Anyone who is in New York during the June to August timeframe knows the feeling of intense humid heat. I am talking about the type of heat that makes you want to take a shower the minute you step outside to the minute you come back to your apartment. People are miserable – just watch New Yorkers wait for an AC’ed subway car to come, and you’ll see what true anguish looks like.
Having experienced my fair share of beaming hot summers, I kept cool by eating these foods to cool off from the humid city. Ice cream, noodles, sushi. The works. Best part – they are all delicious and can be found a the vending machines for sale.
Mŏkbar’s seaweed shrimp ramen is a great delicious bowl of cold noodle. It’s a take on the traditional Korean cold noodle – Mul Naengmyun (물냉면) – where cold noodles are served in a chilled broth made from beef and/or Korean radish water kimchi. Mul naengmyun is typically savory and tart, and really refreshing.
The same goes for this ramen. There was a lot going on in this bowl: umami from the mushrooms, sweetness from the shrimp. The cucumbers gave it a nice crunch and freshness. These bowl captured all my taste buds – from savory to sweet to sour to spice – and my mind whirled. Frankly, it whisked me away from the heat, and cooled me down.
Best part is, most people are lining up for the tacos stand next door to Mŏkbar so it’s easy to snag a seat.
Another pick is Cocoron, a soba shop in SoHo. It is one of the best places to go for soba in the city. They make a variety of hot and cold sobas that suit vegan and gluten-free diets. They tout the multitude of health benefits to soba – “good source of nutrients like protein, fiber, iron, carbohydrates, thiamine and manganese etc.” Even though this is not the biggest selling point for me, it’s great to know you are eating “good” food.
Their soba is house made, and it shows – there’s a smooth and light quality to the soba. I enjoy all their sobas, so there isn’t a wrong one to choose. It’s simple, straightforward and relaxes me on a hot summer day.
Even though I enjoy sushi throughout the year, I particularly love and crave eating sushi when it is really hot outside. To me it’s a logical choice – sushi is mostly cold fish with warm/cool rice. There’s nothing hot about it. It’s a pragmatic choice. 😄
There are many sushi restaurants in New York, but I want to talk about Juku. They are located in the middle of Chinatown, and is a bit hidden. This restaurant resonates luxury, especially by Chinatown standards. You make your way through a large wooden door and walk through a dark narrow hallway. There you will find a full bar and a dining area with plush couches and nicely lacquered tables – that’s for their izakaya.
The sushi bar is located in upstairs. Adorned with a beautiful light-white marble counter top, the sushi chef waits for you to arrive. Then you’re transported into the omakase experience. The sushi omakase starts at 15 pieces and a hand roll for $120. As always, you are able to order more if you prefer.
The sushi was good – all the fish were fresh, beautifully pressed into lightly warm rice. I particularly liked the decor and small details (e.g. cute chopsticks holders). While it wasn’t a place that blew my mind, I still appreciate it for what it is – a nice sushi restaurant that provides me a reprieve from the overcrowded Chinese restaurants and streets in the area.
In the world of sweets, there are so many kinds of dessert: soft serve, ice cream, shaved ice, and popsicles to name a few. I’m highlighting a few places, but certainly not all of the shops that complete my recommended list. However, these places are fun and reliably great for a quick sweet to cool you down.
It’s worth it to scope out The Little One in Chinatown for some Japanese desserts. They integrate traditional Japanese sweets with a slightly updated twist, with categories like monaka ice cream sandwiches, dorayaki and kakigori (Japanese shaved ice).
They take monaka – an unflavored rice wafer shell – and sandwich ice cream flavors made from teas. The chrysanthemum monaka ice cream sandwich was so good that I managed to finish it all in one sitting. My mouth rode on surfboard down a rich and beautifully floral wave of flavor. When I bit in, the airy texture from the monaka dissipated and then I got a rush of cold milk tea from the ice cream. It all ended with a nice touch of honey, which sweetened my mouth just a little bit and very naturally, ending the ride.
I will be back for more.
Morgenstern’s is an incredible ice cream shop and one of my favorites in the city. Their ice creams are creamy and rich, exactly what I want in ice cream. Their flavors are riffs off of your classic flavors like chocolate and vanilla, so you end up with flavors like olive oil chocolate orange or sour cream and brown sugar strawberry. It’s a really remarkable menu, and best part is that you can taste these flavors before committing!
Since I get ice cream often from here, I will always order the burnt honey vanilla. It is just the perfect vanilla flavor with a touch of smoky sweet that makes me jump with joy.
This tiny shop of ice cream will cool you down, and make you happy that you stopped by. Fair warning though – it gets crowded so expect to line up during these hot summer days. As long as you make it into the door, you will instantly cool down and be happy that you stayed.
Stay cool New York ✌️and happy foodjournies!
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