cfda x stern

cfda, bond street, scc, stern consulting corp

as we wrapped up our stern consulting corp projects for the cfda, the cfda wanted to do a photo shoot and interview with us for their blog.  we had the photo shoot at the intersection of bond street & lafayette, which is a very cool area that has a cobblestones.

the above photo is now being featured on the stern website as “grow possible” and it links back to the interviews and more photos on the cfda blog, parts 1 and 2.

my partner and i were originally assigned reece hudson and m.patmos as our cfda designers to work on comprehensive financial documents and a business plan for investors, respectively.  due to some complications, we only worked on reece hudson and the project brief evolved into an ecommerce growth strategy for the next 24 months.  my partner and i were much happier with the way the project evolved since we’re both interested in ecommerce and will be doing that for our summer internships.

on top of getting to work with the cfda and these really talented designers, we were also paired with some awesome mentors.  ours for reece hudson was the former ceo of oscar de la renta!

the experience was a lot of work, time, and pretty stressful…but amazing.  i’m still deciding whether to do it again this next semester.

the results are in

well, i’ve finally got all my decisions for all the programs i’ve applied to…just today, actually.  i was trying to save some space so the table would fit into my stupid blog template so i apologize for some of the confusion.  “%” indicates how selective the school is; the percentage of applicants the schools gives acceptances to out of its entire applicant pool.  the 5 most selective schools in order: stanford, hbs, mit, haas, stern, and cbs.  “int.” is whether i was invited to interview…this may not seem like much but most schools don’t interview everyone (see *** below); typically your chance of admission after receiving an invite is 40-60% so they probably invite about twice as many as they accept.  for example, stern accepts 13.2% of its applicant pool so they might interview about 26% of them. ok, enough explanation…here we go:

School Round Rank* % Int.? Result? Aid?
CBS ED** 5 15.3% Y N N/A
HBS 1 Top 11.2% N N N/A
Ross 1 10 / 15 25.4% Y Y $$
Stern 1 10 / 15 13.2% Y Y $$$$
Wharton 2 Top / 5 16.8% N N N/A
Booth 2 Top / 5 22.3% Y Y $
Kellogg 2 5 19.9% Y*** WL**** N/A
Anderson 2 15 29% Y Y

* – rank changes every year and with every publication (businessweek, us news, etc.) so i’m just going by the general consensus on its prestige.  people often say you need to go to an m7 (magnificent seven: harvard, stanford, chicago booth, mit sloan, northwestern kellogg, and columbia) or a8 (awesome eight: m7 + dartmouth tuck) school.  while those are the super-elite / elite schools…i think you’ll  do very well with the top tier (top 25?), and reasonably well from second tier.

** – most schools have application cycles in 3 rounds for each class year.  some even have 4 (berkeley haas), or some, like columbia, are either early decision or regular decision and on a rolling basis.

*** – kellogg is one of the few (only?) schools that doesn’t extend interview invites; they interview every single applicant so getting an invite bears no indication of how well you’re doing (unless you’re an international student whose interview was initially waived).

**** – wait list.  doesn’t hurt as much as a ding, but you’re still not in…you’re in limbo.  some people can get off the wait list; it can be really difficult if you’re at a school with a high yield (people who actually decide to matriculate).

and how does this compare to my undergraduate institution?  let’s see, my school was ranked #31 according to u.s. news at the time i started (#37 now, geez guess we slipped) and one of my majors (based on how my school did in the graduate school rankings since i couldn’t find an undergrad one) is top 7…not that i think anyone in the world would know that.  a very unique major that was impacted when i was still in school…it required an application and portfolio.  i was lucky enough to be accepted my first time.  anyways, back to my school…accepts 38.2% of its applicant pool.  not too dissimilar from my undergrad performance if you consider top tier for colleges is the top 100 whereas top tier for mba programs is anywhere from the top 15-25.

as i might’ve posted about previously…i originally only intended to apply to 4 schools in r1 but when i was rejected from hbs and cbs, i also applied to 4 more.  overall, i think i did pretty well.  i was rejected at 3 schools but i have 4 options to choose from with significant scholarships from 2.

some highlights and thoughts:

