It was probably a bad idea to visit Chinatown. It’s just a busier version on Flushing. There’s nothing to do there. And people are goddamn rude. It’s like every man for himself. Don’t mind the woman pushing a pram, walk right in front of her. And there are very few public toilets. I found some dingy Chinese shopping centre in Chinatown and while their toilets were very clean, they had no toilet paper. I had to ask around for paper. One lady was kind enough to give me some. Sigh.
This whole trip has been a bit of a let down considering it feels like we travelled so far just to go to Box Hill. But whatever – this trip is to visit my sick grandfather, not really about going shopping and eating burgers.
The highlight so far has been visiting Katz’ Delicatessen.
It’s famous for not only making the best pastrami sandwiches EVER, but you know that scene in When Harry Met Sally where Meg Ryan fakes an orgasm? Yeah, that was shot at Katz’s. We sat right next to where Sally sat.
Here I am, being all touristy. Y'all say hello to mah leopard coat! My dad and I hailed a 'cab' to get to Katz's. We were that keen. When we got out of the cab, there was a small queue running outside the deli. It was super packed inside. You have to grab a ticket to order food, and if you lose that ticket, you have to pay a $30 fee. Basically, you go up to the different sections to order your food. There's a grill, sandwich, sides and desserts sections where you order what you want. Once that's all made, you hand your ticket over and the chefs scribble on it. Once you finish eating, you queue up for the counter and hand over your ticket, even if you haven't used your ticket. The guys there will calculate how much your food costs and you pay.
So much meat. That is some good pastrami. When you order, the chefs carve up some meat for you to nibble on while they make your tasty, tasty meat sandwich. This is the pastrami sandwich: soft, delicious pastrami slapped between two pieces of fresh rye bread. Add some mustard and pickles and you've got yourself a fucking sweet meal. It was so big that dad and I shared one sandwich.
My dad also wanted something sweet so we got two slices of New York Cheesecake. What was interesting with the cheesecake that although it wasn't very wet like some cheesecakes, it wasn't too dry and crumbly. It also didn't tasty overwhelmingly cheesy like some of the drier cheesecakes. It was sweet, and had just the right amount of cheese flavour. The fruit glaze was sweet, and again, what was interesting was that there was no biscuit base like some of the cheesecakes I'm familiar with. I really liked it, although dad thought it was too dry.
I was dropping Katz trivia, telling my dad about when this place was established and their whole salami delivery service when lo and behold, the owner/manger of Katz emerged from somewhere. He's a big guy, super tall and he's in all the pictures on the Katz's wall of fame. He was really friendly too. He didn't talk to me but he totes smiled at dad (I was jealous as) while he walked past us. It was awesome.
The next day we had breakfast at the same Fu Zhou eatery. We ordered these awesome savoury donut things that I ate when I was a kid visiting family in China.
I also ordered some soy milk, and a plate of these noodles in a soy and peanut butter sauce. My mum makes this at home and I always just thought she invented this dish when she came to Australia. It's actually super popular, although the one I had wasn't as tasty as the ones I or my mum make. It's so super easy too!
We went back into Chinatown to meet up with my dad's cousin. It was a really emotional day, actually. I don't really want to talk too much about it, but it was one of those trips where you learn more about the people you are related to. I had this moment when I got home where I just had to cry a lot. I felt like I was Nick Caraway and my dad was Jay Gatsby and everyone else were the Toms, Daisies and Jordans. Things felt kinda fucked up and unfair.
Anyway, here are some photographs of what we ate. We had so much food, but my fingers got too sticky to fiddle with the camera. I'm gonna say this again, though: food in NY is so cheap. This banquet we had cost $198 altogether.