About the Post

Author Information

Passionate experience junkie. Lover of the arts and architecture. Want to see and share the world, one village at a time.

Momos, Death Avenue, and the New Whitney

1964 World's Fair. A hopeful and naive time.

1964 World’s Fair. A hopeful and naive time. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

You’d think that having spent part of my growing up years on Long Island, living in Manhattan during my wild and crazy 20s, and taken dozens of trips to the city for business and pleasure, that I would know every neighborhood, sight, and attraction. But New York City has evolved – from the 1960s hopeful World’s Fair days, to the squalid 70s when Times Square housed more live sex shows and homeless crazies than tourists, to the safe and booming lovely metropolis of today.

New York City lives up to every compliment paid and every strategically-positioned selfie, as the melting pot of absolutely everything. If it exists, you can see it in New York. If you go, the energy never disappoints.

 

So, on my recent trek to the Big Apple for my nephew’s graduation from Columbia med school – Yay Jesse! – I discovered a new Tibetan food in a tiny hidden restaurant, the history of The High Line, and witnessed Renzo Piano’s newly-built gallery that houses the Whitney collection.

Come along and we’ll eat, walk, and feast our eyes.

 

Momos at Lhasa

My son Matt, who lives in the city, had found a restaurant that is reported by NPR to serve the best momos in New York. Sometimes he’d eat in, but mostly he’d get the momos to go and ride home on his bicycle with them tucked safely in his backpack. The hot and yummy meal would have cooled down to the perfect temperature, he said, on his short ride home. What are momos, I asked?

At Lhasa, momos are served in the bamboo steaming trays

At Lhasa, momos are served in the bamboo steaming trays

Momos are a steamed dumpling thought to originate in the Tibetan city of Lhasa, which also happens to be the name of the restaurant in Queens where we eventually ate the deliciousness. Momos are meat- , veggie-, and spice-filled, served in stacked bamboo steaming trays right from the kitchen.

Humble surroundings at Lhasa

Humble surroundings at Lhasa

On the day we went Matt ordered one full tray of 8 momos for each of us. While we waited, we smiled at the father and two tiny daughters sitting next to us. Shortly before their food arrived the father took the girls right into the kitchen to wash hands at a big utility sink, which we could see because the entire place was about 400 square feet. One-by-one he picked the girls up as they reached their hands under the big waterfall faucet. Matt told us all the patrons do this, and that he was gathering the courage to feel enough like a regular to one day walk into the kitchen and use the big sink. Since nobody but us was speaking English, Matt was sheepish because he didn’t want to inadvertently break a protocol by waltzing right in there.

 

 

Some sauces hot, some sweet.

Some sauces hot, some sweet.

Then our momos came and our attention focused away from Tibetan customs to the food at hand. Using chopsticks, we dipped momo after momo in different sweet and hot sauces, savoring every bite. Mmm, try this sauce. Oh yeah, try this one! Each momo offered three or four bites. They were humble simple food served in equally humble surroundings. The whole experience illustrates what I love about travel – that childlike discovery of the new.

There's a cell phone store . . .

There’s a cell phone store . . .

Oh, and to get to Lhasa, you must first enter the cell phone store, turn sideways as you shimmy past the store’s back office hallway, and arrive at Lhasa. The experience was secretive, exclusive, and goofy all at the same time!

 

Death Avenue

The year 1851 on New York’s west side saw much freight train traffic – and at the time the trains ran on tracks through town. Pedestrians were getting killed so often that the area was dubbed Death Avenue. New York Central Railroad hired men on horseback, called the West Side Cowboys to run in front of the trains, waving pedestrians out of the way.

Website Death Avenue

West Side Cowboys rode out in front to shoo away pedestrians. But it didn’t help — enough.

 

But the problem persisted and so the railway company decided to elevate the freight trains in 1929. And now nearly 100 years later, the freight trains are all gone.

The fabulous High Line above city traffic.

The fabulous High Line above city traffic.

More cool architecture along The High Line

More cool architecture along The High Line

The nonprofit Friends of the High Line was formed by Joshua David and Robert Hammond, area residents, and the group eventually made the walkable, beautiful High Line. Close to 5 million people walk its splendid mile and a half up-in-the-air path along the city’s west side. Have you been?

 

The New Whitney

Renzo Piano is one of my favorite architects. His projects are known for interesting roof lines, sometimes transparent or glassed. He also likes to integrate outside/inside spaces.

The New Whitney

The New Whitney

So when I heard he had designed the new galleries that would house the Whitney Collection, I was anxious to get over to it.

(As an aside, I love modern architecture to an obsession. I simply HAD to get to Bilbao, Spain after the 1997 completion of Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum there. I was absolutely breathless upon first laying eyes on the real deal in 2010, and here’s the spectacular shot Conrad took at dusk from across the Nervión River – one of my all-time favorite photos):

House sitting in Spain with a visit to Bilbao

Back to the Whitney.