  • the entire admissions process is a crap shoot.  you can’t really tell how well you’ll do at each school precisely because the admissions process is so holistic (you’ll hear this often).  all components of your application are important (work experience, undergrad gpa, gmat, etc.) and considered differently at each school.  you might get rejected at a school that was lower ranked, or even less selective, than a school you were accepted at.  i didn’t get any scholarship money from ucla even though it’s less selective and not as prestigious as any of the other schools on my list.
  •  also, the adcoms at each school know their programs really well and there are more than enough qualified applicants to fill the class seat so a lot of times, it comes down to fit.  if you don’t get in, don’t feel too down…it isn’t necessarily something you did wrong, or that you aren’t good enough…you just might not have been a good fit at the program, even if you want it or think you would be.
  • it’s really easy to be swayed by the rankings/prestige.  for me, i was turned off by cbs in a lot of ways, but still held onto it because of the prestige.  in a way, i’m relieved that the decision was made for me.  and tying into my last bullet, it’s interesting to note that the schools i didn’t get into were the ones i felt the least connected to.  i didn’t like cbs, never visited hbs or really talked to any of the students, didn’t connect at wharton but was only there for like 30 min, and was a little disappointed with kellogg.  this goes back to the fit thing i guess (bullet 2).
  • the ding that stings: it’s never easy to be rejected by anything.  while i certainly didn’t enjoy being dinged by those schools, cbs’ ding stung by far the most.  it was my first ding, first decision, and one i really thought i would get into.  i mean, my chances of being accepted were higher (~50%) than even getting the invite (~30%).  kellogg was pretty brutal too since i was one of the last people to be notified over a 5-day period…maybe they were really on the fence about me or something?  but it’s not a ding, i already had other great schools, was my last decision, and was expecting it by that point.
  • the acceptance i was most happy about: ross.  maybe because it was my first acceptance + it came with a scholarship…or maybe it was because it might be my favorite program.  but i was happy enough to jump up and down after the call.  (stern doesn’t tell you about scholarships until you receive the mailed acceptance package, so you don’t know at the time you hear your decision.)
  • the next step: i have the very tough decision of figuring out where to matriculate.  i’ve already ruled out ucla but i have 3 other great programs to choose from.  i’ll post on that once it happens…because i haven’t decided yet.

my gmat journey from 600 to 730

i’ve taken the gmat twice now–the first time was november 2010 and then again recently.

gmat structure

if you’re unfamiliar with the format of the gmat, you start the exam writing 2 essays (awa = analytical writing assessment): analysis of an argument (30 min), immediately followed by analysis of an issue (30 min). this is the only section of the test you don’t receive a score for immediately and is probably the least important; so of course they put it first to tire you out for the more important components. then you answer 37 quantitative questions within 75 minutes and the verbal section’s composed of 41 questions also within 75 minutes. between each section (awa/quant/verbal) is an optional 8 minute break. so the test itself can take up to nearly 4 hours. and because gmac is changing the format of the exam next year, they’ve added 30 minutes of experimental testing to the end of the exam for research on the new format. this section doesn’t count toward your score, but you can’t see your score until you finish it.

there is no skipping or going back on any section or questions. and both the quant and verbal sections are filled with their own experimental questions that don’t count towards your score, but there’s no way of knowing whether a question is experimental or not.

you aren’t provided or allowed a calculator but you are given a small booklet of laminated pages with a grid as scratch paper and a dry erase pen. you can raise your hand to get another if you run out of space or need to use the restroom or something, but since you can’t pause, this time will be counted against you. similarly, if you take longer than 8 minutes on your break, the next section will start without you.

in terms of scoring, it’s not like most other tests where your score’s dependent on how many you answer correctly. while it is important to answer questions correctly, you’re scored in comparison to other test-takers. your score is given as a percentile, meaning that you performed better than x% of people.

the test is also computer adaptive, which means that it’s difficult for everyone. when you answer a question correctly, it gives you a harder level question. if you get it wrong, it gives you an easier one. it continues on until the end where it gives you a scored based on your level/”limit”. so even if you’re performing really well, you’re working on questions that are pushing you and much more difficult than someone who’s performing at say a 400-level.

first try

last year, i took a veritas prep class because i know i can’t self-study too well. i think the class finished in august and i had been scoring 640-660 on the practice tests. i took the exam at 8 am on a saturday and i remember it was raining that day. i arrived early, but there were many other early arrivals and we waited in the hall for the testing facility to open. i brought a rice krispy treat to snack on during the break and my own ear plugs. other than the ear plugs, i had to keep everything else in the locker. the security measures are pretty intense as each time you enter/leave the room, you have to be escorted, present your id, and do a vein scan.

i had never done the awa before and while i felt my arguments were weak, i knew the scorers care more about the structure than the content so i wasn’t too bothered. i went to the bathroom during my break and ate my treat and had a cup of water. i think i might have taken too long but i don’t really remember.

quant was a disaster–i didn’t know how to answer a lot of the questions and i could tell they weren’t that difficult but i just didn’t know what to do. and of course realizing this made me feel worse. i ran out of the time in the end and didn’t finish…i think i was 1 or 2 questions away. i think i realized i was super short on time about 8 questions away and didn’t even have time to really read anything, i just had to blindly guess and click, but even then, i still didn’t finish. sounds horrible right? i took another break and i don’t remember what i did but i’m sure i was trying to recover from feeling like crap with quant.

verbal was ok…but as the last section, you’re pretty tired and those boring, long scientific reading comprehension passages can make you read them several times before anything sinks in.

then it was straight into the experimental section for 30 minutes but at that point, i didn’t want to spend the time or energy trying to answer questions that don’t impact my score, so i just rushed through it to see my score.

when i saw 600, my heart dropped. that was worse than anything i’ve ever scored on any of my practice tests, even before i ever studied. i felt ashamed to have submitted my scores to these top 10 schools with such an embarrassing score. actually, 600 isn’t that terrible (even though i feel like it was) as it’s 64th percentile. so i did better than average, but if you’re aiming for a top-tier school (like i am), it’s understood that you should try to get about a 700 (90% ranking). i think i cried in my car afterwards and felt like shit for a while.

