My review for midtownlunch.com this week: link
ooh, jason lam so hungry in nyc
$5 Fried Fish over rice special on Fridays at the halal cart on 6th Ave and 23rd St (NW corner by Citi bank). I was able to get the last one two weeks ago. He pulled out the marinating raw fish from the cooler and dropped it into its own special frying oil pot. The fish seems popular. The cabbie in front of me got one and the guy behind me tried to order it too. The fish was overcooked, but it seems promising if done right. This is my first fish from a cart. Where are the other ones?
Dinner and conversation with Marcellus at House of Vegetarian, a Chinatown restaurant with dishes that are substituted with mock meat. I’ve never been a fan of mock meat and don’t understand why you’d want to eat it outside of health & dietary reasons. It’s doesn’t taste as good as real meat and why would you eat something that is made to look and taste like something you are repulsed by? I can’t see myself eating Mock Human Honey-BBQ Ribs or Mock Fried Roach Legs. …Okay, maybe I’d try it, but I don’t think I’d like it.
Anyway, I went in thinking that I’d rather eat the vegetable only dishes (sans mock meat). But once we sat down and looked at the menu, I figured we’d better get mock meat. You don’t go to Peter Luger’s for the salad. We should live a little. We split Combination Triple Vegetable with Mock Roast Pork and a dish called “Wealth and Fortune.” No description on the menu. The waitress said it was mushrooms. I asked what the “Lucky Season” was. She said cabbage.
The dishes were Chinese stir-fried mixed vegetables with sauce. Both of them similar in context, but different in ingredients. Wealth and Fortune had tofu. Every piece of mock roast pork tasted different. One would be buttery, another salty. But it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I don’t think I would mistake this for pork, but it was a pretty good stab at it. It gets me wondering how these future lab-grown meats will taste. But if that does work out, maybe we could engineer Human Honey-BBQ Ribs without ethical or moral questions. What if it could taste like the race or ethnicity? It would give more meaning to eating Chinese, French or Mexican cuisine.
House of Vegetarian – 68 Mott St (btwn Bayard & Canal St) New York, NY 10013
Grabbed these Coffee Jelly packs from Jasmart Japanese grocery. When you peel the lid off, it squirts you with juice on the top. I asked my roommate Bonnie how she was able to peel it off without getting any juice on her. She said she didn’t. It did get all over her. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell her. The juice is what makes it taste like coffee. The gelatin is bland. It comes with a little cup of cream, which puts it over the edge. I could only eat two bites. I don’t know how to describe it other than eating bland jello with sweet coffee flavored juice and strong instant coffee creamer.
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
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