Tag Archives: morningside heights

Your Neighborhood Bakery

With the cold winter months quickly approaching, now is the time to soak up the mild weather and take advantage of the spots that are easily accessible from campus.  After a long day full of classes and other commitments, I find myself in need of a way to unwind, without paying subway fares or venturing too far away from Barnard.  A walk to the local Silver Moon Bakery & Cafe, located on 105th and Broadway, provides an opportunity to explore the neighborhood (and the exercise to use as an excuse for buying many pastries).

The exterior of the bakery
The exterior of the bakery

The blue awning and outdoor seating of the bakery provides an inviting welcome to the space, and you feel right at home before you even step inside.  Once I walked in, the excitement of being in a new bakery hit me once again.  I immediately walked straight to the pastry display case, to drool over the wide variety of pies, cakes, and pastries, with everything from apple pie to chocolate mousse and blueberry ginger muffins.  I was so focused on choosing the perfect dessert that it took me a few minutes to see the shelves piled high with breads of every shape and size.

Pastries on display
Pastries on display

From baguettes to boules to rolls, Silver Moon Bakery handcrafts all of its breads, ensuring freshness and variety.  Though I knew an entire loaf of bread was a strange item to take back to my dorm room (Editor’s note: is it, though? ), the appeal of the sourdough boule convinced me that it was worthwhile.  A feeling of contentment spread over me as I left the bakery, now armed with a berry tart and my very own sliced loaf of bread.  Paired with a hazelnut spread I bought later, the bread was the perfect combination of a crunchy outer crust and a chewy inside and just what I needed to get through the rest of my homework.

My bread in all of its glory
My bread in all of its glory
My delicious fruit tart, reminiscent of summer days
My delicious fruit tart, reminiscent of summer days



“Eat your greens, kids”: MoHi’s Brand New Clean Eats Spot

This summer I fell in love with a new type of cuisine: clean eating. A day in the life of a college student often includes a morning trip to Ferris (if you wake up that early) for bacon, cereal, and everything with Nutella, then lunch at Chipotle, followed by plenty of JJ’s mozzarella sticks. Now while I loved eating all of this, I was a runner, so my body didn’t quite agree, and I often felt fatigued or not fully satisfied.

That’s when I discovered the beauty of eating clean. Now, eating clean takes many forms: eating vegan, raw foods, vegetarian, gluten-free, and more. It takes a bit of time to find clean eats, but after I started making the change to find them, I couldn’t turn back! (Note: most of my diet is clean dishes, but I do like to indulge sometimes!) It also worked with my runner’s lifestyle, because my workouts improved when I was putting only natural things in my body.

Luckily, around my internship this summer, there were plenty of clean and healthy options that I could choose from, but coming back to campus proved to be a challenge. Where was I going to find my daily juice and date brownies? Will I have to stick with Milano salads and Dig Inn forever?

Enter Sweetgreen. There was a Sweetgreen across from my work this summer, and I would eat there two to three times a week. Their menu mostly consists of salads and “grain bowls”, but they have a few soups and some amazing natural teas and refreshers as well. When I heard that one was opening up at Columbia, I was ecstatic, and I went right on opening day.

sabzi bowl
Spicy Sabzi Bowl with Raspberry and Mint Inflused Water.

I ordered my favorite greens bowl: the Spicy Sabzi bowl with chicken, and treated myself to a raspberry and mint infused water. This bowl was chock-full of veggies including spinach, kale, beets, bamboo shoots, carrots, and broccoli, and also included a heaping scoop each of quinoa and chicken. Then they topped it with this masala-like sauce, and while they usually add Sriracha, since I was eating clean I had to ask them to not add it to my salad.

This salad was heaping in protein, iron, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and was delicious at the same time! This was just one of many of their healthy greens bowl options that you can choose from, and depending on whether you want your bowl to be completely raw/clean, ingredients can be removed from their salads.

Thank you Sweetgreen, for providing me with clean eats right at my doorstep.



115th and Broadway.

