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Support local NYC vegetarian restaurants and eateries during the pandemic!

Photo: Shojin Mini Osechi bento box (vegan New Year offering)
from Kajitsu offered for takeout via Caviar

Here’s a list of a couple of our favorite neighborhood spots (mostly vegan) in New York City. Many are offering take-out or may come back for dine-in/pop-up in the future! We miss creative places like Ube Kitchen, by Chef Vanz and Nick, that closed during the pandemic and hope they return in some form in the future. In the mean time, I recommend these local places that are still in business.

Kajitsu — A special occasion restaurant with serene minimalist decor, featuring seasonal Shojin Ryori-style cuisine served with ceramics by master craftspeople. “Shojin cuisine refers to a type of vegetarian cooking that originates in Zen Buddhism… haute cuisine… a multi-course meal in which fresh, seasonal ingredients are prepared…” Ippodo, a Japanese tea shop (based in Kyoto) offering tastings, wonderful matcha tea drinks and other fine teas, is located one floor down.

Hangawi —  Healthy Korean food with beautiful, simple presentation served in a warmly-lit environment, where diners sit on cushions on the floor. Reservations are recommended when dine-in is available at this popular restaurant.

Photo: La Suzette, vegan “Crepe Flambe With Orange, Lemon, Sugar, Cashew butter and Grand Marnier,” via

Delice and Sarrasin — A family-owned, small French restaurant on a charming West Village street, specializing in delicious crepes. We recommend sticking to simple classics like the savory, satisfying steak frites and sweet crepes. Shout out to our friend Mathilde, who introduced us to this restaurant years ago when she was studying at NYU law.

Superiority Burger — A tiny East Village eatery offering US American comfort foods by James Beard award-winning Chef Brooks Headley. We love the sandwich called “New Creation” made with yuba and delicious vegan “cheese” and crispy sliced pickles. (It’s like a vegan Philly cheesesteak!) There’s also a branch in Tokyo, Japan! Shout out to our friend Agnes C., who introduced us to SB years ago when she was working at the NYT food section!

Check restaurant websites for special hours before visiting and ordering.

Inexpensive eats — NYC (Vegetarian-friendly)

Please support your favorite vegan/vegetarian-friendly places by sharing their names in the comments section below!

Happy New Year 2021! Be safe and well!


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Sustainable, affordable shared cowork space

* Various locations in San Francisco and New York City areas. This review is for the NY flagship, midtown on 30 W. 53rd St.

Decor, Vibe
*  Tasteful, comfy design. Seating with pleasant bright lighting and some natural light in rear and front.
*  Airy, neutral and clean decor. Thoughtfully-designed.
*  Safer and more convenient than working in an open cafe.
*  Conveniently located near public transportation and major landmarks. Plenty of good, reasonable lunch options on nearby 56th St.
* Low key music conducive to work and some talking privacy.
* Coworkers generally keep voices low. Small meetings allowed at this location.

My favorite of all the major cowork spaces I’ve tried (Hub, Wework, etc) for my purposes — and one of my favorites, design and comfort-wise (along with Sirena, Aldea) of all the Spacious locations.

Service: Space is generally kept clean and uncluttered (just avoid very rear of room).

Amenities: Organic coffee, tea offered (included in membership). Restrooms.

Cost:  Base membership cost is monthly and can be canceled at anytime. Very reasonable compared to other major coworking spaces in the city. Great option for people who work and travel to New York city and/or San Francisco. It’s a happy medium between working at a cafe/hotel and established higher-priced cowork spaces. Membership includes access to all Spacious venues in all cities. See website for various flexible plans. Prices increase this month! (However, it’s still reasonable compared to other cowork space prices.)

I like that Spacious locations (aside from the flagship location) are shared with local restaurants, which helps to support local business.

Tips:  Bring headphones or visit Aldea location if office bothers you. Free trial week. PM me if interested in a discount code for membership after trial.

