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