XIE XIE : Julie & Julia Allison

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XIE XIE 645a 9th Avenue, New York, 212 265 2975

THERE’S SOMETHING MAGICAL about the internet – you can diagnose your own neuroses, self-publish, order pizza, and see where you’re going before you even get there. Sometimes, I feel nearly telepathic thanks to twitter. And Match isn’t just for the socially awkward and utterly undateable anymore.

Take Julie Powell and her fabulous food-focused Long Island City life. You must know the former blogger by now so I won’t detail how she landed her book deal (or share my distress about being the last restaurant writer to see Julie & Julia.*)

Instead, I’ll tell you about my new crush on “media personality” and lifestyle blogger Julia Allison. Truth is, I envy her more than I like her as she can incite the masses over the most inconsequential topic – herself – in heels and cute outfits. While she provokes more backlash than praise, her infamy lets her charge an astronomical sum for her two cents – which is remarkable for someone not known for much aside from her unyielding narcissism and two-year stint as the dating columnist at Time Out.

But even detractors applaud her efforts: the girl knows how to work the web, has inspired a bevy of over-sharing Mini Mes, and even struck Sony gold. Another case in point, I just typed 100 words on a lady I’ve never met and there are food photos to explain!

IMG_1815It probably goes without saying: Julia’s expertise is not in restaurants. Still, if she says she’s dining at 44 1/2 twice a week, I figure it must be worth a visit. So, to sate my curiosity, I dragged Jason to Hell’s Kitchen on an agreeable autumn day to brunch.

In an anticlimactic turn of events, we got to 44 1/2 too late. Brunch service ends at two and we did not arrive til after. My yen for eggs Benedict? Denied.

Hungry but not defeated, Jason and I meandered back to Ninth Avenue. Between 45th and 46th, we were stopped by a timid teen wearing glittery eye shadow halfheartedly pushing flyers in front of Xie Xie, which translates to ‘thank you’ in Mandarin. I pulled Jason in with me before my empty stomach could eat itself and was relieved to finally sit down with the Vietnamese BBQ beef sandwich ($9) stacked high with meat, basil, mayo and carrots on a kaiser roll. He had the sweet glazed pork buns ($8.50) which reminded me of the buns at Momofuku and Ippudo but flatter, denser. Less delicious.

I came so close to trying a restaurant based not on an expert review but on personality. Fate wouldn’t allow it, however, and I experienced something new the old fashioned way – by walking into an undiscovered place without a stranger’s opinion or consent. Guess I have Julia Allison to thank, in a way.

(Learn more about Xie Xie and its new happy hour special here.)

*Since posting this entry, I saw Julie & Julia in Kips Bay. I loved it. And to think I’d never even heard of either Julia until last year…

September 25, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , . Asian, Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, Theater District. 2 comments.