Alritey, so this post will cover the “fun & foodie” part of my Boston weekend, whereas the other posts were about the more serious and weighty Food & Justice Summit. Sorry if it’s a little disorienting having cut-and-paste my weekend like this, but hopefully the posts’ relevance will make it a little easier to understand…? Am I making sense?
ANYWAYS. After leaving the Summit a little early on Saturday evening, I took the T to my Boston University friend’s dorm.
Well-organized public transportation makes everything so convenient; the T’s pretty easy to figure out too. Within a day, I was riding it like a native Bostonian; one card beep and a few stops later, I was in front of my friend’s dorm. Easy peezy, lemon squeezy.
Unfortunately, it turns out that she was studying (i.e. chilling with friends and surfing YouTube) in the library with her friends when I got off at the stop. I didn’t know this at the time, so I just killed some time at some of the stores near the T while waiting for Christine to call me back.
I’ll admit it; I’m a nerd and I like to scope out good eateries whenever I visit a new place – Yelp is my best friend for this kind of thing. So I did my research, and saw that Japonaise Bakery was ranked pretty high in the list of food spots near BU; it also happened to be literally RIGHT next to the T line. So that’s where I headed for about half an hour or so.
Japonaise, as you might be able to tell from the name, is a Japanese-style bakery that sells loads of delicious pastries in both conventional (chocolate, vanilla, lemon, berry) and unusual Asian (green tea, red bean, etc.) flavors. The night I went, it was pretty slow, but judging from Yelp reviews, it looks like this place gets really busy some nights (there are also multiple Japonaise bakeries sprinkled throughout Boston). They have your standard Asian bakery fare: different loaves, breads, cakes, tarts, cookies, sandwiches, and such.
I was feeling a little peckish, so even though I knew I’d be eating soon, I couldn’t help but get myself a little lemon ricotta cake (the thing pictured above). It said it was the #1 lemon-flavored pastry in Boston! I mean, come on, how can I resist that? I saved it for later, but even after getting squashed in my bag, it was really yummy; light and fluffy (almost mousse-like) with a clean, refreshing lemon flavor on top of a shortbread cookie.
I also couldn’t resist the cute little nubbin’s of mochi when I saw them in the freezer, so I got 2 to eat in the bakery; one red bean flavor, and one almond flavor.
These mochi were pretty mediocre… The almond had a nice, nutty flavor, but the red bean didn’t tasted red-beany at all. And they were both frozen rock-hard, when they’re supposed to be ice cream-texture; you know, cold but still scoopable/slicable. Alas, these mochi did not live up to my standards for glutinous rice cake skins filled with cold, creamy goodness. How saaad… :(
But… THAT’S OK! Because my dinner afterward more than made up for those mehh blobs of ice cream. Christine and I were trying to decide between seafood (after all, we’re in Boston) and Korean food. But being the poor college students that we are, we opted for the cheaper option: KOREAN FOOD FOREVERRRRR.
After asking the BU upperclassmen for recommendations around the area, me and Christine’s dinner out somehow morphed into a large group of BU students on the prowl for Korean food. Which was perfectly fine with me :D
A wise, seasoned senior told us that Hanmaru was a good choice; decent food at a college student budget. So off we went to Harvard Ave!
Hanmaru was kind of strange because while it served a lot Korean dishes, there were a couple of Thai, Chinese, and Japanese dishes thrown in the menu too. So you’d see Pad Thai next to Japanese curry next to Kimchi Jjiggae; a hodgepodge of Eastern Asian cuisines – just a little bit bizarre.
Usually when a restaurant tries to be too many things at once, I’m a little wary because it doesn’t really work out (identity crisis!). But the Korean food here was legit, and the same as you would find in any other above-average Korean restaurant.
After looking at the menu, everything just looked SO GOOD, and Christine and I couldn’t make a decision about what we wanted. So we ended up getting 2 dishes between the 2 of us so we could divide, conquer, and enjoy.
For our appetizer, we got the kimchi jeon, which is pretty much a hubcap-sized savory pancake, filled with kimchi and vegetables, then pan-fried to beautiful, delicious crisp.
Christine and I both share an undying love for Dolsot Bibimbap, so it was only natural that we get this to share; plus it’s kind of hard to go wrong with a bunch of seasoned vegetables thrown on top of a mound of rice, then heated up in a hot stone bowl. The ratio of everything was good, although it was a bit disappointing that the rice didn’t crisp up on the bottom – THAT’S THE BEST PART!
3 people from our group also a stew to share:
This is the kind of dish that’s meant to be split between at least 3 people; it’s a huge pot filled with potatoes, pork, tofu, vegetables, and a spicy broth, then brought to a boil before being devoured by hungry diners.
Once everything was bubbling away and the flavors had married together, the “seasoned senior” mentioned above did the honors and split everything up between 3 people. And of course, there’s always enough left so you can go back for seconds. Or thirds. Or even fourths.
