Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Black bean noodles (Son Ja Jang)

Jajangmyeon (from Son Ja Jang)

Remember how a few months ago I told you to go to Shanghai Mong to get black bean noodles? That they were the bees knees of black starchy concoctions... that they made me cream myself just at the thought of sauce drenched noodles (maybe this is why Google AdSense thinks I'm writing an 'Adult' blog)? Well I'm sorry. I was wrong. While their version is undoubtedly solid (and delicious if you're also going to get some sweet-ass tangsuyuk), it's not worthy as a destination by itself. To be fair, I also told you it looks like poo, so if you listened to me... there is something wrong with you. Or with me. Who knows? Anyway, to make amends for this - lemme tell you about a tight little noodle shop hidden in the back of generic - which is not to say it's bad - Korean barbecue joint. Tonight... we dine in Hell. This... is... Spartaaa! Wait, no. That's not right.

Looks like a puddle of black

mmm. Look how much that looks like poo. You can't unthink it now!

Tucked away behind the main storefront of Muk Eun Ji is a tiny operation by the name of Son Ja Jang. There are literally three dudes in a glass paneled room bitch slapping the shit out of hunks of dough. There's a certain musical quality that accompanies the punishment they dole out on that dough. A symphony of abuse if you will. After a few minutes, you'll get the bowl you see above. Tender strands of noodle that go on forevertown, with a certain snappiness that seems reminiscent of a rubberband. If there were a bowl of noodles I would consider eating plain, devoid of any sauce or toppings, it would be this one. It is, simply put, amazeballs.

Mix that shit up good

Then you mix that shit all up good. Really fuck it up. If the waitress doesn't offer, ask her to take a pair of scissors to it. Those glorious noodles are far too unwieldy once sauced on for you to tackle without being cut. The end result is this bowl of poo noodles. Shredded hunks of oh-so-fatty beef, sauteed onions, and some sweet-ass sauce of unknown origins (just kidding, it's black bean). The subtle sweetness of the sauce mixed with the richness of the beef blend into a beautiful session of lovemaking with the noodles. It is not sensual, it is straight carnal. No need to mince words.

Those three chilis...

You might look at their menu and think "hey, there's another one that's a dollar more called 'pul' jajangmyeonn. I be that because it costs more, it tastes beter!" Shut up. You don't know what you're getting yourself into. Those three chilis? They are not fucking kidding. The first time I went, I thought that I liked spicy food - that there was no way you could elevate plain black bean noodles to an undocumented level of pain with just the addition of chili oil. I was very wrong. Very very wrong. While it's built on the same platform of delicious bouncy noodles, the sauce is enough to transform a grown man's face into a waterfall of salt water and snot. I've eaten ghost chili cheesesteak, ghost chili hot wings, and more capsaicin than the average person multiple times over, but dear god I couldn't stomach the entire bowl. It is painful going in, and it will destroy your butthole going out. Do not try to prove something here, just get the regular noodles. That's how spicy it is. Me, the cheapest person ever, took a few bites and wrote off those $9 as lost forever.

Fried dumplings

They also have fried dumplings. Don't bother. These just make me sad (and pale in comparison to the glory of the Hypnotoad... by which I mean the jajangmyeon). The skin is uniform in toughness and blandness - and oh there's the a lot of it, and the filling is nondescript and boring. Plus they cost like $8. What an ass-clown deal that is. I could get 40 really good dumplings from Chinatown for that price. Besides, if we're allocating our distribution of carbs, you really should be focusing on the black bean noodles here. Anyway, this here ends my apology post - ignore what I said about Shanghai Mong having killer black bean noodles. Son Ja Jang? That shit's my jam yo.

tl;dr - looking for killer black bean noodles with the finest in hand pulled noodle technology? Ignore the barbecue at Muk Eun Ji and go for the alternate Son Ja Jang menu. Don't get the spicy noodle bowl. You're really just paying an extra dollar to singe some ass hairs. Unless you like that sort of thing. I won't judge.

Son Ja Jang (in same space as Muk Eun Ji)
34 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Claypot Rice (Noodle Village)

So green and beefy

Driven to the brink of insanity and frostbite at home (my dad is very Asian in case you didn't know), I'm making my triumphant return to food blogging - if only to reap the heat being emanated from my laptop's keyboard - to tell you about a glorious bowl of rice and beef, whose flavor can only hope to be contained by an enormous ceramic bowl that is so hot that you'll inevitably burn yourself. Anyway, having recently graduated from college (sort of), I have a certain nostalgia for cooking my meals - start to finish - in a rice cooker. While part of that was due to my laziness and another part was due to sheer ineptitude, there was still something fantastically magical about shoving a bunch o' junk into a blazing hot metal pot and being presented with a debatably edible meal after a bit of entertaining myself (wink wink nudge nudge). It's like the tides, you can't explain that. While I certainly didn't die of malnutrition from my escapades in culinary brilliance, nothing I made was ever all that impressive or flavorful. Usually the meats would come out bland, the vegetables overly mushy, and the rice inconsistent. The premise was solid, the execution was shitty. That is... until I came across Noodle Village late last year. Those bros execute to fucking perfection.

So green and beefy

Look at this shit. Are your nipples hard yet? Is that just me? Maybe it's just because my house is currently 36 degrees... I don't know... I'm not a doctor and I can't tell you these things. What I can tell you is that some facet of my current arousal is due to the photo you see above. A bowl of pure sensuality. A veritable quartet of quartet of flavors - tender, rich, and fatty slices of beef splashed with a hint of sesame oil and soy sauce, a few florets of broccoli and scallion pieces to make it look all healthy and add texture, a blend of lap cheong, mushroom, and fried onions to add another layer to the flavor, and some fluffy-ass rice with an edge so crusty you'd swear it has a sexually transmitted disease. Mmm. Dat bowl. Blend all that shit together and you have a flavor profile so clean yet so complex that you simply can't comprehend why it tastes so good. The components are bland on their own, but when put in a clay pot and fired under pressure, it becomes a masterful piece of culinary work.

Scallion pancake... doughnut?

For some assclown reason, my brain thought a giant bowl of rice the size of a wall clock wouldn't be sufficient to satiate my hunger... so I also ordered scallion pancakes. When they brought this nonsense out, I was ready to flip some tables. What the fuck is this noise? WHY DID YOU BRING ME A DOUGHNUT YOU CRAZY WOMAN?!?

Treasure trove of scallions

Apparently this is just how they do scallion pancakes there. Is this Cantonese style or something? I dunno, I felt uncomfortable with this unexpected twist in my meal. What I wanted was thin and crispy layers of dough dotted with scallions, fried in the fattest of fats. What I ended up with was a pseudo-doughnut with weirdly textured uncooked dough in the middle. Did I finish eating it? Of course - I would never waste carbs. Did I enjoy it? Of course - I enjoy all carbs. That said, I probably wouldn't order it again. It's weird. Stop doing that Noodle Village, shit is cray.


