Saturday, April 30, 2011

Why I hate 90% of food bloggers

Angry post #1

Sorry in advance. There will not be all that much food content in this post, in fact... there won't be any, just a lot of bitching. If you're not a fan of the latter, then it's best you just move on, because today I'm going to tell you why food blogging has gotten out of hand as of late i.e. why I hate 90% of food bloggers. Let's begin. People start food blogs for a buttload of reasons - because they want to share recipes, because they want to hone their skills in writing, because they want to wax nostalgic about kick ass meals, because photographs of their food are straight up pornographic, or possibly because they used to be fat and want to celebrate that *ding ding ding*, but there's a commonality between all those things. It's because at some level or another, there exists a certain amount of love for food. Or at least that's how it used to be. That is before food writing became the cool thing to do.

Now that everyone's getting into the food writing game, the whole thing feels cheap. Throw in the sudden boom of social media, and whoring out your cheapened product is even easier! I have a few things I'm curious about...

note: I direct these questions to no one in particular (no... I'm lying, I know exactly who I hate)

Angry post #2

Do you write because you still love food? Did you ever really love food? Or are you doing it because getting more followers on Twitter feeds your ego? Is there really a purpose for all these #ff tweets aside from acting as a glorified circle jerk of food writers?

Angry post #3

Why the fuck do you take yourself so seriously? Most of us aren't trained professionally in the culinary arts. Most of us have never had truly meaningful experiences in half the foods that we write about. So why do you write as if you have a giant stick in your butt? Writing with an excess of random adjectives doesn't make you sound sophisticated, it just makes you sound like a douchebag.

On a similar note... I think it'd be awesome to eat at Per Se. Mostly because the price tag makes it all but an impossibility for me at the current moment. It's fine if you write that it's the greatest thing to happen since Kevin Durant's inception into the world, but if you hate on restaurants because they don't cost an arm and a leg to dine at, that just makes you an idiot. You don't have to love McD's like I do (in fact, no one should... it's not healthy), but if your writing is simply a reflection of menu pricing, then I hate you.

Angry post #4

When you retweet or link other peoples' tweets/posts, is it because you genuinely think it's because it's worth propagating on the internets, or are you just trying to brown nose your way into gaining attention? It sucks extra hard when you follow both parties... then it's like a Dutch rudder of circular/shameless promotion.

Angry post #5

Do you follow me with the expectation that I reciprocate? Listen, if you actually like reading my posts, or even if you just like looking at my pictures... thanks, I appreciate it. I really do. If you're just following me because you expect me to do the same... I really couldn't give two shits.

Angry post #6

If I seem bitter lately, it's because I am. There's more shit that I find annoying, but ultimately it's pointless for me to list them. Nothing's going to change. It just really peeves me that something that I legitimately enjoy is being turned into something so ridiculous. Food blogging is no longer about sharing a genuine interest in things you eat, it's just a bunch of people giving each other metaphorical reach arounds and high fives on the internet. Success is no longer measured by how insightful your writing might be, it's defined by the number of followers you have on Twitter. Fuck me.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Shake Shack's demented cousin (Square Burger)

Reflective signage

So if you actually want to read an objective view on how this burger tastes (i.e. not blinded by raw hatred), you should probably support AHT (even though they haven't been paying me on time, tsk tsk...) and read the original post over there... because this post is going to be the exact same thing, but written from an angry Asian person's perspective. Let's begin: Square Burger is an epic fail on Stephen Starr's part. Good job on Butcher & Singer, but you fucked up hard on Square Burger. It aspires to be everything that Shake Shack is, a small burger-centric shack that churns out a simplistic top-notch product at a reasonable price. Well they did one thing right by using a small hut, but it's a craptacular one at that. You can't even tell it sells burgers until you get within 20 feet because their giant metallic sign is a giant illegible mirror during the day. Good going guys. Okay... so maybe the shack looks demented, but according to every single other person in Philadelphia, the burgers are awesome... so it's okay!

Classic cheeseburger

... except sometimes I swear half of Philadelphia is either perpetually drunk or blazed out of their mind. After reading post after post after post (I'll refrain from linking since I basically just called them all twats) about how beautifully simplistic the cheeseburger is, you'd swear that its place in history ranks up there with when Columbus discovered America. Let me say this... the burger is not that good. This burger is not worth $4.75. It is nothing more than a glorified McDonald's Quarter Pounder that tastes more of mustard, ketchup, and pickles than meat. Does that sound like an appetizing burger to you?

