Saturday, January 21, 2012

OMG Steak 'n Shake

Yesterday Kristen and I braved the cold at lunch time and checked out the newcomer to the NYC burger scene, Steak 'n Shake.  The Midwest inspiration for Danny Meyer's Shake Shack has been the subject of much buzz since its opening last week and we hoped we waited long enough to miss the rumored long outdoor and indoor lines.  We didn't, and we had to wait outside for about 20 minutes before being invited to enter by a doorman clad in black.  We ordered together to save time; Kristen went with the Original Double 'n Cheese and I with the Guacamole Steakburger.  Both came with fries for $5 or under, and we shared a classic vanilla shake.
Maybe ten minutes later our food was ready and we snagged one of the four small tables.  My guac burger was picture perfect in its packaging and delicious at first bite.  Chipotle sauce and pepperjack cheese gave it a nice spice and the tomato, lettuce and onion tasted fresh.  The guac was plentiful but a bit cold; I wish it was at least at room temperature to avoid cooling down the burger.  The burger itself was juicy and well seasoned if not a little too salty.  The patty was made from quality beef and lacked the grease content of Shake Shack or Five Guys.  The sandwich could have been hotter but this is a small kink that will hopefully be worked out when business dies down a bit.
The fries were very thin and salty but cooked well -- also could have been hotter.  The shake was tasty but it was not as smooth as those from Shake Shack and although I am not a regular shake consumer, I would order one at Shake Shack again before Steak 'n Shake.  Overall this was a good experience and I kind of forgot that while it is exotic to us in NY, Steak 'n Shake is just another fast food joint for most of the rest of the U.S.  It is a much cheaper option than Shake Shack and it is closer to my office, so I'm sure I will return to try another of their interesting burger concoctions like the Frisco Melt or the Western BBQ 'n Bacon.

In other news, yesterday, Jan 20th, was my one year blog birthday!  In looking back at all I've eaten and written in the last year I kind of want to vom, but I am proud that I have stuck with this for so long and continue to hear compliments from friends and family.  Thanks for reading!

Steak 'n Shake: 1695 Broadway between 53rd and 54th. (212) 247-6584

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Golden Krust, Jamaican Me Sad

I can't believe that in all of my four years eating at pizza places in the Bronx I never had a beef patty.  I guess I was just never quite sold on the yellowy golden crust when there were so many great pizza choices in front of me.  I do however remember repeatedly passing the Golden Krust stand in Grand Central and being intrigued by their list of tempting patties.  Golden Krust is a Caribbean bakery with various locations in the boroughs and in food stores, and a location in North Amityville on Long Island that I visited last weekend.

My roommates and I ordered a curried goat meal and three patties: shrimp, jerk chicken and mild beef.  We decided to stay with the food in the dingy and cold but colorful store and we were sitting ready to eat in around five minutes.  Here are the facts: the patties were under-stuffed and not hot or crusty.  All of the fillings were over-spiced and the chicken was unidentifiable.  The shrimp were tiny and drowned in curry.  These weren't good.

The goat was tender but also over-spiced and FULL of bones.  I know bones add flavor in the cooking process but in the small section of the container with goat, half was of the volume was bones.  There was no unique flavor to the meat.  All we could taste was seasoning, which didn't even seem to involve curry powder.  The rice was acceptable but there was way too much in proportion to the meat, and the cabbage and plantains were forgettable.