This has nothing to do with nothing. I just think it's incredible that Noodle Village has some sort of dessert called 'INFINITE CREAMY ICE.' That's a bold-ass promise. Nothing in this world is truly infinite, so the fact that a random Chinese breakfast joint is promising a shaved ice dessert with an infinite amount of creaminess is suspect. Next time I return, I shall try it, for you - the readers, and maybe... just maybe, their infinite creamy will make me cream infinitely. Until next time, sweater monkeys.

tl;dr - if you like rice, you should go to Noodle Village. They have a big bowl of crispy rice that comes with meat that is es muy delicious. If Roger Ebert rated things I do, it would probably be worth three tits. Maybe three and a half.

Noodle Village
13 Mott Street, New York, NY 10013


Monday, October 1, 2012

Good Ol' Fashioned The (Donut Pub)

The Donut Pub sign

Oh shit, it is October already. It has been forevertown since I last posted, but fret not sweater-monkeys, this second-rate food poet has returned. Today, I will tell you a tale about a friend of mine. Some people are addicted to alcohol, some people are addicted to drugs, some people are addicted to sniffing markers back in grade school when they had cherry scented white erase ones (oh lord the cherry ones were the best). My friend Tia, she is addicted to DP... by which I mean doughnuts... from Donut Pub. Being addicted to doughnuts is not so different from the other three - the debilitating reliance upon a substance to give you that thrill of 'feeling alive,' the constant reminder about how long it's been since the last time you used, and the withdrawal you go through when it's not there. It's all really the same. Now this post isn't me being judgmental of my friend's choices, actually the opposite, the first step to recovery is to admit that you yourself have a problem - well here it is: I too am addicted to DP. By which I mean Donut Pub.

I've been in CA for the past week - it has been eight days since I last used, and I am currently in withdrawal, feelbadman.jpg. You're probably wondering - "Why don't you just go to Dunkin' Donuts or something and eat some doughnuts?" With all due respect, eat a bag of dicks. How dare you compare Dunkin' Donuts, Tim Horton's, or any other chain doughnut restaurant with Donut Pub? How dare you. Sure NYC has Doughnut Plant (another kind of DP), which is pretty great in its own right, but kinda tries too hard, and also Peter Pan Bakery, which is assclown far out in Greenpoint - seriously, not going to wait on the G for that one, but none of them have the same OG goodness that Donut Pub possesses. Plain and simple, if you want old fashioned and cheap wads of fried dough smothered in sugar, then there's no other option than to go to Donut Pub. It is one of a kind, irreplaceable, a crutch in my day-to-day function.

Remember how I wouldn't shut the hell up about Donuts Plus (another DP? Is this some sort of fucked up joke I'm missing?) back in Philly? Well Donut Pub is like that and more. Also it's in Chelsea so I'm less likely to get mugged.

Honey-dipped doughnut

Like I said, simplicity is the name of the game here. Most places do a standard glazed doughnut, with a plain sugar coating. Donut Pub doesn't deviate far from that design, but their plain glazed doughnut is actually dipped in a combination of honey and syrup. The end result is the tits. A marvelous blend of pure sweetness with a subtle hint of honey that stays moist even hours later, the glaze is literally the perfect mate to the pillowy soft fried dough it's draped on. While people always praise how Krispy Kreme doughnuts yield to biting and melt in your mouth, Donut Pub hits that perfect consistency where the resilience of texture is balanced by the softness of the dough matrix. If it sounds like I'm getting a stiffy just by writing about this ring of pure sensuality - you'd be right. My pants are little bit tight now. Mostly due to the weight I've gained by shoving these in my mouth, but partially because I'm flavoroused right now.

Boston Creme doughnut

"That's too plain" you say? You're 100% wrong, but I respect the fact that you're entitled to your own dumbass opinions. Well maybe the Boston Creme is more your thing. Same concept applies here - a simple implementation that doesn't deviate from the expected, but is done so well that you'll feel a certain kind of warmness when you bite into it. A certain kind of tranquility that everything around you is okay, along with a slightly accelerated and painful heartbeat. This doughnut will get your blood pressure up, for better or worse.

Boston creme filling

They don't really fuck around all stingy like most doughnut places do. More often than not, a Boston Creme doughnuts are incredibly sad creations - half-filled and on the brink of collapse. Not theirs. Built upon the same fantastically chewy dough platform, they do nothing more than a simple dip in honey syrup, a heavy-handed application of chocolate glaze, and a ridiculous piping of creme that would shame everyone in the porn industry. They stuff that shit with way too much creme, and top it with way too much chocolate glaze, but that's part of the appeal of Donut Pub.

Powdered-sugar jelly doughnut

"But I need my daily fill of fruit and junk so I don't get Scurvy!" This is actually a concern for some people I know. No worries, Donut Pub has you health nuts covered too. In the form of their oh-so-scintillating jelly doughnuts. Not that it really needs explaining, but this is the exact same doughnut shell, but this time stuffed to the point of explosion with grape jelly and then dusted with just enough powdered sugar to make it look like you have a cocaine addiction, to distract people from the shameful fact that you're actually addicted to something like doughnuts.

Plain jelly filling

Remember the "Whitest Kids You Know" skit about the Grapist? Their jelly doughnut is just like that. It'll grape you in the mouth, and leave stains all over your shirt. And you'll like it. There's really nothing special about the jelly here, but when combined with the doughnut and with the glaze, something magical happens. The synergy of sweet upon sweet upon tart makes for a refreshing departure from their other offerings. I don't normally like fruits in my desserts, but when I do... it's at Donut Pub.

So now you know my shameful secret. I am addicted to this hole in the wall doughnut joint. I go there late at night so people don't see me buying a half-dozen at a time to eat in my office with tears of ecstasy and regret streaming down my face. It is both the greatest doughnut place I've found as well as my greatest weakness. My only hope is to drag all of you into this same situation so I'm less embarrassed at my reliance on fried rings and pockets of dough. Sighs all around.

tl;dr - I love DP. Which again - in this context is referring to Donut Pub. They don't make fancy pants doughnuts containing Foie Gras or anything, they just make doughnuts. Their doughnuts are the tits. It has ruined my life in ways I cannot describe.

The Donut Pub
203 West 14th Street, Manhattan, NY 10011


Friday, August 17, 2012

Animal Style - long overdue (In-N-Out)

In-N-Out sign

Oh my goodness. Oh my dayum, dayumm, dayummm. This is a man that feels passionately about food... and ghetto grocery bags, evidently. This is a man that loves Five Guys' so much that he would take one of their burgers to the parking lot behind a middle school and get it pregnant. This is a man that whose unhealthily arousal for Five Guys' cheeseburgers can only be rivaled by the amount of plaque building up inside his arteries. This man is a man's man, a role model, and some sort of sexual icon... to someone I guess. Aside from the fact that the video is hilarious, I've watched over and over again wondering - "when was the last time I felt this strongly about a burger... anywhere?" The short answer is never. I don't think I've ever actually creamed myself at the thought of a beef patty in between buns, but then again, I've never had a fry that bites back at me. The closest I've come in recent memory? Probably In-N-Out. Six years of burger hype in the making. Did they go "H.A.M.?"

