Category: Family

Dinner at Ocean Jewels

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Family, Friends

M & LL were back in town after spending the holiday in Alexandria with the newlyweds, so the family gathered in Queens once again for a post-Christmas dinner with our visiting friends.

I never eat better in Chinese restaurants than when my parents or their Hong Kong compatriots take command of the ordering. I can’t even replicate the meals on my own if I try; half the time, those same dishes don’t seem to appear anywhere on the standard English menu to which I’m most often relegated.  This cold, wet evening we all met at Ocean Jewels Seafood Restaurant, located across 39th Avenue from the Flushing Mall. (One day I’ll have to devote an entire post to that kitsch and foodie paradise.)

The upscale Cantonese-style restaurant was previously known as Gum Tong Gung and before that, I think, East River… though it’s difficult to keep track among all the changes in downtown Flushing. I’ve seen it most often touted for its impeccably fresh seafood and beautiful assortment of dimsum, though the food is very good across the board; most peak meal times you’ll find Ocean Jewels jammed with a predominantly Chinese clientele, though of course, all are welcome.

Ocean Jewels

Tonight, we shared the restaurant with a wedding party in progress. The sounds of karaoke filtered in from the adjacent banquet room, adding to the overall festive atmosphere. (At least I’m pretty sure it was karaoke. Either karaoke, or a not-particularly-talented wedding singer.)

On to the food! Dried Scallops with Yellow Chives Soup:

Dried Scallops Yellow Chives Soup

I noticed that Ocean Jewels has a lotus-leaf-wrapped version of the sticky rice/Dungeness crab dish that I love of late, but tonight, our crustacean of choice was the Lobster with Ginger and Scallions:

Lobsters w. Ginger and Scallions

Sauteed Shrimps with Crystal Sauce:

Sauteed Shrimp

And because it seemed cruel to delay further everyone else’s meal with my obsessive photo-taking, here’s the rest of the spread, which included Crispy Fried Chicken (with Pringles, which nowadays seem to be the go-to stand-in for shrimp chips), House Special T-bone Steak and House Special Baked Sable Fish (or as it appears on Nobu’s menu: Black Cod.)

Ocean Jewels spread

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Fat Cat Billiards birthday

Saturday, December 1st, 2007 | All Things, Events, Family

For J’s milestone birthday, his dear wife had arranged a surprise gathering of friends and family at Fat Cat Billiards in the West Village. J suspected that a secret plan was afoot when PL requested his assistance with the family’s move from the Upper West Side to Edgewater, New Jersey that Saturday morning. (More defectors!) J gamely agreed, little knowing then that the request was, in fact, entirely serious. It must have been quite a letdown to arrive on the scene expecting a celebration and finding only heavy moving boxes. Worst surprise party ever!

The real festivities, of course, began later that evening, and did not involve manual labor. We paid the $3 cover for access to the subterranean pool hall/game room, with its décor reminiscent of a Disco-era suburban basement rec room… but in a good way. This isn’t one of those sceney pool lounge spots — just a low-key place to down cheap beer and shoot stick with friends. Dim lighting, live jam sessions, worn couches, mismatched tables, and strewn throughout: billiards and ping pong tables, shuffleboard, foosball, and board games galore. New York magazine named Fat Cat Billiards the city’s “Best Pool Hall” in 2001.

We arrived early to commandeer the seating area behind the bar — a space which we shared with the owner’s large, friendly dog. I’m still not sure whether he actually liked us, or the John’s of Bleecker Street pizzas we had ordered in.

Fat Cat Billiards

Fat Cat Billiards

Later that night, in the homier environs of the Upper East Side, we toasted the man of the hour over a beautiful Black Forest cake from SoHo’s Ceci-Cela Patisserie — a delightfully potent, almost victorious, confection of Cointreau-sponged chocolate cake, brandy-soaked cherries and airy layers of vanilla whipped cream.

Happy Birthday, James

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Scenes from Providence

Sunday, November 11th, 2007 | All Things, Family, Travel

On the way back to New York City, we spent a few hours in Providence, since none of us knew when we would be driving this route again any time soon. All those years to and from the Cape, and I don’t think we ever made this stop.

We hit downtown just as the Veteran’s Day celebrations were winding down; the day’s highlight was the dedication of the newly constructed World War II Monument for which several news vans were on site. The $1.3 million memorial features a main columned rotunda, flanked by two angled walls of granite, engraved with the names of the 2,562 Rhode Islanders who died while serving during World War II.

A parade, which began at the Rhode Island State House, had preceded the dedication ceremony but by late afternoon, most of the crowds had already dispersed.

Providence parade

We came across this random bit of risd detritus in an abandoned shopping cart:


The First Baptist Church in America, founded by Providence-founder Roger Williams; his National Memorial is located just a few blocks north. The 80-foot square church, completed in the Spring of 1775, was the largest building project in New England at that time. (The 185-foot steeple was added after completion.)  Its construction benefited greatly from the British closing of Boston’s ports in retaliation for the Boston Tea Party, which freed up many shipwrights and carpenters who eventually made their way to Providence in search of alternate work. Capacity of the meeting house was 1,200 people, then equal to one third the entire population of Providence.

First Baptist Church

Views of architect/planner William D. Warner’s $270 million 10-year waterfront project, which began as a 1982 study into reconnecting Providence with its lost waterfronts. Warner’s “Waterplace Park” (with its dozen low, graceful, arched river-spanning bridges), the nearby $435 million 1.3-million-square-foot Providence Place shopping and entertainment complex, and the NBC television series ”Providence” (er, seriously?) all have been credited with giving this city of 175,000 a new cachet.

Providence River

Providence River

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