Ramen: A College Student’s Go-to, Go-Out Meal

Shio Paitan Ramen
Shio Paitan Ramen with Egg – Mew Men

Unwrap the cup, boil water, pour it into the cup, and wait for the broth and noodles to cool down. That’s the process that most American college kids have been using since the 1970s to make a cheap, tasty meal. In a new twist, New York City students are choosing to slurp up their ramen in the dimly lit, upscale restaurants with $20 ramen as high-end meal on their menus.

With the highest concentration of Japanese Michelin-starred spots outside of Japan, New York—from Flatbush to Flushing – has become a hub for ramen cuisine, a rapidly growing ethnic-food craze becoming the go-to, go-out meal for college students.

Ramen noodles, which were once confined to supermarkets and kitchen pantries have made their way onto many of the menus of the estimated 9000 Japanese restaurants in the United States. New York City now has a large “ramen belt,” as it has been nicknamed by New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells, which stretches from Fort Lee, New Jersey, across Manhattan, to Brooklyn and Queens.

The shift from instant snack to sit-down meal correlates with the success of Japanese foods in general, with sushi also now both a gourmet and take-out food. One reason for the popularity is that both ramen and sushi contain less sugar, less fat, and fewer calories than traditional American foods, according to Japan’s External Trade Organization.

Studies from Eventbrite’s nationwide research of millennials revealed that college-aged people not only highly value experiences, but they are increasingly spending time and money on them.   And that’s a key reason for the ramen success, says Kilee Alexander, an NYU journalism student and ramen aficionado. American ramen restaurants have turned the basic recipe – broth, noodles, and meet – into an experience, which draws millennials to join the craze even if it costs more that do-it-yourself. “A lot of people don’t care about how much they spend because it’s so good and so different from any American food.”

The run on ramen also has been stoked by social media. “It’s just a trend that young, NYU people, who also see it as the perfect Instagrammable food, want to jump on board,” Alexander said.

Brian Macduckston, cookbook author and creator of the blog Ramen Adventures, which documents his journey eating at the best ramen restaurants in Japan, eats anywhere between five and ten bowls of ramen per week. During his time traveling and noodle-tasting, he has noticed that some of Japan’s “most prolific ramen eaters” are college students. “So many people I have spoken with remember eating ramen as a child, and as a young adult they can really eat as much as they want due to the price,” he says, which he also thinks parallels with its appeal to American students. “Ramen is still an affordable food, even at restaurants. I think with the rise in popularity of casual gourmet food, ramen is poised as a real contender.”

The global instant noodles market is projected to reach 126.8 billion packs by 2022, according to a report by Global Industry Analytics, Inc. So, it is unlikely that all college kids will leave the dry noodle packets behind completely; but, as the demand for instant noodles continues to grow, students at city schools like NYU will most likely push the upscale ramen scene to follow the same path of popularity.

“I love that ramen restaurants are so casual, but the food is still delicious,” said Aesetou Hydara, a 19-year-old New York University student, eating the $14 Tan-Tan Men which consists of a soybean paste broth with chopped chicken, sesame powder, bean sprouts, salt flavored egg, scallion, bamboo shoots and noodle. She sits at the small, wooden counter of Ramen Takumi, a popular hub for students in Greenwich Village, steps away from the New York University campus. “I come here all the time and love that I can sit here alone or with lots of friends, and always enjoy the experience of eating up a hot bowl of ramen.”

In a slightly more formal, upscale restaurant, NYU student Meghan Murakami, 19, fights the frigid November weather by eating a warm bowl of her favorite Ramen. She barely speaks with her brothers who sit with her, instead focusing on the broth and noodles in front of her. She spent $13 on her Shio Paitan, which features a salt-based chicken broth, pork chashu, chicken chashu, onions, snow peas and scallions, a dish reminiscent of her favorite foods back home in Hawaii. Headquartered in her native state is Sun Noodles, the leading manufacturer of dry noodles. “ I will pay whatever I need to for a good bowl of ramen, especially when it’s cold out,” she says in the dimly-lit ramen restaurant, Mew Men in the West Village. “It reminds me of home, and there’s nothing better than the perfect bowl of ramen to ease homesickness.”


Top 5 Can’t-Miss Stands at the Union Square Greenmarket

The Union Square Greenmarket, crowded with dozens of farm stands, is a great place to find all of your favorite fall foods.  But it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lost in the maze  of vegetable stands. Here’s help in our guide to the five best stands at the Union Square Greenmarket, making it easy to find your fall cooking essentials!