Balanced and complete lunch

Fuck son. They didn't just go "hard as a motherfucker," they went full retard (in a good way). While they don't deliver your food in a "ghetto grocery bag," that doesn't really diminish the experience. I'm not sure why exactly you'd want your meal to come in a crappy brown bag, but that guy probably knows something I don't. Look at how balanced that meal is. In-N-Out burger (Animal Style), fries (Animal Style), and a Neapolitan shake, which - for the record - was out of this world delicious. Weirdly enough, each of the flavors keeps perfectly distinct (if you don't stir that shit vigorously). As you sip your brain into a minor freeze, you'll hit a layer of chocolate, a layer of vanilla, and a layer of strawberry. Segregation never tasted so good.


"Get yourself a double cheeseburger" he says? That's some weak-ass shit I say. Triple-triple... minimum. Look at cheese, it's definitely oozin', but there's something more about the construction that's so mesmerizing. A well toasted plain generic bun is rather forgettable on its own, but sodomize it with a thick base of crunchy pickles, a hearty slice of tomato, minimal lettuce bullshit to get in the way, and a tower of beef cemented together with fried mustard, grilled onions, and alternating layers of cheese - holy amazeballs, the sensation is not unlike that feeling you get when taking off your pants as soon as you get home. Almost... liberating.

Something that was vaguely confusing about his review. Daym Drops claims that a weak burger is a burger "you can chew and still talk." He proceeds to describe a strong burger as a burger where "the meat just absorbs all the space and all the air possible all in your throat to the point that if you wanted to start talkin' nothin' but mm-mm, mm-mm, mm-mm, mm-mm, mm-mm is comin out." That's poetic as fuck, but did he just suggest that a strong burger is one that kills you by suffocation? If this is the criteria for a 'strong' burger, then sorry... you will be disappointed with the In-N-Out offerings. If you want something to dine on and talk with friends though... get this shit (if you live on the West coast).

Animal style fries

Unfortunately, when you bite these fries, they don't bite back. Not sure why the hell you'd want violent fries to begin with, but these are pretty plain Jane. Only after a bukkake of Animal Style sauce and cheese does this serving actually get elevated into special status. If you're not an idiot like I am, you'll eat these while they're fresh. Why? Because if you take 10 minutes to photograph your food, you'll end up with a dip-shit demented wad of congealed fried potato, cheese, grilled onions, and drippy dressing. Sure, that sounds eerily appealing, but trust me - shoving a giant wad of fried starch is not as delicious as it sounds. My uncomfortable arousal quickly faded into general discomfort of the heart. Blah.

In closing, I'm not really sure what I'm trying to convey here. I started off this post thinking about foods that get me hot and bothered, and if I've ever have a weirdly sexual experience like that dude did about Five Guys'. The short boring answer is, "no." What I did come to realize is how much I enjoy In-N-Out, and how much I'm looking forward to going back. A lot of people talk about Shake Shack vs. In-N-Out, or some other burger - and basically, a lot of people need to shut the fuck up. They're all good, but what sets In-N-Out apart is the fact that it's a fast food franchise that's so goddamn delicious and consistent, and the fact that this is scalable makes me pop a proverbial mind-boner.

tl;dr - I have never been as aroused about eating a burger as the bro in that video. He gives me hope that there are great things to look forward to when it comes to food. In-N-Out is pretty much as close as I've come (that's what she said?) from eating a burger in a long time. Their burger is an engineering marvel and their business plan is some sort of black magic. I like racist shakes.

All over the place in CA,
Fuck you West coast peeps.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Beer and Schnitzel (Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden)

Pocket of heart disease

I'm convinced that if you combine something as awesome as flourless chocolate cake and something as sensual as fried chicken together, it'd probably taste erotic as fuck. You're probably saying to yourself "damn son, that shit sounds biz-nasty. Why do I still listen to this idiot? Also why are you telling everyone about your demented taste buds?" To answer your first question... I'm not sure. But I assure you, this is relevant. Every time I see a menu item that's a combination of things that taste good with various other things that also taste good - I feel compelled to order it. No matter how gross or over the top the combined sum might seem, it will be ordered. No questions asked. I think it's most likely a remnant piece of my brain that's still hard-wired from when I looked like Chunk from the Goonies, but when I saw the "Schnitzel ala Bohemka" at the Bohemian Beer Garden... I knew I had to have it. I had to have my way with the delicate combination of fried chicken, pork fat, runny eggs, and cheese. Oh lord, this is the shit real heart attacks are made of. Never before have pockets of meat been violated by in so many ways.

Basically, think of the juiciest chicken you've ever eaten, pound that ish super thin, bread it ever so lightly, fry it until it's a golden hue of glowing sensuality and crispiness, gently pry open the center cavity, and violate it with the fury of a masturbating teenager by shoving it full of buttery scrambled eggs, thick cut crispy bacon, and enough cheese to bankrupt Wisconsin. That... is the Schnitzel ala Bohemka - and, behold, it was very good.

Schnitzel ala Bohemka

Wuh? Shit yo, they give you heaps of fried potatoes too! Don't be mistaken, those are not dainty effeminate fries on that plate, those are burly manly potato wedges done only in the fashion that an Eastern European could do. And also... suddenly salad? The people at the beer garden have your best interests in mind, or possibly insurance. They don't want you dying on the spot from the massive tongue boner you'll get simply from looking at the cross section of your juicy fried meat pocket (or possibly heart disease). No! They're gonna give you some greens and shiz to keep your ticker going until you keel over outside. What thoughtful peeps the Czechs are.

Then of course follows the shame of having eaten such a behemoth, which is shortly followed by the inevitable sharp twangs of pain in my chest, but all of these are quickly forgotten when you realize how freaking delicious that package of caloric shame is. It really can make you forget anything that troubles you. It is that good.

Too much cheese

They also have bratwurst and kielbasa for those of you who prefer your meat in rod form. Not me, but hey... whatever floats your boat. And with that rod of erect porcine meat? They pair that shit with enough cheese to make any Asian person want to run to the bathroom to do battle with toilet Poseidon. Trust me, demons will be exorcised. It comes with a side of pierogis too, so you know... there's that. More carbs and cheese. Actually, thinking back, this was as full of flavors as it was a plate of indigestion. Again, my scumbag brain was overwhelmed by the pros and cons and ultimately decided that it was an excellent idea to ingest assloads of lactose into my system. Feltbadman.jpg.

Czech beer garden

Goddamn, did I also mention there's a whole list of beers I can't pronounce? That means they come from overseas, which in turn means it's some classy-ass shit. Fool-proof logic. Your body won't even know what the fuck is going on! "Should I focus on cleansing this dude's blood from the insane amounts of heavy beer he's drinking? Or should I try to send blood to stomach to break down all that fried meat he's shoving in his mouth? What shit is this bro pulling?!" I like to keep my body guessing, and Bohemian Beer Garden makes that too easy. I like to think of it as similar to going to the gym, where I train my body for all kinds of situations. Yes... that.

