Tag Archives: udon noodles

USA Trip 2018: New York City

Greetings! This is the first in a mini series of posts about the two-week USA trip that F and I took this August. I’m writing one post for each short ‘stage’ of the trip we had. While we spent the majority of the time in California (stay tuned for these posts!), we started off with a weekend in Manhattan, NYC. Read on to see what we got up to. (NB: none of this is sponsored – all of the following are my personal opinions and I write for fun!)

Although I grew up in New York State, this was only my fourth time ever in New York City (yes – believe it or not, New York State is about a lot more than NYC). I’ve never loved NYC but was open to my opinion changing after 5.5 years living in London.

Day 1: Saturday

The stars aligned and Emma was in NYC this week with her sister! They generously stayed a couple of extra days so that we could have brunch together on Saturday morning. We darted through the summer downpour to Supper (yes, brunch at Supper) on the Lower East Side. The French toast was delicious, and it was wonderful to spend a couple of hours catching up with Emma and meeting her sister. A good start to the trip!

Brief Emma reunion! Photo credit: Dea

Later, we procured some bagels with cream cheese – had to have a bagel in New York! – and took them up to Central Park, where we munched while people-watching in the sunshine. Then we strolled up to the Guggenheim Museum (F had never been) to see an interesting Giacometti exhibition.

Did I mention it was HOT in New York? Ah, the East Coast summers: 90F/32C+ with 90% humidity…I do not miss this.

Day 2: Sunday

After a good sleep, F and I got up early to go for a run in Central Park. It was already hot and humid, but the park was beautiful and we managed 10.4km. I was glad there were so many drinking fountains throughout the park – that is something the US does well that Europe could do a better job with. Afterwards we treated ourselves to a delicious diner brunch at John’s Coffee Shop (2nd Ave). (Diners are a must while in the US! We tried a few over the course of our trip.)

In the afternoon, we took the metro down to the Brooklyn Bridge to see the 9/11 memorial and 1 World Trade Center. The outdoor memorial is quite moving. We then walked up through Chinatown and Little Italy to find Rice to Riches, a brilliant concept cafe that serves rice pudding in various flavors. My manager at work had recommended it, and it was a tasty afternoon pick-me-up.

Dinner was at Raku, a cozy udon noodle spot in the East Village recommended by one of F’s colleagues. It was outstanding. The menu was simple, the service was good, and the udon noodles were so fresh. F was in foodie heaven. It was also one of our most inexpensive dinners of the trip. Highly recommended!

Udon noodles at Raku. Wow. Photo by F.

And that was our weekend in NYC. While I enjoyed exploring Manhattan with F, I was not overwhelmed with love for the city. I much prefer London, and our next stop: San Francisco!


Recipe: Udon Noodles with Roasted Butternut Squash & Soy-Tahini Sauce

This recipe was inspired by Naturally Ella, and F gave my version a “this is really good!” rating. Rich, tangy sauce smothers light udon noodles and buttery roasted squash, with the occasional crunch of sesame seeds. The only complaint when I made this was that the noodle-to-squash ratio was too high — not enough sweet squash to counter the tangy dressing. So next time, I’ll cut down the noodles and/or add more honey to the sauce. The sauce itself would go well with any roasted root vegetable or drizzled over a colorful vegetable stir-fry.

Add some peas to brighten things up

Add some peas to brighten things up

Udon Noodles with Roasted Butternut Squash & Soy-Tahini Sauce (adapted from Naturally Ella; serves 2-4)


  • Veggies & Noodles:
    • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled & cut into 1/4″ cubes
    • optional: 2 carrots, peeled & cut into 1/4″ rounds
    • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
    • to taste: salt & pepper
    • 8oz (250g) udon noodles (I’d use less next time, or more squash for a better ratio)
  • Soy-Tahini Sauce:
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1.5″ knob of fresh ginger, peeled
    • 25g fresh cilantro
    • 6 tbsp tahini
    • 6-8 tbsp soy sauce (I used 6+2T water because my soy sauce was super dark)
    • juice of 2 limes
    • 3-4 tbsp honey
    • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds


  • Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
  • Coat the butternut squash cubes in olive oil, spread them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, and roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender.
  • While the squash is cooking, bring pot of water to boil, then add the udon noodles and cook them for 4-5 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse the noodles, then put them in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulsing until the sauce is smooth. Stir in the sesame seeds and pour the sauce over the noodles.
  • When the squash is done, add it to the bowl with the noodles and sauce and toss carefully until everything is evenly coated.