These “MoonDance” evenings, I should point out, have been going on for the past several years (formerly downtown at the Hudson River Pier between 13th & 14th Streets), and have been & continue to be FREE to all! The summer event series – including live Salsa & Swing dance demonstrations at intervals throughout the evening – is currently sponsored by City Winery (co-produced by the Hudson River Park Trust & Dance Manhattan Studio).
And, I might also note that my wife is addicted to these particular outdoor dancing sessions, to the generally warm summer breezes off the Hudson, and the variety of live bands and their intensely rhythmic musical sounds ... so I am often dragged along as, well, a dance partner, however rudimentary my own skills in this area happen to be (while she, of course, is, simply a naturally fabulous dancer).
The deal is, I go the dance sessions along with her and attempt to “perform” – and, indeed, I am improving, having taken ballroom dancing lessons over the years, and, thus, can ably fake various steps and breaks & “moves” (appreciably better at the Swing than the Salsa) – and she takes me out to dinner as a springboard to my, at times, only tepidly willing participation.
This past Sunday night, however, the dancing proved lots of fun, the band consistently easy to follow (loud, jazzy, “classically” syncopated Latino), the river breezes from New Jersey mild but emphatically cool, and my wife extra tolerant of my meager & occluded Salsa skills. And, best of all, we had a particularly yummy Thai dinner at, appropriately, the Yum Yum Too, a comfy, smallish, sleekly designed resto at 662 9th Ave., at the corner of 46th (on the uptown, east side of the avenue). We had dined here on a number of prior occasions and suspected that the moderately spicy food would remain tasty, appealing & abundant, the service hospitable & nicely paced, and the prix fixe (5 courses @ $22.95) right on target. Indeed, everything proved exactly as we had expected! And perhaps, in some respects, even better…
Along with the house Thai garden salad with either peanut- or ginger-based dressing on the side, we each chose different soups & appetizers. I picked the Tom Yum Goong, a spicy lemongrass soup with bell pepper, mushrooms & shrimp, suffused in a red chili base, while my wife was attracted to the Galangal Cocoanut, a richly coconut-based (“galangal” or ginger-like) soup, with bell pepper, mushrooms & chicken. Preceding the mains, and, again, also on the prix fixe menu, were small appetizer plates. We selected the Thai dumplings (stuffed with chicken, shrimp & crab meat) and the chicken curry puffs (ground chicken, potato, onions & curry powder with a cucumber chutney dip). With dinner, we quaffed a Sapporo and a Singha, at $5.00 each bottle.
For our mains, we each ordered Too Specials: I opted for the Emperor Duck (which I knew would be crispy outside and oven-roasted, succulently, to perfection); my wife selected the Salmon Basil (mildly spicy, tender & juicy). The crispy duck came on a bed of bell peppers, zucchini, string beans, broccoli & bok choy, with an understated sweet but markedly spicy chili sauce; topped with basil leaves, the grilled salmon appeared, too, with bok choy, bell peppers & chili (each main accompanied by a generous bowl of jasmine rice).
We both finished up with a smallish, rectangular cup of crème brulee – sweet & light, topped with a crispy “glazing” – which provided, as always, a satisfying conclusion to a Yum Yum Too meal!
Now ready for a short, post-prandial walk, we ambled over to Pier 84 toward an hour (or more) dancing to the staccato (mixed “salsa”) strains of the Los Hermanos Colon Latino band … amidst the cool mid-July Hudson River breezes surrounding us and, yep, a thin sliver of a moon above us in the evening sky.