the aftermath

i’ve been too embarrassed to tell people my score so i’ve mostly told people that i did really badly and bombed it. since i wasn’t planning on applying to bschool for another year, i wasn’t in a rush to take it again and just wanted to relax. well, i ended up relaxing for like nearly a year. i didn’t touch any of my gmat books until this past may. one of the great things about veritas is that you’re allowed a free retake of the course, so i retook it in may and scheduled my gmat for mid-july.

i had previously been stressing about getting from a 660 to 700 because although it may not seem like it, 40 points can be difficult to come by and i’ve heard that clearing the 700 threshold is especially hard. a lot of people get stuck at 680-690. and now i needed to clear 100 points; it felt impossible.

during the class i was really frustrated at how stagnant my improvement was…i remained at about 660 (81%) for the entire class. as my test date drew closer, i knew that i wasn’t close to my goal of 700 and decided to postpone it by about 3 weeks. you can reschedule the exam for a fee of $50 if you do it before a week of the actual date. you can still reschedule after but you have to pay the full $250 if it’s within 7 days.

after i postponed it i started to study a lot more seriously but admittedly, i still could have done a lot better. and i was baffled by wildly varying practice cat scores–i was scoring anywhere from 620 to 750, no trend up or down. and i was frustrated that even though i had only been studying quant the entire time, my verbal improved greatly without as much noticeable improvement in my quant. although i didn’t do stellar on verbal, i did well enough and really wanted to get my quant score up since it was my weakness. and as this test date came up, i contemplated postponing it yet again. i really didn’t want to take it a 3rd time since i still have a lot of other parts of my application to work on.

in the end, i decided to go for it. i knew that if i had postponed it, i probably could do better since i hadn’t finished all my books. and even though my scores were driving me crazy, i had gotten 720 and 710 pretty recently on my cat’s.


this time, i scheduled my appointment for 12:15 pm since i am not a morning person at all. i got there a tad early but the testing facility was really busy and i had to wait for people to finish and leave before i could get a locker or go into the testing area. i made sure to use the restroom while i waited and brought sliced peaches as my snack this time–figured i wouldn’t get a sugar crash and the juice from the fruit would also make me less thirsty, so i wouldn’t need to spend time both eating and drinking.

the proctor eyed my ear plugs suspiciously and said that we’re only allowed to bring in our id and they had their own that we could use. i told her that i had brought them in last time and she poked at them to make sure they weren’t actually ear pieces with a speaker or something and said she didn’t think they seemed out of the norm but she would have to indicate i brought them in.

i brought them in with me and started on the awa. i think i did pretty well on the analysis of an argument but fumbled on the analysis of an issue. the awa is pretty much to make sure that there aren’t huge discrepancies between your score and the essays you submit to the schools (you’re not paying someone to write your essays for you). i had previously gotten a 5.5/6 (77%) so i wasn’t too worried and i didn’t want to spend too much mental energy on something that doesn’t really matter.

i went to the bathroom and ate 2 peach slices on my break and was surprised that i was only gone for 5-6 minutes. i asked the proctor if my ear plugs were ok and she said she didn’t think so. i didn’t want to risk forfeiting my entire score over something so stupid so i put mine away and used theirs.

quant started off well and about mid-way i noticed that i had fallen behind so i quickly went through several problems until i was caught up or ahead. but i could tell that i wasn’t doing exceptional since i wasn’t getting a lot of really difficult questions. i finished with about 6 minutes to spare.

i couldn’t really gauge how well i was doing with verbal. i guess i should’ve realized it was a high level since the questions felt difficult and i spent more time thinking of the answers than i normally do. but i finished with about 14 minutes to spare.

i tried to go through the experimental section. they said they’ll refund $20 or something like that if you try your best. i didn’t get money last time; i think it’s because i didn’t “try”. i think they can tell by how much time you spend on it, so i had just wanted to sit there and let the minutes pass but i was too impatient and ended up just clicking through to see my score.

when i saw 730, i loudly whispered “YES!!!” (sorry if i disturbed you, other test takers). i had gotten into the 96th percentile. this is above average for all business schools so i feel much better now. but i was worried because my quant and verbal score were unbalanced. i’ve heard that besides getting a good overall score, they look at the break-down and like to see 80%+ for each. i was under 80% for my quant but very close.

i think it’s probable i could do better on quant if i took it again, but there’s no telling if my overall score would be better and i definitely did better than i expected so i will not be retaking it again.

i don’t know my awa score yet as it’s still too soon, but as long as i got 4+, i don’t care.

more to come

i know this post is really long but i hope it’s helpful for anyone still struggling with the gmat. it wasn’t easy for me to disclose that 600 score, but it should be encouraging that if i could break 700, really, anyone can.

i’ll post some gmat study/test day tips later.

date the gmat

i’ve heard of beat the gmat, but dating it?  clear admit posted an article yesterday on their blog with tips on how dating strategies can apply to taking the gmat.

gmat dating advice: 6 tips to bring your score to the next level

hm…maybe if i make love to the gmat, it’ll be kind to me and we can settle down and i won’t have to try for better.

