boston – day 1

mm, who doesn’t love an 8:45 flight on a saturday morning after a night of fireball jell-o shots at the boss’ holiday party?  ah, i knew i wasn’t the only one!  this morning my coworker vinh and i hopped aboard delta flight 104 and shut our eyes on the two and half hour trip up to boston.  we arrived a little early, were picked up by his brother-in-law, and whisked away to his childhood home.

vinh was born and raised in boston, attended tufts university, and often comes back to visit his hometown.  the neighborhood of dorchester is his stomping grounds, and it was a treat to get to see the town where he grew up and spent his younger days making memories. i’ve never been to boston, and a few months ago i heard the band the 1975 was touring in the states.  i was going to miss their atlanta show because i was out of town, but i saw they were going to be performing in boston.  well, that about sealed the deal for me.  i called up vinh and asked him if he’d like to go to the concert with me and show me around his city.  his agreement was nearly instant, and so my boston adventures began!

so much to do and so little time in which to do it!

so much to do and so little time in which to do it!

let’s start with some boston trivia (brought to you by the city of boston and the history channel) for all you history buffs out there.

  • boston was originally incorporated as a town in the year 1630 and then as a city in 1822, making it one of the oldest cities in america.
  • the mather school, which vinh actually attended as a child, was founded in 1639; it was the first public elementary school established in our nation.
  • the u.s.s. constitution “is the oldest fully commissioned vessel in the u.s. navy and [is] permanently berthed at the charlestown navy yard.”
  • you may not be aware, but the boston tea party set into motion some bigger and more ground-shaking events.  in response to the british parliament’s tea act of 1773, a group of colonists, supported by samuel adams’ tea party, dumped 342 chests of tea (about an $18,000 value) into the harbor in protest to the low taxes for and virtual monopoly of the american tea trade by the east india company.  parliament’s outrage at the destruction of british property lead to their enactment of the coercive acts (also known as the intolerable acts) in 1774 to virtually cripple massachusetts under new laws.  these acts fueled the colonists’ fire; they subsequently called to order the first continental congress, a beginning act of the american revolution.  if only i’d come a week later, i’d be able to see their annual reenactment in action!

now that you’ve learned something new today, let’s get to our first day of adventures!  after freshening up at the house, we were ready for some lunch.  vinh constantly raves at the office about the best all-you-can-eat sushi in boston, and lucky enough for me, it’s exactly where we were going to eat!  we drove to the town of winchester, on the other side of boston, and arrived at sakura.  on the corner of canal and main, this restaurant actually is a home , not what you might expect; vinh even laughed when he pulled up and commented on it.  “but, the man who owns this place?  oh dang, he’s so nice.  you’ll see.”  and see i did!  vinh was right on about the service; the owner was attentive and answered our questions with ease.

here at sakura, they have an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for around 15 bucks, a pretty good deal if you’re a hungry soul like we both were.  vinh and i reviewed the ordering sheet in front of us, him making intriguing recommendations and me playing it safer with my choices.  you can’t go wrong with miso soup and a tuna roll, right?  right!  but!  i assure you here and now that i did try some things i might not normally, so let’s find out how we liked it all. menu we ordered several smaller plates to munch on before the sushi arrived.  among them first was the miso soup.  it was quite standard, with plenty of tofu (which i liked); it was a good start to the meal since it was all rainy and dreary here on day one.  the perfect warmer-upper! miso soup the rest of the appetizers arrived quickly behind the soup.  first, let’s start with the udon noodles.  udon noodles are some of the thickest out there, and these noodles were perfectly cooked.  they weren’t overdressed with sauce, almost just like a little glaze to go with the noodles, cabbage, and chicken.  a whole bowl of that would have had me ready for a nap in no time.

next up was what turned out to be my favorite surprise of the afternoon:  chilled tofu with hot sauce.  now, that little plate looks quite deceiving, as it could easily be mistaken (by yours truly, and hopefully at least someone else out there in the world) as blocks of cream cheese with pickapeppa sauce on top.  ah, what a surprise to my taste buds!  although the hot sauce was a bit peppery, it really paired nicely with the mild tofu.  i quickly scarfed up my two and left vinh to his.