As an aside, don't get the dumplings. They're just steamed bread. Think about how gross it would be if you took a loaf of Wonderbread, balled it up, and then steamed the fuck out of it. Shit sounds lame right? I'm sure it is.

tl;dr - the Bohemian Beer Garden has a bunch of shit that will wreak havoc on your digestive system and overall health. Actually, I don't know that there's anything on the menu that's health aside from pretzels. Still, their fried chicken, bacon, egg, cheese concoction is just short of sexual. I mean sensual. Don't get the dumplings. It's just steamed bread. Gross-ass shiz.

Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden
29-19 24th Avenue, New York, NY 11102


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dough nubbins and chicken broth (Arirang)

Korean chicken noodle soup

Good news everyone! I am not dead, I'm just insanely busy learning all about Java and Python style guides, App Engine, JS optimization, and a bunch of other topics that aren't very useful to anyone else. Anyway, I've heard the term "technical debt" thrown around endlessly lately, and that's basically how I feel about this blog. I took a few undeserved posting breaks to stuff my face with now no longer available cake cuts (yeah, I took a break so long that a restaurant straight up closed in the time it took me to write a post), and now I've dug myself into a blogging hole I can't possibly recover from. Blogging... it's just like being addicted to drugs. Or maybe it isn't, I don't really know, I've never really done drugs. But I'm pretty sure you don't care about my technical debt woes, my style guide violations, or my possibly non-existent drug problems. You just want to know more about this bowl of creamy white liquid that I apparently poured into my mouth. So instead of boring you further, now I'm going to tell you about this sick-ass Korean noodle soup thing you can get at Arirang. It has nubbins - instant tongue boner.

Shredded noodles

That looks like South America. Or Illinois. Whatever, you can't unsee it.

Now I know what you're probably thinking... "What the fuck are you talking about? Nubbins? That just sounds retarded." If you grew up in the US, you're probably more familiar with the idea of chicken dumpling soup. If you grew up in Taiwan then these are kinda like 麵疙瘩 (literally translates to dough scraps) suspended in 雞湯. It's basically the same shit, but better? Some people like the uniformity of a spaghetti, ziti, or a 拉麵. Not me though. I want to surprise the shit out of my tongue. I never want it to know what the next bite entails, and that's the beauty of these nubbins of dough. Each one is like a snowflake, unique in shape, size, and texture. Plus they're curiously resilient (in a good way) that would make Stretch Armstrong's arms look like a straight bitch. Seriously, just look at it. Mmm, dat dough. Fuck. It's comfort food of the highest level on it's own. Slather it with whatever and I'm sure it'd still taste delicious. So what could possibly make these defective looking scraps of boiled dough even better?

Beautifully thick chicken broth

Look they even put some random green shits on top to make you think it's healthy or something

Dropping that ish into a pot of the richest chicken broth this side of anywhere. If I could describe the taste in one sentence - it's as if they took a chicken and milked it for all it's worth into a rolling pot of vegetables, potatoes, and seasoning - mixing in a symphony of flavors so sensual that even Carl Weathers would admit "you got a stew goin." Yes, I realize you can't milk chickens, but bear with me here... I have never tasted a chicken broth that tasted so pure and unadulterated, but this was as rich as the soup at Henan Flavor, and that shit is so intense it makes my butt hurt just thinking about it. The tastes involved are so powerful it takes a steel bowl to contain it. How does that even make logical sense? Fuck that, it's so good it doesn't have to. The clean yet full taste of the soup combined with dumb looking hunks of dough nubs seems like such a stupidly simple thing, but it's probably the lack of complexity that makes this so damn good. Not too many parts to screw up. Well played Korea. Anyway, I'm not so sure this is a great Summer food now that it's hotter than Satan's asshole in NYC (it was pretty appropriate when I had it back in January or February), but yeah. Chicken soup and clumps of stupid looking dough at Arirang is most definitely the tits.

tl;dr - I am not dead, I have been doing stuff you probably don't care about. I enjoy drinking chicken soup with noodle things that look like South America. Did I mention how it comes in a metal bowl? Regular bowls can't contain flavor like this.

Arirang Korean Restaurant
32 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cake cuts, may you rest in peace (Hon Cafe)

Bag of "cake cuts"

So I haven't been writing very much lately. Sorry to disappoint the few of you who actually read this shiz, but I most likely won't be quitting my job just so I can accelerate heart disease and live penniless as a food blogger. Plus, I kinda like the whole 'free food' thing at work. Anyway, I know what most of you are thinking: "I don't need to hear your BS excuses, dance monkey! Dance!" Yeah yeah, I'm getting to the part where I shove food in my mouth and write about how it arouses, and then exits, me for your super great enjoyment. Okay, let me ask you something... have you ever had cake cuts? No? How does it feel to have never lived, loved, and experienced life to the fullest? I bet it sucks. Now you might be asking yourself "what the fuck are cake cuts? That just sounds straight dumb." Well, jokes on you - cake cuts are the single greatest thing that could ever happen to (and disappear from) Chinatown in the history of forevertown.

Growing up... one of my guiltiest pleasure foods were those Swiss roll cakes that Chinese bakeries make - beautiful 10" logs of nothing more than porous sponge cake spread with a delicately thin layer of some sort of cream. Mmm - dat cream. I could easily kill two or three of those things in a single sitting (have I mentioned I was fat) without any ill effects. Shameful? Yes. Delicious? Also yes. The fact that they were so deceptively light meant it felt okay shoving slice after slice after slice in my mouth as if I were Zeus and I was just slaying bitches left and right.

Double-sized cake cut

That's besides the point. The point? When you roll up a cake, the ends inevitably look like retarded nubbins of browned bits. Not very aesthetically pleasing. Once you cut that shit off though - boom - your cake looks straight sensual again. But what of those cake nubbins... what happens to them? Hon Cafe (now replaced by some ass-clown generic Chinese restaurant) used to do something magical. Each unfortunate looking orphan cake butt would be set aside and placed in a bag along with its fellow rejected brethren. They would then sell these gigantic bags of deformed Swiss rolls for $2. What a deal. "Shut up about your bag of dumb looking cakes!" you say? I can understand why you might not entirely appreciate how spectacular a bag of cake is, and all I can say to that is... eat a dick. A whole bag of them. You don't understand what it's like to have something so special, so sensual, taken from you shortly after discovery. Some things in life. They are not fair.

Hon Cafe menu

Hon Cafe wasn't a one trick pony though - not that they really needed to be good at anything aside from collecting rejected cake cuts and selling them to me at drug deal prices - they were actually a full fledged restaurant, that did other things moderately well too.

