Monday, May 16, 2005

Hoong-San's 30th Surprise Birthday

Yay! Another fun weekend back home in NJ/NYC.

On our way, we picked up some good ol' Italian food, meat ravioli and spaghetti bolognese, from our favorite Italian diner and then watched some tv in an otherwise empty house. Mom and Dad had gone on vacation and wouldn't be back until Sunday afternoon.

I had to get up super early on Saturday since I was finally going to officially change my last name to Tull. So the first step was changing the driver's license. The lines at the DMV are usually dreadful, so I aimed to get to the place by 7:15am, it being open at 8am. Well, getting there even earlier than I planned at around 7am, I ended up being the third person in line. Not too bad. And the only reason the other two people were there was that they thought it opened at 7am. (So, I overestimated the situation a bit.) I finally got my new license, with a screwed up signature since I forgot I had to sign it and hadn't practiced signing my new name.

I couldn't really function all that well, having woken up super early, so naturally, I fell asleep again.

Elmer had sent everyone very well-designed invitations, detailing the delicious 9-course menu and time we all had to be at the restaurant (called Megu located in Tribeca), which was 7:30pm. Brian and I drove into the city around 4pm and found parking in pretty much the best spot you could find, right in front of the restaurant. At Elmer's request, we had to bring in flower arrangements he set aside for us at home, so parking there made transporting them quite easy.

To pass time, Brian and I walk around Tribeca, Soho and the village. It was forecasted to rain, and luckily it was sunny and didn't end up raining at all. Lots of people out and about, enjoying the weather. I was determined to find a vintage Star Wars shirt to wear on Thursday for the release, but unfortunately just stumbled upon ones that weren't to my liking. Up by NYU, we hurried back down to Tribeca just after 7pm and arrived back at the restaurant around 7:30pm to find Teddy waiting for us.

Okay, so I was wearing my usual black jeans, all-stars, and a t-shirt, relying on Elmer's dress code approval of wear whatever you want. Outside the restaurant, there's a red carpet AND a velvet rope with a tall man dressed all in black standing out front. Hmm...I did bring nice shoes and a different top just in case, but I decided to side with comfort and stick with my all-stars, considering I may be doing a little bit of running around, and just change my top. The tall man didn't seemed bothered with my attire as I entered so, awesome, no need to change.

Amelia was next to show up, followed by David, Joanne and Gene (Congratulations! I never did say it that night.) It was 7:50pm at this point.

Elmer left me a message about 5 minutes earlier saying that they are on their way. Well, that's seven down with five more left to arrive. We all went to the private VIP Juraku Lounge Elmer had reserved and waited restlessly for the others to show up. By 8:10pm, Sunny, Darice, Emily, Sam and Kathy had arrived. Thank goodness Elmer and Hoong-San were running late. They didn't get there until around 8:30pm.

Here's Hoong-San's reaction on video:

Our dinner menu included:

- fresh edamame on branches (from which David, Elmer, Brian and I each removed and kept our own green ice cube...quite reminiscent of our wedding)

- Japanese Yuzu caesar salad
- spicy Zaru Tofu stew (one of my favorite dishes of the night...soooo good)
- Tatsuta-fried Chicken in a Jubako box (yum...KFC...)
- Bincho-tan charcoal grill skewers (all I have to say is tender Kobe beef...)
- silver cod Hosho Yaki in Yuan Miso with Shimeji mushrooms (memories of Nobu...but with yummy strange-looking mushrooms)
- Kalbi of Kobe beef grilled on a river stone (fun and interactive, cooked to your liking, with your very own lard, or as we would prefer, Lard Lite, for non-stick purposes)

- sushi (fresh wasabi grounded on shark skin, usually provided by the waiter, but having fascinated several of us, was a task we took upon ourselves...the waiter left us long before we noticed, abandoning the root and skin)

- Montagne de Fraises (with the added bonus of sparklers, provided a la myself)

The food was deee-licious, accompanied with a fruity drink called "Harmony" that David and Amelia both had as well. After dinner, we took a tour of the restaurant and admired the decor, including a great mirror illusion near the bathrooms and a kimono room.

Then we headed to a familiar place...BINY for karaoke...

Other friends of Hoong-San and Elmer joined us there as many impressed us with their vocal stylings. The hardcore ones turned out to be Jinny, Hoong-San and Gene. And out of nowhere near the end of the night, not having sung anything up to this point, Harry whips out a to-the-tee rendition of "Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi. Old school 80's dancing was provided by Teddy along with the comedic quirks of Fran.

There was an earlier debaucle of the originally reserved room not having the karaoke machine work, so we all had to squeeze into a smaller room. Because of that, I think, we were offered a round of free shots. Ten of us decided to go with the flow. But as the group dwindled and it got later and later, there were no shots to be seen. Good thing there was just enough of us still there when they finally brought them, just minutes before we left the place. Fruity jolly rancher shots.

One of the memorable moments that ended the night was when after Brian and I sang "What's My Age Again" and some random music continued to play in the background, Teddy did his own solo acappella version of "Somebody" by Depeche Mode. FAN-tastic. He and I seemed to be the only ones who knew all the words, and it was a good thing a mic wasn't near me.

It was around 3:30am when we all headed in our respective directions. On the way back to the car, we saw a tiny car get pulled over that I think had 7 or 8 passengers, with two in the front passenger seat. It was funny to see it happen, because since the car was so small, it was hard to miss that there were way too many people in it. Driving back, our shuffled mp3 CD entertained us with alternative power pop, swing and rap.

Happy 30th Birthday, Hoong-San!! Hope you enjoyed the night as much as we did!

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