Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Luna 1878 Night Market is Well Done

I love a good market. It's great when everything can just come together to create that atmosphere, like great food, music, enough space and cheap-ish alcohol. I'm not talking about boring ones, like the Midtown NYC street fairs that generally have greasy, shit mozzarepas, expensive iced fruit drinks in novelty cups and tons of stalls selling Peruvian flute CDs and fake sunglasses. Fairs of that type are just more of a transport obstacle than a fun excursion, but Luna 1878 at the Queen Vic Market is not one of those fairs. It's well thought out, carefully planned and delicious.

We went this past Wednesday for the sole purpose of eating, just like everyone else. The food stalls ranged from Texas bbq and Irish classics to meatball sandwiches and Nepalese dumplings. Choosing exactly what to eat was a challenge, but we decided to share a few things to make the most impact on the selection. Do that next Wednesday.
Charlie and I spent a few nice days in Budapest last year so Hungarian Street Food was a natural choice. They were offering goulash and langos, a typical snack of fried dough, with both sweet and savory toppings.
The goulash looked delicious bubbling away in cauldrons over hot coals, but we were up against a long evening of eating, so we just went for the savory langos at two for $5. The line here wasn't too long and we had the food within two minutes of ordering. (This is an important distinction that we found from some of the other popular stands.)
These langos were better than the huge one we got at Budapest's main market. The one in Budapest was a thin sheet of dough that had been fried some time before serving and was topped with cheap ingredients. It was a junk food concoction for tourists -- loveless. At Luna, the langos were warm with an initially crisp bite into a pillowy soft inner. The dough wasn't greasy, and the cheese and cream on top were delicious.
Wingman Chicken Wings was next. I haven't had proper Buffalo wings since the good ol' college days when we locked ourselves in the dorm room before downing messy wings in huge quantities from freakin' Howl at the Moon, an upstanding establishment of Albanian ownership in the Bronx (RIP, jacket that I paid to leave in the coat check and never saw again). (RIP, dignity.)

We ordered eight wings with hot sauce (out of a choice of hot, medium, mild, lemon pepper or honey bbq,) for $10. They came a choice of chips or veggie sticks and blue cheese dressing, ranch or tomato sauce. Fries and blue cheese, DUR. Apparently Wingman's dips and sauces are homemade. I like that.
I was hoping for some good hot wings and these didn't disappoint. Crispy skin hid moist chicken and it was all slathered in tangy sauce. I could have handled more heat, and more sauce for that matter, but beggars can't be choosers. I def could have eaten, oh, maybe 15 more. I do think they should consider changing their signage, though. If you're selling Buffalo wings, please offer them with fries, not chips. Thanks! 
Then we decided to wait on the massive line for Hoy Pinoy Filipino bbq. We really should have grabbed some food to eat on that line, because it literally felt like we camped out for days and needed nourishment. Charlie waited on the bar line and bought drinks two times during the wait. Then, when we finally got close to the front, the line mysteriously dissipated and popped up in a different place. Chaos. No joke, this was minorly stressful. We debated for the probably 30 minutes that we waited whether we should go for the pork belly skewers with banana ketchup or the sweet pork sausage. 

We ultimately went with the pork belly, because no one was getting the sausage really. Chicken was on the menu too, but up against pork and sausage, it never even crossed my mind. All the skewers were two for $10, or $12 with rice.
The pork was so good. It was juicy and tender, sweet and salty. Great fat to meat ratio and perfect amount of smoky char. We waited on line for so long, though. Even after ordering I think we waited 15 minutes. If we were ordering 10 skewers and rice like some others, we would have felt more fulfilled. Next time.

Our final stop was PATS The Philly Way for cheesesteaks. "Pats" does not infer an association with THE Pat's in Philly -- rather, it's an acronym for Premium Australian Trimmed Steak, and don't you forget it. (Although there was some mention of family in Philly... confusing.) Anyway, they were offering cheesesteaks or burgersteaks (?) on ciabatta (?) with lettuce, mustard and optional hot sauce (?). 
I have mixed feelings here. The beef was certainly tasty -- it was hot and well seasoned, mixed with onions and perfectly complimented by melted cheese. However, I'm just not sure how I felt about the ciabatta bread. It kind of overwhelmed the meat. There were quite a few bready bites without steak involved. I don't know. I've only had a few cheesesteaks in Philly, but they've generally been on hero rolls, and none of them have had lettuce or mayo. PATS has a store in Richmond with tons of loyal fans, so they're certainly doing something right. 

There's only one more week of the Luna night market at Queen Vic, so I'm already looking forward to the summer night market that is hopefully just around the corner. Seriously, winter, take a hint. 

Luna 1878: Queen Vic Market, open Wednesday nights from 5pm to 10pm throughout August


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