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