St. Marks' love letter

In the brief two weeks flailing about New York City, preceding mi vuelo a Central America, Eric and I did a little, informal St. Marks Roundabout pre- and post- beating our livers into submission at divey LES bars.

I made a stylistic choice to bold “St. Marks Roundabout” because it is a noun that denotes the coming of age for any young NYC foodie and a crucial transition for out-of-towners attempting to assimilate into a ~relevant~ culture. It is V. V. important. (For those of y’all who are still stuck in the fundamentals, I leave you in the competent hands of this wikipedia article) It is a hallowed tradition that requires a stomach of steely stamina and appetite of unwavering fortitude–  restaurant/food-cart hopping around St. Marks Place, moving as much food down your esophagus until either your body gives or you mentally cannot withstand the fact that there are still. more. restaurants. to eat through.

In 2005, I experienced my first St. Mark’s Roundabout, under the tutelage of Eric, whose area-navigation know-how (where the best burger is, the best waffle fries, the best egg cream, and so on) was passed on from John. But since then, St. Marks’ has been like looking through a kaleidoscope while tripping on acid, with the comings and goings of little stores and restaurants that thematically lacks cohesiveness. One day, there will be futuristic Canadian vending machines spitting out grilled cheese and fries when fed money, the next minute, it will have been replaced by a yuppie fro-yo shop. All of these new-comers shifting in and out between the main fixtures.

You can get an “Alpine Burger” at Pauls’, the neighborhood burger joint, or a crispy takoyaki from Otafuku that had liquidated the insides of my mouth one too many times, and then walk by Kenka, the oldest Japanese restaurant on the block that doesn’t card if you’re “with the band.” You can order delectable bull penis complete with chewy foreskin. During peak hours, you’d have to wait next to a large porcelain bear with strobing red eyes, in front of the velvet ropes guarded by a bouncer with the taiyou bandana wrapped around his forehead like a bullet-wound on the verge of engulfing his face. And watch the broadcasts of German cartoon pornography with Belgium subtitles and Nazi propaganda films on the window of Search and Destroy above Kenka. And get $2 shots from Continental and then empty the contents later on the sidewalks of Union Square. Maybe hang around St. Marks’ hotel, which is frequented by callgirls  in need of extra cash to pay for college and the fly life. And then drink a lot of recession special wine at a wine bar, which leads to poor decisions afterwards like frolicking in Central Park at 2AM and receiving citations from cranky po-pos.

But there are some newly discovered places that I would love to include into my permanent memories of St. Marks’ Place and perhaps even into the sacred Roundabout. Like Spot Dessert Bar, where Pichet Ong draws inspiration from the “street sweets of Asia as well as classic American dessert,” for a White Miso Semifreddo, Ovaltine and Kabocha Roll, and Chocolate Banana Pudding. All highly recommended except for the Ovaltine ice cream that was much too salty and was left unfinished—disturbingly breaching my number one rule.

Secondly, for midnight snacking and some soju as a night-cap, Boka, where one can strip the dense, tender meat and crispy skin off the bone, picked from a platter of infamous Bonchon Korean fried chicken. I don’t care if those chicken hormones cause gigantism.

Referenced Locations:

Pauls’ Burger
131 2nd Ave (St Marks Place)
New York, NY 10003
http://www.paulsburgers.com/
Otafuku
236 E 9th St
(between 2nd Ave & Stuyvesant St)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 353-8503
Kenka
25 Saint Mark’s Place
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-6363
Spot
13 St. Mark’s Pl
(between 3rd Ave & Astor Pl)
Manhattan, NY 10003
(212) 677-5670
www.spotdessertbar.com
Boka
9 St. Marks Place
(between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 228-2887

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7 Responses to “St. Marks' love letter”

  1. freakmanj 21. Jan, 2010 at 7:09 pm #

    Let it be known that I am the originator of the term “St. Marks Roundabout.” And that I find this to be an exemplary expression of the art form.

  2. Eric 22. Jan, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    I have done my best to spread the term far and wide as well as indoctrinate new members wherever I go. Coincidentally, I was talking about the “Roundabout” last night.

    Mad props at fitting all our experiences in one page. Boka was such a random and amazing find, but still nothing compares to Hip Hop Chow, whose death I still mourn. Never forget. RIP.

  3. Jenny Famewhore 22. Jan, 2010 at 10:45 pm #

    Genius :)

  4. Jenny Famewhore 22. Jan, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    I can’t wait to go back and explore in a few months. It’ll have changed so much by then.

    Why don’t you just make your own hip-hop chow-esque dishes? I’m sure you’ll do a great job at them.

  5. Eric 23. Jan, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    Maybe I will…

  6. Sadako 02. Feb, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

    I go by it a lot but I don’t really stop at restaurants that often–I’ll have to check some of these out.

  7. Jenny Famewhore 02. Feb, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    Definitely do! Spot dessert bar even has take-out cupcakes that are so adorable, if you’ve got a hankering for sweets.

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