A grand day out

After days of not leaving the apartment except to go on our daily walk, I was getting very antsy. So today Erik and I spent the entire afternoon out and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. First we had a little walk to the Metro station, where I took all the stairs instead of escalators for extra exercise (Romi, my Pilates trainer, is right — my right quadricep is a “bully thigh” as she calls it: I tend to lead from that leg). We took the rail to the library. There I found a cool place to work*, checked out a Ngaio Marsh book, and, in a pleasant surprise find, bought a set of six mugs for 50% off in the library store. I’d expected the library store to be stodgy and literary but was very happy to discover that it has a seriously cool selection of stuff. Honestly, I’d be happy to own almost all of it, from unusual cookbooks to Angela Adams journals to Jill Bliss notebooks to Alexis Bittar jewelry. In the music stacks, Erik was delighted to find many obscure musical scores, which he was later to semi-regret checking out as they all seemed to weigh a ton!

After the library closed we walked around a bit more, Erik’s backpack straining at his shoulders, I toting the much lighter mugs in a shopping bag. We popped into Grand Central Market — which is definitely shabbier-looking in person than on the website, though still cool — for literally two minutes before they closed, then headed over to Little Tokyo to find some dinner.

We ended up at Izakaya Haru Ulala, the sister restaurant of the excellent Sushi Go 55, where we had the most amazing, reasonably priced, and rather eclectic meal. Sushi Go 55 is impeccable and rather expensive, but Haru Ulala felt cozily neighborhood-dive-y, with casually dressed Happy Hour customers of all ages (over 21, obviously) and cheesy 80s/90s music playing in the background (think Lionel Richie). For about $30/person including tax and generous tip, we ate two kinds of sushi (yellowtail and green onion, and tuna), tender juicy grilled oyster mushrooms, chewy green tea cold soba with really sweet and yummy green onions, an unctuously chewy fried rice cake, pretty standard-issue (though still tasty) shrimp and vegetable tempura… and my favorite and the weirdest of them all, a lusciously oozing hunk of fried Camembert cheese, probably even worse than fried Twinkies but ohhh so good. I could chow down on several of these every morning for breakfast, so it’s a good thing that is not an option.** Erik also had grilled short ribs and sake-steamed clams, both of which smelled delicious.

Fortunately after all that food we still had to walk back home, so we hiked back up to the Metro station and then walked the mile home again after we arrived at our stop. There were some cute goings-on on the train. At one stop a mixed-age group of Latino boys (ranging probably from about 12 to 17, I’d say) got on the train at one stop, all clutching skateboards and clearly happy after their afternoon out. These two middle-aged Latina ladies who had been chatting animatedly in nearby seats apparently thought they were cute, because one of them reached out and fuzzed the close-cropped head of one of the younger boys. He seemed to take it in stride, which we enjoyed; none of that teenager embarrassment for him. I’m quite sure they didn’t actually know each other. The ladies just looked over them fondly, as if the boys were nephews or grandsons, and everyone seemed in such good spirits: the two ladies conversing with one another so warmly, the boys who all looked like such good friends, and that funny momentary intersection of those two groups. Saturday evenings are nice for lots of people.

*Click on “Atrium Chandeliers” and in the middle right section of the photo you can just see a glassed-in walkway with tables and chairs. That’s where I was. It is very cool.
**Thanks to the sinful delights of Haru Ulala’s fried foods, we are now foregoing our former plan of having fresh strawberry-filled donuts tomorrow for breakfast. Sigh. But we are still having soup dumplings for lunch.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]