Monday, November 30, 2009

Nothing Says "Thanksgiving" Like Japanese BBQ and Karaoke

I was prepared to cook something – but not a turkey – for Thanksgiving when I received an e-mail from Gyu Kaku, a Japanese BBQ chain. The e-mail offered 50% off selected beef products for Thanksgiving dinner. I didn't really care about the half-off part, but I thought it would be fun to go there and not worry about cooking and cleaning. (Plus, I knew I was going to work a long day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and wouldn't have time to go grocery shopping.) It worked out for everyone! Thanksgiving was a great day of walking through NYC, eating, and karaoke!

No, we didn't eat here! This is a sign I saw in the window of a restaurant on 9th Avenue near our place. I like the smiley faces, though.

We walked to Times Square, where our first stop was O'Lunney's. This is our usual Christmas Eve haunt, and we were happy to spend a little time there on Thanksgiving.

It's great to have a seat right at the bar and enjoy a couple of drinks. O'Lunney's is huge, so it never feels crowded, even when there are a lot of patrons.

As a joke, I almost ordered an Old Speckled Hen, but I went with my usual, Harp.

I love the decor at O'Lunney's. I assume these are Tiffany lamps; even if they're not, I still think they're beautiful.

It was late afternoon when we left O'Lunney's, and we decided to walk to Gyu Kaku in the East Village for our 5pm Thanksgiving dinner reservation. Along the way, we snapped photos of Christmas lights – like the ones we saw on an office building on 6th Avenue – and cool buildings.

We walked alongside Bryant Park, which has holiday shops during the Christmas season.

Here's a shot of a cool building near Bryant Park.

After a parade is the best time to walk around New York. There were a few parade attendees milling about, but for the most part Marc and I had the city to ourselves. The streets were still blocked due to the parade route, so we were able to walk down the middle of the street and capture great shots of the city.

Look at how empty the street was! This is in Midtown; we're approaching Macy's.

And here's Macy's, the famed department store in Herald Square. Love the Christmas lights.

We walked up to 5th Avenue, where it was suddenly crowded. Needless to say, we didn't stay on this street too long.

Much better! We were on Madison Avenue when I spotted my new favorite building. I don't love it for its history or architecture . . .

. . . but for its name! This building is named after one of my favorite hobbies.

Midtown is filled with gritty old buildings such as the one pictured in the above photo.

I don't think John Atchison himself likes to walk three flights up this building to go to his own salon.

One thing I love about New York architecture is how cool new buildings are squeezed in between cool old buildings.

Great old buildings are still the best, though.

The ornate designs, red brick and bronze (?) window trimmings give this building personality.

Madison Square Park, which is not near Madison Square Garden. The fall colors look good in this setting.

Marc hates this building because it dwarfs the smaller buildings . . .

. . . like these on 23rd Street. Sadly, the one on the left is abandoned. You'd think that someone would be able to put it to good use.

Okay, the walking tour of NYC is over; now it's time to eat! The grill is ready for beef!

The concept of Gyu Kaku is simple. There is a grill that sits in the middle of the table. You order platters of beef, fish, chicken, and vegetables from the menu, and you cook them on the grill.

This is U.S. Kobe kalbe beef. It's not actual Kobe beef from Japan, but there are beef people here in the States that raise cattle in the same fashion as they do in Kobe.

Marc does a great job with the grilling. The beef is in the center, a medley of mushrooms is on the right, and shrimp is on the left. It takes only a couple of minutes before the beef is cooked; the shrimp and mushrooms need about four minutes. Very convenient.

I also enjoyed a lovely avocado salad that had chunks of tuna in it.

After getting our fill of food, it was off to sing!

Marc and I always do our karaoke-ing (is that a word?) at Karaoke Duet 48. It's a very Japanese spot.

It reminds me of Japan when I'm there because it functions under the same concept of Japanese karaoke: Private rooms.

The hallway is lined on either side by rooms of all sizes to accommodate small or large parties. We were there ahead of our reservation, so the Duet folks gave us a large room, which sounded great.
They use the same books and equipment as the karaoke places in Japan.

Marc sings a good Hootie and the Blowfish.

One of my favorite Okinawan songs"Shimanchu nu Takara," which means "Island people are a treasure." Or something like that. It's by the Okinawan band BEGIN.

I also sang "Monochro Letter" by Yaida Hitomi, who is one of my favorite J-Pop stars.

Even after our Thanksgiving Beef Fest '09, we still had room for a takoyaki snack!

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