…and the food tour!

i visited 5 schools within 10 (well, really more like 9) days so i didn’t have much time to play.  especially in chicago, where i only had about 2 days for 2 schools, and philly, where i was only doing a day trip to do an information session.  i have been to both chicago and nyc before for fun so i had done a lot of the touristy sight-seeing things already, so the only fun things i had planned prior was to eat good food.  and i did have a lot of good food!

also, the first time i went to nyc, it was pre-yelp so we never looked into food too much during that trip.  it was mostly sight-seeing and shopping.



the first time i visited chicago, hot doug’s was in my itinerary but it never happened because it’s not located in the downtown area and because they close at 4 pm.  i regretted this more as i heard from friends about their amazing hot dogs.  so this time, i told myself i would definitely go.  this proved trying for this trip as well.  i had wanted to try their duck fat fries, which are only sold on fridays/saturdays, but that would’ve been impossible for me with my schedule since i landed at midnight on thursday and left saturday morning.

but i was determined!  i decided after landing at midnight thursday, taking the train to my hotel downtown, waking up bright and early the next morning for my 8:30 am campus visit at booth near hyde park, i’d conclude my visit with a student lunch, take the train up to hot doug’s to wait in line and eat before they closed, then walk about a block to eat at kuma’s corner (since i’m in the neighborhood right?).

the line, starting from the inside

the menu

autographed by its namesake

doug sohn himself, manning the register

a history of wieners

this great piece of art was in the ladies' room. i was told by another customer to check out the bathrooms.

the men's room

i didn’t really want to try any of the specialty dogs (sounded too cheesy or unappealing to me in general) or the game dogs (i don’t like game meat).  so i ordered the marty allen, which had beef, pork, and garlic, chicago style, which is garnished with tomatoes, onions, sweet relish, pickles, mustard, and celery salt.  while my friend ordered the foie gras and sauternes duck sausage dog.  you can also choose how you want your sausage cooked–grilled, fried, or boiled i think (of course mine was fried).

hot doug’s became famous with their foie gras dog because foie gras is banned from chicago due to cruelty to animals.  doug sohn refused to stop serving it and has been fined multiple times.  i’m not a huge fan of foie gras or pate, but i tried it anyways…it was pretty good, but i liked mine more.

left: foie gras dog, right: chicago-style

so this was one of my priorities in the chicago-leg of my trip and i really went out of my way to go…was it worth it?  yes!  the distance and wait weren’t all that bad.  the difference is truly in their sausage.  i didn’t really care for my (non-duck fat) fries but the sausage part was really good.  i think the bun could be better though.

portillo’s is really good too and it’s located in downtown, cheap, and pretty big.  much better than the location near home!


so at that point, i’m full and really don’t need to eat anymore.  i had  slices of pizza only about an hour earlier followed by fries and a hot dog with a soda.  but kuma’s corner was so highly recommended and it was only about 2 blocks away from hot doug’s…how could i not?

when we got there, the wait was pretty crazy.  it’s not a very big place but there were a ton of people waiting–fine by me, i’m full anyways.

it definitely has a metal/rocker vibe to the place and has about 20 different burgers.  i ordered the lair of the minotaur (they all have these crazy rocker names) which had caramelized onions, pancetta, brie, and a bourbon-soaked pear;  it was really tasty.  as full as i was, it was still one of the better burgers i’ve had–that should be a testament to how good this burger was.  unfortunately, i could only finish 1/4 of it and although i boxed it up and took it back to the hotel with hopes to eat it again, it never happened.

kuma's corner


it’s kind of funny how we ended up here.  we were supposed to meet another friend at a different restaurant/bar, but we took a wrong turn and i saw this place.  i remembered it because i had wanted to come here the first time i came to chicago but didn’t–i think it was closed the day we came or something.  we turned back and went back to the meeting place but the restaurant/bar/lounge was really busy and loud so our friend suggested we go somewhere else and i suggested pops for champagne.

it had people inside but wasn’t really that busy.  they sat us in what was basically a corner in an unoccupied side of the lounge…eh.  i didn’t eat but my other 2 friends did…i think they said it was pretty good.  i had 1 or 2 cocktails that were good/fine.

and that concludes day 1 of chicago.


i have a friend from high school that happens to work at northwestern, so after my visit at kellogg concluded, she very kindly took me and picked my friend up from the art institute (which apparently has a contemporary art wing now–must revisit!).  she took us to wicker park, which she described as the “hipster” area (stark contrast to the “yuppie” description i heard from my other friend the previous night) but i soon understood when i got there: some streets had nicer, more high-end shops, while other streets were more independently 0wned and small.

we walked into a cute little thrift store for a little bit then she suggested we eat at earwax cafe, a vegan restaurant.  apparently my friend wants to be a nutritionist.  the decor felt “hipster”…i think i ordered a mexican hot chocolate and some sort of soft taco platter.  it wasn’t bad, but not really my cup of tea–nothing beats meat (although i do like veggie grill).  i decided there that i would finish the rest of my kuma’s corner burger when i returned to my room.


