Saturday, October 29, 2011
From the same country that brought you Godzilla (cool), tentacle porn (disturbing), and girl groups with 48 members (erotic?), Japan has also given us Go! Go! Curry! - which is awesome. Now, I don't think it's any secret that Go! Go! Curry! is pretty dope when it comes to curry in NYC. Not that it's really all that hard to impress me when you start breading and frying shit, but I do consider myself something of a katsu-connoisseur, and theirs are pretty much the bee's knees, even when compared to the ones I've had in Asia. While their regular katsu curry dishes are already pretty reasonably priced for the wallet/butthole-violating area that is midtown - and that's not even counting the the fact that if you go on any day after Matsui hits a homerun (not that often), or any day that ends in a '5' a.k.a. 'Go!' days, you receive a free topping coupon - there's something else on their menu that exceeds all expectations when it comes to value + my dreams of things that are fried. Sure you could spend $7 to $10 on a regular one topping curry, but why the fuck would you... when you can get the 'number one champion best deal curry' - as I was told by the guy at the counter - the Grand Slam Curry?
The kind folks at Go! Go! decided to go fucking apeshit with the Grand Slam Curry. Instead of just having a single pork/chicken cutlet... you get both. Also some sausage links... and some fried tempura shrimp... and also some shredded lettuce and a split boiled egg - most likely only there so you don't feel like a fat piece of shit for piling down what basically amounts to three fried pieces of meat, glorious brown sauce, and a double serving of rice. Whatever, even shitty lettuce tastes pretty good when paired with Japanese curry sauce.
I'm not going to harp on the the fact that their chicken/pork cutlets are juicy as hell, or that their breading is fucking golden, brown, and most certainly delicious (although both are very true statements). What I wanted to make clear with this post is the fact that this is a ridiculously dope value play when it comes to food. Think about it this way: a single XL curry with a katsu on top will be $8.50 minimum. I suppose you could add another thingy of meat to that platter for $2, but then you're up to $10.50. Now throw in the egg (which in actuality I couldn't give two shits about), the fried shrimp (which I'm allergic to), and the pork sausage thingers - and you're up another $5.50. Even if you're just counting stuff I like eating, I'd be paying the same amount. I'm pretty sure the Grand Slam Curry gets more rice/sauce though. As a very frugal Asian person, I'm not about to turn down free stuff... regardless of if I want it/it will kill me. It's simple math + genetics. For less than a 50% increase in cost, I can get twice as much food, and also a very thrilling allergic reaction-type experience. It's like dinner and a show!
tl;dr - Go! Go! Curry is pretty good at making curry and frying things. If you go, you absolutely should man up and order the Grand Slam Curry (and finish it yourself). It is the pinnacle of price performance on their menu. You're welcome.
GO!GO!CURRY! New York
273 W 38th St, New York, 10018
Sunday, October 16, 2011
You can go ahead and file this entry under the "random things I like to eat, and I feel I should tell other people, because they might like to eat it too" tag. Now to answer the pressing, and very important, question of "what is that shit that looks like someone took a moderately uncomfortable dump on top of my rice, then garnished it with some cilantro?" - the correct answer is that it's the beef gratin from Pastel, located in Food Gallery 32. A few months back I ate a buttload of dishes from pretty much every stall in the food court, and while most of those memories kind of blended together into a glorious orgy of flavors in my mouth, a couple of dishes stood out. One of them being this -ish, which in my mind tasted like the sickest version of Hamburger Helper ever created. To put that comment in context, Hamburger Helper is basically straight crack for fat people - and because it requires 'cooking,' it feels fucking gourmet. This is 10 degrees more awesome than that.
This was what I got the first time I went to Pastel. I'm not sure why it changed so much - the first time was cheesier, gloopier, but less beefy and laden with brown sauce - but both of them tasted pretty ridiculous to me.
