Sunday, December 25, 2011

Spicy-ass noodles (Xi'an Famous Foods)

Xi'an Famous Foods storefront

Well, well, well... it would appear that my blog has turned three years old. Hooray me. In internet age, that's like reaching mid-life crisis stage (which is eerily appropriate considering I actually don't know what the fuck I want to do with it). To the assholes who said that my ADD would kick in and that I would stop after a few months... you can eat a dick. To the people who decided they wanted to hear an idiot blather on and on about Asian food every week, you're welcome (and thanks too, I guess). For the record, I have learned nothing from writing this blog for the past three years aside from that fact that I'm stingy as shit and I like Asian food, and I'm pretty sure I've contributed nothing of value to the greater internet. Merry Christmas I guess.

So what am I going to write about on this momentous occasion? Clearly something that sticks to the roots of this blog... something that fits these criteria: cheap, Asian, and a butthole pleasure. The spicy hot oil-seared noodles from Xi'an Famous Foods kinda fits all of requirement - it's moderately cheap (although kind of expensive given the location), it's definitely Asian, and trust me... it's as much a hoot comin' out as it is when you first eat it. Trust me.

Spicy hot oil-seared noodles

Look... it's red and green. Like Christmas or something?

I think most people go to Xi'an Famous Foods for the Liang Pi Cold Noodles. That's great and all, but I'll be entirely honest - it feels like kind of a ripoff to go to a restaurant and to get cold noodles. That shit is straight appetizer fodder and would cost less than a dollar if I were in the motherland. Plus it's vegetarian. That's three strikes yo. If you're going to serve me a cold dish, it better comprise of something that was alive at one point. Weak shit. Plus, why would I get cold vegetarian noodles when I could get something that would melt my face off upon eating, and obliterate my butthole on exit. That right there is quality (and what I look for in noodles, but definitely not in romance yo*). Also it looks festive as a motherfucker. Look at all that red and green shit. It's almost as if Santa were Chinese or something. There's nothing really complex about this dish at all - I'm pretty sure it's only comprised of those same bouncy-ass noodles, some scallions and garlic type additions, and a healthy dousing of chili oil - but when the powers that be combine those components in an synergistic orgy of flavors... holy shit is it delicious. Yes, there's a distinct lack of meat, but whatever. It's not like your tongue would be able to taste it anyway.

Cumin lamb + hand torn noodles

This was less awesome, but still okay. Which is surprising because it contains meat. Maybe it's because I'm not the biggest fan of lamb, but this dish was pretty uninspiring to me. Which, again, is weird because it's pretty much the same thing as above... but with lamb and cumin instead of red chili oil. Perhaps that red liquid is like crack or something, but there was something infinitely more impressive about not being able to feel my face after eating. I could still feel my lips after eating this dish, so I'll consider it a fail in general. Others would probably enjoy it. To be entirely fair, I think I just hate cumin - so maybe you shouldn't listen to me on this one (or at all). My god how I hate cumin.

Spicy cumin lamb burger

Likewise, I feel like their cumin lamb burger thing is kinda gimmicky. Not that it's bad by any stretch of the imagination - just that it's not something I'd obsess and lose sleep over. The blend of flavors is pretty distinct - and again, the cumin is probably what turns me off - but there's a certain pungency and strength that I could see being somewhat alluring. I guess the bread/bun thing is pretty dope, but if that's the strongest case I can make for a dish... then that's pretty sad. That's not to say that you might not find this to be the most sensual thing to come from Xi'an... I just hate cumin with a passion.

In closing? I'm not sure what the point of this post really is. I felt obligated to write something because it was my blogiversary, not because I got a sudden writing boner. I rarely get that kind of inspiration at all anymore (I guess you could say I have food blogging erectile dysfunction?). Is my blog going through a midlife crisis? Yeah. Maybe I should eat spicier things to enrage my rectum to rekindle the flames of intensely passionate and violent food writing. That's how it works right?

tl;dr - my blog is three years old. Fuck yeah me. Also, if you go to Xi'an famous foods - get the spicy hot oil-seared noodles... they'll numb your face if you're cold and light your butthole on fire. That's twice the value for the cost of one meal. Best deal ever.

Xi'an Famous Foods (multiple locations)
67 Bayard Street, New York, NY 10013


Monday, December 19, 2011

HK-style French toast (Cha Chan Tang)

Neon sign

Do you know why I gave up on my PhD so prematurely? It's because innovating shit is hard. Every time you think you've come up with some pimp-ass novel idea, you go online to Google that shit, and 10 times out of 10, I bet you some butthole in Turkmenistan has already done it. I frequently found myself thinking "fuck that guy, why didn't I think of that?" What does this stupid story about one of my life's greatest failures have to do with food? Well, the French toast that they serve at Cha Chan Tang is kinda like that. For the majority of my life, I've enjoyed my French toast the traditionally defined (and already delicious) way - simply bread that's fried in an egg-laden batter. Butter, oil, bread, and eggs... that shit was pretty dope already, when suddenly, some guy halfway around the world in Hong Kong decided "shit son. All junk tastes better when peanut butter is involved!" and proceeded to go ape-shit in the kitchen and fucked some PB between some bread, fried it, and put some syrup on top. Not just any syrup... golden maltose syrup. Why is that better? Because butter. No, seriously - hell if I know - it just is.