Burger innards

Maybe if you REALLY like ketchup. Admittedly it uses better ingredients than McD's - it's built on Martin's potato roll and uses a proprietary 80/20 blend from some place - but none of that matters when I'm basically eating a ketchup and mustard sandwich... which I paid $4.75 for. Fuck, that's a Happy Meal at McDonald's. That includes fries, a drink, and a toy.

Cup of fries

Then I paid another $2 for fries. Theirs are frozen and then refried (hey, that's just like Shake Shack!). They're actually not awful, but for $2 I expect a little more than a 12 oz. cup filled with fries. Can you tell I'm still irked from that ketchup-mustard sandwich I paid $4.75 for? Yeah... the bitter flavor of mustard and pickles is a hard taste to erase.


This is the one thing you did right Square Burger. The only thing. Blending Tastykake butterscotch Krimpets into half-and-half and ice cream. Then adding more butterscotch syrup. Let's be completely honest here though, all those things are pre-packaged, and all you did was mix them together. La-dee-da, it just means that the only product you produce effectively is the one that effectively removes any element of skill. Put stuff in cup, press button, blend. That said, seriously... good job on this. If I had to trample senior citizens to get another one... so be it. It is straight sexual (not even holding back by using "sensual"). But back to the anger...

What pissed me off the most however, wasn't even the food. If you follow me on Twitter (which if you don't, you probably should... it helps my boost my low self-esteem)... I was obviously uber-excited to get a Cake Shake. Why did I tweet about it on so many different days? Because the people who run Square Burger make asshat decisions to close up whenever they damn well please. The first time I went, they told me they closed with park hours at 6 pm. Okay, that's fine - except the sign at the entrance of the park said closing time was 9 pm. Whatever. I go back the next day at 4 pm. Apparently the hut was closed because it had rained in the morning? What happened to "rain or shine?" Twice. I was lied to twice. In summary, it took three trips to accomplish what I had to, which was to be disappointed by one of the crappiest burgers I've eaten in Philly. The Cake Shake is truly fantastic, but it doesn't really make up for the general suckfest that is Square Burger.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eating noodles, dumplings, and rabbits (E Mei Restaurant)

Dan dan noodles (擔擔麵)

They say the first step to fixing your problems is to admitting you have them right? Well, I am a spicy food addict. I guess it's some sort of masochism, but I really enjoy torturing my taste buds with the sharp unrelenting stinging pain of capsaicin. I like sitting there without drinking water, squirming helplessly with my best "holy crap gotta take a shit this is painful" face. I'm not sure why. I realize in a lot of cases something that is overly spicy just masks the true flavor, but that's not what I'm talking about. I want something that builds in intensity because of my refusal to drink water. Do I regret it several hours later when that same "heat" reappears in the bathroom? Maybe. Is it worth it for that first pass from the top? Hell yeah.

I've been told E Mei is authentic Szechuan. I do not know. Like I said in a previous post, I don't actually know shit about Szechuan food... so I don't know what "authentically good" Szechuan food tastes like, but this was on the recommendation of another Asian, so I went. The 擔擔麵 (dan dan noodles) were decently good. Lots and lots of what seemed like refried ground pork bits were doused in a not-so-spicy sauce and lined with two sprigs of greens (so it looks healthier than it actually is). The presence of chili seeds and peppercorns was definitely there, but they played a much more aromatic role than a spicy one. Greasy and mild, the noodles were easy to stomach... that's about all there is to say. They're not worth trampling young children for, but they're worth ordering.

Spicy rabbit... somthing (麻辣兔叮)

I'm sure some people are going to have ethical issues with me eating rabbit. "How can you eat them? They're so cute, fluffy, and innocent!" or "That's disgusting, rabbits aren't meant to be food!" Listen, if something tastes good, I don't really care how cute or revolting it might be. It's going into my mouth. I mean... if it's good enough for Kim Jong Il, then it's good enough for me. If you've never had rabbit, it's like chicken... but better. How can I qualify that statement when fried chicken is pretty much the greatest thing since... uh... non-fried chicken? Because texturally, rabbit is superior. Flavorwise, plain rabbit is as boring as plain white chicken breast, but texturally it's more resilient, more sinewy, and gamier. It's in general... springier? When tossed with a thin coating of chili oil and stir fried with peanuts and peppercorns you get a dish that starts off mild but builds into something that is fantastically spicy. After a few bites you'll still be tasting the flavor of the meat and smelling the peanut scent, but your mouth'll be begging for forgiveness. Screw that, the only respite my mouth got was when I had to spit out the occasional bone. Someone needs to breed a rabbit without bones. "Amorphous delicious eating rabbit" I shall call it.