Beef chow fun (乾炒牛和)

They do all the standard HK diner type dishes, including a savory guilty pleasure of mine... 乾炒牛和 a.k.a. beef chow fun. Look at that shit. By shit I mean oil. This motherfucker is so greasy I can see my reflection in the noodles, which is the only way I want to eat chow fun. Now I've explained this dish so many times already that I've lost count, but it's worth reiterating. The complexity of this dish is non-existent. You stir-fry marinated beef, onions, bean sprouts, and rice noodles together in a wok over a giant fire, you coat that shit with more oil than the Exxon Valdez, and boom - the combination of high heat, integration of fat, and the Maillard reaction happen. Non-enzymatic browning of carbohydrates. Tell me that phrase doesn't turn you on in the least. No? You're a goddamn liar. Science is sexy.

Garlic cheeseburger

Rice noodles don't get you all greased up and hot and bothered? That's chill. Hon Cafe also made one of my favorite 'burgers.' I put quotes around burgers because I'm sure some dickweed will call me out on it not being a true 'All-American beef burger with lettuce cheese and tomatoes.' It's true, the Hon Cafe cheeseburger isn't that... instead, it's a wonderful concoction built on a light seeded bun (which is kinda a bummer since they used to use a spongy white Chinese bun thing baked in house which was delicious in its own right) that has a patty concoction formed by a mix of beef, pork, sweet soy, garlic, and onions - which gave it a sweet garlic-laden aftertaste that can only be described as similar to a five-spice meatloaf. Marry that to a slice of American cheese and a layer of lettuce and tomato and you get a non-generic 'burger' that I don't think will be replicated by any other restaurant anytime soon. This is honestly one of those cases in which the subtle differences overcome the simplicity and generic nature of a food. Short story, it is dope. It tastes like China.

What's the point of this post? What are the five stages of emotions you deal with after trauma? Denial, check. I saw the metal door down once and thought those peeps were straight chillin'. Gonna fuck up some more cakes to give me the next day. I was wrong. Anger, check. I was furious at myself for not going every day after work to pick up a bag of glorious cream cakes. Bargaining, maybe not this one. Depression, hell to the yes. Tears were shed. Does that make me less manly? Fuck you. I love cake. Acceptance? Yeah not yet. This post is supposed to be for me to vent. Hopefully I can come to terms that something I had fallen so hard for (so fast) is gone forever. I know that feel bro.

tl;dr - Hon Cafe, you were the shit. You made my life infinitely better by collecting orphan cake rejects and selling them for well below market-value. While most people probably didn't see them for their worth because they were unfortunate looking, I knew that each and every one of them was special. Special enough to be shoved in my mouth rapidly. Also, you made really good beef chow fun and a weirdly sugary burger. I miss you. Goodnight... sweet prince. You were a gargantuan amongst men. By which I mean bakeries.

Hon Cafe (closed)
70 Mott St, New York, NY 10013


Friday, April 20, 2012

Spicy chicken noodles (河南風味)

Spicy chicken noodles (麻辣雞燴麵)

Somewhere along the line, someone not very bright decided that the default American cold-remedy slash comfort-food would be chicken noodle soup. Growing up, I never understood what the appeal was. It's bland brackish boiled water that has miserable chunks of chicken 'breast' and an insignificant number of noodle strands floating around in it. Also crunchy, out-of-place, carrots. Fuck those things. I just didn't understand why kids were so impressed with this nonsense, or how exactly is it supposed to make me feel better? Utter horse shit yo. For years and years, I've considered chicken noodle soup to be the demented stepchild of the soup family. Sure, I will concede that it tastes marginally better than boiled water with a handful of salt thrown in, but why would anyone want to have ass-clown soup when there are more sensually flavored options at hand (Minestrone, Italian Wedding, Borscht, or even Tomato)!? Fuck if I know. Maybe we've all been brainwashed by that douche named Campbell, always telling me what's best. My point is, up until a few months ago, I hated chicken noodle soup in every incarnation... that is until I ran across Taste of Henan's (河南風味) interpretation.

Spicy chicken noodles (麻辣雞燴麵)

Ahh, good ol' China. Never letting my rectum getting respite from the searing sensations of capsicum. Not unlike many other dishes found in the far East - when Chinese people have chicken noodle soup, they make it spicy as shit. If you're going to cure a cold with a bowl of soup, you're not going to do it with the weak-ass flavors of poultry alone. Of course not! Chinese-troll logic dictates that if your immune system is getting the bajeezus kicked out of it by viruses and germs, the only reasonable thing to do is to make your mouth hurt so good that you forget that you actually feel like shit. This actually works, fact. Plus, by the time the assortment of spices has passed from your taste buds through your intestines... let's just say you'll swear your anus has taste buds too. Is this a good thing? I guess that's up to you. I'll simply respond with a "no comment," but yes, I have been back multiple times.

I know what you're thinking "great, great, so my entire body will feel engorged with passionate flames of unsettling pleasure, but does it even taste good?" Let's say you were a humongous pussy and asked for the kitchen to make it milder in order to "taste the chicken." The chicken itself is more tender than a pre-pubescent boy who's just discovered masturbation. Yes, there's the occasional bone (haha PUN), but the meat is miraculously springy yet almost falling off the bone delicate. Texturally, it's a culinary marvel. From a taste standpoint? Yes, the heat is definitely masking some of the flavor, but the odd combination of cumin and five-spice is something that's not normally what you'd expect from Chinese restaurants - and goddamn does it work. Throw in some shredded noodles made in-house - that are about as springy as a retarded slinky - and you get a synergy of flavors and textural complexity (and carbs!) that I don't think you could replicate anywhere else in Chinatown. To put things bluntly, this dish (and the big bowl of chicken, which tastes similar) tastes absolutely dope.

Lamb noodle soup (羊肉燴麵)

Oh, look - it's lamb soup. I'll be honest, I fucking hate eating lamb. One, have you seen what they look like? Yeah, don't you feel like a dick now for eating baby Lambchop? Two, it has this weird gaminess that I can't shake. Roasted lamb, somewhat acceptable, but lamb in soup retains that flavor and just sits around soaking it up. If lamb is your thing, go ahead and try it, but I'll pass going forward. Also, if you're any sort of non-whitewashed Chinese, you'll know what I'm talking about when I mention Chinese medicine. It's usually pitch black, has some random shiz floating in it, and it looks like someone took a dump in a bowl and stirred hot water into it. It tastes similar. The lamb dish here doesn't taste like that, but there's random hints of ginseng, jujubes, and random other Chinese herbs that reminds me of the tree bark water I used to get forced to drink. That shit is gross. I don't like to be reminded of it.

Pork pancake (肉夾餅)

Good thing I had pork pancake to wash that biz-nasty out of my mouth. Asian pancakes hold a special place in the pantheon of inevitable heart disease for me. They're usually just carb-laden discs of sensuality and mouth molestation. This is true of scallion pancakes, pajeon, regular pancakes, hoe-cakes, whatever. Henan Flavor has this baked pancake that isn't all that special by itself (it's really just like an Asian pita), but then they take slow-cooked, marinated pork (or beef) and violate the inner crevices with more meat than belongs in a pocket of dough. Just to make sure I have to change my pants, then they have some spooning action between the meat and some cilantro. Nice. They finish off the combo by pressing down with more force than the pits of Mordor, delivering a neat little pocket of porcine deliciousness for the non-Jew on the go. All for something stupid cheap like $2. Think about that for a moment and let it simmer. If you sold your car, you could get thousands of them. Wouldn't you rather have thousands of these fuckers more than your lame-ass car? Yeah. Of course you would

tl;dr - American chicken noodle sucks. Asians make a better version that will light your soul and your asshole on fire. I'm not a fan of their lamb noodle soup because it reminds me of eating tree bark water, but I am a fan of their pork filled pancake things. You should mortgage your house and buy thousands. Naturally.

