Why does Mikey’s Burger only have two reviews on Yelp? Zero on Menupages. You would think there’d be more customer buzz outside of the PR buzz I’ve seen online. And this new burger joint coming from the mastermind of the Baoguette empire. It doesn’t make sense to me. My curiosity led me to the LES.
Lunch on a weekday. Just two older construction workers eating at the counter. I got the Mikey’s (topped w/ corned beef, onions, pickled mustard seed). They take out a ball of meat and smash it on the hot griddle. Placed on a toasted Martin’s potato roll. For some reason, I was thinking corned beef hash when I ordered it. That’d be an interesting burger topping. But this Mikey’s had just bits of corned beef with the onions. It did come with lettuce, tomato and pickle on the side –and there were bottles of Sriracha cock sauce and spicy ketchup, but I think this burger needed to be left alone as is. It was a good burger for the price ($5.50).
The fries are the star of the show. Crisp and perfectly salted. These also needed to be left alone (sans sauce). $3 for a good portion.
I actually was hoping to try the fried tilapia fish sandwich with caviar, but it’s now off the menu. They said they had trouble using the fryer for both the tempura batter and fries. It’s unfortunate. It looks so good. This is the best photo I can find. There was a more awesome photo that existed, but now it’s lost in cyberspace. I think I just want to try a sandwich/burger with caviar on it. I wish they had the option to put caviar on my burger.
Instead of the tempura tilapia, they plan to put out a veggie and turkey burger soon. I think this week. BTW, the chef’s recommendation is the lamb burger, which does look good.
Now why hasn’t Mikey’s caught on the same way as Baoguette? It has the man behind the plan and the PR machine to back it. I’m in the middle of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. I hope it can shed a few ideas. Maybe all it needs is caviar.
[update: Okay, now there is one review on Menupages. Will this start the tipping point?]
[update2: So the menu slip I took home did say corned beef hash. There's no comma, so maybe it meant "corned beef, hash onion..."?]
Mikey’s Burger -134 Ludlow St (btw Rivington & Stanton St) New York, NY 10002
Rusty’s fried shrimp were a hit at yesterday’s playoff party. Devein the shrimps, toss it in a mix of flour, old bay, cayenne, adobo seasoning and beer to get the mix caked on. Then flour again sans beer for extra crunch. Fry in vegetable oil until golden brown. Salt. Eat. Repeat.
I started the night off by going to Limewire’s Ear to the Ground:Tokyo release party. It was great to see my old friends, Kelly and Jeremy. I texted Marcellus to come over, who was at an art exhibition. Then he unknowingly shows up with two America’s Next Top Models. It was sorta funny he didn’t know who he brought. Well I didn’t know either. There was a photographer taking our photos and we got into a conversation about this Japanese treat (Yatsuhashi) he’s been trying to find all over NY. Then somehow I was blocked out of the conversation and I found myself hovering outside the group. The photographer apologized later figuring that I was trying to talk to the models, but I actually was trying to finish my conversation with him about the treat. That’s how sick my food blogging obsession has become.
We left and Matt & Marce took me to Thái Son for me to food blog. We weren’t even hungry. How nice of them. We got some summer rolls and a bowl of Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuong (Spring Rolls & Grilled Pork W. Lettuce On Rice Vermicelli). Affordable and good Vietnamese food. I likee the fish sauce.
Continued my day in Jamaica/Ozone Park, Queens… I realized I had only spent an hour there. So to fill my time, I walked west underneath the above-ground subway tracks along Liberty Ave, past two subway stops. It seemed to be less Caribbean/Guyanese and more Hispanic.