Wontons in chili sauce (紅油抄手)

These 紅油抄手 (hong you chao shou) tasted kind of like the ones they have in Taiwan - and I like those. Kind of thickly skinned, they're just plain ol' wontons sitting in a pool of fiery yet sweet chili sauce. Complete with small islands of chili seeds floating around inside! In this case, the fact that this dish is good doesn't hinge upon the requirement of having kick ass wontons, but rather that the flavor profile of the sauce doesn't overwhelm it. Having shoved my mouth full of spicy rabbit beforehand, pretty much everything would've tasted mild, so... I honestly can't really can't remember if these tasted good or not. I'm gonna say... probably?

That said, I'm not infatuated with E Mei (aside from the rabbit... goddamn that was good). It's not that they don't do a great job cooking all their shit, I guess it's just not my style of food. I can appreciate the use of peppercorns as an aromatic element, but everything kind of ended up tasting similar because of it. I guess that should be expected. Anyway, E Mei is a good enough restaurant if you're a fan of the genre, but I think I'll stick to the more familiar in the future. Unless I want rabbit, in which case I'd go back.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Vanilla cake, peanut butter, and beef (Adsum)

Adsum burger

If you feel ever so compelled to learn more about the gorgeous burger you see above, head on over to "A Hamburger Today" and read my post there. Now, it's not that I want to take away any potential page views from the fabulous people who write my food checks, but here's the disappointing summary in condensed form... that burger, while huge and grossly filling, is shamefully nondescript even with strange additions like pancetta onion-fondue i.e. a fancy name for bacon in melted cheese and onions. It's not a bad burger at all, it's just not a burger I'd find myself frequently craving... especially not with its price tag. I rarely find myself so indifferent when it comes to meats of this size (10-ounces!), but the Adsum burger just doesn't do it for me. It's okay, prepackaged dessert snacks do... cream filled snacks = cream everywhere.

Tastykake sliders

There was a definite reason I was fat growing up. My mom tried to make me normal lunches like PB&J or ham sandwiches, but I refused to eat them. Looking back, I was kind of a bitch (sorry mom!), and also an idiot. Those things are fucking delicious. Back on point... the only things I would eat in school were Poptarts, Twinkies, and Tastykakes - washed down with chocolate milk of course. The point is, I've had a long love-hate relationship with prepackaged dessert snacks (most of it being love), so when I found out that my beloved Tastykake was in financial trouble, and Adsum was selling Tastykake sliders to support them, I knew what I had to do.

The idea of putting a ball of beef in between PB Kandy Kakes is awesome to me. I mean, I like vanilla cake, I like peanut butter, I like chocolate, and I generally like eating cows. What could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately a lot. The "sliders" were basically slightly flattened meatballs topped with a Sriracha-cherry jam and cheese, which were then sandwiched with prepackaged desserts. Meh. I think it's great that the chef at Adsum wanted to support Tastykake by using them in a dish, but execution-wise... these weren't all that great. They're edible (although not from a logistics point of view), but I don't think I'd pay good money for them again. You should keep in mind that this is coming from someone who loves when people use doughnuts for buns... so, these must've been pretty mediocre.

Poutine w/foie gras

Ugh, duck-fat poutine with foie gras. I don't even like foie gras.

I don't know what to say aside from... I think Adsum kind of takes everything a bit too far. Being innovative is a great and all, but almost everything just felt... too much. It's like a toddler with ADD, the parents always think their kid is cute as a button, but to everyone else it's just annoying as fuck.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Non-Asians and Asian food suggestions (Dim Sum Garden)

Bean-paste noodles (炸醬麵)

Something I asked on Twitter last week... "Is it racist that I don't trust non-Asians when they make Asian food suggestions?" The answers varied. A few Asian people lol'd and told me they do the same. On the other end of the spectrum... someone suggested that it wasn't racist, but that it was ignorance. I won't try to deny that I have more than my fair share of idiotic views in life, but let me clarify what I really meant by this statement - I don't (generally) trust non-Asians when they preach about how deliciously authentic an Asian dish is i.e. don't trust whitey. Is that really so bad? It's not that I don't trust my non-Asian friends' perspectives on food. If you have good taste, you have good taste, but how can someone possibly comment on the authenticity of a dish if they have never had it from the source before? As I've learned from my engineering writing source... if you're just following fobs around, you're simply paraphrasing the source. Give credit where credit is due.

