Thursday, August 15, 2013
If you've never used your tongue to gently undress a thin layer of crushed Nilla Wafers from the tip of one of Bea Arthur's milky cones... then you, my friend, have never truly lived. There are some dishes and places that every food blogger raves about. When you talk about fried chicken, it's pretty hard not to mention Bob White's and Pies and Thighs, when you talk about soup dumplings, Nan Xiang inevitably gets thrown into the mix, and if you ask about street meat, almost everyone will have something to say about the cart at 53rd and 6th (although I really don't think it's that remarkable). More often than not, they're chock full of mediocrity and disappointment, leaving me utterly confused as to why so many people I barely know would lie to me about food. Far less frequently, these places are downright spectacular and actually live up to the lofty expectations set by every assclown with a keyboard who sets out to write about food (that includes me!). Sometimes. The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop is one of those places where "the juice is worth the squeeze."
Big Gay Ice Cream Shop does a lot of fucking things erotically well. To a scary degree. Yeah, they have the 'Salty Pimp,' a chocolate, sea salt, caramel mashup that violently fists the line between salty and sweet, playfully toying with your mind while delighting your taste buds. They also have the 'Monday Sundae,' a brilliantly decadent sundae topped with dulce de leche and sea salt set atop a Nutella covered waffle cone. Pretty much all of their menu qualifies as 'the tits.' But there's one item that's a classic beyond all others, and that's the one and only... Bea Arthur.
This Golden Girl truly sets the gold standard here. I unabashedly admit I was a fan of the show growing up, possibly because my Grandmother would always watch the marathons of the syndicated episodes. Everyone always said that Betty White was the comic relief, that the mother provided the wit, and that Blanche was just a slut - but the true crux of the show was undoubtedly Bea Arthur's character. As I mentioned, there are some truly attention-grabbing items on the menu, but the one I always end up defaulting to when it's game time is the Bea Arthur. It's simple, nothing more than vanilla ice cream swirled with dulce de leche rolled in a generous helping of crushed Nilla wafters - the preferred cookie of the geriatric crowd (very apropos) - but that's all it has to be. The ice cream is appropriately consistent in texture, the infusion of dulce de leche brings the sweetness to a more intense level, and the crunchy, sweet yet mild flavor of the Nilla wafers mellows out both the feel on the tongue as well as complexity of flavor. Let's be honest, if you had to pick one of the Golden Girls to get it on with, it'd probably be ol' dependable, and you know it.
Maybe it's not as fantastic as an intense session of lapping up some sweet vanilla + Nilla wafer action as above, but the 'Choinkwich' is a pretty fun little ice cream sandwich. Admittedly they're pre-made and not quite as awesome as the soft-serve, but you can't really deny some bacon on chocolate on chocolate lovin'. The implementation isn't great (again, because it's pre-made, the ice cream is pretty brick-like), but the amalgam of flavors undeniably just works. Anyway, in closing - allow me to summarize the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. I am lactose intolerant. When I eat even what most people consider a reasonable amount of dairy, I will probably be making sweet ass cheek love to the toilet that night. I will gladly pay that penalty if it means enjoying myself a Bea Arthur.
tl;dr - My body doesn't accept dairy well. I still shovel big quantities of gay ice cream in my mouth. My favorite is the Bea Arthur, possibly because my grandmother brainwashed me into liking the Golden Girls growing up.
Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
125 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009
Monday, July 15, 2013
While the ramen fad peaked in 2011 (or was it 2010?) and the world has moved onto things like cronuts, I haven't moved on yet. I don't like change. I like constancy. Or maybe I share some similarities to the Pokemon Slowpoke. Today, in the middle of this assclown ridiculously hot and humid summer, I'm going to tell you a secret that's utterly useless to you now. A secret I held near and dear to my heart for years out of fear that tourists and douches would ruin it if it got legitimately popular - stares in the general direction of Prosperity Dumpling. Today, I shall reveal to you my favorite Japanese noodle place in the entire world. Including Japan. Although I've never eaten ramen there (except in the airport), so that's somewhat of a bullshit claim. Whatever, I feel like I eat enough of a variety of noodles where I can claim some sort of demented expert status in this kind of thing. Anyway, while almost every blogger in NYC will prematurely ejactulate over Ippudo or touch themselves at the mere thought of Totto Ramen - I can't get behind that crap. I'm not prepared to wait 30 minutes for a bowl of noodles (up to an hour if you're unfortunate). Frankly, I don't care for the atmosphere either. I just want to shove my face full of fatty-ass pork, slurp up some noodles, and drown in a thick creamy broth. That's where Minca comes in.
