Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wooly's Ice

One of our last stops was Wooly's Ice. I grew up eating Taiwanese shaved ice, and I was really excited about this. First things first, we needed to figure out what to order.

Wooly's hawking their goods

Wooly's originally started out with 3 options: OG Triple OG, The Greenman, and their Maker's Mark special Wooly's Milk Punch.

Ice Shaver and Menu

By the time we got to their cart, they had run out of their Wooly's Milk Punch, though, so we chose between The Greenman and OG Triple OG. Being that this was the first time we had ever tried their dessert, we opted for their original flavor OG Triple OG.

OG Triple OG

First off, I was confused by the toppings. I love the traditional red beans and condensed milk so brownie bites, strawberries, and sea salt leche sauce took a little bit of getting used to. Overall it was quite tasty. The brownies were still odd to me, but they tasted good. Fudgy, chewy, and cooked perfectly. The strawberries added a nice freshness to the dessert, and the sea salt leche actually tasted very similar to condensed milk. The ice was a slightly different texture than I was expecting as well. It was almost ribboned as opposed to snow-like. It had near the same consistency, but it picked up in ribbons.

M also wasn't sure she would like the dessert because of the toppings. She was pleasantly surprised, though, and ended up enjoying the dessert a lot. She was envisioning a more icy consistency similar to a Hawaiian shave ice, but the lightness and fluffiness was a nice surprise, and she felt that the toppings worked very well due to the fluffiness of the ice.

In the end they won for best dessert. They may not have been our pick for best dessert, but they certainly were deserving.

They brought their own Greenman!

Guadalupe's Tamales

The first line we got on at the Vendys was for Guadalupe's Tamales, a nominee for the Vendy Cup and People's Choice Award. Our priority at the Vendys was to try the vendors that we have never tried before and/or can't get on a regular basis. Since Guadalupe sells her tamales on a corner in Brooklyn, we had no idea when we would be able to get these again. The tamales looked delicious in the video we saw and we couldn't wait to try them.

Guadalupe's Vendys menu and some tamales

We were able to watch Guadalupe making the tamales in a giant pot since she was being interviewed by the press when we got there. We were super excited!

They look sad that they're not getting tamales

In addition to arroz con leche (rice pudding) (to which the bees were very attracted), Guadalupe had 2 types of tamales - verdes (tamales with green sauce - available in shredded pork or chicken varieties) and rajas con queso (tamales with peppers and cheese):

Verde on the left, rajas con queso on the right

We got the verde tamale in pork and one of the rajas con queso tamales. (It wasn't really a choice - just whatever tamale came out of the pot next.) They were excellent. The pepper one had a good heat to it but the spiciness wasn't overwhelming (especially considering the amount of seeds in it). We liked the verde one even more as the sauce was so good. If you find yourself near Knickerbocker and DeKalb, check out Guadalupe's tamales!

Earl of Hawaiian BBQ

Earlier this month, the NYC outpost of the Earl of Sandwich chain opened in midtown. I had seen the billboard in Times Square announcing it for months before it finally arrived and really wanted to try it. Today I decided I was in the mood for something new and ventured over for a sandwich. They have a lot of options for hot sandwiches and it took some time to decide. Many had red meat (which I don't eat much of), and on a whim, I picked Hawaiian BBQ.

Love the sandwich labels

I also picked up a side of potato salad, since I wasn't sure how big the sandwich would be. It's a decently sized sandwich as you can see from the comparison to my pen:

Before I get to the sandwich - the potato salad. In the end, I probably didn't need this since the sandwich was pretty filling, but I love potato salad so I'm not upset about getting it. It wasn't the best potato salad ever but it was a solid choice.

I picked the Hawaiian BBQ sandwich in some ways as a challenge since it had a lot of things I usually don't order. It came with grilled chicken, roasted ham (I don't usually get ham in sandwiches), aged swiss (not my favorite cheese), fresh pineapple and Hawaiian BBQ sauce.