Last week I went with a friend to a small Chinese restaurant near Reading Terminal Market called Dim Sum Garden. The name is kind of deceptive, it's not so much a dim sum place in the traditional sense as it is a place that serves Shanghai style entrees and appetizers.

One of the things I most definitely wanted was 炸醬麵 (zha jiang mian), the Northern Chinese take on black bean noodles. DSG's version was super traditional - gobs of loosely strewn pork combined with a salty and slightly runny black bean sauce peppered with a hint of spiciness and sweetness. It was good, and to me... it was super authentic. My grandfather was from Northern China, ate this shit all the time, and cooked it for me all the time. See? I can say that because I've been there eaten the food, and have a direct comparison.

Shanghai shumai (上海燒賣)

Shanghai shumai (上海燒賣) are apparently a sticky rice variant on normal shumai. Instead of gob of pork you get a gob of sticky rice with bits of pork inside. As much as I love rice, I think I enjoy pork more. I was not in love with this dish, but the texture was admittedly as interesting as anything I've eaten recently. See... I will not comment on the authenticity of this dish because I have no fucking clue if it's legit or not. I have never been to Shanghai, nor do I hail from there... so I will refrain from making assclown statements about whether it is "native" or not. They're fun to eat, I'll leave it at that.

Pan-fried dumplings (生煎包)

We also got pan-fried dumplings (生煎包). These were, in fact, actually awesome. As good as most, and filled with more meat, than any I've ever eaten in Taiwan. The skins were super thin, borderline transparent, and they exploded with pork juices upon puncture. Again, I can make this statement because I know what the OG versions taste like, having sampled directly from the source.

Cold roasted pork (將肉)

What can I say about this? It's a cold dish of roasted pork (將肉). Flavor-wise it's pretty bland, you dip it in sugary soy sauce or vinegar soy sauce, but texturally it's fun to play with. The odd bits of cartilage make for curiously gelatinous nuances, adding a slight crunch to an otherwise plain cooking of meat. Twas good. Again, I have no clue where this dish actually originates, but it's something that was always on my table growing up... so I feel 100% validated in making asinine statements about it.

To conclude on this post which I'm surely to get bashed for... it's not that I completely distrust non-Asians when it comes to Asian food suggestions, I just find it ridiculous how often people make ridiculous commentary on things that they're completely oblivious to (I'm sure I do this too... and I hate myself for it). I mean, I'm sure an aeronautics engineer could explain to you how an airplane flies from reading books, but I wouldn't want them flying a plane. Similarly, you can tell me food is good, but leave out the commentary on authenticity unless you've hard the original for comparison. Until then, I'll continue to listen to Asians when it comes to Asian food.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Proper cooking of a burger (National Mechanics)

All put together

I wrote about the National Mechanics burger a couple of weeks ago on AHT, so if you're actually curious about that burger in particular, hop on over to Serious Eats and read it there. Nope, this post is mostly going to be where I write/complain about what constitutes a properly cooked burger. In my opinion. Because this is my blog.

Anyway, when I was a kid/dumbass, I used to ask for my burgers to be cooked medium-well. I absolutely hated the idea of consuming blood... undoubtedly because "Twilight" hadn't come out yet. As I entered my teenage/angst-filled years, I began to push the culinary boundaries and started getting my meat cooked medium - ever so slightly pink, but still devoid of red liquid content. As I progressed through college, I grew ever more brazen... demanding rare to medium-rare on every single burger I shoved in my mouth. Mad cow? Fuck that. I lived life on the edge.

I had found my sweet spot of burger well-doneness. Medium-rare. The way it should be.

National Burger w/cheddar

As you can see, the National Mechanics burger isn't anything special. The bun isn't brushed with an ostrich egg yolk prior to baking and the cheese isn't made from the milk of some goat only found on a remote island off the coast of Spain, but it is what it is... a well thought out and assembled bar burger. Nothing more, nothing less.