Just look at that golden thing

What treasures might hide inside that golden crust of heart disease and high cholesterol?

On the exterior, this appears to be a regular piece of French toast. Sure, it looks perfectly goldened, and yeah it looks crispier than a freshly ironed shirt, but to say that it's "slightly better than that junk that you get at IHOP" would be like slapping your mother in the face. Legitimately disrespectful to how sick this dish is... also to your mother, who is probably a lovely person. But inside this crisp, oil-drenched, butter-laden, deep-fried egg on carbohydrate love train is a dark dark secret, one full of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Ooh baby. I love it when foods get all chemically sexy and jizz.

It's actually filled with PB

What's really good? Peanut butter. I think they actually butter the insides of the bread (in addition to the giant pat they melt on top) before applying the peanut butter, so it's got that going for it too. Actually, to be honest, I can't really tell, because basically the entire thing is a hot mess of porous bread soaked with various types of oil products. When you that small dish of maltose syrup on top... GG, shit gets intense. Like camping. Maltose syrup has somewhat of a distinct taste and is far more viscous than the standard grade-A maple you might get from a squeeze bottle - combining it with the subtle notes of savory from the egg and the sweet saltiness of the pb makes for a strange flavor profile that's as delicious as it is confusing. Let's put it this way, it's kind of similar to how you might feel if your best friend's little sister is really attractive, but at the same time looks kind of like him, so it's as creepy as it is awesome. Exactly like that.

Pork chop sandwiches

They also have pork chop sandwiches (obligatory G.I. Joe PSA video...). Now I'm not going to talk shit about $4 sandwich that has a pork chop inside, but I wasn't exactly as impressed with this as I was with the PB French toast. In Hong Kong, they do pork cutlet sandwiches too... which at the time I wasn't so hot on. Now, thinking back, those bitches are pretty great for $2 a piece. At Cha Chan Tang, they put healthy stuff in there. Vegetables and whatnot (WTF tomatoes). I'm not really okay with that. They also use non-buttered plain white bread, which is kind of a confusing to me since they butter the crap out of everything else. Lame. At least they cut off the crust. I guess I lied, I pretty much talked shit about this sandwich for an entire paragraph - don't get it if you go.

It kinda looks like crap

Apparently, people in Hong Kong also know how to cook Portuguese stuff (probably from being occupied for so long. Haha owned). There's this dish on the menu called 'Portuguese chicken casserole' which, unsurprisingly, comprises of chicken, rice, and cheese. I don't really know what else really goes into this dish, but I know when it came to the table... all I could think was "holy crap, that looks like someone took a dump over some rice and reheated it in an oven with cheese." Good thing it didn't taste that way. Flavorwise, it's like a cream of chicken blend mixed with cheese that also has hints of curry. The strong taste of spices complements the smoothness of the dairy pretty well, and I really have nothing but awesome memories of this aside from the visuals. Again, this just solidifies my unified theory of "foods that look like shit taste dope."

Fried squid w/pepper and salt

Have you ever had fried squid with pepper and salt? No? Wow, your life up to this point must've sucked pretty badly. This is one of those dishes that's synonymous with street food in almost all of Asia. I know Taiwan has it, and I guess Hong Kong does too. I bet Koreans love this 'ish too. It's nothing complex in execution, but there's something fantastically delicious in the simplicity. The squid itself is kind of rubbery and provides that eraser-like texture I want in all of my foods. With just a hint of seafood flavor, what you're mostly tasting is breadcrumbs doped with salt and pepper. It's kinda like eating fried chicken skin (the best part), but having something elastic to chew on at the same time. I realize this all sounds pretty stupid and probably off-putting, but I assure you it's not. Cha Chan Tang's version certainly could be better (it's neither crispy nor spiced enough), but it's adequate for satiating that slight bit of nostalgia. Additional unnecessary commentary: yes, I did start scratching shortly after consumption. Kind of worth it.

tl;dr - Innovating shit is mad hard. Good job to the guy who decided to add peanut butter to French toast. Also maltose syrup instead of maple. Maple can eat a dick. Basically, go to Cha Chan Tang and get yourself some French toast and bubble tea. Dope combination is dope.