Union Square
Photograph: Courtesy grow.nyc.org

1. Oak Grove Plantation – Pittstown, NJ

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This New Jersey-based farm teems with amazing arrays of pumpkins and gourds in “the Pumpkin Patch”.  Founded in 1777, the family farm grows a wide variety of heirloom vegetables and fruits. The winter squash and pumpkins make this farm stand out from the other vegetable stalls in the market.

2. Migliorelli Farm – Tivoli, NY

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One of the largest vendors in the market, Migliorelli Farm boasts three huge tents abundant with fruits and vegetables. During the fall,  the apple cider is a best seller. The family-run farm opened in 1933, originally producing almost only broccoli raab. It has since expanded to grow more than 150 different fruits and vegetables making it one-stop shopping for your  fresh produce..

3. Prospect Hill Orchards – Ulster County, NY

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Prospect Hill Orchards’ stand may be small and easy to overlook, but it’s a top apple vendor. The 200-year-old farm has been participating in NYC’s Greenmarkets for over 15 years and, apart from its organic apples, sells baked goods like fruit pies, fresh pressed cider and cider donuts, granola and jams. And, if you ever want to make the trip up to Milton, NY, it boasts great on-farm activities like kids’ days and pick-your-own seasonal fruits and vegetables.

4. Bread Alone Bakery – Kingston, NY

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No hot bowl of pumpkin soup can be eaten without a good piece of fresh bread! Bread Alone was created in 1983 by Daniel Leader, who uses only organic grains and believes the purest bread can only be baked in wood-fired brick ovens. The bakery’s unassuming stand that seems to never be as busy as its neighbors is one of the can’t-miss places to try at the Greenmarket.

5. Deep Mountain Maple – West Glover, Vermont

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If you are looking to satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping with a classic, autumn taste, Deep Mountain has some of the most authentic maple syrups and candies in the area. The Vermont-based company has been making its products and selling them almost exclusively at Union Square for nearly 25 years. Not only do they sell their delicious maple syrup, but they also produce pure maple cream, granulated maple sugar and maple candies.


The Rise of Online Black Friday Shopping

Black Friday

Walking along Broadway in SoHo this holiday season, shoppers will find hundreds of bright, bold “sale” signs displayed in the stores catering to every style and price range.  of almost every style. However, many shoppers will let their fingers do the walking  at home searching for the same discounts online this Black Friday.

On Black Friday, a day for shopping known for its unbeatable discounts, long lines and frenzied crowds, shoppers are expected to turn to their computer screens instead. Online sales are expected to be $107.4 billion, a 13.8 percent increase, while in-store retail is expected to grow 10 percent less, according to Adobe Analytics.

Local shoppers like Vicky, a 34-year- old New Yorker who has to walk a quick 10 minutes to get to her favorite stores, is skipping the stroll  for a faster option. “I am getting shopping done now so I don’t have to deal with the crowds and don’t have to wait in line for hours on Black Friday,” she said. “Why would anyone bother when you can get similar sales by coming the week before or by just shopping on the stores’ websites?”

Although retailers can still expect large crowds, according to survey by National Retail Federation, 44 percent of shoppers have opted to stay in and search for sales online, which is beginning to slow down the chaos that comes with Black Friday shopping.

One retail worker, Valeria, 26, who has been a sales associate at American Eagle Outfitters for two years has even noticed the “drops in in-store purchases” during the holiday season. “The crowds seem a lot smaller to me,” she said.  “Just working Black Friday is stressful – the crazy customers and the disorganization of it all – so, if I shop this year, it will be by my computer.”

In the week before Black Friday, American Eagle holds a store-wide buy-one-get one half-off sale. Still, the same sale can also be found online. Sales like these begin weeks before Thanksgiving, and will often extend for days after Black Friday. These long-lasting discounts allow shoppers to save money and save time that they would otherwise be spending standing in line on the day itself.

As a result of the rapid increase of online shopping and the creation of another day of sales, Cyber Monday, Black Friday itself is becoming less vital for the industry overall. In 2016, Cyber Monday was the largest online sales day in history, according to Adobe Analytics: shoppers spent a record $3.39 billion online on Cyber Monday last year, surpassing the Black Friday online sales total of $3.34 billion.