There's a saying in software development that was made popular around the time Facebook started blowing up... "move fast and break things." Well Minca's ramen is delivered way fast, and wreaks havoc on my digestive system. So there's that. One of the huge draws is the fact that I literally don't have to wait for shit. I've never had to wait for a table (grabbing a seat at the bar is almost always an option), and within 5 minutes of ordering, there's usually a bowl of sensual flavors sitting in my face. Look at that photo, that guy is literally servicing 6 customers at once. No inefficiencies in this place.
Damn, their gyoza sure are pretty. To be honest, I feel bad paying for gyoza. Yes, they're innately different from the 5 for $1 dumplings in Chinatown - they're more delicate, less doughy, and comprise of more meat, but they're still a horrible value for what you're paying. That said, Minca's are pretty tight. They have a certain fragrance of pork that's just a cut above what you normally get with cheapo dumps. The skins are insanely thin, yet eerily resilient. They're like that kid in highschool that got picked on all the time and you thought would just fucking lose it, but doesn't. That kind of resilience.
But you're not there for the gyoza. You're there for this shit. There are few things that bring me more joy than Lord of the Rings lego sets, and their Minca Sio ramen is one of them. You like fine-ass noodles with snap and elasticity? Hell yeah they got that shit locked down. You like rich creamy pork broth heavy on the garlic and sesame oil? They got those too. You looking for tight as fuck roast pork that they freaking flame torch on the spot? They've got that in spades (and are probably one of the only ramen places in NYC that does it). The components all sound wonderful, but the amalgam of bits results in a bowl of soul soothingly smooth noodles that has character from start to finish. The first bites are almost overwhelming, but as you take bite after bite, the flavors mellow, the tastes meld, and the experience is indescribable. Each mouthful of noodles gets intercepted by bites of crispy pork, rendered fat, and crunchy seaweed. It's honestly a whirlwind of textures layered on top of in your face flavor.
I'm not terribly good with words, but this is one of those places I go to even during the summer. Even when I'm sweating up a tropical storm of perspiration, I have urges. Just like sometimes you gotta rub one out, sometimes I gotta get my ramen on. Minca is probably the only place that can settle my 'congeez,' as my Nigerian friend would say.
tl;dr - in an effort to keep assclowns from ruining my favorite ramen place, I've waited three years to reveal my go to joint. If Minca were a significant other, it would be sexual in all the right ways, and dependable in all those other boring ways. Their ramen is just short of god-like. Ippudo can suck it.
536 E 5th St, New York, NY 10009
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Working in tech has certainly been interesting these past few weeks. With the recent news breaking about the NSA and their secret 'PRISM' initiative, it's impossible to get through a single day without reading about how our privacy is being invaded, our civil liberties disappearing one-by-one, blah blah blah. Yes. That shit is serious business, but today - I want to draw attention to something that might be an even greater injustice... something that shakes my world to the very core. After years of being my golden benchmark for taste and value, Prosperity Dumpling has delivered a metaphorical Falcon punch to my non-existent ovaries and has recently shifted to a 4 for $1 sales model. Utter BS if you ask me. Sure, you could say that this was an inevitable fate - after all, Vanessa's had already adopted this pricing structure for a few years now, Tasty Dumpling was always 5 for $1.25, and Lan Zhou's potstickers are 12 for $3. The dumplings at all of these places sell without issue, but for some reason Prosperity's change in price, at least to me, feels perverse and dirty.
Remember when Prosperity was good? Pepperidge Farm fucking remembers. Shit was so cash. No tourists, no waiting, no nonsense. You could walk in and walkout with a huge-ass order of 20 fresh as shit dumps and a beef pancake, no sweat. In and out in 5 minutes, max. Then people started posting about it on blogs (I'm being a hypocrite here... bite me), on Yelp, on Chowhound. Of course, following that - asshats from yore came running abound for this uber-cheap gem of a meatpocket shop, clogging up the small storefront, forming lines 10+ deep, spending minutes at the front indecisively changing their orders. Fuck all that noise. I think this price hike was the tipping point for me. I was already paying for a diminished experience - longer waits for the same exact food, but now that it costs the same/more than other places in the vicinity that on occasion can exceed their quality? Unless you can justifiably claim that your dumplings are now 25% improved... it just doesn't make sense to me to go there. I'm done.
Let's consider this in another light. Over the course of a year, I get dumplings once, maybe twice a week, 15 to 20 at a time. That means, I'm spending roughly $3.50 per weekend on dumplings, over the course of a year - $182. Before the price change, that would be 910 dumplings. After the price change... that would be 728 dumplings. Damn. Some of you will probably point out the fact that it's a trivial amount of money, that I don't normally pay for food during the week. Fuck you guys - 200 dumplings is 200 dumplings. And dumplings are life to me.