It was pretty good. There was a lot of ham and I felt like that overpowered the grilled chicken a little bit. I only tasted the chicken (which I thought had good flavor) when it wasn't in the same bite as the ham. If you really like ham, it's probably a good choice for you, but I think I would try something else next time. As for the Swiss cheese, I assume it was there, but I didn't notice cheese at all. The BBQ sauce was tasty and I really liked the bread.

I will return to Earl of Sandwich. (Any recommendations for what to get next time?) The price of the sandwiches, like Potbelly, is really good for Manhattan. I have no problem with out-of-state chains coming in as long as they have quality products (they do) and these great prices. Can we please get Jimmy Johns next?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

African Salad

Last night I was looking for a healthy dinner and decided to go vegetarian with delivery from Crisp. I wrote before about how much I loved their Africa handbag sandwich, but for dinner, I decided to try it as a salad.

I guess I wasn't as falafel-ed out as I thought

Similar to the sandwich, the salad came with North African peanut sauce, sweet potatoes, corn salad, cherry tomatoes, green onions, and habanero harissa sauce, in addition to salad greens and 4 falafel balls. The corn salad was plentiful and I think there were more sweet potatoes than usually come in the sandwich. According to the menu, the salad was supposed to be accompanied by your choice of pita. I chose wheat but no pita was in the bag. Although it would have been nice to have some bread to balance out all the vegetables, I didn't bother calling since it wasn't that important.

The salad was good, but it wasn't that big. It came in a square box with sides about the length of a plastic fork. But I did want something light and healthier so that worked. It wouldn't have been enough for a full meal if you're hungry, in my opinion. The taste of the salad was just as good as the Africa sandwich always is.

I also got a side order of salsa:

Good to know that this would satisfy the tomato cravings I periodically get

I love pico de gallo, so I didn't mind eating salsa without any accompaniments. (Some pita would have been great, but already went over that.) The salsa consisted of chopped tomatoes, red onions, cilantro and jalapeno peppers. The zing of the jalapenos was definitely evident unlike some others where the peppers are more muted. Overall, it was a good salsa. If you're wondering about the size, this box was smaller than the salad box, but stuffed full of salsa.

I don't usually order drinks at Crisp but I decided it would be a good opportunity to try their iced tea:

Not sure what I was streaming in the background - Against the Wall?

The iced tea there was one of the main reasons I finally gave in and signed up for foursquare (to which I am now addicted), since they had a special where you got a free iced tea after a certain number of visits (I didn't hit the right number in time). I don't mind unsweetened iced tea and usually get it, but this white grape tea had very little flavor. It was basically tinted room temperature water. Maybe it would be better cold? I saw some people on yelp who said they had to stir their tea to make it taste better so I tried that but it did nothing. I don't think I would get the white grape tea again. Maybe I'll try the mint tea next time. People seem to like that one and mint has a stronger flavor than white grapes do.

I've always been a fan of Crisp and their delivery was quick (and mostly accurate). It's nice having healthy options so you're not drowning in greasy burgers and fries all the time.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Eat Here Now Now Eat Here

I'm not sure why I thought Eat Here Now Now Eat Here was a sandwich cart. The cart, which is usually near the High Line, was nominated for Rookie of the Year and served up tacos and a breakfast burrito.

We got there pretty late in the day (our next to last stop) so there were just some tacos on the counter. I had been hoping to try a fish taco but all I saw were a few pork ones.

It was OK. Reading about them online now, it seems that their tortillas are supposed to be good, but I found it really dry and not as good as the tortillas on the other tacos at the Vendys. Maybe it was because of the nature of the event and would be better freshly made from the cart. The insides of the taco were also just OK and nothing extraordinary. A was full so he didn't try this.

I would give the cart another try if we came across it in our travels. I think a freshly made taco might be better than the ones that were sitting out for a bit, and I think I would like a fish taco better than pork. Also, I loved the yearbook nature of their menu board. Another reason for another try!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Trucks We Skipped

Although the Vendy tickets are for all-you-can-eat, we sadly did not get to sample food from every single vendor. In fact, we missed 8 of them, including 3 of the winners!