Insides... overcooked

One of the few things I hate about AHT is the fact that they make me cut open burgers before eating. People want to know how coarse the meat is, how well cooked it is, crap like that, but at the same time... they don't want to see bite marks and imagine your saliva impregnating all the nooks and crannies of the bread (yet some of the other writers do this... *whistles*). I get it. That shit is disgusting. Still, a lot of times it ruins the experience for me. Do you know how much it sucks when I have to destroy an engineering marvel that is a perfectly constructed burger? DO YOU?

But that's not my point. My point is... when I look at that burger, it makes me sad. It makes me sad that medium-rare apparently means medium-well. It makes me sad that there isn't a hint of meat in the center that went unspoiled by heat. And yet, despite my virtual tears, it tasted awesome. In the end, that burger was certainly above average, and I didn't even care how the patty was cooked. The meat was smoky and juicy, the bun was phenomenal (good enough to eat alone), and the other stuff was... er, fine. I'm not entirely sure where I'm trying to go with this, but based on my experience at National Mechanics, I feel like I have to reassess what "properly cooked" really means to me. Does everything have to come out fluorescent pink to taste good? Definitely not. Does that mean everything I thought before was wrong? Maybe.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fried chicken and catfish (Pies'n'Thighs)

Fried chicken box

I've been giving a lot of thought as to where I want to live in NYC next year. Obviously my salary puts a big constraint on what's possible... obviously I can't afford to solo a studio in Chelsea, I probably can't manage a room on the Upper East Side, and I certainly can't find an affordable place near Union Square. Outside of financial considerations, second in my list of criteria is probably food. I know this doesn't make sense, but nope... I don't really care about my personal safety so long as there's something good to eat near my house. So yeah, lately I've been squinting my eyes super hard thinking about foods I like to eat... things like hand-pulled noodles (Chinatown), Japanese Curry (Hell's Kitchen), doughnuts (Greenpoint), and things that are, in general, fried. Which brings us to a post on "why Nicholas wants to move to Williamsburg." Three words... sort of... Pies'n'Thighs.

Someone pointed out that their name sounds like a bakery run by strippers. This is true, and unfortunately for middle-aged perverted men everywhere, that is not the case. Pies'n'Thighs is just your friendly neighborhood eatery specializing in Southern comfort food in the form of fried chicken (and other fried things) and pies. Two of my most favorite things conveniently located in a single shop... +2 for points on moving to Williamsburg. When Robyn and Melissa asked if I had ever been, I secretly squealed like a schoolgirl, but calmly replied that I had not and would love to.

Fried catfish box

If it's not obvious yet, they're really good at making fried chicken. Super crispy skin, nice juicy white meat, all-around solid flavor profile. Their catfish might be even better though. I usually abstain from eating stuff that comes from the water (I prefer not scratching myself to death)... but their fried catfish was crazy good. With just a light coating of breadcrumbs, the catfish was remarkably tender and juicy... pulling apart with just light prodding from a knife. The flavor is kind of nondescript, but when paired with tartar sauce... this shit was spot-on. And it also came with cornbread. It is an impossibility to screw up cornbread, so that was awesome too. Another +1 for living in Williamsburg?

Chicken biscuit

There's something called a "chicken biscuit" on their menu. It is $5.50. Not knowing what exactly it was... curiosity definitely played a role in it getting ordered. It's basically their standard biscuit - warm, flaky, buttery, and happiness in pastry form - sandwiching a fried chicken cutlet drizzled with honey butter and hot sauce. Is it good? Fuck yeah it is. Is it worth $5.50? It's small as hell... so probably not. Whatever. I'd eat it again if it were free... if that means anything to you.

Partial desserts menu

Since the store name has "pies" in it, they must be good at making pies. Fact. Even after being warned by Robyn that their pies probably weren't anything special, I was still adequately aroused by the idea of eating pies and fried chicken in one place. When I looked at the dessert specials menu, I was torn between the struffoli (it's dough... FRIED!) or the coffee ice cream pie. Tough decision. More fried stuff or an ice cream pie?

Coffee ice cream pie

We got the coffee ice cream pie. Buyer's remorse for me. I realized it was really just coffee ice cream in an Oreo crust (which probably should've been completely obvious to me from the name). Not that it's not great and all - it tasted good - it's just that fried dough covered in honey and sprinkles seemed way more baller after ordering.