Am I mad at Prosperity for trying to make money? Not really. They're a player, and they have every right to up their prices - if people are willing to pay inflated rates, they'd be insanely stupid to neglect profit that's just sitting there. Do I think they sold out? Hell yeah I do. As much as we all want to drown in an orgy of bitches and make mad bank, in the end, you really gotta stay true and love your loyal clientele (read: not those dick weeds who come after looking at Yelp and take 10 minutes to decide they want $1 worth of dumplings). Where am I going with this? I don't know. Nothing I say will change their prices back. Nothing I say will keep the masses of asshats from crowding in line adding to the already unreasonable waits. Nothing I say will bring back the Prosperity Dumpling of old. I'm just annoyed is all.
tl;dr - I feel like two inalienable rights have been violated. Just like I want to keep my weird fetishes secret from the government, I want my dumplings to taste good and only cost 20 cents per. Shame on you Prosperity Dumpling. I expected this from Uncle Sam... but from you? It's like an old friend is pissing in my mouth when I'm sleeping. Or something.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Over the past eight years (minus that one forgetful year I spent in Philly), I've probably been to K-Town at least a few hundred times, eaten more than my fair share of garlic chicken platters from Woorijip when drunk, and downed countless bowls of Jajangmyeon. Korean food is my jam, or my sexual awakening... take your pick. That said, while I'm more than happy to shove my hole silly with spicy-ass kimchi or to drown my problems in makgeolli - I realize more often than not, I don't know what I'm actually putting in my mouth (a serious problem for me). I've asked my Korean ex-roommate before on numerous occasions what each banchan dish is, what ingredients go into what, but he's also an asshole who didn't tell me his birthday for five years - so I don't really trust him with regards to these things. Anyway, when a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go to a random event in K-Town to learn about the history of bibimbap, I was a bit skeptical. This sounded sort of like one of those cult tricks where they promise you punch, except the punch is spiked... and you promise to love an extraterrestrial elder being named 'Stan,' but I decided the reward of eating some sweet sweet Korean food far outweighed the downsides of possibly signing over my life.
As it turns out - the Bibimbap Backpackers are a pretty laid back and legit group of people who honestly just want to make people love eating 비빔밥 (bibimbap), which honestly isn't that difficult to do. But before getting to the money shot, first they fed us some other stuff that Korean people enjoy.
Not unlike Starcraft, they explained that Pajeon is something dear and special to the hearts of Koreans, and is "only eaten on certain conditions relating to the weather... when it's raining, or when it's snowing, or when it's sunny." I've explained this in the past, but it's like scallion pancakes in Chinese cuisine, but with more stuff in it... or to make it even more relatable, it's like a panfried pancake, but instead of blueberries or chocolate chips... you put in chunks of squid and scallions and other savory shiz. It's not the main course, it's just to get your lips wet.
One thing I like about Korean food over every other food - is the seemingly endless stream of appetizer dishes that are apparently all free. I've often wondered what stopped people from going to a Korean place and ordering the cheapest entree and just killing it on banchan. Aside from shame, I mean. In any case, they followed up on the pancake with some japchae (glass noodles) and mandoo (dumplings). Glass noodles probably sound pretty bland, but they're surprisingly flavorful, with an elasticity that would rival Stretch Armstrong even the next day. Again, none of this is supposed to get you off - just tasteful foreplay for the main dish.
Then it hits you. Bibimbap. With a name that translates literally to 'mixed rice,' I'm not really sure what you expect. I took three things away from this session. One, this shit is the food of the royals. In the past, only kings could get their socks off with this ish. That's how sensual it is. Two, the name of the game in making bibimbap is to make your bowl as colorful as possible. What could be better than eating a fucking rainbow. If you answered anything aside from unicorns making sweet sweet love under a waterfall... you're an idiot. Or maybe I am. Third, doesn't matter what the bowl looks like after you mix it up with the fury of Zeus's libido - it will taste like heaven. Yes, maybe it looks like 'the sum parts of yesterday's leftover' according to my mom. So what? It tastes 5x better. Basically, what I'm trying to tell you is: bibimbap is dope as hell.
After dinner - you follow up with some hotteok (which is pronounced kinda like 'Hodor'). It's like a combo churro, funnel cake, and pancake. You have the delicious brown sugar cinnamon flavor of a churro violating your tastebuds, but with the crispy oily skin of a funnel cake, and the soft porous fluffy center of a pancake. If that doesn't get your pants tight, I don't know what will. I feel like it would be a la mode, but I don't think that's the Korean way to do things.
In closing, I have learned (not really that it's anything surprising) that I love bibimbap. I didn't really need a group of people to pimp the idea to me, but they've definitely firmed up any doubts that I had. Additional factoid - this program is sponsored by CJ Foods (apparently the No. 1 Korean food company), which is represented by the face of Psy. Who loves the fact that he's 'like herpes.' Awesome.
tl;dr - I went to some Korean food events hosted by the Bibimbap Backpackers (which weirdly enough are cosponsored by the company who employs Psy to sell various 'sauces'). They're basically evangelical Christians, except - instead of trying to make me love god, they want me to love bibimbap. I now love bibimbap.