I’ve been dying to try Korean BBQ in Murray Hill Queens, so it seemed a natural choice for day two of our staycation. An easy 20-minute ride from Penn Station and a walk across the street gets you to Mapo BBQ. Make sure to show up hungry, because the dishes do not stop. It’s not easy to order only one entree. I hear it is possible, but we always end up getting pressured into buying one per person. There were nine different banchan sides – the classic kimchee, two types of seaweed, potatoes, potato salad, pot roast, tofu, broccoli, and salad. Lettuce, marinated onions, bean paste, and a sesame oil salt and pepper sauce were delivered to the table to make wraps. The beef is grilled over hot charcoal right next to you. And the steaming hot dishes keep coming – a fluffy egg in broth, sweet corn kernels, and a spicy tofu hot pot. We had way too much food but wanted to experience everything, so we also ordered the mul naeng myu, icy cold buckwheat noodles in a beefy, vinegary broth. Once is enough for us with this dish. The quality of the meat was impressive, and the coals provide a deeper flavor than the electric grills you find in Manhattan, but we will probably not venture out very often for this feast (especially since it the round trip costs $15 per person and trains only run every hour).
Next on the agenda the Color Factory, a travelling interactive exhibit. Celebrating color as well as serving up perfect instagrammable moments snapped by strategically-placed, QR code-triggered cameras, the project was an ideal outing for us. We never take photos, so it was helpful that the venue took them for us. The shot where I am drowning (I really could not get the orbs out of my face!) in the balls just may make it to our holiday card, which has a tradition of featuring quirky photographs. Bring your sweet tooth, because there are various treats throughout the rooms – mochi ice cream, macaroons, candies, raspberry soda, and gelato.
For a little snack before the play, we ran by Sake Bar Hagi 46, a Japanese izakaya in the Theatre District. Staying the course with our standbys, the fried squid legs, takoyaki (octopus balls), and veggie yakitori, we also ventured out by ordering the sautéed mushrooms. They were good, but I agree with Derek’s assessment that they would be improved with some salt or marinade and a bit of a char on them.
On to Broadway. Mean Girls took the best parts of the movie and updated for the stage and today’s top issues. Just a quick plug for the lotteries – try and keep trying for the ones that seem interesting. I won tickets to Shakespeare in the Park on my first try, but this one took a while. If you are like us – enjoy a play here and there, but are not die-hard fans, it’s worth the wait (and minutes it takes to enter – still keeping fingers crossed for Hamilton!). Also, don’t miss the double sippy wine cups. Although, after drinking three-quarters of one I was dying to go to the bathroom at intermission. If you are counting the minutes until waiting in the ladies’ room line, know that intermission comes past the halfway mark – not as expected at the end of the vengeance song. Keep holding – the good news is that the line moves quickly. Our tickets were in the front row, which I would recommend trying at least once. You are able to see what’s really going on in the orchestra (the conductor was adorable), the wigs, the pantyhose that creep up below the midriff tops, and the funny forehead microphones.