Grom Loves Bear

This tweet is old news, but I forgot to put it up on the blog. Grom gave us a shout-out via Twitter back in January, after Bear visited their location in Columbus Circle. We recently returned there for a spring snack, and their strawberry and mango flavors were amazing. Bear looks forward to more gelato during the hot summer months.

If there’s one thing Bear loves more than food, it’s media attention. Thanks, Grom!

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Ping’s Seafood

I grew up in a Chinese-American household, where dim sum replaces the traditional American brunch. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, dim sum, also known as yum cha, is the Chinese version of the English teatime. (Although I’m inclined to think that English teatime is really just the English version of dim sum.) Dim sum involves bite-size morsels, savory and sweet, such as dumplings, noodle rolls, veggies, and buns. Like most Chinese food, there is minimal dairy involved, and the only thing to really watch out for is peanuts.

Because I eat dim sum a lot at home with my family (Los Angeles has excellent dim sum), I haven’t really gone to get a lot of dim sum in New York. That being said, New York Chinatown, and Ping’s especially, is an iconic place to dig into some delicious dim sum. Ping’s Seafood is one of my family’s favorite places in Chinatown, and its location on Mott Street, rather than Canal, makes it a little less crazy but no less popular!

If you are familiar with dim sum, Ping’s will not disappoint you. Ping’s has all the dim sum standards—barbecued pork buns, steamed veggies, dumplings—and they have a combination of waiters and waitresses pushing carts, carrying trays, and taking orders from the menu. The interior is rather narrow, and can feel very crowded when it’s filled with hungry customers. They have well-proportioned plates and the staff is very attentive to refilling tea and clearing empty plates, making room for more food.

ping's (food)

Dim sum is typically shared family style, so the hard part can be finding something that everyone likes. Because dim sum comes in small portions, everyone has the chance to be adventurous. Many people, especially in America, are wary of Chinese cuisine but some of the weirdest-looking foods can be the best! If you are scared of Chinatown because you do not speak Chinese, fear not! Ping’s is very famous among natives and tourists alike, and many of the waiters and waitresses can communicate in English. Do not let a language barrier stop you from dim sum!

ping's (bear)

As with coffee shops and bakeries, a true New Yorker has her favorite dim sum house. Whether you try it at Ping’s or another restaurant is up to you (Bear will be scoping more places in Chinatown), but I encourage you to find your favorite place too. Dim sum is an integral part of my family, and the combination of tea and hot snacks has a magical effect on the soul.

Sugar and Plumm

A few weeks ago, my roommate recommended I check out Sugar and Plumm on the Upper West Side. I thought, “Sure, I love the Upper West Side.” Little did I know what I was getting myself into. Located just a block or two away from the 79th street station on the 1 train, Sugar and Plumm looks like a perfectly pleasant café, right at home in the heart of one of New York’s best brunching neighborhoods. “It looks really…purple,” is what I said when I saw it. If that wasn’t a warning sign, the lollipop-shaped door handles should have been.

Sugar. That is the first smell when you walk through those candy-coated (literally, though. Lollipop-shaped handles?!) doors. The experience is what I imagine walking into Candyland would be like, if Candyland was filled with stylish Upper-West-Siders and their American-Girl-doll-toting toddlers. Or if Willy Wonka decided to open up a shop infused with Parisian elements. The interior is even more purple—is there a color called “plumm?”—and sparkling than I could have ever anticipated and the whole scene made me sad that my tiara was broken and unavailable for the occasion.

sugar and plumm (candy store)

Sugar and Plumm is part bistro, part bakery, and it’s filled with gelato, chocolates, macaroons, and toys. Bear felt right at home among all the posh and plush pals in their gift section, though we were worried someone might come up and snatch him from the pile. Though none of the marvels seemed to be allergy-friendly, the sight was splendid.

sugar and plumm (candy store bear)sugar and plumm (candy)

We were seated smack dab in the middle of the bistro, which was perfect for people-and-their-children watching. On the wall across from us was a mosaic of an ice cream sundae. The rainbow-speckled menu boasts brunch fare that’s fun and fancy (but not free). The waitress highlighted egg dishes and salads as allergy-accomodating and I ended up with the smoked salmon brunch, but with scrambled eggs instead of eggs Benedict, and a side of fries (because I was feeling like crunchy things).

sugar and plumm (menu)

The portions were incredibly filling, which was good because I am always so hungry when going to brunch. Bear loves salmon, and this smoked salmon had a melt-in-your-mouth smoothness that made it particularly delicious. The eggs were firm—nothing says soggy like soggy eggs!—and the fries were, well, fries. As in salty, crispy and good-for-your-soul-not-for-your-health. Sugar and Plumm is a little on the pricey side, but the amount of food is definitely more than the average café. Because they serve families and young children, I get the feeling that they are more comfortable with dietary restrictions and changes to orders (although the waitress didn’t actually say that).

sugar and plumm (food)

As I already mentioned, the clientele at Sugar and Plumm includes trendy Upper-West-Siders and young parents toting young children, but also a number of tourists, girls’-night-out-but-for-brunch outings, and families. There were, sadly, no other bears at other tables, but perhaps they were just hiding from the gaggles of giggles and sticky hands.

sugar and plumm (bear)

Sugar and Plumm is incredible—as in, you can’t believe such a place exists in the world—and the place itself is a confection of pastries, Parisian charm, and Pantone brights. I still maintain that it is almost too ridiculously purple, but Bear is eager to go back with more of his plush pals. And I am happy to take him, but I think I will need to invest in a new tiara first.