Trucks lined up

We got to the Vendys a little later than we had planned (completely exhausted that morning) so the lines for Souvlaki GR, Korilla BBQ and Solber Pupusas were really long. Although they seemed to be working quickly, more people kept joining the lines, so they stayed pretty long for most of the afternoon. Near the end of the food serving portion of the Vendys, the lines were somewhat shorter but by then, we were really full and couldn't think about eating more than a bite of each (and didn't want to waste such good food!). Luckily, we have been to all 3 trucks before. We'll just have to get Greek fries, Korean bbq and loroco pupusas another time!

Part of the Souvlaki GR line, one of the 3 longest lines there

Pupusa lines are longer than in Red Hook!

Instead of a photo of the Korilla line, here's their celebration after the awards

The reason we missed the Trini Paki Boys halal cart was a little sadder. One of their founders was sick and they had to miss the awards. We still gave them our people's choice votes since we love them. I went there for lunch on Friday in the pouring rain and got some chicken biryani for my Vendy nominee lunch week. We wish they could have made it to the awards, but most of all, we hope everything is OK.

My delicious chicken biryani lunch from Trini Paki Boys from Friday

Chimichury el Malecon ran out of food. On our first attempt, they were cooking for the judges. On our second attempt, we learned that they gave the remainder of their food to the judges. Didn't seem like great planning since they were out of food with another hour (at least) to go. Oh well. We really wanted to try it since we had never been before, but it didn't work out.

Empty Chimichury el Malecon

We missed out on the remaining 3 trucks because we were too full. We just couldn't think about eating a cupcake... even if it was a mini cupcake from Cupcake Crew. Two Pitas in a Pod had gigantic sampler plates and we were just too full (and also a little falafel-ed out after having both Taim and Sam's). And Eggstravaganza, the only midtown nominee I haven't eaten at for a regular lunch (I don't always react well to eggs, which I've mentioned before), was giving out half sandwiches which were too huge to contemplate eating at the end of our Vendy day. I'm sure all 3 were great, but we were unfortunately out of stomach space.

The cupcakes sounded so good, but no room left in our bellies

The extensive menu for Two Pitas in a Pod

Big sandwiches from Eggstravaganza

We did make it to 14 other vendors. Can't wait to tell you about them (in completely random order)!

Vendys 2011

The 7th annual Vendy Awards were today! The Vendy Awards, a celebration of street vendors, is one event we look forward to every year. This year there were over 20 trucks/carts there and the rain forecast let up for a day, so it was a great event.

This year's Vendy Awards graphic done by the Street Vendor Project

Congratulations to the winners:

- Dessert: Woolys Shaved Ice
- Best of NJ: Taco Truck
- Rookie of the Year: Korilla
- Makers Mark award: Cinnamon Snail
- People's Choice: Souvlaki GR
- Vendy Cup: Solber Pupusas

Last year, we aimed to write posts on each of the vendors that we sampled at the Vendys (but never did). This year, we're going to do it!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hiroshi Japanese Fusion

The other day I was working through dinner and ordered from Hiroshi Japanese Fusion for the first time. The last thing I really want when stuck in my chair at work is to eat a heavy and unhealthy meal (although I have done it many times before) and sushi usually feels much lighter, even if it's not that low in calories. I was much happier with this meal than my last sushi order from Taki.

I started out with an avocado salad, which consisted of sliced avocado, lettuce and a ginger dressing:

I love the ginger dressing that comes with salads from Japanese restaurants. And although this salad was quite simple, it was really tasty and I liked it.

I also ordered 3 rolls. They didn't have a roll combo but I picked out the spicy tuna roll, the yellowtail scallion roll and the Alaska roll (salmon with avocado and cucumber):

The rolls were tasty and a good size. My favorite was probably the spicy tuna. Unlike the last one from Taki, it actually had flavor. The yellowtail scallion would come in second. I liked that the scallions retained their scallion texture and weren't just mush. The Alaska roll was good too, but the other 2 were just better.

The sushi was solid for delivery sushi. I have no idea what Hiroshi looks like in person but I would order from them again.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Falafel With Everything

Today for lunch Taim Mobile was back near Bryant Park. I haven't had their falafel in some time and decided on a whim yesterday to only visit Vendy Award nominees for lunch this week, so it was a good day to drop by.