after earwax cafe, we decided to go to nearby icream for ice cream/frozen yogurt.  the selling point of this restaurant is that the ice cream/frozen yogurt is made with liquid nitrogen.  i shared an ice cream with the girls…i forgot what it was called but i think it had white chocolate and strawberries.  the shop itself was very small and you can watch the employees in the “lab” making the cold treats as the mist spills over.   it took a while for them to make ours but it seemed to get a lot of traffic.  the ice cream was pretty good; the texture was a little different than regular ice cream i guess.

after, my friend drove around and i saw areas of chicago that i had never seen before, like boystown (the appropriately-named gay district).  what was interesting to me was how official it seemed.  i’ve been to the castro in san francisco but boystown had actual city fixtures heralding their pride.  we also drove by wrigleytown and wrigley stadium and i attempted to take photos of it while we were at the stop light.  my friend is allergic to alcohol so we couldn’t think of what else to do and she dropped us off at our hotel.

but it was our last night in chicago!  we couldn’t just stay there!  so i looked up a nearby bar and out we went.


this was pretty close to our hotel but it’s a little hidden.  it’s not a speakeasy but there’s only a closed, window-less door to indicate its location.  after going through the door, you walk down and the restaurant/lounge is underground.  it was a good size…not too big or too small and low-lit with some nicer decor.

it was pretty busy when we got there and although we saw the couple in front of us steal a table, we were told we would have to wait for a while.  it didn’t take too long before we were seated at a table though.  we requested some girlier drinks and the waitress said she could recreate some based off their valentine’s menu.  they were all really yummy, and still packed a punch–just what i like. fun fact: as i was looking up their website, i just learned that their bartender charles joly won the $100,000 prize for nbc’s reality tv competition on the rocks and the winning absolut tea time cocktail’s now being served at the drawing room.  congrats to them and can’t say i’m too surprised.

we also ordered the bacon2, which is bacon-wrapped duroc pork belly and it tastes even better than it sounds.  when i cut off a piece i could tell it’d be so good because of how tender it was.

bacon squared @ the drawing room

my friend was pleased to receive a free dessert after she checked-in on four square–her first!  i forget what we got, ice cream i think.

i plan on returning when i come back to chicago.  it was a really good way to conclude my visit to the windy city.

lupe fiasco | “i’m from the city in the midwest, best city in the whole wide wide world”



when i got into nyc, i called up my friend who lives in brooklyn to meet up.  i feel bad for making him try to figure out what to do/eat and pestering him the week i was there.  but he said there were some places he wanted to check out that he hadn’t been to before and i’m pretty much down with anything.

we decided to eat something small at a few places.  he had been to crif dogs before and i don’t think any tourists really stop in here.  we shared a good morning dog, which is a bacon-wrapped fried hot dog smothered with melted cheese and a fried egg.  a tad too cheesy for me but yummy.


after crif dogs, we walked a little to porchetta, known for its pork belly.  i certainly am eating a lot of pork this trip!  we shared a plate which includes their pork belly, cooking greens with garlic and chili oil, and cannellini beans.  the place is really small so i suggested that we sit and eat on the bench right in front.  the pork belly was pretty good and even the beans, which i normally don’t like, were not too bad.  my friend decided at the last minute to add a side order of roasted potatoes and burnt ends and i am so glad he did–they were easily the best part of the meal.  burnt ends are the crispy, salty pieces of the pork belly–so good!  while we were eating, we were joking that porchetta should pay us to eat in the store front because a lot of people were walking by and looking at us eat and commenting on how good it smelled.  there was even a couple with a baby boy that ended up buying some food after asking us what we were eating.

we were joined by his other friend who tried the porchetta sandwich and said it was amazing.


after food, comes drink.  we headed off to this dive bar that had a monk theme.  i didn’t know any of the drinks listed on the chalkboard so i just got a hard cider.


then onto the next bar.  this was probably the nicest bar of the evening and was pretty busy.  this is more my style type of bar to hang out in and was happy to see a lot of the bars i went to in nyc had caipirinhas, but i ordered the bees knees (gin, honey, lemon juice).  but i think my friend thought the place was too “fancy” so we headed off to the next dive bar.


apparently my friend comes here pretty often, and with drinks this cheap, i can see why.  i bought a round of 3 drinks and i think it was like $10 or something.  nyc is freaking expensive so a place like this is awesome.  it was really busy and has a pool table or two.

again, i didn’t know what drinks they had so i drank hard cider.

several of my friend’s other friends joined us and we all went to a house party in chinatown.  it felt like a house rave and my friend ended up being a drunk hot mess at the end of night (he could barely even walk).

and that’s how my first day in nyc ended at around 5 am.


my friend was hungover but since the brooklyn flea market’s only on the weekends, i wanted to check it out since i was leaving the next saturday.

it was much smaller than i expected it to be.  i thought it’d be bigger, or at least as big as, the melrose trading post.  everything was inside a smallish parking lot and there was plenty of space.  what was really nice was that on sundays, it’s located in a more gentrified (this term seemed popular this leg of the trip) area of brooklyn and it was right next to the river, with a beautiful view of manhattan and the bridges.

i was more interested in the food vendors at the flea market, although there was one shop with cool, old typewriters.

i was deciding between the lobster roll or the smoked meat sandwich.  on one hand, it’s pretty hard to get lobster rolls in southern california.  but the roll they were selling didn’t seem quite as good as the one i had at the the lobsta truck so i opted for the cheaper smoked meat sandwich.