the vegetables and beef in broth and then the grilled/glazed chicken were tasty, but i probably could have done without them.  the chicken glaze was very rich, though, and a bottle of it probably wouldn’t last long in my house.  otherwise, i appreciated that the broccoli was nice and crisp and kept the rest of my opinion to myself and then ruthlessly shared it with all the internet on this post.  whoops!

the last of our starters was the sweet potato tempura.  now, nothing about a fried sweet potato sounds bad, and nothing about a fried sweet potato tastes bad either.  dip those bad boys into the soy sauce and call it a day.  you’ve done enough work digesting some delicious eats; that nap is well-deserved.

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next up in our eating extravaganza came the biggest serving of sushi i have ever seen in one place in my life.  we literally ordered so much sushi that we had a boatful, a mini, table-sized boat full of sushi.  after the owner placed it in front of us, i looked at vinh with apprehension.  “ah, i got you.  we ordered the perfect amount.”  well, i’ll take confidence in his confidence, then!

now, i forgot to jot down exactly what we ordered, and i also forgot to grab a menu when we left the restaurant, so i’m going to do my best here to remember what we ordered.  forgive me for any mistakes! let’s start with the sushi rolls, or sushi cones as i have so sweetly renamed them.  these sushi cones have your choice of filling, including the rice, and are cone-shaped due to the seaweed wrapping.  vinh went with an eel one while i opted for a more traditional spicy salmon with crunch cone.  the rice was nice and sticky and sweet, and the salmon wasn’t too spicy for my delicate palette.  my only difficulty was biting through that tough seaweed.  those bites were not graceful by any definition, and it’s for things such as these that vinh and i have a no-judgment zone when we’re eating; it’s so freeing!

next up was the classic tuna roll.  ooh, that tuna was so beautiful with its pink-red coloring, and it was even more delicious when i smothered it in spicy mayo.  sometimes simple things, when done really well, are just the best thing ever.  that tuna roll was exactly this sort of thing.

the crab roll that we ordered was tasty also, but its presentation was a touch messy.  would i eat it again?  sure, but it isn’t an option i would readily order again or recommend as a must-try.

finally were the two monstrous rolls on the board, and they were the rainbow roll and the winchester roll.  the rainbow roll had substantial slivers of avocado on each, which had me sold from first look, and was the perfect piece when dipped in the slightest bit of soy sauce.  i wasted no time in eating that one up right away.  then there was the winchester roll, which really was the winner of the day.  i do not know what was in it; i’m not even sure if i knew what it was while i was eating it, but it was my first piece of the actual sushi meal, and i looked at vinh, assuring him he had made a wise suggestion.  if you ever go to sakura, get the winchester roll.  this is me recommending it to you, and my sincerest hope is that you obey.

we were about halfway through the boat, and i couldn’t help but wonder if i had any space in my stomach left for the rest of the meal.  would we sink or would we swim?! boat during vinh assured we had plenty of time and there was no rush, so with that, we stayed another hour or so and finished off every morsel, every piece, every grain of rice on that boat.  now, vinh may have had to come in and save me when i threw in the towel, but like true champions, we rose to the occasion and finished it all!  we’re ready for our ribbons!

before asking for our checks, vinh had one more request for red bean ice cream since i had never heard of it, much less tried it.  our cute little scoop to share was quickly served to us, and i was quite glad vinh didn’t let us leave without first having dessert.  it wasn’t overly sweet, somewhat reminding me of strawberry ice cream but a bit better because its flavor was just the right amount.  red bean ice cream?  put it on your list of things to try.  right meow, please. red bean ice cream after eating our body weight in sushi, we politely thanked the owner on our way out the door and hopped in the car.  when you consume that much food, even over a couple of hours, there’s only two things you can possibly do.  thing one:  take a champion-level nap.  thing two:  walk around so that you don’t fall asleep in the car, as the driver or the passenger.  since we had some time to spare before the concert, we went with thing two.  vinh parked us near chinatown, and we strolled about through downtown boston and boston commons.  the city was already dressed up in its Christmas best, and it was a treat to get to see the town come to life for the season’s festivities.  despite the rain, we were able to mosey around for about an hour before deciding we needed to rest our feet.  we took a quick power nap in the car and then headed off to the show.