Forgot to take a photo inside the falafel but you can kind of see its greenness

I went for the falafel sandwich "with everything." The regular falafel sandwich is a pita stuffed with their special green falafel, hummus, Israeli salad, pickled cabbage and tahini sauce. Ordering the sandwich "with everything" added pickles, s'rug sauce (traditional Yemeni cilantro-garlic-chili spicy sauce) and amba sauce (pickled mango-fenugreek chutney).

The sandwich was delicious. In the past, when I have gotten the falafel sandwich, I usually got the regular sandwich with a side of the s'rug sauce, but it's so much better ordering it "with everything" so all the sauces are commingled and soaked into the falafel. If you haven't been trying the sandwich "with everything," I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I went out to lunch with a coworker today for Thai food. We've hit up many of the Thai restaurants in our area so today I figured we would go to Qi. M and I have been here a few times, but we've never had their lunch special. To be honest, I was very impressed. The food has always been good, and chef Pichet Ong has put together a wonderful menu. The thing that really got me was the amount of food.

As per the menu, I was allowed to pick 1 appetizer and 1 entree. The menu gives you a short list to pick from, but there's also a small note that says that you can select any appetizer or entree from the full menu. I thought about doing this, but in the end I wanted something simple. I ordered the chive corn dumplings for my appetizer and the spicy basil fried rice with chicken for my entree. Normally this wouldn't be that big of a deal, a simple appetizer and a nice, filling entree. What I was not expecting was what came next.

The waiter came back fairly quickly and put down a plate with 4 bowls on it. Apparently with the lunch menu we also each got a bowl of chicken tom yum soup and 3 spring rolls. Had I known this I probably would have ordered a lighter entree.

Spring Rolls and Soup

The soup was hot, spicy, and with just enough of a touch of sourness to be perfect. There was a surprising amount of chicken in each bowl, but I wish there had been more mushrooms. The spring rolls were pretty standard. Vegetarian, fried, dumped in Thai chili sauce, and topped with carrot strings and black sesame seeds. Overall nothing too exciting, but they were at least tasty.

Next came the appetizer. I think M and I have had these dumplings before, but I didn't remember what they tasted like. They were good, but nothing outstanding. M and I have eaten so many dumplings, and we're of the mindset now that if they're not Earth shattering then they're just okay. These were just okay.

Chive Corn Dumplings

Next came the entree. I always like eating either Pad Kee Mao or Spicy Basil Fried Rice from Thai restaurants because it's a decent gauge of how the restaurant is. Both taste basically the same except one is a noodle dish and the other is a rice dish. Having eaten here previously, I already knew that the dish was good, and I was expecting to see a smaller dish come out for the lunch menu. Instead I was faced with an actual full order of fried rice. I was impressed that, even for a lunch special, the portions remained large. It makes me wonder if they do the same if you order from the regular menu as part of the lunch special.

Spicy Basil Fried Rice with Chicken

The flavor was spot on as usual. It also had a good amount of heat that didn't overpower the dish but left a nice burn. I probably shouldn't have finished it all, but I really couldn't stop myself. Overall I loved this lunch. For (currently) $7.95 plus tax for chicken, it's a phenomenal deal loaded with tons of food. The only issue I had was that there weren't enough workers there to handle the demand. Water refills were non-existent unless we flagged a server down to ask, and overall the people there seemed to just be running around a lot. That certainly won't stop me from going back, though.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pronto Pizza

For lunch today, we ordered two pies from Pronto Pizza, which someone had recommended to my mom. Both pies were on thin wheat crust:

Mushroom pie

Spinach pie

They don't look too bad in the photos. The mushroom pie was ordered light on cheese and the spinach pie had a regular amount of cheese. While I like NY style pizza, I also like thin crust pizza so I was expecting this to be good.

Sadly, it was not good at all. The crust was dry except at the very center of each pie, and had the texture of cardboard. We were even able to fold and tear it like cardboard. Was this because we got thin wheat crust? We have had wheat crust elsewhere before and it was fine, and the same for thin crust (but never together).