“I just wait for Cyber Monday so I can spend the day on the couch, rather than running off the day after Thanksgiving when I’m still stuffed with turkey just to stand in lines for hours,” said Carrie, 41, who travels from New Jersey to SOHO to shops when the crowds thin out. “I’ve heard the horror stories of the large crowds that turn out on Black Friday and I’m not going to risk my life for a sale!”

The Real “Law & Order”: New York City Night Court

High tensions, packed galleries and loud attorneys with silent audiences are what crime and law television shows have trained us to expect of the New York City courts; no semi  but, spectators visiting night court will be hit with a harsh reality when they witness the scene of an evening arraignment court.

New York City’s Arraignment Court at 100 cCenter sStreet, in the center of downtown Manhattan, oversees all arraignments in the borough. New York State law requires that people arrested must be read their charges within 24 hours. In order to arraign cases within this time frame, these court sessions often go as late as 1 a.m., giving Arraignment Court the nickname, “Night Court”.

Because of the 24-hour time crunch, Assistant District Attorneys must work as fast and efficiently as possible to get through all the cases by the end of the night. This creates a chaotic atmosphere, quite different from the high-intensity court scenes depicted on television shows like “Law and Order” and “CSI: New York”.

A typical, real-life scene unfolded last Wednesday night as ADAs scurried from desk to desk, picking up and organizing piles of manila folders. The 9 pews in the gallery were occupied by a mere 3 people. Good Judge Harshaft, who sat elevated above everyone else in the room, as judges are in every courtroom in the country, chatted to the stenographer who sat to his left and 5 police officers cops sitting to the left of his bench laughed amongst themselves. One man even sat at a computer quietly watching movie trailers on YouTube. The fluorescent lighting and creaky wooden benches gives the room a basement-like ambience.

Few cases were heard this night, and the last case before the 8p.m. dinner break was over in under five minutes. It concluded with Judge Harshaft granting both parties orders of protection.

Across the hall, in room 129, misdemeanor arraignments take place. That night, one man was being arraigned after the police were called after an incident of alleged domestic abuse. The man’s girlfriend suffered bruises on her arms. The unassuming defendant, who stood at no more than five-feet-tall, cowered below presiding justice, Judge Bryan Dunn.

“Stay away from her,” said Judge Dunn as he granted an order of protection for the wife of Mr. Fernandez, the defendant in the first stand-out case of an otherwise dry evening in New York City night court. “Stay away from her in the streets, stay away everywhere.”

Running the NYC Marathon for Family

Jessica Marathon

Jessica Enriquez could see her mom proudly waving and cheering for her as she ran towards 47th sStreet in Brooklyn. Most of the 26.2 miles of the New York City marathon were ahead of her, but, hugging her mother, a Mexican immigrant, reminded her of the people she was running for and how those same people helped her reach her goal this cool  fall day.  very nice just tighten; get rid of the “little” words

Jessica Enriquez, an 18-year-old college student, ran the New York City Marathon to raise funds for a non-profit law firm, UnLocal, which provides legal representation and education programming to undocumented youth and individuals in the NYC area. She raised $2,765, exceeding her $2,500 goal.

Born in Brooklyn to Mexican parents who immigrated when they were teenagers, she is a Social-Cultural Analyses major at NYU, focusing on Latin America and hoping to go on to law school.

She had been volunteering at UnLocal for 6 months when she found out the possibility of running in the marathon to support an organization she felt so passionately about. When it became available, she “jumped” to apply in order to prove her allegiance with the immigrant community. The educational programming and support services particularly appealed to her because her father was forced to drop out of high school because of language and financial difficulties.

“I think my goals for running the marathon and raising money for UnLocal served as a personal test for me,” she said. “I wanted to see how much of myself – physically and emotionally – I could truly commit to immigration rights.”

Jessica officially started training in March of 2017. Although she was prepared while running from the Bronx into Manhattan at around mile 20, she began to feel lots of pain, making her question whether or not she would be able to make it to the finish line. “My legs were shot, I began feeling tired, and I started cramping,” she said.

Despite these challenges, Jessica finished the race in 5 hours and 20 minutes “For me, it felt like I could do anything if I finished that marathon.”

The Big, Scary Haunted House Industry

Photo: courtesy goldstar.com

Shrieks of both excitement and terror come  can be heard  from the people on a line that wraps around two dark Manhattan blocks. Actors dressed like  Pennywise from “It” and Freddy Krueger from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” run in and out of the young crowd, jumping out and scaring them.

That’s the typical weekend scene outside of Blood Manor, ranked the number one spookiest haunted house in New York City by Time Out and one of the many New York City haunted houses that have become an integral part of the city’s Halloween culture and a fast-growing industry.

