance to take advantage of the fares. I haven't tried to use these codes myself but I will certainly look into them as the dim sum trip approaches:

"Within the Northeast Corridor -- that's Boston to Washington, including the branch up to Springfield, Mass. -- V688 will get you 20% off tickets on regular reserved regional trains (no Acelas) through December 13. That's a terrific deal, one of the best we've seen in a while.

Friends Let Friends Ride Amtrak

There's a slew of codes all of which promise 50% off a companion ticket (that's 25% off each of two tickets) in the Northeast Corridor, which stretches from Portland, ME down to Newport News, Virginia, with branches out to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Albany, NY. V769, V679, and V383 all supposedly work for travel until December 13, so if one doesn't work, try a different one of the trio."

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We're going to Dim Sum Go Go this time, but if somebody would like to take the lead in organizing another trip to NY, to go to HSF (46 Bowery), or some other favorite, by all means please let us know. I'd love for this to be a semi-regular trek.

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Update: we will be meeting tomorrow at 1:00 at Dim Sum Go Go at 5 East Broadway (between Catherine and Chatham). A few people have said that they might be able to join us; we are happy to have more company. If you think you can make it, please PM me so we can get an accurate headcount. See you tomorrow!

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Update: we will be meeting tomorrow at 1:00 at Dim Sum Go Go at 5 East Broadway (between Catherine and Chatham). A few people have said that they might be able to join us; we are happy to have more company. If you think you can make it, please PM me so we can get an accurate headcount. See you tomorrow!
sorry, we won't be there- we've got to stay close to home as we're traveling most of next week to go to chicago, find an apartment and sign a lease.
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We had a great time yesterday in NYC. I hope that we were the advance team and that we'll do this again in the fall at a time when some other folks will be able to join in because with more people we could try more dim sum. Rest assured, we did our best to tackle the menu (and we had help from some friends and family).

First on the logistics: I took the Vamoose Bus from Rosslyn. The bus stop is very convenient to me but Vamoose has very limited service on Saturdays (only one bus to NYC and one bus back to DC). The ride was comfortable and easy but we got into NYC almost an hour later than we were scheduled to -- a combination of leaving late and making a stop along the way at a rest stop on 95. If you need to be in NYC by noon or 12:30, the 7:45 departure from Rosslyn is not necessarily going to get you there in time. Also, the return bus home left NYC for DC at 4:30, which was too early for my taste, especially since we had arrived later than expected. (Oddly, my bus did not make a stop on the way back to DC). There are, of course, other bus services and Amtrak, but for this first dim sum expedition I wanted to test Vamoose. {FYI, Crackers had a very good experience on Greyhound and she pointed out that Greyhound has a full schedule on Saturdays, so that seems to be a good option.) My cost: $50 roundtrip.

We had a lot of dim sum at Dim Sum Go Go and it was all very good. I was happy to see that there were a lot of vegetable dumplings, and they were delicious. I loved the mushroom dumplings and in a non-vegetarian category, the duck dumplings were scrumptious. Everything we had was very fresh and light. At DSGG there are no carts but the upside of that is that when the dumplings come to the table, they are piping hot. I will absolutely go back.

We followed up dim sum with a quick walk to get gelato at Il Laboratorio. By the time we got there they had sold out of the toasted sesame gelato (cue the violins), so I had to content myself with the following 3 flavors: basil, dulce de leche, and coconut. The winner was the basil. It was delicious and suprising and, thankfully, not overly sweet. I had ordered thinking that I would prefer basil sorbet to ice cream, but I'm happy to say I was wrong.

Unfortunately I was out of time by then and had just enough time to get back to the bus. I would love to do this again, but at a more leisurely pace.

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I took Vamoose back last night on the 4 PM. Couple of pointers for travelers on the cheap: 1) if you're on a timetable, take Amtrak...it seems to be the only method of transport to & from the City that gets you there close to estimated time; 2) if you're hoping to take the bus so you don't have to make multiple stops along the way, be sure to adjust travel time to include at least three traffic stopages on 95, a 20 minute dinner break at a mad crazy "rest" stop in Delaware, and a 25 minute detour inside the beltway to drop off for passengers in Bethesda if you're going to the Arlington stop; and 3) be sure to stop at Zabars or Fairway on your way down to Penn Station to load up on snacks for the 6 1/2 hour trip home so you aren't stuck with a salad & mega cookie from Sbarro. ;)

Next time I'm spending the extra cash & taking the train roundtrip.

PS - To make this food related, I had great adventures at Bar Veloce in the East Village (a glass of Tocai and some charcuterie), fresh & affordable sushi at a place on 9th Street, an amazing private tasting of Four Vines wines (the Biker was delicious but Dousi is the hands-down favorite), a breakfast feast of H&H bagels with Nova & shmear from Zabars, and a heaping pastrami sandwich with half-sours at Artie's. Only low-light (which wasn't so bad) was brunch at French Roast on the West Side which was a smoked salmon hash with poached eggs. Eggs were overdone, there was WAY too much salmon and the bread was stale.