Cha Chan Tang
45 Mott Street, New York, 10013


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Honey-glazed steak (New Malaysia Restaurant)

Honey glazed steak w/fried rice

Let me preface this post by saying - I don't know jack shit about Malaysian cuisine. I can't tell you if this is an authentic representation of true Malaysian food, shit... I can't even tell you if honey-glazed steak is even a real thing they do in Malaysia, but you know what? None of that matters. If you're the type of person who thinks "fuck, I don't have enough time to have both dinner and dessert separately. I'm a very important bro with very important things to do." Then I have good news - you will probably like the honey-glazed steak that they serve at this place called New Malaysia Restaurant. It's like a candy, but you know... made with grilled meat and served with a pile of fried rice. Nice... nice. Also it comes with a sprig of some green shit, so you just know that it's a balanced meal. "That sounds awesome" you say? Let me regale you with more tales of this sugar coated delicacy from a land I know nothing about...

Look at that shiny glaze

I guess there's not much to this tale since I'm a pretty easy sell. If you take beef, grill that shit up medium rare, and then slather it the fuck over with a honey-soy sauce mixture? Fuck yeah I'll eat that all day long. Alternatively you can think of the dish like this... if you take a moderately good cut of steak, slice that shit down into thin strips (but not anorexic thin), and grill it - you'd get unspectacular strips of steak. Which is cool, but not something I'd bust a nut over. But suddenly: one of the Asian guys in the kitchen fucks up. Originally he was making caramel apples, but accidentally drops a piece of steak in there. Upon realizing how dope that shit tastes, he does it to all of them. Then you get honey-glazed steak. Except there are no apples. Also the caramel is really honey and soy sauce. I'm not really sure where I was trying to go with that scenario. Oh, if you go at lunch - all this can be yours for the low low price of $6.75. Apparently we're also playing 'Price-is-Right' now too.

Chicken and broccoli

Did I also mention they serve broccoli chicken? My friend who went with me - who is white - decided to order broccoli chicken. Which is fine. Doesn't make much sense to me, but it is fine. It tastes like standard Chinese takeout fare, but it looks nicer because it's on a pimp square plate with a lump of rice shaped like an inverted bowl, which is how I want all of my rice to look like. Again, just to reiterate, nothing really exemplary to say about it, but hey! There's something on the menu here if your friends aren't super adventurous. So New Malaysia's got that going for it too!

Curry chicken

Suddenly: curry chicken. Not sure how Malaysian curry is specifically different from the other curries, I just know that it tasted pretty sick to me. Of slightly annoyance was the fact that the chicken wasn't de-boned, but that's been pretty much the case of all chicken curries I've eaten in Asia, so maybe that's just a thing? Meh, I suppose that's a pretty stupid gripe considering how incredible this shiz actually tastes. The depth of flavors in this dish almost made me regret getting the honey-glazed steak. Almost, but not quite. Although I have to admit that it was pretty intense. Then they sneak some cucumbers on your plate. Sneaky bastards. How did they know I wanted something refreshing after eating spiced chicken?

tl;dr - New Malaysia Restaurant is hidden away in a dark alley off of Bowery... you know, the kind of place you might get mugged or something really late at night. But you know what? They make really good steak. Steak so good I don't mind being robbed for. Steak that they smear with honey and other dope-ass ingredients. There's also fried rice. GG.

New Malaysia Restaurant
48 Bowery, New York, NY 10013


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bacon, mac & cheese, and pancakes (Shopsin's)

Egg, bacon, pancake sandwich

The other day I came across this video - don't ask me how or why - of Evgeni Plushenko's exhibition performance from when he won the gold medal at the World Championships in Vancouver. For the women who have just watched that video, you're welcome. For the men, you are now probably gay. No, but seriously... what I actually took away from that performance is that when you're the best at what you do - you can do whatever the fuck you want and get away with it. And it will be good. Now the parallel I want to draw here is that, when it comes to food, Shopsin's is Evgeni Plushenko. Kenny Shopsin can basically do whatever the fuck he wants, and I will 99% likely be impressed.

Why do I say this? Because some assclowns take issue with way Shopsin's runs his joint - strict hours, specific policies about seating, and a generally curt attitude when it comes to ordering. Listen, if you're pimping out the most delicious of delicious dishes, then as far as I care... you can be as big a douche as you want to be to me. Good food is good food. I can respect talent regardless of personality. Dumbasses need to understand this.


I know what you're thinking. "The fuck is this shit? How can I get my hands on one?" Let me drop some truth on you. This is the "Mo'Betta." It is the illegitimate lovechild of two mac & cheese infused pancakes that are all moist and shit, crispy-ass thick-cut maple bacon, and a whole buttload of scrambled eggs that are buttery as fuck. Basically, it's like Viagra for your mouth, which sounds inappropriate, but it's okay... because it has all the parts of a balanced breakfast. Almost as if it were healthy, almost. This is a combination of things that I love with zero moderation built into it, and it is glorious. If you're thinking that you could probably assemble something similar at home... you'd be wrong. Usually I talk about things in which the final product exceeds the sum of the parts, but unlike those lame-ass Power Rangers - always getting their asses beat down when they're by themselves - with the Mo'Betta... that's simply not true.

