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Greenwich Village: Where my Love Affair for New York Began

February 10, 2016

I used to stay awake at night dreaming about living in New York. In my idealistic, adolescent mind, it was a city of dreams; it represented freedom, opportunity and celebrated cultural diversity and artistic expression. I imagined a colorful city that was constantly on the go and full of energy and life; filled with interesting people who were driven, smart, talented and different from me.

This daydream was brought to life 4 years ago upon receiving my acceptance letter from NYU (thank you NYU and thank you parents!). And so, my New York chapter began at Greenwich Village, home to NYU, in 2012.

I vividly recall the mixture of emotions I felt when I arrived in New York for the first time during the summer of 2012; I was overwhelmed, anxious, scared (moving to a new city alone yikes), but most of all, incredibly excited. Excited for the new chapter ahead and all the colorful possibilities new beginnings bring.

I remember the first time I walked through Washington Square Park with my parents on a hot summers day. Despite the scorching heat, the park was pulsating with life and buzzing with energy. Music filled the air; there were jazz musicians and artists on every corner and the park was packed with NYU students, locals and tourists. I looked around with wide-eyed wonder.


A Quaint Neighborhood with a Metropolitan Edge

Greenwich Village, often referred to as “the Village”, is the neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan. Greenwich Village is regarded as an artists’ haven, the Bohemian capital, the center of the modern LGBT movement, and the East Coast birthplace of ’60s counterculture movements.

Despite its popularity, Greenwich Village exudes an intimate, neighborhood charm. It’s packed with 24-hour dining, shopping and nightlife, yet remains personable, with ample greenery, low-rise brownstones and a plethora of boutique shops and specialty stores.


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Summer of 2012: My first walk at Washington Square Park 🙂

Neighborhood Gems

Having been acquainted with the neighborhood over the past few years, I’ve developed a list of my favorite spots and places worth checking out. Here are a few I recommend:

  • La Lanterna: This neighborhood gem was recommended to me by my friend Elly. The atmosphere is warm and intimate and the food is always delicious. This iconic Greenwich Village restaurant serves thin crust pizza, Italian pastries, a selection of wine and liquor, and boasts a charming garden area, fireplaces and live jazz.

La Lanterna

  • Kati Roll: A kati roll is a mixture of meat and vegetables rolled in Indian flatbread. I used to come here all the time with my friends after a study session at Bobst library. My favorite items on the menu are the chicken kati roll and chai masala tea.
  • Think Coffee: Steps away from Washington Square Park, this spacious yet cosy neighborhood coffeeshop is great for meetings, NYU hangouts, and studying.

Think Coffee

  • Caffe Reggio: Come here to sip an “Original Cappuccino” and enjoy the beautiful collection of artwork, some of which dates back to the Italian Renaissance period.

Caffe Reggio

  • Kungfu Tea: Conveniently located next to Washington Square park, this chain store serves my favorite bubble tea in the city.
  • Artichoke Pizza: Famous for its warm, buttery, cheesy Artichoke base and crispy crust, the unique Arthichoke pizza has become a signature dish in New York. 
  • Saigon Shack: Stop by for a delicious bowl of classic beef pho to soothe your soul. There is always a wait, but its always worth it.
  • Blue Note Jazz Club: If you’re a jazz lover, Blue Note is a must. Legendary jazz musicians take the stage at this intimate club that also serves American cuisine. 
  • Comedy Clubs: If you want to see stand-up comedy, look no further than Macdougal street. This street is home to several comedy clubs, including the infamous Comedy Cellar, as well as Greenwich Village Comedy Club, Comedy Village and more.
  • Washington Square Park: Aside from Central Park, Washington Square Park is my favorite park in the city. This vibrant park, famous for the Washington Square Arch, has a tradition of celebrating nonconformity and buzzes with talent and creativity. This park has long been a hub for politics and culture in New York City. Today, you’ll find chess players in the southwest corner of the park, and a diverse array of entertaining performances delivered by talented musicians – from jazz to classical, dancers and artists. 
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Washington Square Park

  • NYU: Last but not least, your visit to Greenwich village won’t be complete until you check out NYU. Although NYU’s schools are scattered across the city and New York city itself is a seamless extension of the campus, Greenwich Village serves as its main campus. Prominent schools including Tisch, Stern and the law school as well as the Bobst library are located in this neighborhood.