the brooklyn flea market


i love pastrami and while it was called a smoked meat sandwich, it was basically pastrami on traditional rye bread.  it was a rather small sandwich but it was really good.  the meat was smoky and tender and i loved that the rye bread was of good quality too.


there was a bread vendor too and the various fresh breads looked amazing.  i walked by it a few times debating whether to buy something.  there was one guy roasting garlic and spreading it on the bread with olive oil and sprinkling it with sea salt–that smelled so insanely good.  i had to buy a piece and was a little disappointed by how tough the bread was to eat.

since my friend was badly hungover and he lives in brooklyn, we parted ways and i thought it was going to rain so i just stayed in the apartment…a somewhat boring end to day 2.


after my class visit at columbia, i yelped a good place for lunch in the area since i was planning on meeting someone there in a few hours.  given how close the campus is to harlem, i wasn’t sure if i wanted to venture off too far by myself.

i found brownie’s cafe–a cafe in the school of journalism building that had better reviews than the off-campus restaurants.  i literally spent like an hour walking around campus trying to find the darned building!  even asking random students, people didn’t know where it was.  it’s in the basement level of the building and i ordered a roasted turkey sandwich with brie and sliced apples and a bottle of real ginger ale.  the sandwich was really good; they make it fresh and i could tell the brie was pretty good quality…very tasty.  if i end up going to columbia, i’m sure i’ll come here often.  i couldn’t finish my sandwich so i gave it to the girl i met with and she really liked it.  even though she goes to columbia, she didn’t know about this place (different dining options in different buildings in different schools).

after i left columbia, i swung by the discovery museum in times square to check out the harry potter exhibition.


i went to the lupe fiasco concert at roseland ballroom with my good friend–which was amazing, but i won’t get into that…this post is about food.  on our way there, we decided to eat at the infamous halal cart after.

my other friend who went to law school in nyc briefly said i MUST eat there as soon as i land and i heard from another friend about how much this place gets talked up.

after the concert, we rushed over (to beat the crowds) and ordered the standard chicken and rice plate.  i don’t know if it’s because i didn’t add enough white sauce, or i didn’t add the correct hot sauce, or if it’s because we took it back to her apartment to eat instead of on the spot–but i didn’t get the hype.  yes, it was good…but crazy good?  no.  out of the food i ate my entire trip, i think this was toward the “less tasty” end of the spectrum (but to be fair, i ate A LOT of good food this trip).

the end of day 3.


after having a glass of wine with an editor at b bar & grill, i headed to chinatown to try joe’s shanghai for their soup dumplings.  i’ve never had the highly raved ding tai fung soup dumplings, but joe’s shanghai’s supposedly puts those to shame.

i had one order of the pork soup dumplings, which i think is about 8, and a side order of the green onion fried pancake.  the soup dumplings were so good.  i usually have to be very careful not to break the skin, spilling all the delicious soup and even then, it breaks anyways.  but at joe’s shanghai, i didn’t have that problem…very good.

the green onion pancake was good too…very oily and crunchy–that’s how i roll.

i later saw another location near the apartment, and apparently there are several–a little disappointed that it’s a chain but the original chinatown location has better reviews than the other locations so i guess it’s ok.


later that night, i took a cab to ink48, a boutique kimpton hotel in hell’s kitchen, for its roof-top bar to meet my friend and the new guy she’s dating.  i had a really tough time getting a cab because my friend lives in midtown in the theater district and i think the shows had just finished.  it wasn’t too far from her apartment but hell’s kitchen is supposed to be kinda seedy at night.

since the kimpton is located pretty far west, it offers lovely views of the city at night.

the view from ink48

i had one drink…i think it was pretty good.  after some conversation (about cannibalism), i headed back and called it a night to day 4.


and since i’m in nyc, of course i have to try the pizza.  apparently the debate for best pizza in nyc is between lombardi’s in manhattan and grimaldi’s in brooklyn.  i decided on lombardi’s simply because of the convenience of location.

unfortunately, at a restaurant-style pizzeria, i can only order by the pie, not slice…so even though i was eating alone, i ordered an entire pizza for myself.  i got the standard margherita (mozzarella and basil) with pepperoni.  it was really good with fresh, quality ingredients.  i think i still favor mozza because of their more inventive and special variations (there are a limited selection of toppings at lombardi’s) but it was quite good.

i ate half (!) the pizza for lunch, bagged the rest and stuffed it into my bag while i finished my day with the new museum and visit to nyu.  i ended up eating the rest of my pizza for dinner.  it didn’t taste as good as it did at lunch, but still pretty good.


between lunch and dinner, i met up with my hipster brooklyn friend at his office where we walked to hecho en dumbo for a drink.

it was my first time having a michelada, which is like a mexican bloody mary.  this boy is introducing me to so many drinks.  i like bloody mary’s as it is so the michelada was pretty good.

dumbo is one of the newer areas of new york…i think it stands for down under manhattan bridge overpass.  my friend was telling me that when he was talking about it to someone who used to live in nyc, that person didn’t know what it was.  it’s amazing to me that somewhere as dense and developed as nyc is still growing and developing new neighborhoods.