What actually goes into this "gratin" is magically simple - a bowl of rice gets blanketed with a combination of thinly slices of tender beef bulgogi, sauteed green and red peppers, onions, cheese, and an unidentifiable, yet curiously delicious, brown sauce that tastes something like teriyaki meets curry. Why is it so awesome? Part of it is the nostalgia factor that I mentioned... it feels like something that I could conceivably have cooked during college when I was drunk and emptying out my fridge in a brilliantly stupid act of culinary experimentation. Part of it is because I'm moderately surprised by how well integrated all these random flavors seem to blend together. Most of it is because I'm dumbfounded that some dumbass/genius actually gets to charge people money for something so fundamentally retarded, but can still be considered ethnic 'fusion' cuisine. Anyway, you probably won't find this appetizing if you're a fan of traditional cuisine, or a purist of ethnic foods, but if you're hammered beyond belief in Ktown on a Friday night, you'll probably think this is the tits.
tl;dr - Pastel, located in Food Gallery 32, serves this bowl of rice - with what appears to be beef and peppers smeared with diarrhea - called the beef gratin. It tastes pimp as shit. The ultimate in ethnic stoner food. You should eat it... even if you're sober.
Food Gallery (Pastel)
11 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Not that this really needs reiterating, but I fucking love Chinese roast pork. Not just any roast pork from Chinatown will do though, it has to be from Wah Fung - home of magically delicious maltose soy sauce glazed fatty pork that doubles as a nightmare for my bowels. Not to rehash anything I've already said in my old post, but basically this is both a value play as well as something that just tastes straight dope. With a side bonus of playing Russian roulette with the toilet. What more could you ever ask for? Maybe the large order. Which is why I wanted to make a public service announcement - at the risk of increasing the already ridiculous wait time - their large roast pork over rice is easily the deal of the century.
In my original post, I thought this was a hella good deal already. Look at all that goddamn meat, and all for $3. It just didn't make sense - how was this tiny little shop in Chinatown surviving on margins that couldn't possibly exist? Then, one day I decided to step up my game... man up and order the large roast pork over rice i.e. the monstrosity you see at the top. At a price only 50% more than the small, you easily get two to three times the amount of food. Asian bro-homeslice at the shop basically lays down a carpet of rice, packs that shit down real good and begins the magic of meat chopping. Exactly like the miniature box of roast meat, you just watch him transfer hand after hand of glistening pork into the box, constantly wondering how the fuck he's going to close that shit. And when you think he can't possibly put more in, he'll stuff some extra roast chicken or Chinese sausage in... for good measure. After all is said and done, basically when he realizes he actually can't close the lid of the box, he grabs a handful of rubberbands and jerry-rigs the fuck out of it until he forces it into delightful submission. I love you man, and everything you stand for. Anyway, I just wanted people to know that something this awesome exists in Chinatown. That's all.
PS - in case you haven't noticed yet... I've become a really shitty blogger as of late. I don't really update with any sort of regular frequency, and when I do, it's usually weak-ass posts light on content like this one - oh hai! I just wanted to note that it's hard as shit to blog when it's not your job. Mad props to all those peeps who manage to not get fired from their real jobs and moonlight doing this food writing nonsense. I am impressed. Please tell me how I can suck less yo.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Number 1 priority: eat shaved ice desserts. All day. Everyday.
Maybe this post is long overdue, but when a friend of mine told me she was going to visit Taiwan for the first time in a bajillion years, I finally had the impetus to put together a list of "things I would do if I were going to Taiwan for a week that would bring me great arousal that does not include intercourse." If there's one single you should know about me - I enjoy enumerating everything that can be enumerated. Yep. That fact pretty much defines me as a person. But while I really like making lists, I absolutely hate "best of" and "top 10" lists... especially in food blogging. Why? Because food doesn't work that way. Food is personal. If I made a "top 10" list of the tallest buildings in the world, it would be indisputable. If I made a list ranking the best TV dinners in the world... I bet most people would not see eye to eye. So... if you're reading this, take it with a grain of salt. Don't think of it as a must-do list ranking the shit out of the top foods in Taiwan. Just think of it as a rough guide to what an idiot would do if he flew halfway around the world for food. That's all it is.