Unfortunately for me, Williamsburg is also the hipster HQ of NYC. You know who I'm talking about... wearing their tight jeans and Converses. They'll probably make fun of me for riding a bike with multiple speeds/brakes! So despite the all the pros that come from the kick ass food at Pies'n'Thighs, it's all negated by privileged rich kids who like pretending they're poor, enjoy wearing goofy clothing, and listen to crappy music. Fuck. Guess I gotta keep looking.

Now for a serious question... is it dumb that I'm choosing my home based on proximity to food?


Thursday, April 7, 2011

A lesson in gluttony (Food Gallery 32)

Soondubu (spicy tofu stew)

Whoever said that "too much of a good thing is a bad thing" is an absolute moron. Case in point... Korean food. There's no such thing as too much Korean food. I don't care if my stomach is on the verge of exploding, spicy rice cake doesn't get any less delicious. True story. In continuation of the "where I freeload off of Serious Eats" series (part 1 on doughnuts here), I showed up out of the blue when I heard that the SE gang was going to sample the various restaurants of Food Gallery 32. In my head I figured that a few people would go, we'd each get what we wanted to try, and we'd sit down in a small huddle and talk about our feelings... and maybe discuss the food too. What ended up happening was the greatest shit show ever.

When normal people think lunch... it's a singular dish. Maybe add in a side if you're super hungry/fat. I figured that for people whose lives revolve around food, maybe a little bit more than that was required per person. But to Ed Levine, lunch is nothing to fuck around with. As we walked from stall to stall getting "samples" from each, I started tallying the number of dishes... by the time we reached the fourth (of seven) stalls, I realized the stupidly ridiculous amount of food that was ordered. There were like eight people eating, but for some reason we ended up with about 30 items. Oh snap, shit was on. Forreals.

Eating the foods

Just look at that awesome spread. Do you know how many tables it took for us to hold everything? Fourteen. I don't know if you've ever seen 14 tables full of Asian food before, but let me assure you... it's every bit as awesome as it sounds. Anyhoo, instead of making this post informative or something remotely useful, I'm going to hammer you with photos of random foods that I happened to like. I might even tell you where they're from... but I honestly don't really remember that much. I kind of just shoveled stuff in my mouth as I walked around the table.

Pork belly

Pork belly is a good start to any meal. The SE peeps got a few appetizers from Boon Sik Zip, and this was one of them. I'm pretty sure there's no way to really screw up pork and fat, so... uh, this was good? I would eat it again.

Ddukbokki (spicy rice cake)

SPICY RICE CAKE. Lookit how red and seductive that is. Doesn't it just get you all hot and bothered? These were from the same place. These weren't fantastic (according to everyone else eating), but let's be real here. I am Asian. I like things made out of rice. If you roll it in some sweet and spicy sauce, I really don't have any complaints. Again, nothing out of this world, but I thought it was decent.

Soondae (blood sausage)

All was not peachy. Their soondae (blood sausage) kind of sucked. The sticky rice inside was kind of... grainy, and the outer intestinal casing was really paper-like. Top it off with the fact that blood sausage without sauce is normally bland, and basically I was completely disenchanted with this dish from bite number one. Oh well, can't win 'em all.

Then I moved onto the entrees...


I don't remember eating this, nor do I know where it's from. It's probably for the best. I spy squid or something in there. I would've been scratching for hours from allergies.

Heart-shaped onigiri

Then starts the stuff we got from O-de-ppang!. Yes, the exclamation mark is part of the name, because they're just happy to be there. I thought these were awesome when I first saw them. I mean, I like rice balls in general. When you shape them into small little hearts, it's beyond cute. Mind = blown. I was actually super amped to try these, so when I finally did... I took a massive bite. Big mistake. They're filled with tiny anchovies that are beyond salty. Despite their cute outer appearance, these things taste like crap. Crap that's encrusted with enough salt to give you hypertension. AVOID.

Pork cutlet... two ways?

There was also a pork cutlet dish, served too ways. I want to say it was either from Pastel or O-de-ppang!, but I can't say with 100% certainty. Anyway, one was served with curry gravy, and the other with Kewpie mayo. God that shit is like crack. I just want to rub it all over my face in the vicinity of my mouth so I can lick it once in a while. Go ahead, judge me. As for the cutlets... I don't remembered much about them. I had like one bite of each. I wasn't revolted, so I guess they must've been okay. Plus one had Kewpie mayo... there's no way that was bad.