Halloween is big business, generating $1.9 billion  this year for costumes, candy and attractions, according to the National Retail Federation. Haunted houses are becoming one of the most popular activities. Ticket prices range depending on the popularity and location of the attraction, but Hauntworld.com estimates that Americans spend between $300 and $500 million each year on haunted house passes.

With tickets in New York City costing anywhere between $20 and $200 and with many already sold through Halloween, it’s easy to see how this is becoming one of the fastest-growing holiday businesses.

Many haunted house fans like 18-year-old Alyssa are willing to spend “whatever the ticket costs” to get the thrill and adrenaline rush that comes with entering these attractions.

“I got the tickets to this from my mom who is crazy about haunted houses,” said Alyssa, who came to New York City from the University of New Haven to visit Blood Manor, which she thinks is one of the best haunted houses she has been to.  “We try to go to as many haunted houses as possible every year because they’re a great way to get into the spirit of Halloween, and they really take you into a whole other world.”

This immersive experience is what draws in crowds of anywhere between 12,000 to 20,000 paid guests, according to AmericaHaunts.com. The attractions typically lead audience members through hallways and rooms featuring different scary scenes, often with live actors, animatronics and, of course, plenty of fake blood.

Nora, 25, tried to get into the popular attraction before prices spiked for Halloween. “We figured we should come while we can still afford to,” she said. “I found a discount code online which is the only way I would spend money in tickets for this. It’s a fun adventure, but it’s way overpriced.”

While customers like Nora are more reluctant to give money to this “short and not always satisfying” experience, many Halloween enthusiasts and thrill-seekers don’t mind forking over $40 or more for a night of scares.

“Haunted houses are normally way too creepy for me – I find it best to stay away from that negative energy,” said Maram, 27, from New York City. “But this was one of the coolest, scariest and most thrilling things I’ve ever experienced.”

NYC Students Are Choosing Affordable Off-Campus Housing

Unlike most college students who are able to sleep in and take a short walk to class, Emily Uruchima wakes up every morning at 6 a.m. to the sound of her blaring alarm clock. As she runs around her apartment to pack her lunch and prepare her books, she frequently checks her alarm clock to make sure will make it to the where is the subway  subway station in time to get to her 8 a.m. class.

College students living in New York City like Ms. Uruchima are beginning more frequently to turn to off-campus, apartment living options, rather than opt for the oftentimes costlier choice – living on campus.

About 57 percent of students at New York University live off-campus, according to US news. But, even off campus they face financial issues as  New York City steadily increases.

The average cost of a studio apartment in Manhattan is $2,415, up 2% from August’s average, according to Citi Habitat’s Manhattan Residential Rental Market Report.

For most college students over $2,000 a month can be too much to pay for an apartment, but in many cases this cost, especially when divided between roommates, can also be much less than paying for a dorm.

New York University dorms and on-campus apartments can range between $5,000 and $13,000 per semester, according to the university’s housing rates for 2017 to 2018.

Some students in New York City who want to experience the city in every way possible, choose apartment-living over the traditional dorm room in order to gain a new understanding of New York culture.

“Being an international student, I wanted to experience New York like a New Yorker, living in my own apartment,” said Rodrigo, 20, an NYU student originally from Mexico City. “The best part is having my own fire escape!”

Another affordability factor in choosing between living on or off campus is the food and whether or not it makes sense to pay for a meal plan or to just go grocery shopping and cook for yourself.

Rodrigo spends more money on food, but believes he is “more self-reliant. I don’t depend so heavily on my parents paying for my meal plan or my lifestyle.” The smallest meal plan which includes five meals a week is $1,210, according to New York University’s Dining Guide 2016-2017.

Baldeep Kaur, 19, who lives in an on campus apartment in the West Village with 2 roommates, said she finds it more affordable to live off-campus than to pay $6,000 per semester for on-campus housing. “The meal plan became extremely expensive, especially for someone like me who does not eat very much. I also just got sick of dining hall food and wanted to start cooking for myself.”

While the longer commute can be difficult to adjust to, most students who live off-campus agree that it is not only more cost-efficient, but also more comfortable than being squeezed into diminutive dorm rooms.

“At the end of the day, I just like going back to an apartment that I have filled with my own furniture and cook my own – not cafeteria – food,” said Ms. Uruchima. “I am so much more at-home in my Midtown apartment.”