Art & Design
Since New York had its annual Armory Show this weekend, we decided to get up off our lazy butts and do something cultural for a change. I found a $10 discount off of the hefty adult ticket price of $30 on their official Facebook page (score!), and enticed my more art-minded friends to join us.
We woke up on Saturday morning from a long and nauseous night of tossing and turning in bed after one too many drinks. In an attempt to make getting up early (and still drunk) bearable, we had decided to meet our friends at Totto Ramen for lunch prior to heading over to the pier for a day of art, art and more art.
Totto Ramen is your typical, small, non-descript ramen joint with some stairs leading down into its 20-seat dining space. At any given time, there will be about a dozen or more people crammed onto the stairway by the entrance, patiently waiting in line for a bowl of ramen. My friend Wendy did us a huge favor by trudging down there at 11:00am to be the first to sign in for the noon seating (isn’t she the awesomest?). It was freezing out so we decided to wait at a nearby Starbucks while my stomach ate itself (I don’t do well without food, and this was after a meager breakfast of bread and butter). When noon finally rolled around, we walked over to find a dozen or more people already waiting. We were called in and promptly seated in the back. This is when my troubles started.
A underlying but potent odor of something that smelled like cleanser, rotting food and a homeless person kept wafting over to where we were seated. I knew both the kitchen and the bathroom were right behind us, but I didn’t want to know where it was coming from, in case it was coming from the latter. Regardless of the fact that I was withering away from hunger, it was enough to make me lose half of my appetite. But I was here for the long-awaited ramen and damn it, I was going to eat it!
My lunch mates and I started off with a tuna sashimi appetizer which good, but nothing special. Next came the spicy cod roe rice bowl to share. It was the perfect little bit to whet my quickly-diminishing appetite. The spicy cod roe was savory and had a kick to it, but the thinly sliced cucumbers added a nice mellow sweetness to the flavor. We all grew hushed as our ramen came out.
My Spicy Ramen was beautiful to behold, from the creamy-looking pork broth to the chewy noodles, charred char-siu and the chili oil generously drizzled on top. It was a bit spicy for me, but the soup was wonderfully-flavored. So good that I couldn’t stop drinking it, even though my lips felt like they were burning and ten times their normal size.
On the downside, the egg wasn’t tasty but I prefer the traditional shiotama which has a savory white outside and a thick, runny yolk on the inside. This one was a hard-boiled egg marinated in soy sauce. Good, but I’ve had better. NB had the Niku (meat) Ramen, which ended up being a huge bowl of ramen chock full of char-siu and boiled pork, and topped with a little mountain of grated garlic. While the char-siu was fatty and moist, the huge pieces of pork were hard and awkward to eat. Her soup wasn’t as flavorful as mine, which was a shame. We thought the ramen there was good but is it worth the long wait? No.
After lunch, we walked to the pier on 55th and 12th for the Armory Show. The place was split into two sections: the Contemporary and Modern shows. Not knowing this and thinking there was only one section, we started off with the Contemporary. The building on the pier had gallery after gallery showing artwork on its temporary walls. There were people in every nook and cranny (but then again, I should’ve expected this on a Saturday afternoon). While it was interesting to see contemporary art from all over the world, there were only a handful of pieces that really called to me. But then again, maybe I just don’t have an eye nor an appreciation for these things.
On the other hand, the Modern part was chock full of masters from Helen Frankenthaler to Pablo Picasso. If for nothing else, I saw a Chuck Close that was totally unlike the paintings he is famous for, a whole lot of Botéro sculptures and paintings of his signature plump ladies, a wall of Matisse’s enchanting paper cutouts from his later years, and another wall of Sol Lewitt’s geometic prints. For anyone who only has an hour to spend at the show, I highly recommend checking out the Modern section first.
I’m lucky enough to live in a city with some of the best museums in the world, and I walk by galleries full of amazing art every day on my way to work, so I’m spoiled. That said, I think this is definitely the kind of show that is worth going to once or twice. I can’t imagine all returning galleries show new stuff every single year (especially in the Modern section), but the place is crammed to the brim with art, so I know I missed quite a few pieces. If you want to spend an entire day perusing art from all over the world, then this show is right up your (crowded) alley.