we decided we’d do our own thing for dinner (pizza for me), and then i’d head out to his place in brooklyn and hit up some bars.


after watching a little bit of the voice at my friend’s apartment while he finished cooking and eating, we headed out to barcade, a nearby bar and arcade (not like dave & buster’s).  it has a lot of the old arcade games and apparently the guy who holds the donkey kong record (chronicled in king of kong) frequents this place and of course, holds barcade’s dk record.  i think i had a black cherry lager that didn’t really taste like black cherry (because they never do, hints of = not to your untrained palette).


this is a hidden bar that has no sign on the outside and no windows.  i guess you just have to go with someone who knows.   it was pretty empty (wednesday night) but looked like a cool place.  the interior was decently sized and it had couches.  there’s an outside area up the stairs for people to smoke and hang out.  i think i had a gin & tonic here.


so i insisted that we go somewhere where i could try a pickleback after hearing about them for the first time on saturday.  i think it came up when he ordered some other pickle kind of drink from bua.  apparently it’s not a new york thing since he’s had them in san francisco, but i still wanted one.

picklebacks are typically a shot of bourbon chased by another shot of pickle brine juice.

i don’t like bourbon/whiskey/dark liquor, so i had a shot of vodka with my pickleback.  the pickle juice is a nice chaser…totally covers the taste of alcohol, but i like pickles.  i have my jar of mcclure’s spicy pickles from the brooklyn flea market for more picklebacks.

before heading home to conclude day 5, we snuck into his friend’s apartment building to hang out on the roof…just talking while looking at the view of manhattan.


i had lunch at the shake shack in the theater district because it was close to my friend’s apartment.  there was a line but i’m sure it wasn’t nearly as bad as the original location or what it used to be before they had multiple locations.

it’s kind of cool that each location’s menu is slightly different.  i ordered the stack burger even though i don’t like cheese that much…it’s a cheeseburger with a deep fried portobello mushroom stuffed with cheddar and muenster cheese.  i also made the mistake of ordering a vanilla malt and the great white way frozen custard (vanilla custard, marshmallow sauce, crispy crunchies)–it was like 2 of the same thing!

the burger was pretty good.  i’ve heard it compared to in & out but i didn’t really see the similarities.  i think i still prefer in & out though.  i liked the great white way a lot because i love rice crispy treats.


after my columbia information session, i wanted to check out their weekly happy hour.  my friend knows someone in the program so we were supposed to all hang out.  i got there first and was pretty bored and lonely for about 2 hours until my friend got out of work.

the happy hour was pretty much over at that point, but the after party continued off-campus at hudson terrace.  it’s like a bar/club in hell’s kitchen near ink48.  i think the cbs students took up like 80% of the venue.  the place was decently sized and wasn’t that classy or anything.  the music was pretty good though.  i had about 2 drinks and we danced a little before my friend and i left to eat and go home.

i don’t remember the name of the thai restaurant we ate at, but i know there were like 3 of them on the same street and they’re all pretty close to each other.  i had the pad thai and it was ok…nothing memorable and the end to day 6.



my trip to philly was so brief that i feel like i shouldn’t even writing about this one.  i was a little apprehensive coming here after i heard the night before about how 3 people my friend knows got mugged their first week at wharton.

i wanted to try a real philly cheesesteak sandwich but i was short on time and bravery so i just ate at the food court.  i got a cheesesteak from the burger & sandwich stop and it was ok…but man was it massive!  look at this thing!

maybe it’s not obvious how big this thing is from the photo but let’s just say it’s much bigger than a 1′ long from subway…this thing’s like vomiting meat.



as my last night here, i was hoping to eat at babbo, mario batali’s restaurant, but i couldn’t get reservations.  my friend and i were going to try walking in anyways but i came back from philadelphia later than i expected to.

my friend and the guy she’s dating suggested turkish food, which i’ve never had so i said ok.

we ordered several dishes, none of which names i remember.  i know we got 2 lamb dishes and i think another chicken.  it was pretty good…even the lamb, which i normally don’t like (ed: geez i sound picky in this post).


after dinner, my friend and i walked a little to this wine bar.  since it was my last night, my brooklyn friend was coming out too.  i went to the bathroom and proceeded to walk in on a couple having sex…classy.

i had about 2 drinks that were pretty good.  my brooklyn friend got a free drink after checking-in on four square (his four square list actually helped me remember where i went during my trip).

my friend was totally falling asleep here so we sent her home in a cab and stayed out a little longer.


this was a rooftop bar at the la quinta in koreatown…pretty random.  actually, we had planned to go to the ace hotel but the bouncer said only hotel guests were allowed inside…bummer.

me bar is pretty off-the-radar and it’s not tall enough to offer crazy views, but you do see neighboring buildings.  the drinks were pretty cheap and we stayed outside, drinking and talking until it got too cold.


i wanted to stay out longer but we didn’t know where else to go so we were sort of just walking around.  we ended up here…it’s sort of like tgi friday’s.

that’s pretty much how i ended my trip on day 7.