now, let me take a brief moment here to say some things i noticed about this more northern city.  they have signs referencing snow plows and snow shovels in every building.  the last time i saw a snow shovel was never, and the good Lord knows that having  grown up in alabama, i’ve never seen a reference in nearly any manner to a snow plow.  i also was very aware of the very confusing streets.  now, i know atlanta has all its peachtree streets every couple of blocks, but i’m so glad vinh was driving us and not me.  i surely would have gotten us lost and turned us down a couple of one-way streets in the wrong direction.  i suppose the sloshing rain and lack of natural light did not help.  it is for these reasons, my friends, that you tour a new city with a local every now and then.

okay, so, the moment had arrived, the reason i had planned this trip from the start:  the 1975 in concert!  i had listened to their self-titled album all day yesterday in the car, so i was getting ecstatic as we drew closer to the entrance of the house of blues.  just beyond those doors the energy was electric, and soon enough we were going to be a part of it.  before we could join the fun, though, i had the strangest encounter with nearly all of the other people there:  i was surrounded by teenage girls in crop tops and see-through shirts with short and glittery skirts.  were we at the right concert?  considering they let us in after checking our tickets, i knew there was no mistake.  but, all these teenagers, here at the 1975 concert with me?  has my taste in music deteriorated rapidly?  no, i assured myself.  my taste in music is varied, and the 1975’s indie and careless attitude must be the draw to these young ladies.  girls like bad boys, right?  sure, kels, whatever helps you sleep at night.

enough of that, now!  let’s get to the good stuff, which is one of my now favorite bands in all their concert glory.  after the opening act, the 1975 so casually came on stage and rocked the venue for an hour and a half straight.  they played all of my favorites, some i didn’t know, and even a new one for their upcoming album.  the music, as i knew it would be, was infectious, and i was jamming along as each song was played.  the performance’s lighting was outstanding, really keeping your attention throughout the show.  as we exited the house of blues around ten that night, i realized i’d found my newest obsession:  destination concerts.  i’d already visited chicago earlier this year to see jamie cullum (for a third time), and now the 1975 in boston.  it’s only a matter of time before i’m planning my next trip!


vinh and i nearly sprinted back to the car, for the bitter winter wind had picked up while we were at the concert.  my sushi-coma had finally worn off, so vinh took me to brighton avenue to try the south korean fried chicken at bonchon.  after shaking off buckets of rain, we grabbed a couple of chairs at the sushi bar.  vinh ordered an extra large combo for us, 20 wings and 10 drumsticks.  good thing we were hungry!  half the order was soy garlic, the other half smothered in hot sauce.

i first grabbed my chopsticks and went for the coleslaw.  it was creamy and crunchy and a little peppery too, which was a pleasant surprise to this southern classic.  i then grabbed a soy garlic drumstick and went to town.  that thing had super crunchy breading to carry the flavor of the sauce, and i declared them delicious right away.  vinh had me try one of the hot spicy wings which, as i should have known, wasn’t the best idea.  those little suckers were spicier than he had remembered, which means they were not a good fit for me.  after powering through one wing as politely as i could, i stuck with the soy garlic wings.  our hunger had deceived us in the end, though, as we both only ate about four or five wings each.  considering the long day we’d already had, i’d consider that a fine accomplishment, yes?  sure!

wing bones


we packed up the leftovers, bundled back into the car, and headed back to dorchester.  the long cold day had me nearly begging for a hot shower, which i immediately was able to take before filling you all in on my day’s journeys.  as i power off my tablet and roll into bed, you make sure to get some shuteye as well.  there’s a whole other day ahead of us tomorrow!

7 thoughts on “boston – day 1

  1. […] then just like that, i was off again!  this time to boston with my coworker vinh who joined me at the 1975 concert that i had been anticipating for months.  between meals, he took me on the local tour of town on […]

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