Spicy Pork Teppan-yaki

And some spicy pork from O-de-ppang!. Fuck, the one bad thing about eating so much freakin' food at once is that I remember virtually nothing about any of them, but I know that collectively it was awesome.

Beef gratin

This was different though. I don't know the exact name, but we got a beef gratin dish from Pastel. You remember as a kid... when you thought that Hamburger Helper was the tits? No? Well maybe that was just me. I have fond memories of that ground beef goop + powdered sauce over noodles. Anyway, this was like Hamburger Helper gone right. They took thinly sliced beef and vegetables, mixed it with sweet and savory bulgogi sauce, melted some cheese into it, and dropped it on a bowl of rice. Holy batman was it good. This might've been one of the only dishes that was completely gone by the end of the meal.

Curry Katsu

Katsu curry from... somewhere. I remember eating a lot of this actually, but I can't remember a darned thing about it. Meh. That's pretty much all I have to say.


What Korean meal would be complete without bibimbap. This came from Hanok, and it was pretty generic average bibimbap. When it really comes down to it, it's really no more than mixed vegetables and crispy rice. Not bad, but it definitely didn't have anything that set it apart from the versions I've had in the past. They deserve bonus points for their aesthetic element though. When it first arrives, there's a paper ring that sits on the outside of the bowl cautioning that you should be careful of burns. Thoughtful right?

LA Galbi

One of the few dishes that was actually phenomenal was the LA Galbi from Hanok. Fantastically seasoned, the beef on these ribs was the perfect blend of fatty, tendons, and just soft-to-the-bone beef. I only got to have two of these puppies, but that's only because everyone else loved them too.

Jajangmyeon (black bean noodles)

It wasn't quite Black Day yet (exactly one week from now ಥ_ಥ), but I'm down with eating bean paste noodles pretty much anytime. There's something about that sweet and heavy sauce that just sits well with me. I don't even care that it makes my teeth look ridiculous for the hour after, that shit is delicious. Jin Jja Roo's version probably isn't the best around, hell... I know there's a better one at Hyo Dong Gak or Shanghai Mong across the street, but it's definitely not bad considering it's from a food court. Part of it might've been the fact that since we were all taking pictures, no one mixed the noodles until they all congealed together. PHOTOGRAPHER FAIL.

Khan poong gi (fried chicken w/garlic sauce)

We also got some khan poong gi from there. It's basically fried chicken with a sticky sweet garlic sauce topping. Most of the people said it was just okay, but I absolutely loved it. There's just something about frying chicken and coating it with sauce that I can't resist... case in point General Tso's chicken, chili chicken, orange chicken, sesame chicken - you get the point. While everyone else was walking around the table sampling other crap, I pretty much parked myself next to the khan poong gi and went to fucking town. Killed 75% of the dish solo... super easy.

If you thought that was a buttload of food, you don't even know. After we failed to finish 50% of the food we ordered, Ed began ordering dessert crepes from the place upstairs. Yes, because what I need after stuffing my gut with rice and all that jazz is soft crepes filled with ice cream.

What's the point of this post? Nothing much, part of it is guilt that I've fallen so behind on blogging and just want to get caught up. Another part of it is just to share some Korean food porn. Most of it is just to make you guys jealous. What? My side job is awesome.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Gettin' diabetes at SE:HQ (Doughnut Edition)

Assorted doughnuts!

Mmm, DP in the morning, DP for lunch, and DP after work... that is the life for me. Fellow food bro Danny got it right when he conceded that doughnuts are the most sensual thing since Betty White starred in "Golden Girls." Move the fuck over cupcakes... doughnuts are here, queer, and you should get used to it. Wait, that's not 100% what I meant... but the concept is the same. Doughnuts are finally getting their moment in the spotlight and they have staying power. End of discussion. Serious Eats, aside from graciously financing my accelerated death, is always on the edge of revolutions in dessert, so they held (yet again) a taste test of the best doughnuts in NYC. Seeing as how I have nothing better to do with my free time, I dropped in to be the best freeloader I could.

