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