Henan Flavor
68 Forsyth Street
NoLita, New York City 10002


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sweet crispy chicken and black noodles (Jjin Jja Roo)

Half jajangmyeon + half tang soo yook

You know that commercial where they ask random people "what would you do for a Klondike bar?" My answer: pretty much anything just short of pummeling a third grader. Food envy. Some people have it worse than other people. I guess it's like alcoholism, but... without the social stigma and having to go to AA bit. What exactly do I mean? I'll explain. Let's say I go to Per Se. I spend a metric ass-ton of money, I have a super sick experience, and I eat what might be one of the most spectacularly extravagant meals available in NYC. All is well, I'm feeling super baller and shit, just sitting by the window enjoying my dope ass food when suddenly - A CHALLENGER APPEARS - some homeless dude walks by the window with a plate of halal lamb over rice or some shiz. At that precise moment, I don't give two fucks how sick my own meal is, I would rather have shaved lamb chunks, yellow rice, and white sauce of questionable origins all over my face. This is what food envy is - perpetual regret that I didn't get to order the other dish, regardless of what is currently in front of me. This indecision has been a curse all my life.

You know how crippling this problem is? Every time I go to McDonald's... the moment the words "combo #7, super sized" leave my lips, I can't hold back the torrent of emotions exploding and tearing me up inside. Extreme confusion and regret about the Double Cheeseburger combo meal that could've been, but wasn't. Unfortunately, there aren't any support groups out there that address this problem. Anyway, let's talk about things that are awesome to me... deep fried crispy chicken coated in sweet and sour sauce and also black bean sauce noodles a.k.a. jajangmyeon. While I have, unabashedly, ordered double entrees before simply to have both for dinner... I can't keep up this lavish lifestyle of buying two meals for myself. It's simply not sustainable... I'm not made of money! Fortunately, the peeps running Jjin Jja Roo in Food Gallery 32 understand that food envy is a serious problem, and have come up with a semi-effective way for me to get my fried chicken and sauced noodle on without breaking the bank. Enter the miracle that is... the combination bowl:

Sweet split bowl...

Oh lord, pants have been ruined. Now... there's no such thing as a free lunch. It's not like there are no drawbacks to this super dope combination of noodles blacker than the dark side of the moon and crispy sweet fluorescent orange chicken. You see, by giving you the combination of two fantastically awesome things, the folks at Jjin Jja Roo also gain the ability to give you the shaft by using these stupid bowls that ultimately reduce the total volume of food while simultaneously gaining the right to charge more. Does this bother me? The cheap Asian part of me wants to scream out says "yes." I really shouldn't be okay with getting less food, while paying more, simply for convenience, but the pragmatist in me thinks this is awesome in a really novel way. Sure I don't get the same amount of noodle per dollar or chicken per dollar as if I had just manned the fuck up and ordered double portions, but realistically... did I really want to eat two ginormous servings of carb and fried chicken? Wait a second... yes, I probably did. Whatever, it's still kinda awesome.

Crispy orange chicken

There's just one last question left not addressed - "is this actually good food? Are you seriously telling me that radioactive looking chicken tastes like poultry crack?" Okay, that's actually two questions. The answer is... kinda sorta? That's likely not what you want to hear when you're making the decision between a normal meal and bright orange chicken, but I'm also probably not the best person to ask about these things. Listen, when it comes down to it, Food Gallery 32 is a food court. Jjin Jja Roo makes sweet and sour chicken that's crispy, moderately juicy, and hot enough to sear off your taste buds. When you pair that with bean paste noodles... in a single menu item, and I'm pretty much sold regardless of how it tastes. Short answer is still yes though. Let me put it another way, when I was finished with actual chicken (and my face was covered in sauce and shame), I found myself wishing that I had an extra bowl of rice to slop up the remaining sauce. It's pretty damn good.

tl;dr - I can't make decisions to save my life. This extends to food to the extent that I frequently find myself ordering every item on McDonald's dollar menu. Jjin Jja Roo is sort of awesome in that they have these pimp combo bowls split in the center so you can get two partially sized entrees in a single meal. Also, while the chicken is disturbingly orange, I assure you it is delicious and won't give you cancer. I think.

Jjin Jja Roo (Food Gallery 32)
11 West 32nd Street, Dew York, NY 10011


Monday, March 12, 2012

Asian mindset and $1 duck buns (Corner 28)

Peking duck buns (Corner28)

Let me tell you something about being Asian. Sure, it's an absolute given that we're all super dope at math, physics, chemistry, and can probably fix your computer when you've clearly been looking at too much porn in your free time. Yes, we love eating rice, pork, and intestines from various different types of animals - preferably together in the same dish. And of course, we can catch flies with a pair of chopsticks, we run at the sight of large reptillian creatures, and we have a weird appreciation for cartoons that give young children seizures. All of the above are true. It's not me being racist, it's me writing non-fiction. But something that you might not know (actually, most people probably do know this) is that we're all cheap as hell. Now, that's not to say Asians don't spend money stupidly, but when a decision comes down to money, Asians, in general, are very frugal. Now, let me tell you something about myself. I make extremely stupid decisions in life. For example, I once bought $35 dollars worth of McDonald's apple pies. That's roughly 65 apple pies. Why did I do that? No comment, but it was illegal. What does this have to do with being Asian?

When you combine my stupidity with the fact that my mind is hard-wired to have a boner for cheap things... well, the perfect shitstorm starts brewing. Case in point, you know those Hong Kong egg cakes they sell in Chinatown? Fifteen for a $1, but also buy five get one free? Yeah. Ninety of those dumb spherical cakes (despite a scent that's downright addicting) is never a good idea. But my mind tells me it's a good idea... at the time. Or, there's a place on Bayard that sells buy one get one free bubble tea. They have a small size for $3.50, which is 500cc, or a large for $4.00, which is 700cc. My stomach says "you don't really want to drink 1.4L of bubble tea right now..." just get 1L for $3.50 (yes, I usually drink both), but my mind says "if you get the large that's .28 cents per cc instead of .35 cents - do that instead!" Of course I usually regret this, but you see my point. I am dumb + Asian = I buy large quantities of things that I end up regretting greatly.

I do this frequently at Corner 28. If you don't know what Corner 28 is... read here for some non-idiotic background.