Photo credit, details:


Original review:

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Inexpensive eats — NYC


  • Top pick: Studio Cafe,* 8th floor of Whitney Museum, near High Line. — Accessible with museum admission. Tips: Casual. Pay what-you-wish admission, 7-10pm Fridays. Great views of city and High Line, indoors and outdoors.
  • Otto pizza (by Chef Mario Bitali), West Village, 1 block from Marlton Hotel. There is casual seating in front and formal dining room in back. There is a casual menu — don’t see it on the website. Nearby: Le Pain Quotidien cafe fare is next door to the Marlton. Japonica has good lunch specials and is also a popular neighborhood pick.
  • Cafe Bouchon, Shops at Columbus Circle, third floor — Gourmet French-American, casual, coffee, soups, sandwiches. Counter service and cafe seating (not dining room).
  • Momofuku noodle bar (opened or will open soon on same floor)
  • District (first floor) and Hudson Eats (2nd floor, nice indoor and outdoor views seating) food courts — Brookfield Place* by World Financial Center +

East Village


West Village/SOHO

  • Raku Udon — SOHO location has more offerings for vegans
  • Junzi — “flavorful, healthy and unfussy Chinese home food for the many”


Put on your warm clothes for these
  • Broadway Bites,+ Herald Sq. (near NY Penn Sta) — Street food stands from the world over and cafe seating.  Casa Toscana is the best for coffee, pastry between meals. Our run group goes to the by Col. Circle.
  • Chelsea Market,+ Chelsea — Buy stuff inside and eat outside on wooden benches/recliners on High Line, with views.* A few CM recs: Chalait, Ninth St Espresso (both also have good coffee/tea), Beyond Sushi (veg, warm combo menu), Nam Pung Sandwich shop, Berlin Currywurst, Los Mariscos (separate entrance). High Line visitor info.
  • Another coffee spot to warm you up nearby at Blue Bottle Coffee, 15th St.
  • Le Pain Quotidien (LPQ) Central Park locations — two: close to West side and East side (by scenic boat pond) 72nd st entrances. This is best nearby place to go if visiting Met Museum of Art too.

* Nice views from seating outside.

+ Review the food court maps before you enter — can be a bit overwhelming 🙂

I can give more specific recs depending on type, specific ethnic areas (J-town, K-town) and location. So many! There are more delish nice food courts. If it’s a nice day and enough time, I also recommend taking a Citibike around Central Park.

Happy Eating!

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Eat and run report, NYC: “World’s” hottest pepper, hot sauce

Read on if you are a fan of hot sauce!



I stumbled upon this new store at Lower level, Chelsea Market (underground). Since it was after my 7 AM run, I had a chance to chill with the nice rep for a bit and talk scovilles during the rare quiet hours. She said the store is affiliated with the Hot Ones show.

I thought I knew my hot peppers from living and eating in Austin, TX and growing organic mini pequin peppers, but I was really schooled at the store. I learned from the rep that the hottest pepper is not Habanero, and no longer the Carolina Reaper, it’s reportedly this one. She also told me about the many varieties of hot sauces, and not to judge heat on Scoville alone, but also by the combo of ingredients (like vinegar or sweet elements). The store sells some lovely Queen Majesty gift boxes, with sauces handmade “using carefully selected ingredients that are organic and local as much as possible,” by a local chef with artful packaging that looks nice for the holidays.

Photo: via Queen Majesty Hot Sauce. The rep. recommended I try the Scotch Bonnet and Ginger.

El Donkey

Breakfast burrito fans, my Texan and Californian friends:  There’s a guy with a little, cutely painted burrito cart next to the “Ninth St. Espresso” counter, Chelsea Market. Ninth St. is one of our regular early morning Chelsea market post-run stops. Our nice barista highly recommended the “California” breakfast burrito.

I recommend going for a run and visiting Chelsea Market only at opening at 8AM when it’s a ghost town and the food and reps are fresh!

Photo: via


Is spicy food healthy?  —

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Favorite eco-friendly meal subscription service in NY/SF?


