Monday, November 23, 2009

Newark Airport

I use Continental Airlines whenever I fly to the US from Stockholm. Which means I use Newark Liberty International Airport (1 hour drive from New York City) as a transit quite often. With a long transit time, I can then venture into New York City.

On the way back from Texas to Stockholm, this time I feel too exhausted to venture into New York City even though I have 6 hours of transit. So I explore the airport a bit. I learn two good things about this airport.

If you're in Terminal C and have plenty of time until your flight departure, head for gate C124. From the floor-to-ceiling windows near gate C124, you will have a perfect view of New York City's skyline in the distance.

Also, the food court near gate C124 has one excellent food stall called Sarku Japan. I tried their chicken teriyaki with steamed rice. They serve just cooked chicken teriyaki and stir-fried vegetables with perfectly steamed rice (I mean, they make just right the amount of water for steaming rice) in a generous portion. Five dollars 66 cents filled my stomach with a pleasant feeling left.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hotel Review: Room Mate Grace

During my stay in New York over this weekend, I stayed at Room Mate Grace (125 West 45th Street) for two nights. The room charge (including tax) for what they call a "Petite" bedroom was 593.60 dollars for two nights, which is a bargain by New York standards. And luckily, my actual bedroom is "deluxe for 3 people" (one queen bed and one single bed as a bunk bed unit). The hotel is formerly known as Hotel QT, by the way.

The Good:
Good design. With orange as the theme color, the lobby, the breakfast space, and bedrooms are all nicely designed, making customers forget the fact that this hotel's physical structure could be a bit claustrophobic (that's why the room rate is a bargain).

Breakfast is included in the room charge, and served until 1 pm (an important consideration given that this hotel is located in New York, a city with loads of fun after dark!).

An iPod dock in bedrooms. A DVD player with a plasma screen is also available.

Free wireless broadband connection. Why do all the major hotel chains (Hilton, Mariott, etc.) still charge a hefty fee for Wi-Fi, by the way?

An empty small fridge. I think it's better to have an empty one than the one fully stuffed with drinks you may not like. You can buy drinks at the kiosk-like front desk (see below) in the lobby (they charge 4 dollars for a 500ml bottle of mineral water, though) or at a nearby deli store (see below).

Convenient location. Within a couple of minute walk from Times Square. Within a five minute walk from a 42nd Street/Times Square metro station exit where you can buy a Metrocard (which is not the case for many other metro station exits in Manhattan). Within a five minute walk from Bryant Park in front of which a coach from Newark airport stops (on 42nd Street).

A 15 second walk to the left from the hotel entrance takes you to a deli store (Cranberry Gourmet Deli at 115 West 45th Street) where you can save your money for dinner if necessary. And food is rather good.

The shower space is separated from the toilet space by the wall. Coming from Japan, I always find the bathroom in the West unpleasant. Why should I be forced to look at the toilet before and after taking shower? This hotel knows better.

The Bad:
Only continental breakfast is available.

The hotel front desk looks like a kiosk selling magazines and fresh drinks, which is a bit confusing for first timers.

Bed rooms on the 3rd floor may not be quiet during the night as a pool bar on the 2nd floor pumps out music until late.

The Ugly:
The lobby smells like "love hotel" bedrooms in Tokyo (the smell of some sort of antiseptic, I guess).

If you want to minimize your expenditure for accommodation in New York, this hotel should be one of the best bets.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Restaurants in New York

I found two good restaurants during my weekend stay in New York:

202 (75 Ninth Avenue)

Located on the exit of the post-industrial chic Chelsea Market to the 75th Avenue, this restaurant is a great place for weekend brunch. Their English breakfast has a nice contemporary touch in it.

The Stanton Social (99 Stanton Street)

A contemporary tapas-style restaurant in Lower East Side. With background music of good taste (including a Brazilian jazz tune from the 1960s), they serve a wide variety of foods in tapas style (ie. not in typical American style of a horrendously big portion). Baby spinach salad was beautiful with roasted corn bits functioning as a revealing accent of taste. Grilled hanger steak is much more than a typical American steak, accompanied with tater tots in Spanish bravas sauce. Yummy. And the friendly service is excellent to perfection.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cafes/Restaurants in Boston

I've been staying in Boston for a week. Below is the list of restaurants and cafes that I found good.

Scoozi (235 Newbury Street)

A budget but stylish Italian restaurant on Newbury Street, the main shopping street of Boston. Shrimp scampi spaghetti is well-done. Background music of good taste is a plus. A take-out is available, too.

The Blue Room (1 Kendall Square, Cambridge)

A very nice restaurant serving contemporary cuisine located off the beaten track in Kendall (MIT's campus area). Grilled tuna with star anises, stir-fried shiitake mushrooms, and sticky-rice in coconut-curry sauce is very creative and highly recommended.

Desi Dhaba (401 Massachusetts Avenue)

A budget Indian restaurant located near Central Square in Cambridge (in between MIT and Harvard campuses). Their curry lunch buffet (less than 10 dollars) was value for money.

Trident Booksellers and Cafe
(338 Newbury Street)

A bookstore-cum-cafe that offers wireless broadband connection for free, serving all-day breakfast (egg dishes and pancakes etc.). Asian chicken salad was excellent. It's located near Hynes/ICA green line metro station as well as a bus stop on Massachusets Avenue from which you can go to MIT and Harvard.

Tealuxe (108 Newbury Street)

A cosy cafe properly serving a wide variety of tea.

Tremont 647 (647 Tremont Street)

A great restaurant in South End, the up-and-coming district of Boston, serving contemporary cuisine. Steamed Tibetan Lamb Momos for a starter and Pan Roasted Local Wild Cod for the main were beautifully done.

The Upper Crust Pizzeria (20 Charles Street)

A good budget pizzeria in Beacon Hill area. On the common table under an abstract tin sculpture hanging from the ceiling, you can finish your quick dinner with a tasty slice of pizza for the budget way below 10 dollars.

And I realize none of these cafes/restaurants have a counterpart in Stockholm...