1. 良品牛肉麵 (Liang Pin beef noodle soup) - Do you want your mind BLOWN? Do you want your shit rocked? Like I said in my old post, if I committed some awful awful heinous crime and was sentenced to the death penalty... and I had to choose my last bite on this earth. It would be this shit. OG, hole-in-the-wall, never good enough to win 1st prize at the annual beef noodle soup competition... all good descriptions of this place. Don't be deceived by that BS competition run by the Taiwanese government - the combination of dope-ass beef broth and sick hand-cut noodles makes for a satisfying bowl of sensual flavors that I have not been able to top since I first tasted it.
2. 一品刀削麵 (Yi Pin knife-shaved noodles) - Do you love scallion pancakes? Ever wonder what it'd be like to eat them in noodle form? Fuck yeah you do, and of course you have. Stir-fry that shit with some mooshu pork, feed it to your grandparents, and they'll be so excited they won't even need Cialis. Just think about it, knife cut noodles with mooshu pork is already delicious - if you sub out the noodles with deep-fried strips of fragrant dough... it's just infinitely better. Why this doesn't exist in NYC... I'm not too sure. But if you're in Taipei you should go eat it.
3. Ice Monster/永康15 - I don't have a post about this, nor do I have a picture of their offering, but this is probably the most famous shaved ice place that Taipei had/has. I've only had it twice, and one of those encounters resulted in hours of ass-end loving with the toilet, but goddamn if they don't churn out an awesome bowl of mango shaved ice. The original owners had a dispute and ultimately closed shop, but 永康15 opened in the same spot in 2010, and the "Mango Avalanche" tastes pretty much the same as the original mango ice. Which is to say sick as hell. If you don't mind a different kind of "juice cleanse" then you should probably go try their dessert.
4. 臺一牛奶大王 (Tai Yi Milk King) - What? You don't want to eat fruit on your shaved ice because it's totally healthy sounding? Werd, I know where you're coming from. Sometimes I just want to eat crushed up ice with red beans, condensed milk, and syrup. None of that vitamin bullshit. In those cases I go to 臺一牛奶大王. Maybe it's not the most hygienic place in Taiwan, and maybe it's not the best looking storefront, but whatever... these bros have been around since when my mom was still a kid. That's a long time ago, seriously. Almost everything's less than 100 NT and they'll pile carbohydrate laden shit on like it's a joke. Go with the classic red bean/oatmeal/mochi combination. That stuff is out of this world dope.
5. 生煎包 (a.k.a. tiny fried buns) - The gist of this section is that you should get them. Wherever you are in Taipei, they're probably fucking delicious. Yes, even that shady-ass old man selling them out of his tiny kitchen. Don't worry, he's most likely not a pedophile. I think. If you want suggestions on where some of my favorites are... DO NOT WORRY - located in 士林夜市 is a kinda famous shop called 原上海生煎包 that sells them 10 NT (like 30 cents) a piece. They are traditional style, and 9 months pregnant with pork juices (ha, I didn't mean for that to sound gross). These are OG style, totally legit, and mega-cheap.
If you prefer your fried tiny buns with a little less pork and a lot more cabbage, then there's another pretty famous stall called 許記 in 師大夜市 that makes a vegetable pork version that's totes adorable and also epic cheap. Like 6 NT a piece cheap. Bonus: the skins are almost as thin as soup dumpling skins, which is pretty fantastic.
6. 基隆廟口(Keelung Temple Street) - I know that Taipei is the tits, and that if you only had a week, there's more than enough stuff to keep even the most ADD riddled kid entertained... BUT, if you have a chance to visit 基隆, I would. It has this sweet-ass street that's basically stall after stall after stall of food. They're famous for their seafood (obvious reason is obvious), so they pimp out incredible versions of tempura (or 甜不辣/天婦羅 whatever you want to call it), but come on... don't tell me you're not seduced by mention of a "nutritious sandwich" - a sandwich built on the platform of doughnut bread, Kewpie mayo, and hotdogs. Yeah.