A Sweet Spot Near Campus

To start my search for the best bakeries in New York City, I decided to begin with a local spot, easily accessible to Barnard and Columbia students, making it that much simpler to find the sweet treat you’ve been craving.

While en route to an Environmental Science lab at West Harlem Pier, I stumbled across Chokolat Patisserie at 122nd and Broadway and was intrigued by this little bakery and the assortment of pastries I could see from outside. I promised myself that I would have to return once I had some money in my pocket, and it turned into the perfect excuse to enjoy the brisk fall weather and indulge my sweet tooth.

Due to the patisserie’s proximity to campus, I had the chance to simply take a walk and clear my head without ever leaving the neighborhood or having to deal with the subway. Upon entering the space, I found it to be small, yet cozy and inviting, with sturdy wooden tables accompanied by the gentle murmur of small talk and the scent of freshly brewed tea. Because there are only three small tables within the patisserie, it is a better option to take your items to go, but if you come in at the right time, it could be used as a valuable study space.


The rows of pastries and desserts, including flourless chocolate cake, croissants, and crème brulee, drew me in, but it was the chocolate mousse cake that eventually caught my eye. Topped with chocolate and berries, the delicate dessert offered just enough sweetness to satisfy my craving and distract me – at least for the moment – from the stress of midterms.


While I came for the desserts, I stayed for the tea. As I am not well versed in the art of tea, I was initially overwhelmed by the rows of flavors – both traditional and unique – proudly displayed upon the blackboards, from Candy Apple Green to Hibiscus and Ginger Swiss Green. I quickly realized that the patisserie is very serious about its teas, giving customers the chance to choose the temperature and sweetness of their beverages and even the option to add bubbles or lychee jelly. Feeling adventurous, I chose the sweetened Pomegranate Jasmine Green and was presented with a steaming 16-ounce cup full of sweet yet tangy tea, with rich fruity undertones – all for only $4.


Although there is an abundance of bakeries in New York City, I recommend keeping Chokolat Patisserie on your radar as a local and inexpensive option to quickly grab a croissant or a large cup of tea to keep you warm during the upcoming months.

Midnight Munchies: The Morningside Classic – 115th and Broadway

Recently I’ve been receiving some feedback and requests asking that Midnight Munchies take a look at some local stops so this week we hit the closest to home I can think of: our sweet beloved, the 115th st. halal cart. I can still remember the first time I visited, a young clueless Wisconsin boy lost and hungry late in the night with no sense of where to go to satisfy my cravings. Hopefully this article will assist some current prospies in avoiding the same situation next year and informing you of the best place within a few blocks to go when your tank is empty.

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Yes, this was consumed in under five minutes by me. No, I do not feel any guilt about that.


When I first got to New York I shied away from the food carts, thinking that they were poor quality and going to cause some major trouble in my stomach. I was right about the stomach part (many people with weak stomachs definitely feel the aftermath of a natural disaster traveling through their digestive system the next morning), but on quality I could not have been more wrong. I have no trouble in saying that the best late night food in Morningside Heights can be found until the wee hours of morning at the corner of 115th and Broadway, right next to Morton Williams. For only 5 sweet dollars you can get lamb over rice, chicken over rice, falafel over rice, or a combination of those over rice! If that’s not the best cash deal in the city I honestly don’t know what is. Of course there’s always the option of getting a lamb or chicken gyro or a falafel sandwich for 4 bucks but really that’s only of use when you’ve consumed so much lamb and chicken over rice that you need something to switch it up with (or you only have 4 bucks). The secret to the best halal cart meal you can get here (in my opinion) is to first of all make friends with the guys that own the cart. These guys came over from Egypt together, friends for a very long time, and started this halal business. They put up with the rowdiest, most obnoxious inebriated college students at 3 a.m. week in and week out, so use your best manners and drop them a tip when you can, they’re genuinely good people. Once you’ve gone enough times to be recognized when you roll up, you should be in the clear to not feel guilty about asking for a ton of white sauce and then asking for a little bit more on top of that. It’s really the only way to go; you should feel like Moses parting a sea of white sauce when you go in with your fork. Another power move when you’ve got some loose change on you is to request chopped up pita on top of your halal. I was only introduced to this possibility about halfway through first semester, and it changed the game completely. At this point your halal will carry some hefty weight so you better be ready to run back to your dorm and consume promptly to gain back all that weight you burned off lugging it back (plus probably quite a bit more). The pita on top will cost extra, but has not let me down yet in taking the halal to the next level.

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Actual picture of the lamb meat being as happy as I was to eat it. Photo credit: Jack Donohue


A lot of people will tell you that the “Halal Guys” is the definitive place to go to get halal in the city. However, having been to two halal guys locations and the 115th cart, I stand by my claims that our trusty 115th comrades have the halal cart game on lock. They’re always willing to hit you with extra white sauce, they don’t hit you too hard with the hot sauce, every once in a while they’ll throw some French fries on top, and they will always give you a completely full or overflowing box of halal. Plus, how can you beat just walking across the street and throwing down a few bucks to get hot halal in minutes? If you find out, let me know and I’ll give it a look. I would also like to point out that just writing this article made me extremely happy because now I’m thinking about halal, and I’m probably going to get some right now. Find me there Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays between 2-3 a.m., we can break pita together! I give the 115th halal cart a hundred smiling first-years out of a hundred.

Location: 115th and Broadway, Morningside Heights

Hours: I’ve only seen this place closed past 4 a.m., chances are if you’re awake and hungry they’ll be ready for you

Price: $4-6

“So it’s an Indian Burrito?”

Today, a Columbia classic: Roti Roll, otherwise known as “that Indian burrito place on Amsterdam.”

Of all the places we’ve looked at so far, Roti Roll comes closest to being a true, cheap alternative to dinner in the dining hall.  Only a five minute walk from campus, the whole-in-the-wall restaurant sits at the intersection of 109th and Amsterdam.

Their speciality is the eponymous Roti Roll, a type of Indian (or, as my Indian friend insists, Indian-American) street food that I touched on briefly last time.  These are, in the words of my Indian friend, “random Indian foods mixed up and wrapped in warm roti,” a traditional and still popular form of round, unleavened bread.

Roti Roll offers 12 varieties of these rolls, 8 of which are vegetarian (and thus, to my protein-biased mind, not really options).  My late-night standard is the Chicken Malai roll, “chicken marinated in cream and spices,” mixed up with vegetables and wrapped up, to which I add an extra egg for an extra dollar.   It’s the most popular and probably the most conservative choice on the menu.  Moist chicken, hot and fresh, a pleasant mix of textures and flavors, some of which I’m not familiar with and can’t describe nor remember very well. This is mostly because last night, I added extra spinach for $1.50 extra, which I would not do again.  I was expecting fresh spinach, but I got a ground up paste.  I would’ve been fine with this (the flavor was quite nice), but there was just too much of it. The spinach overpowered the other flavors and pushed the texture of the interior too much in the liquidy direction.

Otherwise, though, the food is awesome, and really cheap!  My Chicken Malai roll was only $5.50; if I had bought two, they would’ve been $5.00 each.  If you’re willing to go for an inferior roll in the interest of getting even more food for your money, I recommend getting two Masala Unda (Spiced Egg Omelette) Frankies for $6.00 (or, if you’ve got my appetite, 4 for $12.00).  There’s no chicken, but two rolls for the price of one is hard to argue with.

The quality of these rolls is somewhat inconsistent; I’ve gone in the middle of the day and been served hard, not-quite-stale but far from fresh roti (the flat bread on the outside.)  I don’t know why this would be; I’m not even sure if the roll are home-made.  But still, rolls I’ve had late at night are consistently fresher and softer. The best rolls I’ve had have been after 1 AM.  Maybe food just tastes better late at night.  Even so, if you’re planning on going, go at night.

Roti Roll is perfect for those nights when you want something substantial and you’d rather smell like Indian spice than JJ’s grease, (or you don’t have the option to smell like JJ’s grease because it’s the weekend.)  Thursday through Saturday, they’re open until 4:00 am, Tuesday and Wednesday they’re upon until 3:00 am, Sunday and Monday they’re open until 2:00 am.  Late on the weekends, if you’re lucky, you might even get treated to some karaoke by the bar next door, through the wall.  Last night we heard Ryan giving some Tay Sway his all; thank you Ryan.

Fika Fridays: Coffee Shop & Library Hours

Points if you can guess which library I'm in today. Can we make it a game? Like Where's Waldo, but the nerdy version?

So it’s not quite Friday and it’s not quite a Fika*, but for the last Culinary post of the semester (check back for a resumed schedule June 1), I’m here to fill you in on local library times and coffee shops so that way you can be super effective during this finals season.  Try out a new coffee place and a new library study location to help keep the mental taxation (somewhat, well, as much as it can be) refreshing!


  • 114th Starbucks: 6am to 2am
  • 111th Starbucks: 6am to 11pm
  • Joe’s in NoCo: M-F 8am-8pm, Sat & Sun 9am-6pm
  • Oren’s on 112th: 7am-9pm (closes on Sundays at 8pm)
  • Kuro Kuma near 124th: 7am-7:30pm (opens on Sundays at 8am)
  • Chokolat Cafe around 123rd: M-W 7am-9pm, Th-Fri 7am-10pm, weekend 8am-9pm/10pm
  • Brownie’s in Avery: M-Th 8am-6:30pm, Fri 8am-5pm
  • Uris Deli: M-Th 8am-5pm, Fri 8am-3pm
  • Carleton in Mudd: M-F 8am-430pm
  • Blue Java Dodge: M-Th 8am-7pm, Fri 8am-5pm
  • Cafe 212: 8am to 8pm
  • Blue Java Butler: M-Th 8am-2am, Fri 8am-9pm, Sat noon-6pm, Sun noon-2am
  • Artopolis: M-F 730am-11pm, weekend 10am-11pm
  • Hungarian Pastry Shop: M-F 8am-11:30pm, weekend 8:30am-11:30pm
  • La Toulousaine (106th and Amsterdam): M-F 7am-7pm, weekends 8am-7pm

See any coffee places missing? Post them in the comments and we’ll add the hours here!

LIBRARIES | hours during finals

*most libraries are closing at 5pm on Friday the 17th for maintenance 

  • Butler: 24/7
  • Lehman: 24/7
  • Avery: Sunday noon-10pm, weekdays 9am to 11pm
  • Engineering (Mudd): 9am-11pm
  • Geology: 9am-11pm
  • Geoscience: 9am-5pm (closed weekends)
  • Health Services: 8am-11pm
  • JTS: Sunday 10:30am-7pm, M-Th: 8am-8pm
  • Journalism: 1pm-8pm
  • Law school: 8am-midnight
  • Math: 9am-11pm
  • Dodge arts: 9am-9pm
  • NoCo (science): 9am-3am
  • Social Work: 10am-6pm, closed weekends
  • Kent East Asian: 9am-midnight
  • Teachers’ College: 8am-11pm

Good luck!

*What’s a fika? Click here to find out.

Foodie Flicks: Indian Food & French Films

As a French version of The Sound of Music‘s “I Have Confidence” begins to coax scenes of brick factories and lovelorn chocolatiers, I scoop a mound of hot basmati rice into a glass bowl and pour my spicy masala sauce on top in a whimsical swirl.  I am watching the 2010 French rom-com Romantics Anonymous whilst eating take-out from local, family-owned Curry & Kebab (106th and Amsterdam).

I’ll begin with the Indian food.  Curry & Kebab was actually my first real taste of Indian food.  I didn’t grow up eating a lot of this cuisine, mostly because there didn’t happen to be a lot of Indian restaurants in the middle of the Mojave desert or in the southern agrarian towns of Germany (#armybratlife).  When I came to New York and my friend Christin took me to Curry & Kebab, I was ecstatic.  How could I have possibly have been missing this all my life?  Sure, I’d eaten Roti Roll and yeah I’ve had Chinese-Indian fusion, but this was a far more thrilling venture into flavor.

Christin and I happened to eat on a sunny afternoon that day, and the small black tables extended out onto the sidewalk.  Curry & Kebab has sari blankets and wraps hanging across the ceiling and down the walls, giving it a homey and pleasant atmosphere.  At night, the mood lighting comes on.  An upbeat mix of traditional music and contemporary Indian songs begin to play loud enough to be heard but not enough to interrupt the private sanctity of your meal.  Additionally, in my opinion, Curry & Kebab offers some of the best table toppings.  I love their cilantro chutney (the smooth, green sauce), the tamarind (viscous, melodically tangy dark sauce), and I honestly haven’t found any chutney comparable to (what I think is red pepper) chutney.  My favorite dish is the chicken masala (which doesn’t always appear on the menu–if you ask for it, they’ll have it).  Chicken masala is a dish of chicken that has been marinated in spices and yogurt, baked in a tandoor oven, and served in the “mixed spices” sauce known as masala.

So you can imagine my state of bliss after a long week as I swaddled myself up in my blankets, eating my favorite Indian food, and watching one of the most delightful films I have seen in ages.  Romantics Anonymous tells the story of a tragically shy chocolatier (Angélique) and her painfully awkward boss (Jean-René).  Both are hopeless romantics, though neither wholly aware of each other’s social difficulties.  On their first date, Jean-Rene holds his menu in front of his face, not realizing this might be complicated while trying to talk to his date.  Angelique, meanwhile, develops chronic hiccups moments before suddenly asking, “What do you think of the situation in the Middle East?”  (She’s reading from topical cue cards.)

The musical cues in Romantics Anonymous are spot in, and they propel this lovely story forward in the world where chocolate and love collide.  I certainly recommend this film over the adapted Chocolat (2000) and while that film has Johnny Depp, this one has judgmental French waiters that are to die for.

And, even better, this film is available for streaming on Netflix!  If you’re looking for something romantic (or not) for Valentine’s Day, this film hits comedy and poignant realizations of self that will be delightful to watch no matter what you’re in the mood for.


Foodie Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ (out of five)


Click on the names of these films if Romantics Anonymous doesn’t do it for you…

  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi – beautiful, inspiring documentary about a Michelin 3-star rated, 85 year old sushi chef (available for streaming on Netflix!)
  • Kings of Pastry – documentary about competitive pastry chefs, food porn to the max (available for streaming on Netflix!)
  • Ratatouille – a Pixar film featuring a rat who becomes a gourmet chef; this film won the Academy Award for Best Animated feature and has a great soundtrack to boot
  • Big Night – the brainchild of actor and gourmet foodie Stanley Tucci, this film tells the story of two brothers struggling to save their Italian restaurant
  • Waitress – a heartfelt story about a pregnant waitress with a powerful penchant for pies and creative names
  • Pressure Cooker – inner city kids compete in this documentary for culinary scholarships that could change their lives (available for streaming on Netflix!)

Malaysian Grill

Exterior View

James returns with Curious Flavors to review a local Malaysian eatery perfect for those nights that Milano salads just aren’t gonna do it for you.

This past Friday night while browsing urbanspoon for somewhere in the Columbia neighborhood to grab dinner I came across Malaysian Grill. Hardly ten blocks from campus at 224 West 104th St.  (between Broadway and Amsterdam), this small restaurant seems to be a local favorite and offers delicious and interesting food in a cozy setting at extremely reasonable prices.  Since I haven’t had much exposure to Malaysian food, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to find a local eatery I can frequent and make a worthy subject matter for this week’s post.

The restaurant’s menu is large and has the breadth of dishes one would expect of many Asian take out restaurants. While there are many familiar options including fried rice, dumplings, and soups there are many dishes, or variations on dishes that I have not seen elsewhere. From my observation I would characterize the menu as similar to that of a Thai restaurant, but with strong Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian influences and I attempted to experience some of the great variety of foods in what I ordered.

Shrimp Broth Soup

Thanks to the extremely reasonable prices (most appetizers and soups are about $5 while larger plates are about $10) my girlfriend and I were able to enjoy nearly a half dozen plates. We started with the roti canai, a flatbread similar to Indian naan, which came with a small bowl of chicken curry. Then came the Malaysian shrimp broth soup, a hot soup with (unsurprisingly) a very flavorful shrimp broth, spinach, bean sprouts, and your choice of shrimp of meat. We next tried the gado gado salad, a cold dish of tofu, hard-boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, and jiccama with a peanut sauce, I found this salad to be quite flavorful as well as refreshing. Finally as an entree I had the beef rendang, extremely tender (through somewhat fatty) chunks of beef in a paste of ground onion, lemongrass, chili, and coconut curry served with potato, some vegetables, and your choice of rice (I got coconut rice). My girlfriend, a vegetarian, got the healthy food special, a custom assortment of your choice of steamed or cooked vegetables, a sauce selection, meat if you so choose, and a choice of rice. Continue reading Malaysian Grill

A few blocks away, Jin Ramen awaits

Jin Ramen from Amanda Tien on Vimeo.

Last semester, my friend Gavin said he knew a place that I’d love.  As many people are, I was very ecstatic to learn that something I would love was about to come into my life.  That week, we went up with some friends to Jin Ramen.  Jin Ramen is also commonly known as my new paradise and my place of choice to take out of town visitors.  Many people are aware of the current ramen craze hitting New York, courtesy of David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants.  I went to Momofuku, and while it’s definitely a great place, I have to say…I prefer Jin Ramen.

It’s not just because Jin Ramen is closer, but the noodles and broth are consistently top notch.   My favorite dish is the Tonokutsu Ramen–creamy pork broth topped with Chashu (braised pork belly), Nitamago (soft-boiled egg), Menma (bamboo shoots), Nori (roasted seaweed), and Negi (fresh scallion).  Pork is a speciality of Fukuoka, a city on the Japanese island of Kyushu.  Thus, the Tonokutsu dishes in particular reflect the flavors and specialties of this southern island.

Continue reading A few blocks away, Jin Ramen awaits

Pasta buonissima!

First of all, I must make the simple request that you listen while reading the rest of my review of the ineffably charming Max Soha (corner of Amsterdam and 123rd).  I am not sure why this song makes me feel especially more Italian than other songs, especially because my Italian professor has been eager to share folk music.  Actually, you know what, it might be the part about the espresso…  In any case, I hope to brighten up your dreary, too-chilly-for-spring Saturday evening with the opportunity for scrumptious pasta.  A few weeks ago, my friend Brayan and I took a walk up Amsterdam to find some food.  Max Soha is one of those places that makes you feel like you’re finally coming home, even if you’re not di Italia.  Wooden tables and brick walls with paneled windows offer a sense of familiar intimacy, and the colorful doodles on the speciality boards feel decidedly cheerful.

Max Soha, established in 2001, quickly became one of my favorite Morningside Heights establishments.  The menu is fairly short, though the ingredients are fresh and the entrées well-crafted.  Max Soha pitches one of my favorite restaurant mottos – do less, but do it all well.  Brayan and I, even while just struggling to open the glass water bottle for the table (word to the wise, it’s a flip upwards), exchanged a look when we opened up the menu.  Then, the bread and the free tomato dipping sauce came.  There was this sense that it was going to be wonderful.  Abbiamo parlato in italiano per un po ma poi sono diventato pigra.  At the suggestion of the waiter, I ordered the Spaghetti del marinaio and Brayan went with the Lasagne fatta in casa.  I remember reading somewhere that when people really enjoy their eating experience, you can tell if they’re talking and smiling on the way out of the restaurant.  Brayan and I may have fit that description fairly well.

Continue reading Pasta buonissima!