Blisters on my sisters

Also this shit. "Blisters on my Sisters." Now, I'm not entirely clear on why the sister has blisters (I'm sure the back story is 100% fucked up), but it really doesn't matter once you shovel some of this junk in your mouth. It's the combination of a couple of fried eggs, cheddar cheese, rice, beans, greens, and corn tortilla underneath. Basically it's a breakfast burrito that's been spread out super slutty-like for everyone to look at. You can order it in a variety of levels of spicy, but unless you're itching for your asshole to burn, I'd keep it to a 7 or below. Not much to say that you probably can't deduce from the list of components, but I will add that this basically makes Chipotle burritos look straight dumb.

Freshly fried doughnuts

The pinnacle of Shopsin's skills might exist entirely in their ability to churn out rings of fried dough. To say their fresh doughnuts are dope would be an understatement. They are the tits of sugar doughnuts. They come out piping hot, and will burn your tongue with the sensation of a koala with chlamydia peeing. Sure, they only really make the one kind of super-traditional doughnut, but their execution is spot on. When it comes to a plain sugar doughnut, they can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. To make it this dish just slightly more sensual than it already is, they pair these bitches with a giant dish of freshly whipped cream. So fresh, it's like they milked the cow directly into my mouth. Fried dough + whipped cream = instant boner. Mad awkward in the middle of brunch. Not entirely unlike watching the Evgeni Plushenko video.

tl;dr - Shopsin's is a quaint little shop in Essex Market that makes weird combinations of breakfast/brunch type foods. Sometimes they might come off as assholes, but whatever... they can cook up some dope-ass food. You should go there, and be honored if they yell at you. To all the haters: go eat a dick.

120 Essex St, New York, 10002


Friday, November 25, 2011

Cookies-n-Cream sundae (Dessert Club, ChikaLicious)

Cookies and cream

Evidently my stomach is "disturbingly malleable?"

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and I guess the normal thing would be to write about all the things I'm thankful for... awesome friends, loving family, having a great job, but I really don't think any of that really compares to how much I really appreciate the culinary brilliance you see above. Cookies-n-Cream sundae, bitches. Some people say that "calories cannot make you happy." Wrong. Whoever says that is either anorexic or is eating the wrong kinds of food, because you know what - the Cookies-n-Cream sundae from ChikaLicious not only makes me infinitely happier, it is one of the greatest dessert hybrids I have run across in my trek towards inevitable diabetes. I know what some of you are probably thinking: "bitch please, it's just some soft-serve vanilla with hunks of cookie in it. I could go home and break some Keebler cookies into that shit and it'd be the same." Fuck you. Don't belittle that sensually assembled Jenga tower of frozen dairy and butter-laden cookies. Fuck you.

"So prove me wrong," you say? Is it made from the breast milk of a Cambodian immigrant? What exactly makes that shit the dopest ice cream round town? For a couple of reasons. At ChickaLicious, neither the ice cream nor the cookies are an afterthought. They sell those cookies individually... and people pay good money for them, so it's pretty obvious that each one is capable of standing individually without assistance from ice cream. Then there's the ice cream. Is it artisinal and all that jazz? Well... no, but it also isn't McDonald's soft-serve either (not that I don't love McDonald's soft-serve). It's rich enough so that you know your heart hates you, but at the same time, delicious enough that you won't really care.

Awesome cookies

If you thought they just take the shitty reject cookie crumbs and shove them in some ice cream... you'd be epic wrong. They take perfectly good cookies and hulk-smash the shit out of them. The resulting pieces are big enough to satisfy any sort of "fuck ice cream, I wish I were eating cookies" thoughts, but small enough so that little children don't choke on them like the idiots that they are. Also, did I mention that they put three different kinds of cookies in there? Son. Shit just got real. There's "The Situation," "Situation Dark," and "Chocolate Chip." The Situation is a cookie that contains chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, marshmallows, and pretzels... the Situation Dark is basically the same thing, but with a chocolate cookie, and you can figure out what goes into the chocolate chip cookie - here's a hint: chocolate chips. When you fuck all three into some soft-serve - for $6.95 - it's definitely intense.

tl;dr - ChickaLicious Dessert Club makes this sick-ass sundae that has a bunch of cookie chunks mashed into it called the "Cookies-n-Cream" sundae. It tastes like winning the lottery and capturing a leprechaun in the same day. And suddenly... obesity.

ChickaLicious Dessert Club
203 East 10th Street, New York, NY 10003


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wontons in chili oil (White Bear)

Wontons in chili oil (紅油抄手)

I came to two very important realizations this week... one, I haven't written about anything spicy enough to make me regret going to the bathroom lately and two, I haven't talked about dumplings in a while... let's fix both of those things today. Now, I usually adhere to the school of thought that things that are fried are generally better than things that are not fried - case in point: chicken, okra, turkey, pickles, and Oreos. Pretty convincing list. I will however admit that White Bear's wontons - while not fried - are probably the most sensual implementation of pork plus wrapper in the city. Yes, even better than the fried ones at Prosperity (and yes, I know they're different). For once, I'm gonna be one of those assholes who throws around the term 'best'. These are the best fucking dumplings in the city. Feel free to disagree. In which case I only have one question for you - how does it feel to be completely and utterly wrong? Probably awful.