Although the patties were $2.00 and under, they were so boring that I wouldn't go out of my way to get them again.  I'm curious about whether they might be of better quality in different locations, but I don't think I'll bother finding out.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Dreams, Excitement and Happiness" at Japadog

Japadog is here.  Canada's contribution to fusion food has finally made its American debut, strategically located directly across the street from my favorite pub on St. Marks.  I really don't think it could have been planned any better to fit into my life; I can now leave Bull McCabe's after a few pints of Strongbow and saunter a minimal distance to Asian hotdog heaven.  Emily and I did just that around 9:45 pm last Thursday and the maiden expedition went quite well.  We split the Negimiso and Love Meat dogs and an order of curry fries.
We tried the Love Meat first.  The Arabiki smoked pork hot dog had the perfect snap to it but was not as coarsely ground as I expected.  Still it was juicy, salty and delicious smothered in cheese bound ground beef and pork sauce.  This is ultimate drunk food.  It is as naughty as it sounds.  Emily cited bolognese flavors while I just reveled in the melted cheese.  The bun was fresh and in good proportion with the thick dog.  

The Negimiso had more of an Asian flare.  A thick chicken sausage was topped with miso sauce, fried cabbage and green onions.  It was a lighter choice than the love meat in all ways -- toppings and sausage size.  In the photo above you can see that the sausage is much smaller than the bun, creating a bite of pure bun on each side.  The link was missing that nice snap to the casing but was a nice alternative to red meat.  The toppings were plentiful and the combo was sweet and fresh tasting.  Some reasonably spicy wasabi mayo was a nice addition.

The curry fries were sweet and tasty but the fries themselves were thin and kind of wimpy.  I was looking for thicker fries or a larger portion of the thinner ones.  They were seasoned well though and were delicious with the wasabi mayo.
Look at all those celebs!  I can confirm that Japadog delivers dreams, excitement, happiness AND broken English but leaves just a little room for improvement.  They were closed at 10pm which really doesn't work on St. Marks, and many curious people got shut out as we were eating our dogs.  I hope to see more variations come to the New York location in the future, including the Ebichiki with shrimp sausage or the Yakisoba covered in noodles.  There are a lot of great things going on here and I'll definitely have trouble resisting when I'm in the area.  They are "making the world happy and alive through hot dogs!"

Japadog: 30 St. Mark's Place. Japadog on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 9, 2012

Spanish Tortilla

My sister is in Spain and emailed recently that her host mom made a delicious "quiche like thing" with potatoes and onions.  Of course, she meant tortilla, and she brought me back to a time when a real life Spaniard stayed in my apartment in the Bronx and enlightened me to the glory that is tortilla.  Tortilla is the Spanish version of a giant omelet with less eggs and more potatoes and onions.  In my first experience there were also red peppers involved, so I included them this time too.

I sliced up two small yellow onions, half of a red bell pepper and five small red potatoes.  The potatoes should be sliced thinly.  To do this, cut a potato in half and then sit it on the new flat edge.  Slice down from the rounded top of the potato thinly through.  Combine potatoes, onions and peppers in a bowl and salt well.  This mixture gets cooked on medium heat in 1-2 cups of olive oil for around 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.  The potatoes should still be white in the end, don't deep fry those suckers to a crisp.
After the potatoes are soft enough to break easily with a fork, drain the mixture saving about four tablespoons of the used oil.  I took some oil out of the pan with a spoon before I drained to make it easier. Return drained mixture to a large bowl and add 5-7 whisked eggs.  Mix carefully with a spatula but be careful not to crush the potato slices.  I added half of the reserved oil back to the pan to heat for a minute before adding the egg and potato mixture.
I cooked the mixture on the first side on medium to high heat for about 10 minutes.  Now comes the freakin' hard and nerve-racking part: flipping this giant mother.  I assure you that no spatula is up for the task of this giant omelet.  Most people use a plate to cover the pan and then flip so that the omelet lands on the plate.  My pan was too big for this, so I used a combination of a wooden cutting board with a flimsy plastic cutting board for structure and easy-slide surface.  This is a two person job and time is of the essence because the top of the tortilla is still runny and we don't want leakage.  Slide the flipped tortilla back into the pan with the cooked side up and relish in golden brown glory.  The relief after flipping is intense.  Cook for another 10 minutes and it's done.  Some like it cold, some like it hot, I like it either way.  
Look at those layers people.  Beautiful.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Pizza and the unexpected at Forcella

