Content creator Dr Michal Samuni-Blank is known to her social media followers as New York Mickey, “covering NYC with ADHD” and offering tips to locals and visitors about the city she calls home and her favorite neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen. This is her West Side Story.
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I came here 10 years ago from Israel. I have a PhD in biology and came to the US to do my post-doc at Princeton. However, by the time I arrived in New York, I decided that this is not the right path for me. I combined my passion for photography with my love for New York City and opened a photography page on Facebook. I’ve been covering things happening in the city ever since.
What was your first job? What do you do now?
I used to work at Israel’s largest zoo, as an educator and in the PR department. Today, I am a content creator, covering everything cool that is happening in the City.
What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
Too many to choose from so I’ll name a few:
* Seeing 4th of July fireworks from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building
* Celebrating Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday at a special Disney party
* Watching the Rockefeller Center’s Christmas Tree lighting ceremony
* Watching the ball drop at New Year’s celebration at an empty Times Square (during the pandemic)
* Watching Lady Gaga at the Joker 2 film set
* Watching the sun setting behind New Jersey from my balcony
Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
First of all, the location. As a content creator, I need to get to different parts of the city fast, and the closeness to all the transportation options is great. I also love how diverse and dynamic the neighborhood is — I love the contrast between the tourist-filled 8th Avenue and the locals filling the bars on 9th Avenue. The food options are amazing. Every cuisine is represented but also, if you are a fan of Thai food like me, you can spend a lifetime just trying out all the Thai restaurants on 9th Avenue.
What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
I think that what makes me successful as a content creator is my ability to recognize a unique angle in any situation. I often cover events together with many other photographers and content creators, and I’ve discovered that even though we are all in the same place and the same time, I am still able to capture moments that no one else on the scene captured or noticed as unique.
What else should we know about you?
I love Times Square. New Yorkers like to pretend they hate the place, and if you are in a hurry to get somewhere the slow moving tourists will drive you crazy. But if you are someone who likes to observe people and capture interesting moments, this place never disappoints.
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Mickey’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places
Pure Thai Cookhouse — 766 9th Avenue (bw W51/52nd St)
We’ve been frequenting Pure Thai Cookhouse for years, long before they expanded into a larger space. The atmosphere and the food are just amazing and the staff is so friendly! Please please put the Cashew Nut Chicken back on the menu though!
Ground Central Coffee — 498 7th Avenue (bw W36/37th St)
I love the backroom sitting area with the leather couches, listening in on strangers’ conversations.
Don Giovanni — 358 W44th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
This is our go-to place for pizza, the Caprina Pizza is out of this world.
Westville — 809 9th Avenue (bw W53/54th St)
We have a three-year-old kid, so any restaurant we go to needs to have a Mac and Cheese on the menu. The Mac and Cheese at Westville is by far the best I’ve tasted in the neighborhood.
Bibble and Sip — 253 W51st Street (bw W51/52nd St)
One day we discovered a huge line of people outside a cafe we’d never paid attention to. Turns out it got viral for its cream puffs, and for a good reason — the Earl Grey cream puffs are so delicious!
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum — 12th Avenue & W46th Street
I love the top deck of the Intrepid, with the airplanes (including the Israeli Kfir!) with city skyscrapers on the background. They often have cool kids’ activities
Ippudo Westside — 321 W51st Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
Another venue worth the long wait time — the ramen at Ippudo is infused with pure happiness. Pro tip: you can order appetizers at the bar while waiting for a table, sometimes we come in just for the chicken buns.
Pick-A-Bagel — 891 8th Avenue (bw W53/54th St)
No New York list will be complete without a bagel, and Pick-a-bagel is our go-to place when we are in need of a bagel with a healthy schmear of cream cheese. Lines can sometimes be crazy, so just order pickup.
Social Drink & Food — 570 10th Avenue (bw W41/42nd St)
We love the laid-back atmosphere of this sun-filled rooftop terrace!
LOOK Cinemas — 657 W57th Street (bw 11th/12th Ave)
This dine-in cinema just opened recently and I am looking forward to a movie and a dinner in one!
You can follow Mickey on Instagram @mickmicknyc. If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself), please fill in this form — w42st.info/WSSnominations