Gettin' sauced

Anyway, what are they (if you didn't happen to read Tia's post)? Basically, if you took fluffy gua-bao type wrappers, shoved in some second-rate Peking duck and scallions, and then slathered it with sauce to make it moist and tasty and junk, then you get Corner 28's duck buns. If you're expecting the thin pancakes wrapped with crispy-skinned Peking duck, then keep on walking... these bitches are $1. Don't expect too much and they're awesome. How awesome? Last time I went, I bought 12 of them. That's right, a dozen (and this was after dinner). What do you do with 12 duck buns? Fuck if I know, I didn't actually eat all of them at once. I just thought it was cost-effective since 1) it takes an ass-long time to get to Flushing and 2) I already paid for transit. "That sounds brilliant! You're a genius of uncomfortably arousing and indescribable proportions!" you say? No. Do you know what happens when you wait several hours to eat them? When they're freshly sliced off the duck, and the skin is still semi-crisp and oh-so-oily, these things are the freakin' bees knees. After a couple of hours though... when the skin has gelatinized with fats, the bun is soggy from condensation, and the sprig of scallion is no longer stiff, and erect, these things taste like straight cancer. If you can imagine inhaling the second-hand smoke from someone and ingesting so much of it that the taste lingers in your throat for several minutes. That is what stale duck buns taste like. Don't do it kids. It's worse than drugs. That's not to say I don't think everyone should go and eat $1 duck buns, just don't be stupid like me and get more than you can eat while they're fresh.

tl;dr - Asian people are thrifty, I am stupid and Asian. There are $1 duck buns in Flushing at Corner 28, they taste super dope when they're fresh, but taste like stale cigarettes after a few hours. You should still go to eat them, they are quite awesome... again, when they're fresh.

author's comment: I don't actually speak for all Asians, most of what I wrote is just about me... so calm your hormones if you're actually offended.

Corner 28
4028 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11354


Monday, February 27, 2012

The dopest of soup dumplings at Nan Xiang (南翔小籠包)

From afar

Before I start spitting fire about the dopest soup dumplings I've had outside the pacific rim, let me just say this "Lin-sanity" nonsense has gotten out of hand. In one of the more unexpected moves by my own mom, I got an email about a week ago with a YouTube link to a post-game interview, with the only text in the body of the email saying "He went to Harvard and he's so humble. Why can't you be more like Jeremy?" Damn mom. Solid burn, 8.5/10, who the fuck is cutting onions?! As I begrudgingly watched the video that my mother linked to in the e-insult, I was flooded with a torrent of raging emotions - I was confused, saddened, disturbingly aroused, but most of all neglected - unloved almost. Which is surely how my blog feels when I don't update for weeks at a time. Well, I'm sorry. Well weep no more. Anyway, while I'm saddened and confused, do you know what you shouldn't be confused about? Where you should go eat this weekend (unless you're Jewish and can't eat pork or something). Go to Nan Xiang, a place that serves pockets of porcine treasure that, while not confusing, are most certainly disturbingly arousing. For your mouth... I guess.

Something you might be thinking - "hey butthole. I thought you said people who described things as 'the best' are all wrong and are no-talent assclowns?" That's still true. If you notice, I said 'dopest.' That's different from 'best.' These shits are hauntingly delicious, and if you want to disagree with my opinion? Well... them's fightin' words.

Soup dumpling

Holy fuck look at those bitches. Skin so thin it's like "whoa." Then inside you have a metric ass-load of juices and whatnot just waiting to explode and burn the skin on the roof of your mouth. Shit is so intense... it's just like camping. Know how all those bootleg second-rate soup dumplings in Manhattan's Chinatown have a stupid nub on the top where the chefs pinch the shiz shut? They don't do that at Nan Xiang. They're consummate pros at the dumpling closing game. In all seriousness, the soup dumplings here seem to do everything right (although I'm still a bit peeved at the cabbage sticking to the bottom of each one). The skin is tender, and borderline translucent - to the point where you can see the soup tumbling gently inside. Then you have the soup broth, which is so full in flavor that technically it could probably be served on its own. Combine that with a ball of pork that's surprisingly smooth in texture, but heavy on flavor. Shit son, it's basically the result of if Jesus went on Top Chef and waffle stomped everyone in an Asian quickfire challenge for dumplings. It's that good.

Seafood pan-fried udon

This made no sense. Why in the hell did I go to a soup dumpling place and order pan-fried udon? Oh I know, because my Korean friend is something of an idiot, and said he had a craving for it. The great thing about Nan Xiang is that, even if you have some sort of dickweed friend who for one reason or another isn't raging harder than a rhino on speed for soup dumplings, then there's still other shit on their menu that caters to the contingency of 'unawares' who order from the chef's special section. Admittedly, this dish was pretty pimp. Oil-laden noodles tossed delicately with shrimp, chicken, and greens? I won't deny that it tastes good, I'm just saying you'd be an idiot if you went here to get it.

Stacked them

"So what exactly should I be ordering then, you nimwit?" Calm your hormones. Let me get to that. Something that's both somewhat authentic and also bad for you - the scallion pancakes with beef (牛肉夾蔥油餅). It's like this... there's two types of scallion pancakes, the ones that are pan-fried in oil that are kind of limp, lethargic, and more often than not, kind of soggy with oil - and then there's the kind they have here. Fucking deep fried glorious pockets of carb, scallions, and heart disease. Not that both don't have their place in the cavernous space of my stomach, but the latter is clearly far superior. Now what happens when you take an already delicious platform of fried flour and shove it the fuck full of delicious delicious beef? That's a stupid question. I buy it and I eat it. You should too. I don't want to die of a heart attack alone...

Spicy beef and tripe

You still haven't creamed yourself yet? Have I failed to entertain you?! Of course, my idiot Korean friend went ahead and ordered a random appetizer that he was completely oblivious about. Luckily, it was chilled marinated sliced beef with spicy tripe. "Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while," as my old physics professor told me. This dish was shockingly refreshing, delicious, and offensive (in a good way) all at once. Tripe has a weird textural quality to it that I don't normally love - too crunchy and elastic, yet not soft enough to chew through - but in this application it was more than okay. The spicy marinade and thin-ass slices of slow soy sauce cooked beef in a cold application is simply boner-inducing. With each successive time that I burned my mouth like a dumbass by shoving a whole soup dumpling in my mouth, I chilled the flames of passion ignited on my throat with the cool comfort of sliced cow stomach. Fuck yeah.

tl;dr - Jeremy Lin, stop making me look bad you asshole. Also, stop being so goddamn humble. In other news, Nan Xiang serves up some of the sickest soup dumplings you'll get on this side of the Pacific, pair that with some beef filled scallion pancakes and spicy tripe and it's a more exciting experience than watching a unicorn mounting a bear in front of the Eiffel Tower. Yeah. Better.

