This photo is unrelated to anything. I wish there really were a giant sized ice cream sandwich though...
Since I took ass-clown forever to write this post, I'm about two weeks too late to jump on the 'Best of' hash tag bandwagon. So just consider this a preview of posts yet to come... since I'm as backed up on posts as a geriatric who's lost their Metamucil. Anyway, as most of you are probably aware of, I did a pretty shit-tastic job of blogging this year. I'll admit it... my blog was about as successful as Betty White is sexy i.e. occasionally, but totally by accident. I posted maybe once a month and I have a backlog of unedited photos longer than one of Conan the Barbarian's legendary ass-hairs. That's not to say I didn't eat a metric ass-load of food (that's a real measurement), and that's not to say I didn't have my share of "oh wow, this needs to be made known bites." I was just lazy. Sorry. Without further ado... here's a list of five things that I consumed in 2012 that either 1. made me "turn my tighty-whities into frownie brownies" or 2. made me smile from ear to ear.
For the record, these aren't in any sort of order. I just randomly think of these things when I'm on the toilet. Actually, I guess you could say they're in the order I thought about memorable meals while on the toilet. I don't think anyone wants to think of it that way though.
1. Soup Dumplings at Nan Xiang (南翔小籠包) - Shit son. I like pork buns and I cannot lie. You other brothas can't deny. When a bun comes in with pork broth taste and a thin skin in my face I get sprung. Maybe not everyone's not like me. Maybe pork meatballs surrounded by a soup-laden bubble of carbohydrates isn't your thing. I say this with all due respect, but go eat a bundle of dicks. That should be everyone's thing. There are few things more glorious than the engineering marvels that are soup dumplings - from the dangerously delicate wrapper to the extremely volatile soup and meat suspension - these things defy logic. They are impossible structures of culinary masterpiece as well as literal flavor bomb. Nowhere in NYC will you find a better version than the one at Nan Xiang. Just be thankful that almost every asshat you come across will tell you that Joe's Shanghai is the place to go... it ensures the wait time here is shorter. Also get the deep fried beef scallion pancakes. Ermahgerd worthy.
2. Chahan at Naruto Ramen - As an Asian person, it's not often that I'm excited by something as plain as fried rice. I feel like I'm probably setting back stereotypes decades by saying this, but fried rice is part of my culture, I feel like I understand its most intimate desires, how it wants to taste, how it wants to clog my arteries with every grain of oil coated rice, how it should... be. As something of a fried rice connoisseur (note: holy shit, I surprised myself by spelling that correctly on first go...) Naruto Ramen does some next level shit when they decided to add 'chahan' to their menu. There's nothing complex about what goes into that pile of glorious starch and oil, it's a simple fried rice with roast pork, narutomaki, and scallions and eggs to finish. What I couldn't have expected was the depth of flavor such a simple mix would have over high heat. Fried rice is hard to fuck up for sure, but it's also damn hard to get this good. I feel like a dumbass for writing about fried rice, but this is some seriously dangerous shiz. Worth the trip up to the UES alone, and worth eating on its own as a standalone meal. Their ramen is good, but there's simply no point. It's a waste of carbs.
3. Fried potstickers at Tasty Dumpling - Woops. I fucked up. I admit it. Last year I might've told you that Prosperity Dumpling was the undisputed king of the dollar dumpling stores in Chinatown. I stand by the statement that at five for $1, that deal is something spectacular, but something happened this year. Something changed about them. For the first time in my life, I will go against the prudent economic choice and tell you that the best dumplings (according to this idiot at least) are five for $1.25. Yes. Even at a 25% premium on price, I'm telling you that Tasty Dumpling's dumplings are indeed the tits when it comes to pockets of meat. I'll eventually explain the full logic behind this statement in a post down the road, but for now - I feel like the fact that I'm willing to pay that much more per dumpling should be proof enough of Tasty's quality.
4. Sio Ramen from Minca - If you ask most people where the best Ramen in NYC is, you'll get a smattering of answers. Surely you'll hear Ippudo come up again and again, but honestly... waiting an hour plus for a bowl of noodles is pretty ridiculous in my opinion. Some will undoubtedly say Totto, Terakawa, or maybe Setagaya. I've been to all of them and as far as I'm concerned... none of their offerings can hold a candle to the sio ramen at Minca. Rich garlicy broth is mixed with springy noodles that stretch longer than a broken Stretch Armstrong doll. The crowning piece to this Pandora's box of flavor is the fact that they flame torch your bowl at the very end, bringing a slight and gentle charring to the char siu they lay delicately on top. The layer of rendered pork fat on top glistens in the soup acting as a mirror so you can see your own 'O-face' when you've taken your first bite.
5. (RIP) Cake cuts at Hong Cafe - Yeah, I'm cheating here. This shit doesn't exist anymore, but that doesn't diminish how wonderful it once was (during 2012). What was once the glorious Hon Cafe - not just a restaurant, but an institution of brilliance and efficiency and the best source of cake cuts in the city - is now a lame-ass over-priced joint called Mottzar Kitchen. What the fuck is a 'Mottzar' anyway? Once upon a time, Hon Cafe used to take its cosmetically challenged cake nubbins and would bag them up in an orphanage of sorts. They'd slap a $2 price tag on each bag, each special... full of unique defects, and sell them in the front window. Most people walked by, disgusted by the non-homogeneity of these bags of freak cakes. Not I. I saw their inner beauty. I knew that those non-symmetric rings of cream, sugar, and flour were just as good as their supermodel cousins, but at a fraction of the cost. I would make it a point to save these 'B+' cakes, discarded in a harsh Asian 'tiger-mom' world and save them - eating an entire bag with each sitting. Alas, they are no more. If someone has any leads on cake cuts... I will pay you a king's ransom for that knowledge.
So what's going to happen in 2013? I'll start blogging again. As much as I hate to admit it, I like to write, and I like getting in random internet arguments with strangers. Yes, to some degree I'm an attention whore. Aside from that? Maybe I'll use my recently discovered non-allergy to seafood and take it for a test drive. Maybe 2013 is the year of shrimp. Lots of shrimp. Less pork. Ha, unlikely. Realistically this year will be more of the same. More artery clogging, more catching up on posts, not enough money.
tl;dr - here's a bunch of things that I was uncomfortably excited to have in my mouth in 2012. Number 5 makes me sad. If someone can help me find cake cuts in Chinatown, you will be my new best friend. Or if you don't want to be my best friend... go eat a dick. Seriously though, tell me.