Pronto seems to get good reviews but perhaps none of those people ordered the thin wheat crust. Next time, we will try out another crust, but if that's just as bad, that's going to be it for Pronto. They have website ordering and email notifications on the status of the pizza, which is nice, but it doesn't make up for terrible pizza. Hoping the regular pies are better...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

SI Foodie Truck-athon

Yesterday we attended the "Great Staten Island Foodie Truck-athon" by the ferry terminal in St. George. I guess this could be considered a warm-up to next weekend's Vendy Awards for us.

Free buttons!

There were a bunch of trucks there (although not the full slate of trucks we were expecting and planning on), so we definitely have things to blog about soon. We tried cupcakes from CupcakeStop, slush from Kelvin Natural Slush, fries from the Frying Dutchmen, a pie from Eddie's Pizza and tacos and a grinder from Big D's. From that list, the only things we had never tried before were Frying Dutchmen and Eddie's Pizza. Wafels and Dinges, Van Leeuwen and Rickshaw were also there (which we (or in the case of Rickshaw, I) have had before), and also the Red Hook Lobster Pound (which neither of us has tried but it's so pricey).

Food truck party! (photo taken by my dad)

More to come!

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Happier Meal

In connection with the Slow Food USA $5 challenge, today the 'wichcraft locations in NYC are offering a $5 "Happier Meal."  According to their site, the meal deal includes their "signature sandwich of roasted eggplant, zucchini, ricotta cheese & organic arugula on Balthazar's ciabatta roll, a side of handmade marinated chickpea salad and a twelve ounce Mighty Leaf unsweetened iced tea."  Considering the usual prices at 'wichcraft, this is a really good deal (which I am currently indulging in).  You may have to ask for it by name at the register as I didn't see any promotional signs for it.  For $5, it's definitely worth it.

Bob and Jo

This week I tried the Bob & Jo truck for the first time. Specializing in Korean fusion cuisine, the truck serves up sandwiches, rice platters and a couple of vegetarian options (bibimbop and japchae).

The menu board

There was a very short line to order when I got there and a bunch of people waiting for food. It didn't seem like anyone waited an exceptionally long time, and while waiting, I got to take in the truck's awesome design and listen to the music they had playing.

The truck

Taking orders and serving up food

I got the chicken rice platter, which came with chicken marinated in hot and spicy sauce over seasoned rice (by seasoned, I think they meant rice with vegetables mixed in), with sides of fresh salad, sliced radish and carrot, kimchi, and their special sauce:

I liked it. The best part of it was the chicken, which had fantastic flavor. It reminded me of how Bapcha used to be (I haven't been back since that last time, but maybe they've recovered). I would go for the chicken again!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pies, Pies and More Pies

Before going to Athens, we did a bit of internet research to see which restaurants people raved about, and one of the universally recommended venues was Ariston bakery. It's a take-out shop with all sorts of savory and sweet pies and we planned to visit for lunch on our first full day in Athens.

Ariston is a small shop located on a narrow street (Voulis) lined with parked cars and filled with motorcycles. If you hang out on the street (as we did while eating), you see lots of people walking into Ariston and leaving with paper or plastic bags full of pies just like we did. Many of them didn't even wait until leaving the bakery before starting on their pies.

The window display gave us a hint of what was to come - homemade pies with fresh ingredients:

Many people left Ariston eating one of these cheese pies called "kourou." We had read about them as a specialty of the bakery and knew we had to try one:

Kourou on display

Kourou ready to eat

Not sure what type of cheese this was but this pie was delicious. The outside was a little crispy and bready, but once you made your way to the center of the pie, it was a mixture of the crispy exterior and soft tasty cheese inside. We would highly recommend trying one of these if you're in Athens. It's the perfect snack.

Since we were there for lunch, we also got a few more pies. The non-kourou pies were basically square or rectangular slices from a pie that was made in a big pie/cake pan. They had a layer of buttery and flaky crust with filling inside:

Mushroom pie

Spinach and feta pie

The pies were delicious. The mushroom pie might have been one of the best pies we have ever eaten. We immediately wanted more, but knew we couldn't if we were going to eat dinner and/or not go home 100 lbs heavier. So good.