7. 燒餅油條 from 阜杭豆漿 (Fu Hang soy milk) - Before I talk about how great this place is, I just wanted to reinforce the fact that fried crullers go inside the bread thinger. That's how it goes. Anyway, if you're looking for Taiwanese breakfast, there are few places that do it better than 阜杭豆漿. It's made fresh every morning - with an epic number of senior citizens keeping turnover high - and it is legitimately delicious. I would place it on a whole 'nother level from your standard roadside generic "永和豆漿" place. Their fried cruller/bread combo is pretty spot-on, but if you really want your mind blasted... get their soy milk. It has a pleasant "nutty" aftertaste that you won't find anywhere else.
8. 福州世祖胡椒餅 (HUGE BUNS OF PEPPER PORK) - Holy shit, have you ever wanted to eat giant buns of peppered pork? Probably not, since it's not something that you come across in the US very often. These things are basically just like over-sized meat buns... except instead of a pillowy soft exteriors, they replace that with a baked bread shell dotted with sesames and other sexual flavoring things. Then, instead of having plain pork and chives or whatever inside, they step it up and shove in a bunch of garlic, peppers, and scallions to make it slightly spicy. Also they're essentially cooked in a trashcan fire. Which I guess makes it better? To me it does anyway. The point is, if you like having your proteins encompassed by carbs, then you should eat this too.
9. Stinky tofu from 深坑 - This probably isn't a suggestion for everyone - by which I mean, if you're a complete priss about eating things that taste rotten, you probably won't like this suggestion very much. Anyway, I realize that you can get stinky tofu pretty much anywhere in Taipei. Why the hell would you take a bus to the boonies to get rotten soy product? Because it's ape-shit delicious here. That's why. 深坑 is pretty renowned for making tofu, and when it comes to putting mold on good tofu, they're pretty good at that too. If regular stinky tofu ain't your jam, maybe the ones at 金大鼎 will stimulate your taste buds a bit more. Instead of straight frying it or putting it in soup, they basically treat it the same as pig's blood cake - coating it a sweet sugary soy sauce, rolling it around in peanut flour, and dressing it with cilantro. The end result is a somewhat sweet and savory flavor profile that has the scent of a slightly pungent wet fart. Maybe you don't like that. I don't care. I do.
10. Fast Food - I know what you're thinking: "Seriously? Are you retarded? I didn't fly halfway around the world to eat at McD's and shit like that. I'm done reading your stupid blog. Goodbye." I did hit my head today, but that's not why I'm making this suggestion. Listen, don't be one of those assclowns with sticks in their butts who frown on fast food. Maybe you're disenchanted with Burger King in the US, but let me tell you something. In Asia? They don't fuck around when it comes to fast food. Whether it be egg tarts from KFC, shrimp burgers from Mos Burger, or bear doughnuts from Mister Donut, Asian fast food is legit different, and in many cases baller as fuck. I mean, where else in the world could you ever find doughnuts shaped like motherfucking bears? Nowhere. That's where.
So there's that - a list of things I would eat if I had a week to spend in Taiwan. Not that this list is comprehensive at all of the things I'd like to eat (I purposefully left off the obvious suggestions like 鼎泰豐, 淡水, and 士林夜市), but it's a start. If you don't agree with something on here... that's fine. I don't really care. This was originally meant as an email for my friend, not a post, but others have asked... so I figured I might as well copy + paste my ramblings for everyone to see.
tl;dr - if you're in Taiwan, this is shit that you might like to eat. By which I really mean, this is partial a list of things I would like to eat if I were in Taiwan. You should listen to me, I'm Chinese. Fact.