Photo:  via Purple Carrot


There are plenty of sites comparing the major players such as Blue Apron and Plated, but not many focusing on the eco-friendly (e.g., sustainably/responsibly sourced, organic, great selection of plant-based meals, healthy, eco-friendly packaging, delicious, interesting) aspect. After reading about the cost-effectiveness of meal subscription services for busy foodies, I would like to try a basic plan for my partner and myself! The appeal of trying new recipes, curated by chefs/nutritionists is also a plus. I’m looking at:

Green Chef

Purple Carrot


Sprig (SF)

Terra’s Kitchen


  • What is your favorite eco-friendly meal subscription service in New York City and/or San Francisco bay area?
  • If you only tried one: Which one was it? Was it worth it? Did you like it and would you subscribe again?


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Trail running groups, New York City

NYC running friends and visitors,

Tired of running on pavement? Here are two groups  I tried, while visiting away from my beloved home trail team and northern CA trails.

1)  Blockhouse run club

at the New York Running Company

They run on Bridle trails and in off the beaten paths in the north woods, (and sometimes do a fun scramble up rock faces), in Central Park. I ran with them last Sat. for the first time. The organizers are nice, funny, knowledgable, experienced runners. After the run, in the NYRC store, runners have access to the foam rollers in the store to stretch out and we also shared some nice cone-drip coffee. (Bonus: The Time Warner Center, where NYRC is located, happened to have great specials that day like a free back and neck massages, and a free yoga class and food from Equinox-Whole Foods.)

All abilities are welcome. Anyone can drop in. The Jeff Galloway run-walk group is also super nice, welcomes all abilities, and organizes a Sat. morning run. (When I was looking for the BRC group, they invited me to run with them if I could not find the group. (I was 1.5 hours early by mistake.)

Meets at New York Running Co. store, Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle, NYC. Saturdays 9AM and Tuesdays 7AM. Free. More info: Check out the Blockhouse run club, web page.

Watch video: Taste of Central Park trails


2)  Raw Trail group

Want to leave NYC and hit the trails?

Raw Trail organizes “hiking and trail running groups from NYC,” often with ride shares. The leader Denis is an experienced, knowledgable trail runner with top trail race finishes. (The group welcomes hikers and trail runners, which is perfect for slower folks like me coming back to running from injury.)

Summary:  I have met some nice people in these groups. Unlike the enormous road running groups in NYC (and in other places like CA), one can still get to know other trail runners of various abilities because the trail running community (compared to the road) is smaller, and it is still considered a fringe sport. These organizers are providing a true, healthy community service.  I’m always grateful on my travels to discover others who share one’s love of nature, camaraderie, trails, and physical challenges.

Happy trails!


Photo credit: Via Block House Run Group 

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Modern German-designed radiator humidifier



  • Low tech
  • No electricity needed
  • Good for small spaces
  • Fits perfectly and unobtrusively on top of narrow radiator
  • Stainless steel
  • Clean design


I just received it in the mail, in time for the chronic sore throat. It will replace the classy pot of hot water on the modern table, by the blasting NYC radiator. I unboxed it to the tune of 2001: Space Odyssey. (Fun while ill…)

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Are they worth it?

I generally prefer to be in the great outdoors in northern CA and don’t like working out in gyms. However, I found myself trying out gyms in NYC because I visit often for work. I wanted to keep up my training in the dark winter months and rehab from an injury, with good, qualified trainers at the gym. I also wanted work on upper body and core strength training, to balance out my running and hiking, and join group fitness classes.

Many said gym membership is expensive, but I found myself spending more on a la carte group fitness classes (like yoga) per month vs monthly gym membership (unlimited classes + facilities). Plus, at the time of my sign up there was a special, offering to refund initiation fee. The key is to ask the club for any sign up specials, and your company/professional organization if they offer any gym discounts.