I found one newly opened Trinidadian restaurant that didn’t look like they’ve been getting much business. I saw that they had Aloo Pie $1.50 on the cardboard sign in the window, to which I ordered. The nice lady asked me how I knew about Aloo Pie. For one thing it was on the sign in the window and I noticed it at all the other Caribbean restaurants in the area because it was one of the cheapest things. So I kinda played it off like I knew what Aloo Pie was. She pulled out a long fried bread from the sports cooler behind her and cut it open like a hot dog bun. With the bread spread open naked, she asked “How do you want your Aloo Pie?” Busted. “Um… I really don’t know what an Aloo Pie is.” “I’ll make it nice for you then. You like spicy?” A resounding “Yes!” She slopped on some Aloo chickpea & potato curry, then some spicy and sweet chutney sauces. The lady continued to asked where I was from, what was I doing in the neighborhood and why am I buying an Aloo Pie. It was hard to explain to someone who’s probably never heard of a food blog, why I would travel deep into Queens to explore for the sake of food. She probably thinks I’m a nerd.
The Aloo Pie is like a spicy mashed potato sandwich. Right up my ally, right? It had some Indian and Caribbean flavors to it. I quite enjoyed. Half way through, I noticed that it seemed to have some kind of taro root or other starchy vegetable embedded in the fried bread. It was not just a hot dog bun with curry slopped on no more. It became complex and interesting because of that secret pocket. I want to say like how there used to be those hot dogs that have chili or cheese stuffed inside the wiener, but not really like that. It’s just more work than I think it should be, but I like it.
Trini Flava’s Restaurant – 105-05 Liberty Ave. Ozone Park, Queens NY 11417
One thing I noticed out in this part of Jamaica/Ozone Park, Queens is that every restaurant seems to have Chinese food. Guyanese Chinese food in particular. Never heard of it, but from my understanding it’s Chinese-American food cooked with Caribbean spices. Guyanese Chow Mein seemed immensely popular in this area. It was served at the West Indie and Indian restaurants, bakeries and even ice cream/sweets shops. To me it looked like regular Chow Mein/Lo Mein noodles.
I walked over to Sybil’s Bakery & Restaurant. A windowed counter of Caribbean curries/roti and Guyanese Chinese food. Another window with Caribbean baked goods. This place is popular. You have to take a ticket number to order and there always seemed like there was at least ten people waiting. My wait was about ten minutes.
I went with a Jamaican beef patty ($1.39) and a Guyanese Chicken patty ($1.25), because the whole Guyanese things sparked my curiosity. The beef patty was nothing special. It was fresh, but not necessarily better tasting than what you can find at a bodega. The Guyanese Chicken patty was a small little stuffed muffin-shaped patty. I thought that was pretty good. Ground chicken with Caribbean-style spices.
If anything, it seemed like people were there for the stewed/curry/rotis and baked bread. I wasn’t impressed by looking at them …that is until I saw the food at other nearby restaurants, which some looked like a dusty buffet. In comparison, Sybil’s hot food was like Boston Market sides vs KFC’s small coleslaw in the styrofoam cup.
Sadly, I didn’t try the Guyanese chow mein because I didn’t think I could put down a whole plate. That’s why I need to drag a friend to help me eat. Next time, Guyanese chow mein. One more post from Ozone Park to come.
It was Martin Luther King Day. I had the day off and wanted to explore. I was thinking I could just hop off some random train stop and walk around. It’s a good thing I checked with Google Maps street-view first, because that wouldn’t have worked.
I found this Time Out article about food neighborhoods and picked Jamaica, Queens/Ozone Park …not because it was Martin Luther King Day, but because I’ve been on a quest for good Caribbean/Jamaican Beef Patties since I’ve moved here. I still haven’t found patties as good as the ones I remember from Caribbean Spice in Gainesville, FL.
I took the hour-long subway trip out and hit up Anil’s Roti Shop for my first spot. They had good looking Caribbean slow cooked stews for their roti. I ordered a small Yukon Egg Ball –a hard boiled egg, breaded and deep fried with some spicy Caribbean-style hot sauce on top. The sauce had a nice burn. Around $1.50 …more of my day adventure to come.
This is a great video of pop-sociologist Malcolm Gladwell at TED. I feel like I just learned a lesson in the food industry, choices and life. I suppose a White Castle Jalapeño Cheeseburger slider can be just as enjoyable as Minetta Tavern’s Black Label Burger. I wasn’t necessarily wrong.