On Thursday night, Emily, Kerry, Michelle and I had dinner at Forcella's new location on Bowery.  I had recently tried to lunch at the pizza joint's original location in Brooklyn only to arrive and find out that they don't do lunch in Brooklyn.  I have read several reviews of Forcella and its specialty fried pizzas lately and have heard mostly good things, so I wasn't surprised to arrive to find the restaurant crowded with full tables and bar space. We had a reservation so our table was ready immediately and we were unknowingly greeted and seated by owner and pizza expert Giulio Adriani.  We decided to order communally and share everything between the table and went with the Positano salad (thinking it was a pizza,) and the Materdei, Decumani and the fried Montanara pizzas.
The salad came and we were surprised because we thought we ordered a salad pizza but that could be the result of chugging Strongbow before ordering.  The arugula was fresh and had a nice, light amount of oil.  The cheese and meat were salty and delicious;  the whole combo worked really well and it was a good size for four people to share.  A few minutes after the salad came, a dish of meatballs arrived at the table.  After the salad confusion the meatball appearance was even more mysterious, to us and to the waiter when we asked him.  Anyway he told us to keep them and they were nice, but the sauce was very salty.  I'm not a big meatball eater but I know how loyal meatball eaters are and one at our table didn't love these.  They were nice to pick on for free though!
We tried to order a pizza from each category: rosse, bianche and fritte.  Of the rosse we ordered the Materdei, a margherita pizza with hot salami.  All of the pizzas had the same fluffy and lightly charred crust.  It was nice to have one pizza with meat but it didn't stand out as my favorite.  We ordered the popular Montanara fried pizza, below, which was a margherita pie supposedly lightly fried before it was baked.  We had trouble deciphering any difference in the crust from the other two pies, and we wondered if we received the Montanara or just a regular margherita pie on accident.  We didn't ask, and we may never know.
My favorite of the three pies was the Decumani.  The waiter recommended it as his favorite white pie with homemade mozzarella, truffle, arugula and pecorino.  The truffle was fragrant but not overpowering and was a nice additional flavor.  The only problem we found was that we weren't able to eat the pizzas fast enough and by the time we each tried a slice of each, they were no longer hot and the cheese had settled. 
Overall it was a very salty meal but we were all pleased, full and content with the price tag.  Each pie was between 10$ and $16 and the bottle of wine around $30 but split four ways the bill was not unreasonable.  I would return to Forcella and try all different pies, there are so many interesting combinations on the menu.  The service was a little screwy and we had a bit of a wait to order our food, but the place was busy and the ambiance was nice so we didn't mind waiting.  It was nice not to be rushed -- we sat at our table until around 11pm.  I will remember Forcella as a consistent place to get a pie and some drinks next time I'm looking for something easy and reasonably priced.

Forcella: 334 Bowery St., between 3rd and 2nd Streets.  (212) 466-3300
Forcella on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Kimchi Taco Truck

Marissa and I couldn't resist the Kimchi Taco Truck when we ran into it on 14th St. in front of Trader Joe's the other day.  We shared the three tacos for $7 deal, starring, from left to right: one Grilled Korean BBQ Short Rib, one Spicy Seared Pork and one Tofu Edamame Falafel. 
There was a small crowd at the truck but our order was made quickly.  We both had bites of each beautiful taco and the critics agreed: the short rib was bliss, the pork was good and the falafel was misguided.  I liked the pork a lot until I bit into the short rib; next time I would order three of the short rib and skip the others.  The corn tortilla was small but it was stuffed to the brim with tender and nicely marinated sliced beef, kimchi slaw and crema.  It wasn't overly spiced but it left a nice bite and the marinade was like an explosion of all that is glorious and wonderful in this life, in your mouth.  

Moral: If or when faced with this truck while walking the streets, get the shortrib!

Kimchi Taco Truck: See site for locations:
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