Here are the top three I tried that were close to where I stayed/my activities:
Equinox, NYHRC, The Clay

I did end up joining EQ (single club membership at PH) due to my personal preferences for:  a good range of HQ fitness classes, nice design (warm lighting, very clean, spacious, low key but energetic music, low key members, plants, quiet yoga space during shavasana, etc.), well-maintained facilities, professional staff , trainers and class instructors, no wait time for machines, eucalyptus steam room to clear my breathing passages, discount offer, and proximity to Hudson River park greenway, where I run-walk, etc. If you are on a budget and plan to use only one club, single club (vs all-access) membership is the way to go.

Less expensive options

If I didn’t need the facilities and equipment and only wanted to sign up for group fitness classes with a great number of choices, good for any of my US and worldwide travels (incl. Canada, Australia, etc), I would have signed up with Classpass. (Again email them inquiring about special offers before signing up at full price — they offered me a special right away just for inquiring.) If I just wanted no-frills gym equipment and no group fitness classes, I would sign up with Blink.

Month-to-month membership

This is not advertised, but check with the membership advisor of the gym if this is possible. Sometimes, especially if one is nice and professional about it, the staff will work with you on this. In my case, I visit NYC regularly for work and explained this to them. Due to my special case, I will be able to cancel my year “single club” membership contract without penalty, due to “relocation.” Of course, I will have to show proof of relocation and fulfill all the requirements to do so. Before signing any contract, be absolutely clear about the terms and conditions, especially cancellation and hold policies and fees. Ask questions, if you are unclear.  (Had I signed up with the Clay or NYHRC, the respective staff at these clubs were willing to offer me the same cancellation process.)


To try any Equinox in the US, click on this referral link to get an invitation (free pass).


For questions on Equinox NYC, click on the referral link above or contact a membership advisor at (212) 243-7600, to try the gyms for free and sign up for membership. (Please tell the staff that RC Brillantes referred you. Disclosure: I do not work for the club, but I would receive a new member reward for a referral.)  Advisors based at the Printing House location can help you sign up for any location. The Highline location is described on the website as “green location designed by esteemed architecture firm Clodagh references the nearby art galleries and Meatpacking District. Environmentally sound details like power-saving lights, recycled glass and weathered steel breathe life into this historic corner of NYC.” Photos

I like that the philosophy is not only to train to be healthy, but also have a healthy environment to work out. It makes perfect sense as a regular feature of every gym. For me, if I don’t feel great working out in my gym, what’s the point?

For NYHRC (NY only), contact super nice, fellow runner-advisor Lenora at lhendley [at], visit website or call 212-220-0640 to get a free pass and sign up. NYHRC  has great saltwater pools (the only ones I found accessible in NYC) and recently remodeled most of their facilities. Recommended for swimmers.


In my experience, trying out four major chains in NYC, you get what you pay for. I did a fair amount of research in the past month (on the gym websites, Time Out, gym costs comparison, asking friends about personal experiences, etc.) because I do workout 4-6x/week, a significant time investment. I also take my health seriously, enjoy-train for amateur trail races in my free time, am recovering from injury, and thus want to work with qualified trainers who can guide me on safely on: building strength, flexibility, endurance, and injury prevention.




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Fermented beverage alternatives

I have been looking for organic wine and beer alternatives (for health reasons) to take to parties, other than sparkling cider. My friend Kira recently suggested kombucha, which I hadn’t drank in a while, and was amazed to find so many new varieties of kombucha in stores.


Has anyone tried the options above?  I would like to try these. I found these while researching on DIY kombucha — which J and I made in Austin and are trying to do again. We first started making kombucha from a SCOBY, from my anthropology professor, Dr. Stross. We tossed it into the compost pile when we moved to Siquijor island in 2004. (FYI, kombucha fans: in the SF E. bay now on sale at Whole Foods by case and by bottle. I bought some to drink and also to use as starter.)  Enjoy.

