Archive for the ‘Off Track NYC’ Category

When in New York and I am in the mood for some Food Truck food, it seems that the best port of call these days, is to head over to Union Square. There are always a whole mass of Food Trucks lined up there and the only decision for me is to try a new one that I have not encountered before. On this day that encounter was to be with The Morocho Van.

Even though there were many tasty looking items on the menu board, if you stick a sign in the window that claims that you have one of the best 10 burgers in New York well that claim has to be tested.

The Morocho Burger is an All beef patty topped with a fried egg, fried plantain, lettuce and tomato, some salsa criolla (basically a Peruvian Onion, Pepper & Lime Salsa), and Rocoto mayo (the Rocoto is a Peruvian red pepper). So the first picture on the left is the actual burger as presented to me, the second one on the right is the picture from the village voice. Both look equally good and it was a particularly tasty burger. Top Ten? Um not sure. As always I love a fried egg topping, but it is getting a bit ‘de rigeur’, everyone is doing it these days, we need something new to tickle our taste buds with. I quite liked the plantain, but the whole burger was so big that they fell out too easily and got lost in a whole pile of bits in the tray. The mayo and the salsa were total money, I think that they could have been the factor propelling the burger into the Village Top Ten, originality could have been the key here.

It was still pretty darn good though!

I love Bubba Gump, I know that it’s cheesy and that as an adult I probably should eat in more grown up resturants, but forget that I am a big kid at heart and this is my kind of place. If I am visiting New York for more than a couple of days I just have to pop in to this particular branch, call it an act of worship at the Times Square alter of food sin if you wish, an excuse to buy Forest Gump related merchandise that I don’t need, or just a moment to lose yourself amongst the ‘smoke and mirrors ‘of entertainment that the glitzy and glossy Times Square theatre of Disneyesque fun delivers.

I can never settle for just one of the individual items on the menu at Bubba’s so usually end up getting one of the platters on this occasion it was to be a Shrimper’s Heaven. This is a combination of the shrimp options; Hand Breaded Coconut Shrimp, Chilli Shrimp, Fried Shrimp, and Japanese style Tempura Shrimp with Fries. It comes with some dipping sauces including Tangy Asian, Cajun Marmalade, and Zesty Cocktail. My favourite of those is the Cajun Marmalade which goes best with the Coconut Shrimp, the Tangy Asian paired well with the Fried Shrimp and the Chilli Shrimp.

It is not cheap in here, even for Times Square it is a bumper $21.99, add into that a couple of beers and you are staring down the barrel of a $40 snack. Worth it? Yes for the cheese factor of course!

One tip if you are on your own or just a couple. There is usually a 15-20 minute wait at best and at the weekend can be nearer 40mins, but if you eat at the bar you nearly always can walk straight up and in, so I always just walk in and ask if I can get a drink at the bar and without fail that works out just fine and dandy.

This particular Bubba is at 1501 Broadway  Manhattan, but just head for Times Square and you will not miss it.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Company on Urbanspoon

Late night or early morning the brightly lit yet restrained sign of the 3 Star Coffee Shop shines like a beacon signalling the location of some good classic diner food and more importantly the American version of the ‘All Day Breakfast’. I am not sure what time I rolled into this spot, it was sometime between 12pm and 4 am after the bars had closed down. I was figuring that if I got an early march on breakfast I might be capable of getting up the next day in some sort of functioning capacity.

Put cake on the counter and there is a fair chance that one of us is going to be eating them. The whole counter was covered with an array of cakes, all freshly baked that day, and at the time I walked in they were just coming out of the kitchen. I had to try one, but I did just have a little one. It was good, glazed pastry and a raisin filled cake, perhaps a touch of cinnamon also, but to be honest I am struggling to recall.

There was so much to choose from on the menu but I went for the simple “Two Eggs, Any Style with bacon, ham or sausage (I went for both bacon and sausage) this came with potatoes and toast, for the princely sum of just $6.50  You know that it is a big breakfast when it comes on three plates. Apart from these two another plate arrived with toast on it. Now I have to say that while the eggs and bacon were just perfect, the real star were these sausages. Really good herby flavour, solid and meaty, for America, surprisingly well done.

