Jolene's favourite neighbourhoods in New York City

Jolene Koh, full-time financial consultant and part-time baker – Roomorama blog

City guide: New York

Jolene is a full-time financial consultant and part-time baker, who dreams of opening her own bakery someday. She was inspired to slip on the (baking) gloves after tasting how Pierre Hermé revolutionised French patisserie during a trip to Paris. Whenever she has the time, she is usually in her kitchen whipping up a meal. See the world through Jolene's (beautiful and enviable) lens on Instagram, at @jolenekcw.

What kind of traveler are you?

I’m mostly a planner but I can be spontaneous and adventurous at the same time. I love trying new things and experiencing different food and cultures.

You've spent many a vacation in New York, and you photograph all these amazing places to eat at! Where are your favourite breakfast places in the city?

I love Buvette, Lafayette and La Colombe. Also, Tai Pan Bakery (Chinatown) for their cakes and pastries and the recently opened Chalait - a matcha, tea and espresso bar.

Lafayette Chalait

Pictured above: Lafayette (credit: Lafayette), Chalait (credit: Chalait)

You went to a lot of cafes there - which were your favourites?

Navy for the amazing Mussels on toast (its my staple order), Lafayette for their croissants and pastries, Buvette has the best scrambled eggs on toast with jamon, Happy Bones serves up one of the better coffees in the city, Maman for its parisian vibe with range of wholesome baked goods and salads. Russ & Daughters for their lox bagel and latkes.

Navy Happy Bones – Roomorama blog Russ & Daughters – Roomorama blog

Pictured above: Navy (credit: Sandra), Happy Bones, Russ & Daughters

You are obviously drawn to photograph beautiful things - what are some places which you were struck by in New York?

I love Central Park for its beautiful and ever changing scenes through the various seasons. Every experience is always so different! My favorite time would be Fall, approaching Winter.

I'm not a big fan of history so the two museums which I enjoy going to are the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) and Musuem of Modern Art (MoMA).

I absolutely love Chinatown, not only because it reminds me fondly of home but also because the food there is so good and affordable. I love walking through the markets watching vendors hawk their produce.

I like Chelsea as well, for the famous Chelsea market and also because there are so many art spaces and galleries around the area. A perfect Sunday would be getting some fresh bakes there, coffee from Blue Bottle and walking The High Line.

Dover Street Market is always fun to go to for a dose of avant-garde fashion, and just to take in the beautiful, architectural displays. Rose bakery's is housed within Dover Street Market, and the carrot cake there is my weakness. When I'm around the area, I never fail to pop by for tea and to walk through the different levels of newly-dropped collections from various designers.

MET Chelsea Market, New York Dover Street Market Store, NYC

Pictured above: MET (credit: Physicistjedi), Chelsea market (credit: frenchdistrict), Dover Street Market (credit: retail design blog)

What were some of the pleasant surprises about the city that perhaps you experienced for the first time on this trip?

I'd been to New York in the summer and fall before, but recently spent my first winter there. The cold was insane but (mostly) bearable. I really enjoyed it when it snowed and Central Park was gorgeously covered in white.

What is the craziest thing you did on this trip?

Unfortunately nothing too crazy but I did take an impromptu trip to Philadelphia. A friend was in New Jersey and we decided to meet up - spontaneously! We had dinner at Serpico (one of the restaurants I've been wanting to try for the longest time) and spent the next day exploring the city and its lovely museums.


Pictured above: Serpico (credit: Design Bureaux)

As a visitor to New York, what were your favourite neighbourhoods to wander around in?

West Village / Greenwich Village

I love this neighbourhood because it's quiet and the townhouses there are beautiful. It's a lovely neighbourhood to take long afternoon walks in, lounge in a cafe, and people watch.

Stop in at The Monocle Store, then indulge in some all-American sweetness at Magnolia Bakery. No trip to New York is complete without a taste of the real original Cronut from Dominique Ansel Bakery.

Make sure you stroll the entire stretch of Bleecker Street, and pop into Bookmarc, the Marc Jacobs book store

In the neighbourhood, my favourite spots are:

For breakfast - ChaLait and Toby's Estate

For lunch - Head over to Jack’s Wife Freda - a cute café or if you want to experience a little of Paris while you're in New York, head over to Buvette.

For dinner: The Spotted Pig has an English gastropub feel, with excellent food. My other picks in the neighbourhood are The Little Owl and The Mermaid Inn, for tasty seafood.

For drinks - visit Employees Only for a fun night out

Magnolia Bakery Toby's Estate The Spotted Pig The Little Owl

Pictured above: Magnolia Bakery (credit: Michelle Nicole Photography), Toby's Estate (credit: Sam Ortiz), The Spotted Pig (credit: Damsel In Dior), The Little Owl (credit: 1000thingsnyc)


Soho is exciting, fun and bustling with locals and tourists alike. I'm not a fan of Fifth Avenue because I find that stretch very touristy but I enjoy the occasional retail therapy, so Soho is a good alternative.

Check out The Apartment by The Line and go through the different flagship boutiques.

There are tons of spots for good coffee in Soho. Some of my favourites are Saturdays, Happy Bones and La Colombe.

My favourite strolls are along Greene Street & Broome Street

Have breakfast at Maman, a café and bakery, or at Balthazar Bakery.

For Lunch - Navy is a local favourite. Spring Street Natural and Little Prince are also .

Have dinner at The Mercer Kitchen or Ed's Lobster Bar, which as the name of the place suggests, sells many dishes featuring lobster as its main ingredient.

Then for drinks, head over to Sel Rrose or Pegu Club.

The Apartment by The Line Saturdays Little Prince The Mercer Kitchen

Pictured above: The Apartment by The Line (credit: Kathy Kuo), Saturdays (credit: Ailine Liefeld), Little Prince (credit: Evan Sung), The Mercer Kitchen (credit: The Mercer Kitchen)

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

I love Manhattan but being in Brooklyn is an entirely different experience altogether. It appeals to my inner indie-hipster.

Catbird Jewelry is a cute little store with trinkets and objects that would make good gifts.

For my caffeine fix I go to Toby’s Estate and Blue Bottle Coffee. For the chocolate lovers, head over to Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory where they always have samples out so you can try before you buy! Also, don't miss out on The Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg, an artisanal food fair that runs every Sunday from Spring - Fall.

For breakfast, head over to Bakeri or Ovenly - a place that is perfect for having a cup of coffee while basking in the sun.

Have lunch at Reynard or Cafe Mogador. Or... for something more indulgent, go to Pies & Thighs and get their fried chicken.

For dinner, I recommend modern BBQ spot, Fette Sau, or Maison Premiere for happy hour oysters!

I enjoy a drink at The Ides at The Wythe Hotel - it has an amazing view of the city.

Catbird Jewelery Smorgasburg Reynard Cafe Mogador

Pictured above: Catbird Jewelry (credit: Vanessa Ray), Smorgasburg, Reynard, Cafe Mogador (credit: Lani)

What are some of your must do's when you travel?

I love experiencing new things. As much as I enjoy going back to my favourite shops and restaurants, I always make it a point to try new places or explore unfamiliar areas. I make sure I bring a part of what I experience back. In the form of a souvenir, or even random little things like coasters from a nice bar, a dried autumn leaf from Central Park or a Polaroid photograph of the place.

What are your 5 travel essentials?

  1. My canon AE1 film or Fujifilm Instax polaroid camera
  2. A notebook
  3. Aesop’s geranium hand lotion
  4. Karmakamet’s essential oil
  5. Mmerciencore’s invigorating mist.

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