Chinatown: but I left my passport at home...

on 21 October 2009

Chris' friend Jefe has been raving about soup dumplings for quite some time, and so it was that we went to Chinatown in the company of Chris' other friend Dave for soup dumplings and knock-offs.

(I have admitted that I was more than a bit nervous about the knock-off expedition. I had heard it was a sometimes scary affair and I honestly don't want or need a handbag badly enough to get in trouble for it. But...I can see we're getting ahead of ourselves.)

We took the subway to Chinatown, Canal Street to be exact. We wandered for a while and I wondered why I hadn't been asked to show a passport. I heard a cacophony of languages (seldom English), we saw fruit and vegetable stands with unrecognizable produce, were solicited for "massages" that I'm pretty sure weren't really massages, and we finally came to the soup dumplings.

We were seated at a table and were joined by 3 other hipster looking fellows. Dave immediately began ordering a TON of food for us, only to inform us that he thinks he may have picked something up in Peru while he was there and wasn't feeling great, so we were going to have eat ALL of this. I immediately started to feel bad that we had dragged poor Dave away from his bed and his own bathroom to tote us around Chinatown, but he waved off my sympathetic overtures and well...then the food started to arrive.

He had ordered us a scallion cake and "vegetarian duck" of which I was IMMEDIATELY skeptical. It was thinly shaved tofu, marinated and then roasted, and then wrapped around marinated mushrooms and then the whole dish is served cold. It was good, but I think it would have been better hot. The scallion cake was awesome.

I had ordered Pan Fried Rice Noodles, expecting them to be similar to Thai noodles (Thai food being the one food I could eat every day for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy), and lo, they were NOT. They were totally DIFFERENT from Thai noodles. They seemed to have been boiled first, and then laid out flat and then fried crispy. They were topped with some really yummy veggies. Chris had ordered Pan Fried Rice Cakes (with chicken I think) and oh dear, they were delightful. They were disks of thick rice noodle that had been stir fried until they were soft and ever so slightly gooey. This, he had in addition to the soup dumplings, of which there isn't a vegetarian option.

Look how happy he is!

From there we just wandered. We wandered the side streets and the alley ways, the main thoroughfares and pedestrian only by-ways. We wandered into shops and browsed. I guess I thought that the knock-offs would be sort of in plain sight, but they weren't. I guess I was also expecting that be a bit more assertive than they were. Dave finally suggested that we just start asking them if they have "anything else". And I say we, because while I was looking for a knock-off bag, Chris was looking for a knock-off watch. A Faux-lex to be exact. So, getting into the spirit of things, I started to ask.

We saw cops walk by pretty frequently which spooked me and I was ready to let it go and head back to civilization but Chris was insistent (he was having FUN. Thought it was an ADVENTURE. Yes, this is the crazy man I married).

We entered this odd little shop. Narrow at the front, with just a small counter for watches and a large wall of perfumes and then it opened up at the back with handbags in various shapes and sizes hanging from the walls. Stacks of luggage rested against all of the walls...all but one. And if you looked up the wall you could see the cut out of a Super Secret Door. when I asked the woman if this was all she had, she tugged on my arm and said, "What you want?" And I said, "Um, I don't know, something red maybe?"

(Now I know why she looked at me funny because as we were waiting, women would come in chanting designer names: GUCCI-COACH-PRADA-LOUISVITTON-FENDI. And the woman would nod her head and take them back. Who knew? I guess you have to know what designer you want and then go looking for that...I don't know designers, 8 times out of 10 I still carry a diaper bag! And the handbags I have and carry know...JC Pennys cheapo on sale-o.)

Anyway, she looked at me weird and went through the Super Secret Door and brought out a BIG red bag with Gucci stamped on the front. I said, "Hmmmm. Ok." I was nervous and just wanted to be out of there. But Chris was looking at the bag and looking at me and said, "No. What else do you have?" And they started listing colors, at which point I came alive again and said, "I would probably use black more..." So she brought it out. The perfect black handbag. Well, it's perfect for me right now. I don't usually abide by large handbags, I like something just big enough for my wallet, my keys and my phone. Maybe a chapstick if it's more than just one errand. But now that the Boy is bigger, I really need something that will hold a snack up and a sippy cup and maybe something to distract him if necessary, so a bigger handbag was very much in order. And it's perfect. Soft black leather (it's probably pleather, but oh well), two big pockets with a zipper pocket dividing them. A small pouch for my cell and a bigger pouch for my keys. Big enough for a book and my other essentials in addition to the Boy's essentials. It's lovely. I care not a whit for what is written on the front. And I got it at a good price, she wanted more but I told her, I'm not paying more than $ __ and I meant it. She could tell. She said, "Ok." Bagged it up, took the cash and Chris asked about watches.

Here is where our luck ran out. They had to call someone else to bring them over. They took FOREVER. And when they got there (arriving in a beat-up Gap bag), Chris tried on a couple, they were big and flashy and not really what I'm accustomed to seeing on the arm of my beloved. But he selected one that he liked, bargained the guy down, watched the guy set the time and the (incorrect) date and off we walked.

Chris started fiddling with it on the next block. He realized the date was incorrect and was trying to correct it. Only to realize that he COULDN'T. Nothing he did would change the date or time. He fiddled with and fiddled with it and fiddled with it. All the way back out to Canal Street. All the way back to Times Square on the subway. All the way back to the hotel room. Once back in the hotel room, the watch finally STOPPED. DEAD. As a doornail.

Can I just say for a moment how hard it was NOT to laugh? I know I shouldn't. And I didn't laugh in front of him...but I just thought, "We deserve this! For trying to get something for next to nothing!" Anyway, Chris is still smarting at the rip off. He messed with the watch the rest of the weekend, but finally concluded that he's just going to have his plain watch repaired (the band is broken and the battery is dead) and someday when our finances are GREENER, he'll get a fancy watch.

That night was the fancy pants work dinner. We got dolled up and headed down to meet up with the rest of his colleagues. We went to this restaurant called Remi. It was a lovely Italian restaurant. I ordered Parpadelle with wild mushrooms in truffle oil and it was so good I could have BATHED in it. Once over, we walked with everyone to the theater (they were all going to see Jersey Boys, but Chris and I had opted out of it) and then we headed back to Times Square.

Chris' boss, we'll call him GRC, had a small fit that we weren't joining them for the show. Such a fit that he started machinations for us for the following night. But that is a tale for tomorrow.


Karen said...

So jealous!! Of the yummy yummy chinese food and the knock-off purse...not so much the watch. Sorry Chris :( So do we get to see a picture of this purse sometime or would that risk you being thrown in jail?