the next morning i went out to eat dim sum with my friend at golden unicorn in chinatown before i had to fly back home to california.

my friend from brooklyn was supposed to join us but he overslept.

it wasn’t busy and the dim sum was really good…one of the best dim sum i’ve had.  i’m not used to seeing dim sum in the traditional bamboo steamers–all the places i eat at at home use the steel ones.

it was odd that they didn’t have the pork spare ribs since that’s pretty standard.  but they had bacon-wrapped shrimp deep fried with a mayonnaise dipping sauce…doesn’t really seem chinese and i’ve never seen it before, but it was good.  it even came with some pringles.

after we ate, we hung out at her apartment for a little watching tv before i caught a cab to jfk (he ripped me off!).

other comments:

  • i had to buy new shoes (toms) because my feet were hurting from walking around so much in nyc in my tory burch flats
  • my only souvenirs from the trip are a necklace from the harry potter exhibit and a jar of pickles
  • longchamp’s folding le pliage bags are a travel must…i’m proud that i was able to fit 10 days worth of clothing and toiletries into my carry-on and another bag!
  • chicago > nyc, at least in terms of cleanliness, beauty, space, and ease of navigation for the public transportation system
  • while i was gone, i felt like i had adjusted to living there…especially nyc
  • i must always remember to bring my ear buds on flights in order to get sound while watching tv

photos of the new museum:

this post took forever to write and i’m sure to read as well, so if you made it all the way through–you’re a champ.

i think it’s funny that the purpose of my trip was to visit business schools, and my post on food is several times longer and more interesting.

the business school tour

so a couple of weeks ago, i spent 10 days visiting 5 different business schools in hopes that seeing the schools would help me narrow down which ones i’d like to apply to.  while i was surprised by my reaction to some, i’m still confused and will continue to think it over.

because of the high-cost of money, time, and effort associated with each application, i can realistically only apply to around 4 schools per round.  i was hoping to only apply in round 1, but if i can’t narrow it down, i may draw out my misery longer and apply in round 2 as well.

in this order, i visited university of chicago booth, northwestern kellogg, columbia business school, new york university stern, and university of pennsylvania wharton.

since i was visiting 5 schools, in about 10 days, in 3 different cities, i didn’t have much time to sight see.  pretty much the only things i had planned during my trip were food-related so i have dubbed this “the business school and food tour”.  i will be following this mba-dedicated post with my food experiences.


the harper center is the main building where booth students take their classes.  there’s also the gleacher center in downtown.  the harper center’s located in hyde park and pretty new, i think it opened in 2006 or so and it has big glass windows to allow a lot of sunlight in–much needed in chicago.  the winter garden is the “quad” i guess, where people can socialize and hang out.

chicago booth, mba, harper center, winter garden

winter garden @ the harper center

i sat in on one of the marketing strategy classes…the classroom looked pretty modern.  all the students displayed name tags in front of them–i guess so the professor can cold-call people.  even us visitors had our own, but ours said “visitor”–i guess so the professor won’t call on us.

one of the classrooms @ the harper center

these green apples are free for students to snack on


kellogg is located just outside of chicago in evanston…about a 60-minute “l” ride away from my hotel located near the magnificent mile, i think (somewhere between 45 to 90 min…i know that’s a big gap).  because of its close proximity to a big city, the campus is a hybrid between the large, urban schools and college towns (like dartmouth tuck).

i sat in on an operations class with one of kellogg’s most popular professors.

a typical kellogg classroom


ok, so unfortunately, i have absolutely no photos of columbia even though i was on the campus on three separate occasions!  i was waiting until the information session to take photos (didn’t even bring my camera the other times) because i assumed it’d include a tour, but it didn’t and it was in the evening.

this is really too bad because the columbia campus is quite beautiful.  especially the second day i went because the weather was so warm–students were lying out on the grassy lawn surrounded by flowering trees, it felt so peaceful and summer-like.  columbia is located uptown in manhattan, on the edge of harlem and provides a real campus feel because it’s sort of isolated in a bubble, despite its urban setting.


stern’s campus is almost the opposite of columbia’s–located in greenwich village, it’s amidst the bustling city life of new york.  there isn’t a centralized campus the way columbia is setup; nyu’s various buildings are located near each other but not necessarily immediately identifiable.

and where columbia’s architecture is more classical and traditional, stern’s building is newer and more modern.

outside of stern

i was unable to sit in on any classes during my stern visit because they were reserved for admitted students.  so if anyone is planning on visiting–you have to wait until fall.  i only did an information session, which included a quick tour.

the building is actually a little confusing because i think it’s actually three inter-connected buildings so the room numbering can throw you off.

an atypical stern classroom--it's the largest

a student lounge

i spy kegs


my wharton/philadelphia visit was extremely short-lived–i spent about 8 hours total on a bus for about 1.5 hours of actual time there, including lunch.  the facilities are also pretty new and modern.

the main building @ wharton


i know my post leaves much to be desired and i’m surprised by my lack of photos.  i had initially planned on writing a detailed review of my experiences at each school but for any prospective applicants out there, i don’t want to sway your opinions since fit is so personal…you should visit the schools for yourself and decide from there.

next up…the slightly-more-fun food tour post…!