Two weeks ago, Andrew participated in a conference at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey to present a paper. His flights and accommodation were paid for by the conference so I decided to join him after the conference for a long weekend.
While most people will think I’m crazy for going only for a weekend (or 53 hours), it was so worth it. The direct flights to Newark from Edinburgh are only 6-7 hours each way so it’s basically like flying from San Francisco to New York.
We spent the weekend enjoying wonderful spring weather, eating AMAZING food, and spending time with friends. It was a great trip, but more importantly, the trip was encouraging, relaxing, and life-giving. After the long, cold, Scottish winter, I was reunited with the sun, long car rides, my favorite foods, and Asian-Americans…. It was AWESOME.
First of all, Andrew’s friends are really nice. They were so hospitable, so generous, and really went out of their way to hang out with us. I guess they’re true, loving Christians cause I’m sure Andrew wasn’t that nice to them in Philly. They picked me up from the airport and drove us around, paid for and fed us all our favorite foods, and gave us a bed to sleep on for a few nights. Thanks for being such great friends!
Anyways, this is what we did in my 53 well-spent hours in America.
Andrew’s friend, Grace picked me up from the airport and drove me to Princeton so we could pick up Andrew. If you haven’t been to Princeton, it’s definitely a cute little town to visit. It has this small-town charm feel to it with a perfect air of pretentiousness. While I don’t plan on going back to school, this is definitely a place where I would want to study. The buildings just give you an urge to read and learn.
I loved their downtown area and its cute restaurants, cafes, and shops. It’s like walking down Alameda’s Park Street, but with Lululemon, Barbour, and Brooks Brothers. If you ever visit Princeton, definitely walk into The Farmhouse Store. It’s like walking into Anthropologie, but with a New Jersey take on its products.
For dinner, we met up with more of Andrew’s seminary friends, Danni, Jimmy, and Esther to get All-You-Can-Eat sushi. We went to Masa Sushi in Princeton. For $25 per person for AYCE, it was solid sushi. It was busy so service was a bit slow, but I was just happy to eat lots and lots of raw fish. Also, they serve green tea ice cream at the end so I was very happy.
After dinner, we all headed to Dan & JenJen’s house to hang out (and sleep). Even though I didn’t go to Westminster and was falling asleep due to my jetlag, I felt so comfortable. I’m not sure if this is a cultural thing or the fact that Andrew and I don’t have that many friends out here, but we haven’t really “hung out” with people after dinner. I suppose it more because people aren’t rushed out of dinner because there’s people waiting for your table and that people eat dessert at the same restaurant, but it just felt nice to “hang out” after dinner.
We went to church with Dan & JenJen and heard Dan preached. It was good. I guess I should’ve taken a picture.
After church, we got a ‘snack’ at Taco Bell. Why? Answer: Andrew.
Then, my body went into shock because of the warm weather and I got a bloody nose. Dan Liu had to bail as soon as the floodgates from my nose opened and Esther got me tons of napkins and a plastic bag. It was awkward.
But then, Andrew’s friend Dave drove us all the way to Flushing, NY to visit one of Andrew’s friends from seminary who is a pastor of a church in Flushing.
I’ve been to New York twice, but never even heard of Flushing until recently. Flushing is a “Chinatown” neighborhood in Queens, New York and it’s AWESOME. It’s like San Gabriel Valley on steroids all within a six-block radius.
Andrew’s friends Rob and Sara showed us their apartment and ministry neighborhood. Their apartment was about 3 blocks away from their church that meets in an elementary school. Andrew and I were so encouraged and excited for our friends to be living in, loving, and serving this community. Walking around Flushing reminded me a lot of my own Chinatown (with its own problems of gentrification, affordable housing, and mental health issues), but without lost tourists, oriental decorations, and souvenir shops. Even though it was my first time there, I felt completely at home. Apparently, Flushing has the same amount (or more) foot traffic as New York’s Time Square and I definitely agree. We walked around in the evening and it was still crowded, colorful, and busy. I loved it. I WILL be back.
Flushing is home to ALL my favorite Chinese foods so we did our own Flushing food crawl. If you want a better “video” experience, check out the Fung Bros’s Flushing Food Crawl. We made it to half of those places.
Our first stop was Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao for soup dumplings. We also got noodles and shao mai which were really good. I could’ve ordered way more off the menu, but we had to keep ourselves hungry cause we had more to eat. Andrew claims these xiaolongbaos are the best in the world, better than ones he had in Taiwan, SoCal, and Hong Kong. I personally still like Dintaifung’s better, but the dumpling skin and soup was perfect. For me the meat was a bit too fatty for me, but Andrew loved it.
Our second stop was for $1.25 duck buns (Peking duck) from Corner 28 in the Happy Food Court. They used to be $1, but I guess they’ve raised their prices. They had more Chinese BBQ food and buns that I would’ve loved to buy, but my stomach was already getting food. I’m not sure why SF Chinatown doesn’t do the single duck buns. They’d make so much money. Anyways, it was really good.
Of course I had to get another boba drink. We got boba from Shiny Tea, a Taiwanese bubble tea shop that claims to have invented Taiwan’s tapioca milk tea. It was solid, but half their menu was crossed out and their card machine wasn’t working.
Lastly, we went underground into Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall to get to Xi’An Famous Foods. You literally feel like you’re walking into something illegal. Xi’An Famous Foods became famous when Anthony Bourdain came to visit. Andrew Zimmern also went there. I learned about it from NBC’s Asian America series. We got the lamb cumin noodles and it was REALLY good. They also have another location (normal restaurant) if you don’t want to go underground.
On my last day, we got enjoyed the sun and relaxed at Dan & JenJen’s place. It was so refreshing to chill and hang out with people we love and to play with Evie.
For lunch, we met up with Andrew’s friend Daniel and his girlfriend Crystal at ShakeShack. It was actually my first time trying a ShakeShack burger. While I’m still loyal to In N Out, I enjoyed my burger.
Then, we chilled and walked around the mall. I also got to stroll through Target and savor my last bits of suburbia before having to head back to the airport.
I was very sad to leave, but it was 53 amazing hours.