What exactly are these bitches, and why are they so damn delicious? Well, like I said, they're not the same fried dumplings you can find pretty much anywhere in Manhattan Chinatown. They're 紅油抄手 which basically translates to red oil wontons. You take your standard thin skinned pork wonton, cover it in sweetened chili oil, then add on a buttload of scallions and other bits - for flavor and shit.

Like a flower...

Damn son. Look at that shit. Just peep how sexily that chili oil is dripping off the folds of that wrapper... like some oddly inappropriate metaphor that I can't think of right now. It's so explicit this post should be labeled NSFW. Sure, maybe these things don't have a nice crustiness to the skins like Prosperity's do, but they are doused in an oil that could qualify as liquid condiment crack. At first, you only taste the savory richness of the pork and sauce. You might start to think... "oh, these things aren't really that spicy," but gradually - as you shove wonton after wonton into your mouth at an alarming rate - the traces of chili oil start to numb your taste buds. By the time you realize what's happening, you've already shoved 15 down the hatch and your mouth is burning with the passion of 300 Greek men. Kinda like getting paid a million bucks to let someone punch you in the dick. Basically, you're both in heaven and fucked at the same time. The depth of flavor that these dumplings have is unmatched by anything I've had in the states, and probably most of the places that I've had it in Asia too. Shit is too legit to quit.

tl;dr - there's a shady-ass place in Flushing that says it serves ice cream on the awning. Don't be deceived, they serve the finest dumplings in all of New York City. Plus, there's the added bonus that you'll not only enjoy them at the time of consumption, you'll remember them several hours later. Entirely worth it.

White Bear‎
135-02 Roosevelt Avenue, Flushing, NY 11354


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Taiwanese food in Flushing (Gu Shine)

Oyster pancake...! (蚵仔煎)

Guuuuuuu shine...

A few months ago, I had mad cravings for Taiwanese food - stinky tofu, oyster pancakes, oil sticks, and a bunch of other shit that most white people aren't even aware of - but there exists the problem that there really aren't any incredible Taiwanese restaurants in Manhattan. Solution: go to Flushing? Evidently not. Instead of finding some dope-ass Taiwanese cuisine, all I gained was a very important life lesson: that you shouldn't eat at a restaurant solely on the basis of it having an awesome name. Even if it's a name as awesome as "Gu Shine." Unfortunately, I don't really think this is a case of the owners being massively pro at trolling people... I'm pretty sure it's just another case of fobbish translations gone demented since the Chinese name of 故鄉 is actually pretty quaint (ps - it means 'home'). What exactly is wrong with Gu Shine?

I guess... technically nothing. It's not as if the food they serve is ass-crack vile, it's just that what they serve isn't an exact reproduction of what exists in the motherland. Know that demotivational poster of "retarded ice cream?" Gu Shine is like that. They get 90% of the way there, then they do something weird and you end up with retarded versions of your nostalgic Taiwanese classics.

Saddest plate ever

Shit son, it's fuckin' oyster pancakes. I love me some fuckin' oyster pancake - so much that I'm willing to break out in hives in order to eat them. Totally worth it. But what Gu Shine did wasn't right. Sure, the requisite ingredients of potato starch, egg, and oysters (as few as there were) were all there... something wasn't quite right. This... is what oyster pancakes should look like - not a plate of placenta explosion as seen at the top. To be entirely fair, their rendition of eggs, starch, and oysters wasn't all that terrible in terms of taste. While the omelette part was kind of nondescript in terms of texture (it should be somewhat gelatinous) and bland in flavor, the sauce was pretty bangin'. But if you're thinking about it that way, you're more or less paying $4 for a plate of sauce. Does that make sense? Probably not, unless you're either rich or stupid.

Stinky tofu (臭豆腐)

There are only two things I enjoy more than shoving fermented pieces of curd that smell like asshole into my mouth, one is Reddit, and the other is probably inappropriate for public knowledge. You're probably thinking... lucky you, Gu Shine has your third most enjoyable thing in the world! Wrong. The perfect plate of stinky tofu has a pungency that offends your olfactory glands from blocks away. The scent possesses a certain endearing charm I can only assume is exactly the same as when male dogs sense a female in heat. Texturally, it should be no different from blocks of fried silken tofu - a skin that's crispy and eerily resilient with a center that essentially melts upon contact.

Blocks of fried awesome

They look like blocks of foam that got refried...