 

 

Renzo Piano's signature outdoor spaces, this time high above street level

Renzo Piano’s signature outdoor spaces, this time high above street level

The Whitney is on the left -- tucked right into the Meatpacking District

The Whitney is on the left — tucked right into the Meatpacking District

 

The new lovely structure crops out of the 20 square blocks of the far west side’s Meatpacking District. True to form, Piano produced some wonderful outdoor spaces high above the street and as extensions of the indoor galleries.

Sidewalk cafes are always a good thing.

Sidewalk cafes are always a good thing.

I like the building. I think it integrates well with the surroundings, shows off textures and graphic blocks to the street side, and as an added bonus, is at the extreme southern tip of The High Line, creating many tourist options. Tucked between the museum’s side and the stairs to The High Line are picturesque sidewalk cafes.

What have you discovered in fabulous New York City?

Wishing you happy and safe travels always and all ways,

Josie

House Sitting Travel

Tags: , , , , ,

12 Responses to “Momos, Death Avenue, and the New Whitney”

  1. Queens has become a real epicenter for international cuisine. Those moms look great!
    Irene S. Levine recently posted..PHOTOESSAY – The disappearing hutongs of BeijingMy Profile

    June 15, 2015 at 10:29 am Reply
    • Hi Irene,
      Thanks for the tip on the new label for Queens. I’ll definitely check it out! Thanks so much for stopping by Irene.
      Regards,
      Josie

      June 15, 2015 at 5:54 pm Reply
  2. These Momos look a bit like the ones I had in Nepal last year. I love them. I am one of the 5 million who have walked the High Line, I really like the view. Have not been to New York since the Whitney was finished. Will see it on my next visit.
    Tom Fakler recently posted..Nepal still needs your helpMy Profile

    June 15, 2015 at 10:45 am Reply
    • Hi Tom and welcome!
      I’d like to think that in NY one can get authentic ethnic foods — so my momos could be like your momos! And I hope you enjoy the Whitney soon!
      Regards,
      Josie

      June 15, 2015 at 5:56 pm Reply
  3. Carol Colborn #

    Momos…do they taste like the Chinese dimsums? They certainly look like it. No, I haven’t been. I go to the usual places in New York every single time! And i love the Whitney place, too. The outdoor spaces with those yellow chairs invite me like a magnet (yellow is my fave color)!

    June 15, 2015 at 4:37 pm Reply
    • Yes Carol, momos are pretty identical to dimsum. (I have a Chinese friend with whom I have traveled all over, scouting out good dimsum, so by osmosis I know good dimsum!)
      I can tell you are enamored with the vibe and energy of New York, also. Such a great, great place! I hope you break out and try some new places next time around.
      Regards,
      Josie

      June 15, 2015 at 6:01 pm Reply
  4. What great timing! I’m heading to NYC in a few weeks and the new Whitney is at the top of my list. Can’t wait!
    Carole Terwilliger Meyers recently posted..Great Sleeps: Golden Flower Hotel, Xi’an, ChinaMy Profile

    June 17, 2015 at 7:46 pm Reply
    • Hi Carole,
      Oh, so happy to hear you’re going to the Whitney in fantastic New York. Wishing you a safe and happy voyage!
      Josie

      June 18, 2015 at 7:35 am Reply
  5. Thanks for the High Line photo. I haven’t seen the revitalized High Line but remember the overhead tracks of my youth.

    June 18, 2015 at 9:50 pm Reply
    • Hi Billie and welcome,
      Ah, a native New Yorker!The High Line is indeed very pretty and has completely transformed that west side area. Everyone wants to go, walk, see, and enjoy. I hope you get to do that soon, too!
      Regards,
      Josie

      June 19, 2015 at 7:27 am Reply
  6. This is going to sound weird, but I find New York City overwhelming and I’ve never really given it a decent chance to win me over. Both my parents grew up there, but whenever we’d drive up from Philly for a family event, I felt like I had hayseed in my hair. I need to re-visit it on my own terms—i.e. not as a little kid. I think the key is to visit a native who, like your nephew, can introduce you to the “secrets” of their neighborhood. I suspect I’d really enjoy a walk along the High Line, but the new Whitney Museum Building isn’t doing anything for me. It might be a place that puts its best foot forward when viewed in person. The museum in Bilbao, on the other hand, is simply stunning—in every sense of the word.
    Suzanne Fluhr recently posted..The Macedonian Grill – A Boomeresque Brigantine, New Jersey Restaurant ReviewMy Profile

    June 21, 2015 at 10:18 pm Reply
    • Suzanne,
      That little kid feeling that persists in you needs to say bye-bye! I mean look: You live in downtown Philly, you’re a world traveler, you speak several languages. This is not a picture of someone who has hay hanging off their sweater. And frankly — no one in New York would give a damn anyway!
      Go. Be who you are and have a marvelous time. Get lost in the neighborhoods like you do anywhere else you travel.
      You can do it!
      Regards,
      Josie

      June 22, 2015 at 6:57 am Reply

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge