Category: Yelp!


Charlie at the subway entrance to the Museum of Natural History

I’ve been pressed for blogging time. That is, the time I formerly stole from my dissertation and used for blogging has been returned to dissertation-matters for the time being.

But my husband and I took a little jaunt to the Natural History Museum in New York City this past Friday.

[We used a Museum Pass from our local library. We got in free! Maybe a library near you has a similar program.]

It was wonderful, educational, everything a museum should be. (Except that art museums are my very favorite.)

Dinosaur fossils in foyer (which is under construction)

Afterward, we went quite a ways out of our way to go to Hanco‘s in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Now, their Yelp! reviews are great, but I might not have gone out of my way just for that.

[It was actually an easy subway trip on the B train downtown, switching at Rockefeller Center to the F train to Brooklyn. Having our iPhones handy certainly doesn’t hurt. Especially since the NYC metro transit system does not seem as user-friendly to me as others (London, Berlin, D.C.) do.]

Instead, I heard about Hanco’s from a recent episode of the best radio show ever, This American Life. (My husband and I are regular supporters of the program, which is saying something on a tight budget. I promise you, NEVER have I wanted to do housework more than when I have an not-yet-listened-to podcast of the show waiting on my iPod.)  Their episode called “Million Dollar Idea” starts with a story about Hanco’s.

Unassuming store front, Hanco's of Cobble Hill

There’s another location in Park Slope, Brooklyn, which I know to be a nice area. I’m not really sure how the locations compare. This was a small restaurant. A lot of their business is either take away or delivery, I’m pretty sure. If I lived in the area, it would be hard not to order from Hanco’s very frequently … or hourly. There were two other tables occupied during our time there, and several people were in and out over the duration. But the restaurant definitely wasn’t busy like it reportedly can be during lunch hour.

Inside Hanco's, looking at the entrance

I am quite a fan of Vietnamese food as it is. I love their cold, summer rolls (with shrimp and peanut/hoisin dipping sauce). I am a big fan of the vermicelli that mixes sweet and savory, cooked and raw, soft and crunchy.

So, it’s no surprise that I should love Vietnamese sandwiches. But until hearing about Hanco’s, I had no idea that Vietnamese sandwiches even existed! Now, I shall never forget:

Please witness the unmitigated deliciousness of the Hanco's original sandwich.

Patrons can pick the sandwich they desire based on their contents, which can be pork, chicken, or tofu, at least. Variations in spiciness are the second attribute one must choose. I went with “medium.” It was spicy, but a just right kind of spicy. The texture and flavor variations that I love in vermicelli were also packed into the sandwich, encased in a crunchy pressed roll.

Crunchy? Soft? Tender? Yes.

The other attraction at Hanco’s is the bubble tea. Unfortunately, they were out of tapioca (bubbles) the day we visited. Tapioca is, by far, my favorite way to have bubble tea. But we could choose between lychee jelly and mango jelly. I chose the former, Charlie the latter. We both got our “bubbles” with a coconut flavored milk concoction that may have included green tea. I’m not quite sure.

Lychee Jelly Bubble Milk

Again, the play with textures is just part of what makes bubble tea so much fun. I’ll have to try them again, since the jellies just can’t compete with tapioca in my book. The coconut flavor was very fresh and cool, perfect for a beautiful August day in the City.

So, Hanco’s, until we meet again …

I’m a follower in the U.S. cupcake craze. I love a tasty cupcake, but I won’t seek them out far and wide. Sometimes I’d prefer a slice of pie or a cookie more than a cupcake. Hence, I’m a mere pretender to any cupcake expertise.

I tried Princeton’s House of Cupcakes first, but I think the far, far superior cupcake shop (in taste and welcoming atmosphere) in the area is Sugar + Sunshine Bakery in Plainsboro, NJ.

This review is adapted from the one I posted on Yelp!, which you can find, along with other reviews, here. See the ranking scale in the previous post. As I stated there: I’m an effusive rater.

I want to give this place FIVE STARS.

But, as a coffee drinker (and moderate coffee snob), I must say their coffee warrants a two-star rating. I’ve had far better. Sorry! I suggest the management get someone from Small World (a Princeton coffee house from which Sugar + Sunshine wisely buys their beans) to come teach them how to brew a good strong cup. They’ve got the right coffee materials (good beans), but there’s something amiss when the product comes out quite weak.

EVERYTHING ELSE, however, is so five-worthy. I’ve tried several different flavors (chocolate, coconut), but my favorite are the Red Velvet cupcakes. Love them: the perfect mix of creamy frosting and mid-level-density cupcakes … they’re so good. In fact, I haven’t had a cupcake I didn’t like. I’ve been at least four times and had cupcakes a friend brought another time. They’re awfully gooooood.

Something very interesting about their Red Velvet is that it’s not red, per se. It’s reddish. As they state here, they use only natural ingredients and – apparently – bottles of red food coloring just don’t make the “natural” cut! They rely, rather, on the natural reaction of the cocoa with the other ingredients to lend the cupcake a reddish tinge. The flavor, I assure you, isn’t lacking in the least.

Since coffee shops and bakeries are, for me, academic resources–that is, places in which I can bribe myself with food and caffeine to get writing and reading done–I also need to give Sugar+Sunshine points for study-ability. It’s a very bright, comfortable atmosphere. It’s busy enough to not feel awkward (as though you’re hoping to establish squatters rights by camping out for hours in silence), but quiet enough to not prove a big distraction (they have business off and on, but few people stay for too long). I don’t think they have Wifi, which would be a nice addition.

Plainsboro is close enough to Princeton to make it completely convenient. The bakery is not far off Rt. 1, which means its business could multiply tenfold if the right wind blew. Visit it before it gets overrun!