One day, when I leave New York City, I will really miss the variety of cuisines you can find here. While there are some scarcities of some cuisines (I can’t find a really good Cambodian restaurant here), for the most part, you can get whatever you want as long as you are willing to travel either within Manhattan or to outer boroughs. Tonight, my best friend and I caught up over xiao long bao (soup dumplings), spicy Sichuanese wontons, stir-fried rice cakes with shredded pork and cabbage, and dry-fried string beans with pickled greens. The best catch-ups are over great food and/or drink.

My first xiao long bao experience was right here in New York for Thanksgiving in 2005. The first time I had a tamale made from fresh masa was in Queens. I’ve had a lot of epicurean “firsts” here in this city. A guy who befriended me at the gym said to me, “Why would you want to leave New York? One of the best things about traveling abroad is that you know when you come back home, somewhere you can find the food you learned about when away!”

That’s true. But sometimes, you need to leave a place to appreciate it more.

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