Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rice noodle rolls and pork chops (XO Kitchen)

XO Kitchen (食坊) menu

There are a lot of stories on the internet telling tall tales about how ridiculously great the Google cafeterias are. While I will admit that having an endless supply of coconut water and fig newtons is pretty fantastic, it's not all sunshine and lollipops here bro. Do you know how much it sucks to have to walk downstairs just to get cookies? Do you know how infuriating it is to have steak three days in a row? Just because you put chimichurri on it doesn't make it a different dish ಠ_ಠ. To be honest, it's pretty frustrating. So frustrating that yesterday I was actually driven to pick up a vegan meal... just for something different. It was a pre-made box of sprouted brown rice with sundried tomatoes, onions, and tempeh (which according to my friend is no more than a shitty version of failed tofu). As I sat there lamenting - crying into my container of brown rice - over both the lack of variety of free food and my decision to pick up a box of glorified kitty litter, I realized something. I missed outside food. I missed pork. Good pork. Like the pork chops they make at XO Kitchen.

Taiwanese pork chop

There are some things I get really sick of, really fast... like the steak in our cafeterias. Then there are things like the pork chops at XO Kitchen. If you told me I could eat nothing but their pork chops w/sauce over rice for a month I think I'd cream myself. They're marketed as "台式豬排" or Taiwanese pork chops, but don't be mistaken - they're not the crispy as fuck kind you'll find at Hua Ji, these are a whole 'nother animal all together. Probably not the pinnacle of pork and sauce technology, but good in their own right. Know why? Because they basically take the fattiest cut of pork you could find, fry it (plain) until even the fat is crispy, then slather it with a savory sweet concoction whose composition I don't even want to know because it's probably bad for me. Just think of thick cut bacon... fry that shit up good, now smoosh a bunch of it together. It's a magical thought to behold, and that is essentially what their pork chop is. A mass of crunchy pork fat covered in sauce. Paired with rice. I'm Asian, I'm programmed to love rice and sauce.

Cheong fun w/XO pork sauce

Unlike my cafeteria, XO Kitchen values variety. Instead of shoving pork tenderloin in my face everyday with a different accompanying sauce, they actually use it in different dishes. Like their 腸粉 (cheong fun). I'm pretty sure this is what they're actually famous for, and their version is pretty dope. Bouncy and "QQ" rice noodles usually get rolled together with various types of filling. The XO pork sauce version is just that plus a slurry of ground pork, what I can only assume is "XO sauce," and a host of other stuff that's super fragrant. End result is a super sick dish of rice noodles, pork, and more pork. None of it repetitive, none of it boring.

Another view...

BUT WAIT, there's more! I'm pretty sure this shit ain't vegan friendly (for all I know it's fried in lard), but they also do cheong fun with "油條" (oil sticks) shoved inside. Then they put some sesame seeds on top, and a sprig of something green on the side. Goddamn. No, it's not meat filled, but there's something inherently satisfying about carb on carb action. You get your teaser in the rice noodle, but once you get to that crispy stick of oily dough? Game over. The flavor profile isn't anything special - it's really just noodles and soy sauce - but it's pleasurable from bite one through the last. I don't know if anyone else did this, but when I was a kid I used to lick 9v batteries. Can't tell you why it was fun to me, but it was. This is just like that. Inexplicably good.

Fried mantou (銀絲卷)

They also have fried mantou (銀絲卷). I don't really have to explain why this tastes good right? It's freakin' fried bread that you dip in condensed milk. Fat kids everywhere just peed themselves in excitement. XO Kitchen's probably aren't the lightest, fluffiest, most sensual golden fried buns I've ever had, but you know what? They're kinda like me complaining about Google's cafeterias, the commentary has very little merit and I'm just being a nitpicking asshole. Makes sense, right?

Of course, for the lazy, the illiterate, and my asshole friends who really only look at the pictures... tl;dr - Google needs to stop serving steak all the time, it gets boring. Instead they should be more like XO Kitchen, where you can get kickass pork chops, things wrapped in noodles... and other shit like fried bread w/condensed milk.

XO Kitchen
148 Hester Street, New York, NY 10013


Katie said...

You + tempah = me having to scroll back up to make sure I was on the right blog.

Shirley said...

CHEONG FUN!!! Such a delight, that picture makes me drool....

NIC!! It's been a while since I last saw your blog, how's NYC treating you?
(My brand new android-based phone was stolen about 1 month ago, right when I was commenting on your blog, and since then I gathered the courage to comment again...)

Nicholas said...

Katie - sorry, I stopped after that day. I just got really sick of skirt steak and roasted lamb leg. Seriously.

Shirley - NYC's good. Better than Philly for sure hahaha. I'm sure commenting on my blog was the reason your phone got stolen btw ;) you were probably too traumatized to try again.

Richard C. Lambert said...

I missed outside food. I missed pork. Good pork. Like the pork chops they make at XO Kitchen.
Sewing Machine Judge

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