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Stroll down St. Marks Place in the East Village and indulge in  Japanese cuisine and fresh Belgian fries, or enjoy a glass of absinthe at a historical Irish bar. Either way, it’ll be an adventure. Warning: The street is awesome, but the sidewalk is tiny and people walk very slow so be prepared to be annoyed. — Carissa Gan

Paved with culture, St. Marks Place stretches three blocks long and is lined with colorful gems: good restaurants, amazing dessert places, historical bars and funky shops. At the brink of dusk, the streets spring to life. Each block constitutes a different vibe. The first block (frequently referred to as New York City’s “Japantown” because of the increasing amount of Japanese influence) stirs a lot of hype among teens, tourists and anyone with a love for Japanese cuisine and an unorthodox sense of style. The next two blocks feature a neat selection of Western restaurants and bars. The next time you pop by this East Village neighborhood, be sure to check out these places:

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Spot Dessert Bar

Tucked away in the basement, Spot Dessert Bar offers a delightful twist on the classic sweets. The desserts reflect rich Asian roots because the shop draws its inspiration from the East. If you love green tea, you’d definitely enjoy the green tea chocolate cupcake and the green tea chocolate lava cake. If you’re not crazy about green tea, try the Thai tea crème brulee, an exotic combination of cream custard, caramelized sugar and hot Thai tea.

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Japadog

Let me be frank with you. Japadog’s hotdogs are like no other. Instead of the quintessential sausage, you’ll find noodles or ice cream clapped between the regular hotdog buns. The fries are also served in an interesting array of flavors that include butter and shoyu (soy sauce), wasabi and aonori (dried ground seaweed).

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Pommes Frites

The Belgian fries at Pommes Frites are a must-try! You have the liberty of choosing from the bizarre selection of sauces, such as peppercorn parmesan, rosemary garlic, peanut satay and more. Life is too short to confine your taste buds to safe flavors. It’s always fun to break away and experiment something different, like the sweet mango chutney sauce. As weird as it sounds, the unique concoction of sweet mango and chutney results in perfection.

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Kenka

Oh, Kenka. It doesn’t get any kinkier than this. The moment you step past the sliding doors, you’re transported into a totally different world and era: Japan in the 60s. Pornographic images are plastered on the walls and in the menus, and speaking of the menus, you could always get the takoyaki (Japanese grilled flour balls filled with octopus bits) if you’re not up for trying turkey testicles or bull penises. The atmosphere is so loud with music blaring over the loudspeakers that you’ll literally be screaming at your friends just so they can hear you. Eventually, you get so tired of yelling over the noise that you just want to sit back and drink. That’s when the giant $7.50 can of Asahi beer comes in handy.

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Search And Destroy

Perched right above Kenka, Search And Destroy either intimidates or interests you. The freaky baby dolls and the naked female mannequin bonded with ropes are enough to make you cringe. But if you bold yourself to enter its lair, you’ll realize it’s a vintage clothing store that prides itself on sex, rebellion and Japanese punk. The store bans photography, so you’ll just have to check it out for yourself. It’s worth the experience!

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William Barnacle Tavern

Remember that scene in Moulin Rouge when the characters drank absinthe and hallucinated about the green fairy? Absinthe is a highly alcoholic drink that tastes pungently of licorice, and unguarded consumption may lead to hallucination. Apart from alcohol, this Irish speakeasy also serves good crepes, ranging from $5 and up. There is so much history caged within the walls of this bar. Apparently, Al Capone and his gangster friends used to hang out and chug alcohol while Frank Sinatra performed in a corner. The friendly bartender told me this, not the green fairy.

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Crif Dogs

One can hardly tire of good hotdogs, especially hotdogs with a twist! The Spicy Redneck is a crowd favorite, consisting of bacon-wrapped sausage with chili, jalapenos and coleslaw. What’s missing is a cold glass of Southern sweet tea.

 

 

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