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My road trip turned out best it sounds like. Parked the car (free all weekend) at New Carrollton Metro garage. Greyhound Bus arrived on the dot to pick us up. New bus, 10 passengers, plush reclining seats, quiet ride up without a single stop and pulled into Port Authority 15 minutes early. Hopped on the R train and was at Canal Street about four hours after I got on the bus in Maryland. $23. Return trip on Sunday was almost as effortless: a full bus, but very respectful and quiet, smooth and air conditioned. There was the usual Delaware toll back up, but the driver did a work-around and we got back to Maryland non-stop in slightly over four hours. $23. No complaints here!

The dim sum at DSGG was excellent. We ordered mostly from the steamed dumpling lists, both vegetarian and meat/poultry/seafood. We had rice roll with shrimp, shrimp dumplings, shui mai, chives and shrimp dumplings, duck dumplings mushroom dumplings, chicken with sticky rice in lotus leaf, Chinese parsley dumplings, steamed bao...whatelse??? Fresh mango pudding for dessert that was new to me and a real winner. On the fried side we tried the shrimp and mango rolls which were delightful, and we started with some fresh Chinese broccoli. They had run out of the roast pork buns by the time we wanted to order them at 2pm. We had a reserved large round table in the center of the room. It was a bit loud to be talking across the table, but what a feeding frenzy! I will post some photos later.

At the gelateria, my selectioins were hazelnut and blackberry. Both were very good, but the blackberry didn't pack a full flavor punch like the hazelnut, nor the unique kick of cucas87's basil.

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Sorry to chime in so late, as you've already gone...but since it sounds like you may do this again....

1. Take the Chinatown bus. Cheap and it drops you off in Chinatown.

2. Plan your return visit during the Feast of San Gennaro. http://www.sangennaro.org/

We did this two years ago (albeit we didn't take the bus as my family lives up there). We met friends for dim sum, then wandered around Little Italy stuffing our faces, and THEN went over to the Lower East Side (what's left of it) paying homage to Russ and Daughters (best smoked fish in the world, halvah, bialys), the Pickle Man, and, of course Yonah Schimmel's Knishes. We even stopped by Katz's. The whitefish salad at Russ & Daughters is out of this world, and don't miss the sable and the peppered mackerel cured with orange, lemon, honey, and spices. And THEN we waddled home. We easily did a full week's worth of eating in one day. The trick is to share, and to eat small amounts of lots of stuff. And to be honest, we brought the fish home (Russ & Daughters isn't a restaurant, you can't sit down and eat).

If you do this, go on a Sunday. Lots of stuff in the Lower East Side is closed on Saturday (Russ & Daughters and Yonah Schimmel are open). Including the few remaining clothing stores, should you find yourself wanting to haggle for a great bargain as a respite from stuffing your face. For the guys and the female gear-heads out there, the mothership of electronics stores is in the area, too. No, not B&H (that's midtown) but J&R - at Park Row, between Beekman and Ann Streets, one block south of City Hall and two blocks north of Fulton Street, in Downtown New York. It is an entire city block. And for L&O fans, you can stop by 1PP and 60 Centre Street.

For a more sobering moment, you can visit the hole. In fact, if you take the tubes (PATH) from Jersey City, that's where the train takes you.

Ellen

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The Feast of San Gennaro? Really? When I lived in NYC, my experience was that it's something to be avoided, full of corn on the cob vendors and lots of other nonsense. Oh, and CROWDS.

Yeah, but the zeppolis make everything good. I used to look forward to going every year as a way to steal back a little bit of summer after school had started. Most years we'd go to Island Park or Long Beach but every now and then we'd hit Little Italy.

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The Feast of San Gennaro? Really? When I lived in NYC, my experience was that it's something to be avoided, full of corn on the cob vendors and lots of other nonsense. Oh, and CROWDS.

Yup, that's the one! Not a lot of corn-on-the-cob vendors when we've been there (for me, sporadically over the past way-too-many decades). LOTS of sausage vendors - hot and sweet, on the grill, w/ onions and grilled peppers. It is definitely cheesy in the best sense of the word. Like those old-fashioned carnivals - they even have those goofy games like "high-striker" where you slam a sledgehammer onto a striker to make a ball go up a tower and ring a bell. And ring toss, and such. Tons of red, green, and white bunting all over the place. Except for the addition of some Latino food stalls around the edges, and the sad shrinkage of Little Italy, it hasn't changed much since I was a kid. You can eat cannoli until it is coming out of your ears, and gelato, and spumoni, and

Just be sure to visit the "guess your weight" stands BEFORE you do all this eating!

Of course it is crowded. It is NYC and it is FUN.

Ellen

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