Theirs... is none of that. I was neither offended with the smell nor was I impressed with the frying. It kinda tasted like... eating blocks of semi-fried mozzarella sticks that were starting to go bad. Don't get me wrong, I still ate all of it, but my cravings weren't exactly satisfied. If nothing else, I was just confused about what I was eating. Again, it's not entirely bad, just not what I expected.

tl;dr - The search for legitimate Taiwanese food in NYC continues. Gu Shine serves Taiwanese food almost authentic enough to make you want it more, but also mediocre enough to entirely disappoint you if you've had the original. Sweet name though.

Gu Shine
135-38 39th Avenue, Queens, NY 11354


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Steak and eggs w/fried rice (Boka)

Korean steak and eggs

Holy shit bro... you like steak and eggs? Do you also like kimchi fried rice? Fuck son, me too. If only there were such a glorious place that will fry a couple of eggs sunny-side up, plop them bitches next to some grilled and marinated beef, and serve that ish over some fried rice... shit would be tight, right? Boka does just that, and it's pretty damn legit (in the delicious sense, not the authentic sense). Listen... I know most people go to Boka because they have that sweet-ass deal on Thursdays with the all-you-can-eat/drink BonChon and beers, but if you're already there - I suggest you get a plate of this junk too. It's not that their kimchi fried rice is better than the homemade one made by your Korean friend's mom, and it's not like their galbi is the juiciest/tenderest/most flavorful cut of grilled cow that I've ever put to my lips, and well... eggs are eggs, but when you put all three of those things together and serve it alongside a bottle of soju with Hyori on the label? Fuck yeah it's the best. It tastes exactly like how I felt when Daniel-san beat those assholes from Kobra Kai. No, better. Straight awesome.

tl;dr - yeah I know this isn't really a full post, I just wanted to tell people to go eat some steak and eggs with kimchi fried rice.

9 Saint Marks Pl # D, New York, NY 10003


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Grand slam curry (Go! Go! Curry!)

Look at 'em sausages

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?

Thar be a shrimp too

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.

Beautiful porks

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

Korean beef gratin (Pastel)

I <3 the beef gratin

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.

Beef gratin

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

A roast pork PSA (Wah Fung)

Finally got the large...

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.

So much pork

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

A list! (of things I'd eat if I had a week in Taiwan)

Grass jelly & almond tofu (水龜伯古早味冰店)

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.

良品牛肉麵 (Liang Pin Beef Noodles)

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.


木須炒餅 (mushu scallion pancakes)

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.


生煎包 crust

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.


天婦羅 (tian fu luo)

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.


Makin' pepper buns

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.


peanut flour & cilantro variation

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.


Almond cream bear donut

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.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

PB&J Doughnuts (Doughnut Plant)

Jelly filling

I'm a big proponent of people who take normal foods and make them unhealthier. That dude who decided to fry Oreos the first time round? Awesome. The first Chinese guy who decided to pan fry noodles instead of just boiling those bitches? Pioneer. Those bros on Epic Meal Time? Renaissance men. Whoever the fuck decided to sell fried sticks of butter at the Ohio state fair? My goddamn hero. Now, I think almost everyone has a soft spot in their heart for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches - the old standby for when your parents didn't know what to make you for lunch. And possibly every meal... if they hated you. For some stupid reason or another... when I was a kid, I absolutely hated pb&j sandwiches, not because they tasted bad to me, but because... um, I thought they were too healthy. Yes that logic is idiotic. Sue me. Good thing Doughnut Plant (which my friends affectionately call 'DP') has taken care of that problem. While they're not really quite in the same league as those peeps I mentioned earlier, they're not doing so bad themselves.

By making a peanut butter glazed jelly doughnut, Doughnut Plant basically stripped away all the healthy shit from a pb&j sandwich. No more wheat bread and no more wack-ass crust. Instead of hearty wheat-filled nonsense, you get a surprisingly moist, yet fluffy, fried dough exterior... with the center pocket occupied by blackberry jelly. I paid $3+ for this. Me. Super frugal clench-my-buttcheeks-in-pain-when-spending-money me. I was smiling like an idiot from the first bite to the last. Take that how you will, but this shit is dope beyond recognition.

Banana pecan cake doughnut

There was also some banana on pecan action going on in the form of their banana pecan cake doughnut. It's like banana bread... but dipped in sugar. Not that banana bread was ever really healthy, but I'm pretty sure anything dipped in a sugar glaze is worse for you. By my retarded logic, that = awesome. I'm not in love with their cake doughnuts - mostly because they look smaller than the yeast ones (i.e. a lesser value) - but that has nothing to do with taste. Honestly, this was pretty sick in terms of flavor and texture. Tastewise, it's basically as I described... a slice of banana bread with a heightened level of sweetness. From a texture standpoint, it has the consistency of a muffin with the moistness locked in by a saran wrap layer of liquid sugar... dotted with chopped up pecans. If that doesn't ridiculous to you... I'm sorry you're dead inside.

tl;dr - Foods that are bad for your health generally taste better. You can take something really average and make it incredible by doing little more than frying it and covering it with sugar. Doughnut Plant gets this. They make these two awesome flavors that are eerily reminiscent of normal foodstuffs simply by glazing them over. Good job... DP, twice the calories (probably), twice the pleasure.