Our group ended up staying at the restaurant for a really long time, just because we were talking so much; yeah we were those annoying kids. Afterwards, Christine and I both felt like something sweet, so our group split up (some of them going back to work), and about half of us walked down the street to a Korean cafe. There were 4 of us left, so we ordered 2 things to share:
Look at this patbingsoo! Look at all that fresh fruit! LOOK AT THAT ICE CREAM!! I think we were kind of scared of messing up the prettiness of it at first, but after a while we just dug in. It didn’t matter that it was freezing outside – when there is a mountain of shaved ice topped with sweet red bean, fruit, and ice cream in front of you, YOU EAT IT.
Christine and I also got a frozen yogurt to share, topping it with fruit and mochi (trust me, no froyo is complete without the addition of chewy rice cake pillows). It was cold, sweet, and tart, and with the bingsoo, it hit the spot perfectly.
And finally, after ALL that, we were done eating. Christine and I were both so full, we passed out as soon as we got to her dorm, lapsing into epic food comas. This night was without doubt one of the funnest nights of this semester so far; even though I was eating and talking with people I had just met, we all clicked and everything felt so RIGHT. The two of us both laughed afterwards about how this was such a PalPark thing to do – a Korean dinner followed by bingsoo and froyo (all you Bergen County-ers know exaaactly what I mean).
The next morning, after we had rested up and our food babies had disappeared a bit, Christine and I woke up early to get breakfast before heading to church (I still had to go to the conference that day, but I decided to go a little late so I could go to church and have some last-minute hang time with Christine).
It had snowed overnight, and waiting by the T-station, I was amazed at how beautiful the city of Boston is.
It’s a city that’s not too cityish, being historical and urban at the same time. I think I’ve kind of fallen in love :)
We took the T (we T-ed?) to Harvard Street, to eat breakfast at a place recommended by that senior I keep mentioning (he knows all the good eats around Boston, and it was awesome having him give us all this advice about where to get the best food – thanks Elliott!).
We got off on Harvard Street, but neither of us had any clue as to where this place actually was. BUT with the help of my handy-dandy Droid GPS and Christine’s Boston know-how, we somehow made it to Paris Creperie.
Part of the reason why we couldn’t find it right away is because it’s a hole-in-the-wallish kind of place, probably seating no more than 15 people. And because this was pretty early in the morning (a little after 8:00, I think), there were only 2 other people in there. But there’s no doubt that these people take their crepes seriously (they don’t take no crep about their crepes LOL).
There were crepes upon crepes upon crepes – from savory to sweet to everything in between, and all made fresh on those 2 griddles you can see in the picture. If you couldn’t tell by now, Christine and I are pretty indecisive people so it took us a while to choose what we were going to eat. Drinks, on the other hand, were decided upon (relatively) quickly.
Christine got the mint-nutella, and I got the coffee. I didn’t try her drink, but she said it was really good; I also thought that my coffee was excellent. It was just drip, but it was strong with a really good, deep flavor – just what I needed first thing in the morning.
Finally, after much hemming and hawing, I got a veggie crepe:
While Christine got all fancy by building her own:
These were some pretty darn good crepes! I’m not a crepe expert or anything like that, but the crepes themselves were well-made, crispy on the outside while getting softer near the center. The mix of vegetables gave my breakfast gave a variety of textures and flavors which I thoroughly enjoyed. Chewy! Smooshy! Crispy!
After our leisurely breakfast, Christine and I headed out and walked to church; I really enjoyed the service, and it was refreshingly different from the ones in the church that I usually go to while in Hamilton. Afterwards, we couldn’t help but grab peanut butter frozen yogurt from JP Lick’s, a famous Boston ice creamery/frozen yogurtery/cafe. And yes, we ate froyo while it was snowing outside; I’m telling you, that soft serve was just calling our names. It was nutty and toasty and delicious, and I’m sorry I didn’t take a picture of it – I just dug right in…
We managed to squeeze in some last-minute talking while on the T, Christine and I soon said our goodbyes when she got off near the BU campus, while I stayed on to head over to Northeastern University for the rest of the Food & Justice conference. We knew we’d be seeing each other in a few weeks (and we did!) but it was still a little sad having to say goodbye to her and this awesome weekend.
And with that, this wraps up my crazy, fun-packed, eye-opening weekend in Boston! Seriously, these 3 days were some of the funnest days this semester. It was amazing just being in a city, where you could step right outside and there would be things to see and places to go (other than farms, like in Hamilton). And Christine being the most AMAZING host made it all the better; I just want to thank her SO SO SO SOO much for having me over for this weekend, and showing me around everywhere. Plus, a shout-out to all the BU friends I made this weekend: Lauren, Elliott, Jeff, Sina, Grace, and everyone else – you guys made this such a fun and memorable trip. THANK YOU ALL!!!
Boston, I’ll definitely be visiting again!
Go Here for Yummy Eats in Boston:
1020 Beacon St.
Brookline, MA 02446
168 Harvard Ave.
(between Brighton Ave & Glenville Ave)
Allston, MA 02134
278 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02446
311 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02445