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Graduation photo at Washington Square Park: NYU class of 2014


Happy NYU graduates 🙂

This quaint yet dynamic neighborhood celebrates culture, diversity and music. It’s filled with plenty of dining options, boasts a vibrant nightlife and exudes an idyllic and artistic charm. These reasons alone make it one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. But what really makes a place special is the meaning and memories you attach to it. Greenwich village will always hold a special place in my heart because it is home to NYU, making it the birthplace of my dream of living in this city. I will look back at my days spent in this neighborhood with great fondness.


Neighborhoods new york Photography Reflections travel Uncategorized

Falling in Love with East Village

February 3, 2016
east village

I’ve decided to start a photo series and commentary centered around the neighborhoods and cities I’ve visited. To kick off this passion project, I’ll begin with one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York – East Village.


A Cultural Melting Pot of Art, History and Good Food

I moved to the East Village last September. Over the past 6 months, I’ve enjoyed exploring all this eclectic neighborhood has to offer. The more I discover, the deeper my fascination.

The East Village — the blocks east of the Bowery between Houston and 14th Streets, was once considered to be part of the Lower East Side, but began to develop its own unique identity and culture in the late 1960s, when a flurry of artists, musicians, students and hippies began to move into the area.

The neighborhood has since emerged as a center of the counterculture in New York, and is regarded as the birthplace of several artistic movements, including punk rock and the Nuyorican literary movement. It has also been the site of protests and riots. Although in recent decades it has been argued that gentrification has transformed the character of the neighborhoodEast Village is still known for its diverse community, vibrant nightlife (boasting the highest concentration of bars in the city) and artistic charm. Recent years have seen an influx of trendy bars, street art, boutique shops while an abundance of affordable eateries has made the East Village, the mecca for budget-minded foodies.


Neighborhood Gems

Here is a list of my favorite spots in the neighborhood:

  1. Cafe Orlin: Cafe Orlin is a charming cafe serving American & Middle Eastern food. I recommend the hummus with mushrooms and avocado toast (pictured below). These mouthwatering appetizers will leave you craving for more.


    Cafe Orlin: Orlin burger, hummus with mushrooms and avocado toast

  2. Kenka: Located on the lively St. Marks strip, Kenka serves tasty Japanese street-style food and beer at a reasonable price. It’s quirky and risqué décor make for an interesting culinary and cultural experience. Don’t forget the cotton candy machine on your way out. Upon receiving your check, you’ll be given a small cup of pink sugar that you can spin into your very own cotton candy (pictured below).

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    Kenka: Enjoying cotton candy after the meal

  3. Spot Dessert Bar: Spot is an innovative dessert parlor that serves delectable Asian-inspired desserts. The line is usually long but it’s always worth the wait! My personal favorites are the honey toast and green tea lava cake.
  4. Jules Bistro: Jules Bistro is a charming, intimate French restaurant located on 8th street, between 1st and 2nd avenue. The warm cosy ambience, live jazz music and delicious food make for a great date spot or a fun night out with friends.
  5. Bean Cafe: The Bean is the quintessential East Village coffee shop. The staff, décor, food and beverages as well as music are inspired by the vibe and personality of East Village. It’s a popular spot for students, entrepreneurs, creatives and neighborhood residents who want to get some work done while enjoying a nice cup of coffee.
  6. Box Kite: This cosy little coffee shop is a neighborhood favorite for East Village residents. Come here to enjoy a cup of quality coffee and soak up the low-key ambience. House, hip hop and experimental music is often blasted through the speakers, giving this neighborhood coffee shop an edgy and modern feel.
  7. Tompkins Square Park: This popular park in the middle of the East Village is a perfect centerpiece for the eclectic neighborhood (pictured below). It is where the lives of artists, musicians, families, students and old neighborhood residents intersect.
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Tompkins Square Park during Storm Jonas 2016


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Despite its grit and grime, East Village is a fascinating, lively and trendy neighborhood with a cult following. It’s culturally diverse community, plethora of food options, dynamic nightlife and artistic allure make it one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York, and quite possibly, the entire world.

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