Doughnut prep at SEHQ

Oh yes, this happened. Basically, a list of places was constructed (not including sit down restaurants of course), and doughnuts from the all five boroughs were assembled. Sort of like a UN of doughnuts, or a Justice League of doughnuts, except less useless and way more delicious... zing! There might've been discussion going on about things like texture and flavors or whatever, but I was kind of just eating things when they appeared in front of me. Sorry I can't really offer more insight on what goes on at SE:HQ, I was too mesmerized by the sugar.

Other camera people

Oh hai Robyn! Yeah, unsurprisingly I wasn't allowed to just walk in to the office and eat stuff. I had to wait for photographs of everything to be taken. I got suckered into plate cleaning and doughnut piling duties (which I was more than fine with since I got out of the instant oatmeal taste test).

Now onto the doughnuts...!

This was not a doughnut

This was not a doughnut. But it was on the table. So I ate it. I was actually the only person eating it, which is embarrassing considering the fact that nearly 1/4 of it disappeared before the actual doughnut tasting began. When I showed up the next day, it was still there... I ate some more. It was still good. It's really just a giant raspberry danish 10" across that's super flaky on the outside, intimately moist on the inside, and in general... delightfully fruity. I have no clue where it's from, so if someone can point me to where this fantastically over-sized danish is from, you'll be my friend FOREVER. Thanks.

Plain doughnut holes?

Doughnut holes from dough. Admittedly, I remember nothing about them, but the SE people seemed to be smitten. I can confirm that I put them in my mouth at some point, so I must've been down with how they tasted. Honestly, it's fried dough coated in sugar. It was going to taste good from the onset.

Assorted doughnut holes!

Then came more doughnut holes... this time from Donut Pub. These were denser, chewier, and all in all heftier (much like Brawny vs. generic paper towels). They were memorable indeed. I did get to try every single one of the varieties, but after a while it they all kind of tasted similar i.e. sweet. The texture was nice though, and the moistness was definitely appreciated.

Doughnut holes from Panya

Oh shit! Surprise... more doughnut holes. These were from Panya. Again... fried dough + sugar = good to me. Other people didn't seem to like them, and yeah... they had a bit of a weird aftertaste. The texture was cool though, I think they might've been infused with mochi so they were definitely chewier. I guess the Asian idea of "QQ" is applicable. Maybe the mochi accounted for the weirdness in flavor, but honestly I don't know.

Trio of doughnuts

No clue where these were from either. I just didn't want people to think that I spent the day poppin' doughnut holes in my mouth. I did more than my fair share of hard work aside from that... using my front teeth eating ring shaped doughnuts, jelly filled doughnuts, and even poop shaped doughnuts...

Rod doughnut from Panya

I bet Panya thought it would be cool to make a mochi doughnut in the shape of a twist. Slight oversight on their part - people who eat doughnuts are often immature. Can you honestly tell me that thing doesn't look like a Japanese cartoon poop? Just the general shape of it. Anyway, looking like a swirl of shit was no deterrent for me, I gladly ate it. While it is definitely not good by any means, it is for sure the most delicious poop-shaped object I've ever eaten. That's pretty damn good in my book.

Bombolinis (Sullivan Street Bakery)

I was responsible for bringing bombolinis from Sullivan Street Bakery. Holy shit these things are expensive. Like $3.25 for a small puff that lasts all of three bites. Two if you're a honking fatass like me. I know on the SE slideshow they had a tie for the "battle of the bombolinis," but that's absolute horse crap. Falai's are lighter, more subtle, and all in all... more sexual overall. Know why I don't have pictures of those? Because I was too busy eating them to care about pictures. Anyway, this isn't really a good comprehensive list of doughnuts, or anything really, I just really like eating doughnuts.

As for the aftermath? When I got back to where I was staying, I basically plopped myself down on the bed... then I curled up in a ball. That sugar high nonsense? Yeah, way past that. I didn't want to do anything, I entirely frozen by the charms of glazed sugars, jelly fillings, and fried dough. The thing that really sucks is that I don't distinctly remember that much about any of the doughnuts. Shiz, I knew which ones tasted good (basically all of them), but their nuances were lost on me. Apparently shoving bite after bite of fried dough from different places with little time separating each bite is not good for taste testing. Moral of this post? Doughnuts are delicious, photographing sugary delights is hard, being a food writer is even harder yo. People might just think that I just snap some pictures, eat some food, then write about it... well let me tell you something. That's pretty much it, but it's still more difficult than you'd think, but yeah... go eat doughnuts. They're good?