Doughnut Plant‎
220 West 23rd Street, New York, NY 10011


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mooncakes, I eat them (Kwong Wah Cake Co)


Know what those bitches are? Of course you do. Those are fucking mooncakes. Look at that shit... there's two of them gettin' all intimate on that plate. Goddamn. You might be wondering (if you're not Asian) - "what the fuck are mooncakes?" Let me lay down some truth on you. They're only the greatest thing to happen to Asia since fireworks, paper, and possibly even Mulan too. So check it, Chinese people like putting things inside of things: pork inside of dough, carbs inside of carbs, meat inside of egg , rice inside of squid... holy shit those bitches will put anything inside anything ಠ_ಠ . Some bro-dude in the olden times decided that it'd be a dope idea to put some egg yolk inside of some sweet-ass paste inside of some golden brown crust for some legitimately sensual three-way action. Apparently then they made up some wack-ass reasons to eat them to beat up on the Mongols. Not that I care. It just gives me an excuse to buy boxes of this stuff without being judged.

They're filled!

Pure sex. All yellow and loaded with cholesterol and other good shit. Fuck.

Look at that. Starting with the outside, you have a hella flaky layer of what's basically pure lard and flour. Mix that shit together and bake till golden. Brush it with egg... or something. Aww yeah. Then you have a thick layer of lotus paste (or whatever your heart desires really). That's basically nothing more than ground up beans mixed with sugar. Also more lard. Can't have enough lard. What would a mooncake be without a core of solid yellow egg yolk. Shitty. That's what. Combine all parts of the equation and you get a puck of culinary brilliance. A celebratory cake that actually tastes good (unlike those nasty fruitcakes white people send around at Christmas).

The only problem is... these bitches are expensive as hell. Chinese people are shrewd business people - possibly as cunning as Jewish people. They know that every year, without fail, there will be a steady stream of old ladies rampaging their doors asking for mooncakes like Godzilla raping Tokyo with morning wood. Demand dictates price, and with essentially infinite demand, they can charge whatever the hell they want. Sometimes you see boxes of four cakes going for $50. Who do they think they are? Ladurée? Bitch please, I'm not made of money. I can't pay $12.50 per mooncake no matter how delicious it is. Solution? Go to Kwong Wah Cake Co. They sell them individually there, and even the "super deluxe lotus seed with egg" option - yes that's really the name - is only $4.50. To be honest, they're not that far off from the super classy stuff I had in Taiwan when I was a kid. Not too bad for under $5.

What's the point of this post? I'm not really sure. I ate some mooncakes on Monday to celebrate this bootleg holiday that I know nothing about, and I just thought that I'd share how delicious these things were with the world. Actually, you know what you should do now that the mid-Autumn festival is over? Go buy yourself some cheap-ass mooncakes. They're delicious regardless occasion. Do it.

Kwong Wah Cake Co
210 Grand St, New York, NY 10013


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Marketing and dumplings (Plump Dumpling)

Plump Dumpling sign

"Oh shit, not another dumpling post." I know, I know. I need to stop eating dumplings, but bear with me. I've actually been thinking about else aside from how awesome pockets of meat are... like the effects of proper marketing. When I was still in middle school - just as the first gen iPod was released - I remember I received an unbranded mp3 player as a gift. It was wicked cool to me... it had a gig of memory, could hold what felt like a bajillion songs, and it let me make playlists and all that shit. It was a massive upgrade to the Sony Discman that I only ever bought two CD's for. Pre-teen me probably creamed his pants. Then there was an incident where a more affluent classmate made fun of me on the bus for having a "fake iPod." Why? Is it because he was an asshole? Yes. That part is undoubtedly true, but not my that point. It wasn't as if the iPod was 10x better than my generic player in any sense (as the price would indicate), Apple was just flat out better at marketing their product than my mp3 player's random company did. Apple refined a concept that's totally applicable to food as well. Awesome marketing can bolster a mediocre product.

Plump Dumpling is kind of like that. Prosperity Dumpling is pretty much the tits when it comes to fried pockets-o-pork in Manhattan. Pliant skins, juicy pork, and ridiculously cheap... they have that dumpling shit down to a bro-science. It really is everything you could ever want from fried dumplings. It just doesn't make sense that I'd go anywhere else in the immediate vicinity to get the same thing right? Maybe if you're not an idiot like me. Every single time I walk up through East Village I see that stupid yellow smiling heart hanging over Plump Dumpling. Just look at it - seductive eyelashes, fair complexion, and what appears to be the duck face pose - it's basically saying "come inside of me... eat my dumplings... you know you want to." Epic dumpling slut. Solid marketing. To clarify things, yes... I was indeed seduced by a sign.