Photo credit: Home brew via the Kombucha Shop

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The logical conclusion to the love story

started in Drawing Restraint 9? (AKA Paying respects to woman-artist’s [continuing] journey)

Photo credit: Costume from the 2008 video for “Wanderlust” via NY Times. (This Shaman woman costume is one of my faves.) Now on display in her retrospective exhibit at MOMA, NY.


No restraint

It’s interesting to me when artists decide to document a love story, involving their partners. A couple of years ago friends Adele, Karl, Nicole and partner, and Wofford came over to watch the documentary No Restraint  (link to trailer) by director Alison Chernick, with John and me. It’s a compelling behind-the-scenes look at the making of the performance artist Matthew Barney’s (Björk’s partner of many years and father of her child) film “Drawing Restraint 9,” mainly filmed on a Japanese fishing vessel with an actual Japanese fishing crew, who seemed baffled, as part of the cast. (Photographer friend Norma watched in absentia.) There’s some narrative involving creativity(?), Japanese rituals and a giant petroleum jelly mold. The story is more eloquently described by SF MOMA. The parallel story line in the DR9 is a love story:

“Below deck, the two main characters participate as guests in a tea ceremony, where they are formally engaged after arriving on the ship as strangers. As the film progresses, the guests [played by Björk and Barney]  go through an emotional and physical transformation slowly transfiguring from land mammals into sea mammals, as they fall in love. ”
DR9, Wikipedia

There were definite call outs after the screening about Orientalism and heated, verbal cabbage throwing, not surprising from a group dominated by asian american creative women. For me, I felt that Björk’s performance and music gave his technically flawless film a soul, as other critics have pointed out.  (The few long films I’ve seen of his generally frighten and disgust me, speaking to the most base parts of my humanity. The main feeling I’ve had after seeing his past films and most recent trailer for River of Fundament (trailer): devolution.)


Lion Song

(and initial thoughts on Björk’s new breakup album, from a Björk *fan*)

** Please watch this on the big screen. Thank you.

Last night, John and I  watched the new moving video Lion Song from Bjork’s latest album, Vulnicura. It made me just feel like I wanted to give her a hug, actually anyone sad from a breakup, a hug. I think it was the string section that got me. What I always loved about Björk’s music, no matter how techno-influenced is: the influence of nature in her music and her describing past creative processes of singing in nature.  I’ve always found her music soulful and transcendent, even though she is labeled primarily as a pop musician who uses a lot of processing in her work. I like her music and would have wished to be at her concert (with tissue box) at Carnegie Hall last week to hear her sing live and with a live string orchestra too.

The “Invisible Woman”

Quite a few interesting articles have been written about the new album, but the most interesting one so far:
The Invisible Woman: A conversation with Björk, by Jessica Hopper in Pitchfork

“You’re a coward if you don’t stand up. Not for you, but for women. Say something.”

Surprisingly, of the insightful threads in the article is about her new album, but about Björk working in the music industry as a woman. One example of the chauvinism she reportedly experienced repeatedly:

“I did 80% of the beats on Vespertine and it took me three years to work on that album, because it was all microbeats—it was like doing a huge embroidery piece. Matmos came in the last two weeks and added percussion on top of the songs, but they didn’t do any of the main parts, and they are credited everywhere as having done the whole album…

After being the only girl in bands for 10 years, I learned—the hard way—that if I was going to get my ideas through, I was going to have to pretend that they—men—had the ideas. I became really good at this and I don’t even notice it myself….”


In her work, I find an artist embodying both traditional and modern female roles. I admire how her work can transcend both with good artistry and humanism. Back to the new album: In one of the most moving songs,  she mourns the death of her family in the song “Family.”

“Is there a place
Where I can pay respects
For the death of my family
Show some respect”




The Invisible Woman: A conversation with Björk, by Jessica Hopper, Pitchfork


Sometimes Heartbreak Takes a Hostage: For Björk, a New Album, ‘Vulnicura,’ and a MoMA Show, by John Pareles, NY Times

Review: Björk at Carnegie Hall, Heartbreak and Pathos, by Nate Chinen, NY Times

Björk sings karaoke cover of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division

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