Did I need this toast? No, but lets be fair, did I need that piece of cake that I had at the beginning?

No I didn’t, but in some ways I did, and you will too.

Located at 541 Columbus Ave, New York At 86th St, just off the local 1

Check out the menu at Menu Pages: http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/3-star-coffee-shop/menu

Three Star Coffee Shop on Urbanspoon

Around the corner from Bubba Gump in Times Square NYC, I spy a screen showing an episode of Diner’s, Drive Ins, and Dives featuring Guy Fieri. “What’s going on?” I hadn’t seen this place before, so I wandered over and it turned out that Guy Fieri had openend up one of his resturants in Times Square. Is that cheesy or is that tacky? well not in my eyes if you have it flaunt it.

Now I didn’t really know anything about Guy’s food, I mean sure I saw him win “The Next Food Network Star” and I watch him eat other people’s food on triple D. But what is his food actually like? Ok so I watched an episode of “A minute to win it” – that did not help. I have actually bought his book “Guy Fieri Food”, have I read it or cooked anything from it? To be honest the answer is “a bit, and no”.

So I figured that this was the perfect opportunity to try some of his food out and see if that matched the persona.

 

Which bit of the menu was I going for? Well I was all about the “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” section

 

So in simple laymans terms what we have here is Beer and Chicken. To be more explict- Guys “Huli Huli Hawaiian Chicken, described as laquered in a sweet Hawaiian BBQ sauce, served with rice a munee, mango salsa, and crispy onion straws. The chicken is cooked downstairs on the rotisserie. I have to be honest, while the flavours were really good and sauce was tangy and smoky. The breast meat of the chicken was verging on being a bit dry, it was ok but not perfect by any means and when you are paying $19.50 you know you kind of hope that someone can cook a chicken.

What about that “Rice a Munee” what the heck is that, and was it any good? Well actually it was pretty good I did like it and since the recipe is in that cook book of Guy’s that is on my bookshelf I may well try and replicate it. Essentially it is Basmati Pilaf, vermicelli, white wine, onions, carrots, peppers and peas.

The beer was pretty decent, forgetting the fancy glass, I had the Golden State lager, I think that the menu description was pretty accurate ‘crisp and smooth, a golden lager crafted from Midwestern malts and flaked corn, refreshing, maltiness, and a light clean finish’

Was this any good, well it is priced for Times Square, the food was better than I thought, but I did come in for the Guy Fieri name, I would have walked on by if it was just a normal place. Not that I am a Food Network Whore, but I did walk out with a T-shirt and a baseball cap, and I don’t mind one bit.

Located at 220 West 44th Street Between 7th and 8th Ave, around the corner from Bubba Gumps and the opposite side of the square from Toys R Us. Website: http://www.guysamerican.com/

I will leave the final word to the man himself

On the website the message from Guy is “Located right in the heart of Times Square, we’re all about big flavors and good times. Off-the-hook scratch-made food, hand crafted signature beers, killer cocktails and rockin’ tunes are on tap here at my joint and I look forward to havin’ ya over to my house!”

Guy's American Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

I am really not a big fan of the pickle so I don’t really recall why we thought it would be a good idea to go into Jacob’s Pickles in the first place, but I am kind of glad that we did. If you like pickles then there was quite an amazing selection; “dilly green beans, special sours, hot sours, candy red beets, big dill kosher cukes, sweet & spicy carrots, sour green tomatoes, thyme Jalapeño” . I don’t but they did look pretty on the shelves and I was intrigued to watch tables munching there way through jar after jar. Perhaps this was a set for the “Magic Pickle* – the Kosher Dill Secret Weapon in the battle against the Brotherhood of Evil Produce.”

Instead we went for some more sane choices, the Turkey Leg dinner was really quite good, a slow roasted Pennsylvania free range turkey (happy once but now dead) with mashed potatoes and homemade cranberry sauce for $18. This looked good the meat was falling off the bone and it was touch more classy than those ones that you used to get at the Taste of Chicago.