More fried dumplings

Trying food from more places is generally a good idea. Old people cooking stuff the same way for the past 20 years is great and all, but there's always something better out in the world. Children are our future... or some nonsense like that. Who knows when Jesus reincarnate will decide to try his hand at making potstickers like the world has never know? The only thing painful about this experiment was that six dumplings cost like $3. I realize that me complaining about a $3 meal makes it sound like I'm a stingy asshole/king of first world problems, but the fact of the matter is... $3 just a mile away would've netted me 15 dumplings from Prosperity, or at the very least 12 from any of a number of other places. From a pure monetary standpoint, these had to taste 200% better than everyone else to make them worth the cost. A tall task indeed.

Pork core

It's not that their dumplings are bad by any stretch of the imagination, it's just that there's really no way for them to match such lofty expectations. In fact, their dumplings have a certain... homemade characteristic which almost makes them feel more nostalgic. They reminded me of the Northern Chinese style dumplings my grandfather would make from scratch way back when - thick chewy skins and a pork core consisting primarily of scallions and garlic (instead of chives). Honestly, if they were priced more competitively, I feel like I would go back. They churn out a decent product that would probably be on par with most of the generic $1 dumpling joints in Chinatown, but are succeeding entirely on the basis of image/location. Just like Apple. Fuckin' Macbooks.

tl;dr - Plump Dumpling has a really cool (to me) logo that features a smiling heart-shaped face that seduces you into eating their dumplings. While their dumplings are actually decent, they're not really worth 3x the amount that Prosperity's are. Moral of the story - don't be deceived by good marketing. Also... I hate Macbooks, and I'm bad at analogies.

Plump Dumpling
174 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Authenticity and shaved ice (The Shaved Ice Shop)

The Shaved Ice Shop sign

People always want to be innovative and on the cutting edge of things. Food blogging is kind of like that. There's food trends and other nonsense that suggest that you have to be writing about the latest thing in order to be relevant. Well shit... what if things don't need to changed? What if the original product already kicks so much ass that Batman gets more aroused thinking about it than Robin in spandex? That's how I feel about Taiwanese shaved ice. The traditional bowl of shaved ice is not a very hard concept to implement... you shave ice into microscopic crystals, drizzle with syrups and condensed milk, and then top it with junk (usually a singular fruit or some sort of sweet bean concoction). When executed properly, it is downright beautiful. It's fine the way it is, don't innovate, don't be "inspired" by it, don't ever change it. For me, shaved ice should only be recreated if it's authentic... bastardizing my childhood dessert of choice is basically the same as spitting in the face.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about The Shaved Ice Shop. They charge an insane amount of money for what really just amounts to water, syrup, milk, and a few toppings... which feels kind of wrong, but I get that supply and demand dictates price, and if it actually tastes great... then there's no problem. Past that - they say they're "inspired by" Taiwanese shaved ice, so I can't really blame them for producing a product that's not an authentic rendition of the original, but like I said, it feels wrong.

Plain shaved ice

To be completely honest, their shaved ice has potential. They do a decent job of shaving the ice down to a moderate consistency, and let's be honest... nothing covered in condensed milk will actually taste bad, but the final product just isn't impressive. You're probably wondering how something so brilliantly stupid in design can actually vary in quality. Easy. It's all in the details. Past the actual process of hulk-smashing the ice into small pieces, The Shaved Ice Shop totes struck out when it came to toppings. Red beans, mochi, grass jelly... all are tried-and-true toppings and for the most part should result in a somewhat formulaic taste. The bowl we got had red beans harder than frozen fishsticks and mochi that was powdery and inconsistent from piece to piece. Mochi shouldn't look like that shit from Pinkberry! Mochi should be smooth, fluid, gelatinous, and appear glass-like! Disappointment doesn't really begin to describe it. If you're gonna tell people in NYC that this is what Taiwanese shaved ice is, at least do it right. Embarrassing.

Red bean snow ice

I know this is anecdotal evidence at best, but here's a counter example: this random fruit drink stand in the basement of the New World Mall in Flushing. Absolutely no false pretenses about what they do - when you walk up to their counter, their Taiwanese accents are thicker than condensed milk, and their product is unchanged from the old fashioned kinds from the motherland. End result? A bowl of shaved ice topped with authentic toppings - with red beans that aren't heard as nipples on ice - that tastes fantastic and downright nostalgic. Instead of trying to impress people with their never-ending lists of random ass toppings, they just have the few flavors that existed originally and they do them well.

tl;dr - I'm glad shaved ice is getting more popular in NYC. I'm not glad that everyone's doing a mediocre job of it. The Shaved Ice Shop needs to work on their ice shaving game, become more authentic and shit. Plus the dude's not even Taiwanese! Why you frontin' bro? As for now, peeps should go to Flushing, they know what's up.

The Shaved Ice Shop
Hester St Fair, New York, NY 10002