As Untapped Cities columnist, Luke Kingma, who boldly took us to the depths of Chinatown and to the wildest of NYC parties, moves on to the West Coast, he reminisces on his life in New York City in the best way he knows how–through its food.
It is no simple task to summarize 3.5 years spent in a city that has at once asked so much of me and given so much to me. I arrived in December 2010 with a paltry pile of personal items stacked in the corner of an old friend’s Upper East Side apartment. I’ll depart tonight with a similar haul, bound for Los Angeles and the inevitability of a car payment. (Do they still run on gas? Did we figure that out yet?)
As my mind criss-crosses the boroughs in search of a compelling narrative, I can’t help but distill my experience down to the food I’ve eaten during my stay here. From the $.20 pork & chive dumplings on Eldridge Street to the finest cuts of Pat LeFrieda beef in Tribeca, there has been meaning and memory in every morsel. So I began revisiting the restaurants where my own story was written, hoping to find remnants of myself if not one last warm meal.
Every week, we highlight one of our 300+ Untapped Cities contributors worldwide. This week, we’re featuring Luke Kingma, our Sunday in Chinatown columnist based in New York. Luke’s latest project for Untapped Cities is his Google Glass project, My NYC, which offers readers a chance to explore the city and tell a story using the new technology.
What’s your “day job”?
I’m a copywriter at VaynerMedia, a digital ad agency based in Flatiron.
What’s your favorite Untapped spot in your city?
The Golden Mall in Flushing – pure, blissful dining in a cramped, underground basement packed with incredible food stalls.
Favorite piece you’ve written for Untapped?
Since December 2011, Untapped writer Luke Kingma has spent countless weekends in Chinatown, reviewing the food establishments he’s explored there in his Sunday in Chinatown column. He’s tried everything from traditional Chinese dishes to seafood, exotic ice cream, spongecake, bubble tea, and questionably, one McDonald’s meal there. It’s all compiled for you in a convenient, geo-tracking Sunday in Chinatown Foursquare list. Here, we present you with a sampling of the list, in no particular order: (more…)
For me, the ‘regular’ New Year has always been supremely disappointing. Due in part to globally inflated expectation, the night has never lived up to the description my co-workers provide in the annual ‘New Year’s Eve in East Williamsburg!’ email chain. If you’re new to the city, this means you’ll probably end up in some ‘charming’ warehouse off the Graham Avenue stop with 60 people you’ll never see again.
You’ll begin to take stock of the evening at 11pm, 30 minutes after half your friends go down (hard) for the count. Following a midnight ‘champagne toast’ that was supposed to be included in the $150 ticket fee, you’ll wander home, shocked that you fell for it. And then you’ll do it all again next year.
Chinese New Year, however, is different. Strip away the expensive parties and sharp wardrobes, add a few dozen homemade Chinese lion costumes and 400 million confetti launchers, and you’ll be getting close. Though I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy several Chinese New Year celebrations in New York City, I knew I had to go all out this year. And we’re just getting started.
Up until recently, I was wrong about some things. As far as Asian food was concerned, I always believed my world ended in Flushing. You could certainly travel east of there, but you’d find nothing but oceans – first, a traditionally liquid one; then, an ocean comprised entirely of European food. To my knowledge (or lack thereof), you’d have to travel as far as Kashgar before you found the next great Asian restaurant. But then we discovered Mapo BBQ.
With a hurricane behind us and the prospect of a frozen New York winter looking mighty good, I have finally decided to return to my beloved Chinatown. The confusing smells of summer on Canal street are long past, and one of Chinatown’s best cold weather dishes has been lodged in my mind for weeks. I’m talking, of course, about wonton soup.
Wonton soup is the stuff of legend. It works much like the best winter jacket you can think of, except on the inside of you. In short, you’ve waited far too long to try it out (or in, I suppose). When you’re ready, head to New H.K. Wonton Garden.