 

I went for the Country sausage beer mussels with fries for $17. This was principally beer and mussels in a pot or if you like and you want the nicer menu description it was P.E.I mussels with orange zest country sausage, allagash white, herbs de province and fresh cut fries. As I say it was a big tin bowl of mussels and I needed to empty 3 side plates worth of mussel shells so it was quite substantial. The fries were good as well I actually managed to eat them all and the dipping sauce was good too. I think the menu description would have been better if it had spelled out that they were Prince Edward Island mussels, P.E.I. sounds like some sort of chemical conglomerate oil baron, or a piece of flexiglass plastic (just saying like).

Both of these meals were washed down with a couple of Narragansett Lagers from Rhodes Island, pretty decent stuff in itself.

If you are in a pickle and fancy a pickle then Jacob’s Pickle can be found at 509 Amsterdam Avenue  up between 84th and 85th street. You can ride the local 1 line up to 86th and walk back across 1 block from Broadway.

Website: http://jacobspickles.com/

*

Watch out for the Magic Pickle!

Jacob's Pickles on Urbanspoon

Now is it a good idea to wander down random steps into a dimly lit basement beneath some shops? Well if you are looking for some really authentic chinese food in Flushing it is practically compulsory. These steps lead down into the bowels of the Golden Mall on Main Street in Flushing Queens, and into a rabbit warren of stalls selling delicious and mouthwatering chinese snacks.

I was following the sign towards the Tianjin Dumpling House, firstly as it was selling dumplings, secondly it was one of the few signs I could read, and thirdly Tianjin is the home town of one of my work colleagues so I had to try that stall out. I was glad that most stalls had pictures alongside the chinese scripts as it is some time since I lived in China and all I can remember is how to ask for toilet paper, a cold beer, and some of the food, but I cannot write or read any of it any more. So on that basis I should be perfectly equipped to get myself some dumplings in this food court.

 

In the end I just had to point at the plate and hand over 3 dollars and sit back to watch this lady freshly make my dumplings from scratch, Now I was getting excited and I knew these were going to be really good.

 

I guess my chinese may have been useful if I had spoken as it turned out that these dumplings are boiled, not steamed, or fried. They were really good though if a little dangerously hot, boiling juice squirted out as you bit in to them. The filling was incredible the pork meat was mixed with chives, each piece of the filling tasted so fresh, they were like 10 times more flavourful than I have managed to get outside of China before. These stalls in the basement were truly making authentic food. Forget going to Chinatown in Manhattan, Flushing is the place to go.

Golden Mall is located at 41-28 Main Street Flushing and has two floors. We went down into the basement and did not see the first floor. Funnily enough I saw this place on Bourdain’s No Reservations and did not realise it was the same mall until I googled the web to check for the names. Also I found out that I didn’t eat at the Tianjin Stall after all, but never mind where it was it was still brilliant.

In the beginning it seemed like a bad day for a food hunt up into Queens. Not because it was Queens but because we arrived in the middle of a massive thunderstorm. Luckily as we walked off the Main street subway at Flushing we were able to almost instantly huddle beneath the LIRR railway bridge with all of the rest of the Chinese population it seemed. However they were not all sheltering from the storm, no half of them were standing waiting in line at the window of AA Plaza where a whole load of street food and treats were being prepared and sold.

There were things on sticks in a pot of spicy smelling sauce that turned out to be spicy fish balls for just $1. Cheap and fascinating at the same time, who could resist?

I was more interested in some of the pork buns that they were dishing out,  on the face of it this seemed to be a real bargain 4 buns for $1.25 and it was a no brainer to try some at those prices.

While the actual bun was a bit dense and not that tasty the pork filling inside them was really good, not spicy but well flavoured. I should have asked for some dipping sauce or at least a bit of soy to liven these up. But nonetheless a total bargain. Just for once I thank the rain for making me take shelter.

AA Plaza is located at 40-66 Main St Flushing, NY 11369 just across from the Main street Subway station on the 7 line in Downtown Flushing