Kee's is, according to the New York Times, 12/3/06, "Hands down, the best chocolates in New York. Maybe the world." The factory, such as it is, is in a single-wide storefront a few doors down from the hotel, so I decided to check it out. Kee was there bright and early, making her fresh daily truffles out of couverture and an assortment of unbelievably delicate and subtle fillings. She took some time off to chat; we had a discussion about how she chose the profession, what her favorite foods were, how long her products would keep (2 to 5 days). I'd heard about the famous creme brulee truffle, but they were making them later; she said that they'd hurry up if I liked, and they'd be ready by 11. I said I'd be back at 3, so she said she'd save me one to taste. Meanwhile, samples. Black Rose - rose-infused black tea with a dark ganache, extremely fugitive, the rose just a whisper, the way flowery flavors ought to be; lemon basil in white ganache, a bit more intense, with pronounced pesto-like flavors; and fennel, again mild and suave, the dark filling just tinged with a touch of fennel pollen, a garnish of extra pollen dusted on top giving most of the anisey flavor. I bought a few bars ($9 for 3 oz, pretty pricy, shelf life estimated at a month, but I like aged chocolate, and Kee doesn't) to give out later. Said goodbye and promised to be back. When I returned in the later afternoon I did get to taste the creme brulee truffle - it was a tour de force, sort of like those xiao long bao, but no cheating involved getting the jiggly custard into the candy. The con side was that there was no real brulee and so no brulee flavor. I also picked up small boxes for my friends who were going to put up with me for the next few days. Had a coffee (they) and a beer (myself) with my friends Jim and Silvia in from Rome. We couldn't find any other way to get together - we're always passing like ships in the night, and usually we have drinks or a snack in an airport as they're going one direction and I another; this time it was the train station on their way to Boston. I left them with a couple Kee's bars to share with Nicholas when they saw him later in the week. Lunch at Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen, said to have the best xiao long bao in the city. In addition to the mandatory soup dumplings, I had hot dog la mian, also known as sausage fried noodles, just to say I had had them. The little steamed buns were actually twice the size of normal ones, so a basket of them would by itself had made an adequate meal. They were good but not special, the size dictating that the skins had to be thicker than I'd like. The fillings were pretty decent but I thought underseasoned. Lot of soup, though. Hot dog ramen was without redeeming social value, a regrettable choice. Though the hot dog pieces (two dogs quartered lengthwise, the quarters cut across into thirds) were spiced with lop cheong spices, that was not enough to obscure the fact that they were hot dogs. I should have nixed the experimentation and gone with roast duck or squid or something harmless like that. This place also gets the bib gourmand rating; it probably deserves it. the invoice said Kung Fu Steamed Buns Ramen. Oh. Perhaps their hands got tired of making cute little steamed buns and so they went to the giants. Back to Kee, where I got some truffles for Janice and dhammer53, whom I was going to see next day, and Erik and Carol in Pelham. Washup (it was hot and humid) and then I had to decide whether to make the free Friday at MOMA or take a nap. Being an old guy now, I did the latter, waking up just in time to hustle the mile and change uptown to La Bonne Soupe for Soup Do. Catman looked happy and healthy, and attendance was good, the list officially being - Catman (le Host) Kathywrdf (Soup do legend,, keeping her purrfect attendance) Violist (Legendary Repeat Souper!) CMK10 (Repeat Souper & future Lawyer) & plus 1, a Cat Mom dinocool & plus two (Repeat Soupers) PhobyPhoto (third timer and Alley Cat) Sean Luse (repeat Souper and Alley Cat) The way of the Future (repeat Souper) Austin 787 (first timer) Krazy Kanuck (first timer from Houston) Serfty (representing the great nation of Australia) Jswong (representing the great nation of New Zealand) Suvayanr (first timer and Alley Cat) raquelle (First Timer) msywings (First Timer) Hudsonlaluna (First timer) Cinister7 (Another First timer) Having been in non-hamburger places for a long time, I ordered one (on the menu: "steak hache'") rare, no bun, no cheese, no sauce, no anything, just meat. It took the waitress some time to comprehend this order: she seemed a little apprehensive when she served it and was visibly relieved when I told her it was perfect, which it was. Excellent meat, good fries, sided with a kind of ordinary salad. Quien Bordeaux 12 was about as ordinaire as you can get. After I'd suckered three of the closest tablemates into finishing the bottle with me, I changed to Hofbrau beer, more satisfactory. No dessert and no afterparty for me; just hung around chatting with people for a bit and then walked downtown with jswong and Austin787.