Nan Xiang Dumpling House (南翔小籠包)
38-12 Prince Street, New York, NY 11354


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cambodian sandwiches and dolphin rape (Num Pang)

Five-spice glazed pork belly

For those of you who have been waiting with bated breath for me to kick the inevitable bucket from heart disease... sorry. I'm still around. Just so busy with work and shiz that I haven't really been able to spew nonsense from the second butthole that is my mouth to your ears (and by extension, from my fingers to your eyes). Anyway, a couple of months ago... Tia, Danny, and myself convened at Num Pang, this tiny little Cambodian sandwich shop near Union square, for lunch. Sandwiches and pleasantries were had, but we also discussed a topic that most of you probably aren't aware of yet - a gross injustice in this world that's been overlooked and ignored - I'm talking about... dolphin rape. Imagine this: you're swimming so carefree in the sea, when suddenly... a biker gang rolls up... except, instead of badass bikers with crazy beards and names like "Moshpit" and "Bartholomew," you're accosted by dolphins. What do they want? Fuck if I know what their motives are, but instead of frolicking around like you always see in the movies, you're quickly whisked away to their secret underwater cave where you're emotionally and physically violated by something you always thought of as friends. Fuck you Flipper.

What in the shit does this have to do with Num Pang and Cambodian sandwiches? Well, not unlike the heinous crime that is... *dramatic pause*... dolphin rape, the fact that Cambodian sandwiches haven't been pimped harder, and have largely been kept a secret in the past, is a serious injustice. These combinations of bread, meat, and vegetables are synergistic boners for your tastebuds and deserve every bit as much praise as most assclown food bloggers nutted over banh mi a few years back. I mean, goddamn, just look at their menu. Five-spice glazed pork belly sandiwch? GG for everyone who loves pork.

Look at that glaze

Just look at that glaze. Dat glaze *bites lip*. At first, I kept thinking "fuck this, why am I paying close to $8 for this sandwich when I could easily get two of the aforementioned banh mi from Banh Mi Saigon...?" That was shortly before I bit into the magical creation you see above. Sometimes quality transcends cost (this is not a universal truth, just for things under $10), and in a case like the five-spice pork belly sandwich from Num Pang... it's definitely true. While I won't haul my ass downtown just to have one - ninja edit, yes I would - if I'm in the area? I'd be perfectly okay with spending $8 on this shit. Dope as hell. "Shut up about your thriftiness! Just tell us about this sandwich" you say? Prepare to cream your pants.

Built on a bready and crunchy baguette from Parisi Bakery, you get a thick slab of pork belly on top which is remarkably crunchy for something so high in fat content. On the outside of this bacon on steroids is a sweet and savory glaze that's built upon hoisin sauce and flavored with hints of five-spice. Then on top they lay the standard accouterments... cucumbers, pickled carrots, cilantro and chili mayo, but wait... there's more! As a nice finishing touch, they stack on a sliver of Asian pear, which adds a nice crunch to the texture as well as a bit of sweet tartness that only something as healthy as a fruit could provide. Listen, I'm normally the first person to tell you why fruits and healthy things suck, but it works. It really works. Is Num Pang all that it's cracked up to be? I'm not sure, but the two sandwiches I had would make me feel that way. Also, while I'm still not entirely sure how to describe how Cambodian sandwiches are supposed to be different from banh mi (clearly I'm be the best person to be listening to on this subject) - the fact that banh mi got so much ass in the Summer of '09 and no one's globalized the term num pang is fucked up. Seriously. Do your part to correct this injustice and go have a Cambodian bacon sandwich yo.

tl;dr - be extra careful when swimming in the sea (or I guess freshwater rivers too, if you're in china) you never know when a gang of biker dolphins will arrive with plans to "show you a good time." Equally scary is the fact that a lot of people don't know how sick Num Pang's sandwiches are. Almost as sick as dolphin rape.

Num Pang Sandwich Shop
21 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003


Saturday, January 28, 2012

When mediocrity is okay (Schnipper's Quality Kitchen)

A picture of a napkin

It finally happened. My coworkers found my blog. Not just my coworkers... managers, my manager's manager, my manager's manager's manager. Imagine how confused I was when one of them strolled up behind my desk and brought up the fact that I basically told him to "go eat a dick." Let me tell you, very. Scared, confused, aroused, all of the above. Once I realized I couldn't backpedal fast enough to claim that some other Asian guy working at Google in NYC wrote this idiotic piece of work (why the fuck did I put my picture on here?) - and finally accepted the fact that people could now read intimate and oddly specific embarrassing details about my life + that I now inevitably have to switch teams - I found myself thinking "shit son, if only my blog was a mediocre piece of crap, no one would ever find it. If only..."* Hey, that's just like Schnipper's Quality Kitchen! Despite the name, it's not nearly as dope as they'd want you to believe. They make an assload of different things - from burgers to hot dogs to mac and cheese. I wouldn't say any of them give me uncomfortable erections, but it's okay - because when it's a dish like mac and cheese with sloppy joe filling and a side of maple syrup dipping sauce? Well fuck it, it doesn't have to be good.

Mac and Joe

Look at all that cheese, ground up meats of questionable origins, and other quality shiz. Also breadcrumbs. Bitches love breadcrumb topping. I can't think of many things that make me more excited than a sauce on noodles with meat. Okay, so maybe that's a really low barrier to things that get me excited - but Schnipper's does a decent job with this dish. The mac and cheese is certainly better than what you would get out of a box of Easy Mac, but probably falls short of the fancier ish you might get at S'Mac. Average is average is average, but when you pair a cheesy confection of carbs with a heaping serving of sloppy joe, you can't qualify things simply by how good the components are - the combination of transcends simple addition. If you can, ask for some maple syrup dipping sauce (they have it for their sweet potato fries) to pour over this shit. Savory sweet tones of beef and Canada yo.

Simple burger

They also make some bullshit burger. It looks great, but calm your tits. I'm just a really good photographer (haha, sorry - I'm making a lot of asinine statements tonight). I wouldn't get it, but hey... if you're drunk and you want a burger, it's probably okay. I can't really think of anything good to say about it. It's slightly better than McDonald's I guess, but I'd also rather get two Big Macs of debatable quality. At this level, it's all about value, and McDonald's probably wins.

Sweet potato fries

Dope ass sweet potato fries. Every single time I'm given the option between regular fries and sweet potato fries, I default to the latter. I feel like it's healthier for some reason. Then they give you maple syrup dipping sauce and the illusion is busted. Schnipper's sweet potato fries certainly don't scream quality - they're probably no better than you're standard bar fries - but the theme remains true, pair them with some stupid-ass dipping sauce and all of a sudden these crispy and hot sticks of mediocrity morph into something magically acceptable. Would I beat up 20 midgets to get a cup of them? Maybe. Is that a scenario I see playing out in my head? Definitely. Will it ever happen in real life? Probably not.

tl;dr - I made my blog too awesome and my coworkers found it. I should be ashamed, but I am surprisingly not. My career ceiling has been effectively set by them knowing I'm actually an idiot though. Should've been more mediocre... like Schnipper's. They make pretty good mac and cheese + sloppy joe filling. Ask for maple syrup dipping sauce regardless of what you order. Slather that shit on everything. Rub it on your clothing, it doubles as cologne.

Schnipper's Quality Kitchen
620 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10018

*disclaimer: I don't actually think this. I really just needed a way to segue into describing Schnipper's...