The second day of the 9th Avenue International Food Festival was warm and sunny, and the good weather meant even bigger crowds. While we spent our first day mostly visiting places familiar to us, the second day was all about trying small snacks from places in the neighborhood that we've known about but never made it to. It was an easy (and cheaper) way to sample their food and see whether we might want to go for a return visit sometime.
Our first stop was back at the Spam house as we're all about free snacks, especially when they're tasty. This time there was no musubi offered, just sliders and fries, so we both went with the slider. It tasted a little better than the day before, but that could just be because we each got a full slider to ourselves. We were much happier with a full slider as opposed to half and half of a musubi.
As we made our way up the avenue, we stopped first at K Rico, a South American steakhouse that seems to be sticking in a spot that has seen a lot of turnover since we've lived in the area. They had chicken legs, arepas, and empanadas, and after a staff recommendation, we went with one of the beef empanadas.
Unlike some empanadas we've had, these were more deep fried, sort of like a pastelillo. The inside had beef, egg, raisins, and some herbs. The raisins and the sauce made it a little sweeter than most similar beef empanadas we've had, and we think we prefer the more flavorful, more savory ones. A didn't get much meat in his bites, but that could also be because he somehow dropped a piece while eating. He also didn't really like the raisin addition in this case. In the end he thought it just tasted fried. M got more flavor from it, but not as much as she was expecting.
Our next stop was Tacuba which had caught our eye the day before because they had a rotating al pastor spit outside with pineapple on top. Unfortunately, the spit was gone when we got there, but they still had al pastor left. In addition to the pork, each taco had onions, cilantro, pineapple, and a green sauce. They were really good. The pork was flavorful and had just the right amount of "crisp" to the edges that only come from rotating spits. The pineapples were also grilled so they were nice and soft with a bit of smoky sweetness. The only negative here was that the taco filling amounts were pretty uneven from taco to taco.
The other thing that had caught our eye the day before was the clam chowder from Blue Seafood Bar, mostly because it wasn't that expensive and we love chowder. While this was a creamy chowder, it wasn't as heavy on the cream as some others we've had which we liked. Not sure if this is how it usually is or if it's because of how it was cooking on the grill outside, but it was good. In addition to the clams and broth, there was celery, corn, potatoes, and lots of herbs. The flavors here were good, but having just been to the Pacific Northwest, we've been spoiled on amazing chowders. As good as this was, there was almost no way for it to compare.
Our final stop was Ding which was selling an assortment of Chinese dishes for $5. A lot of them looked good, and in the end we went with dan dan noodles, one of our favorites. We watched as they scooped out the noodles and topped it with sauces, seasonings, and garnishes from at least eight different bowls. The noodles had a good amount of late hitting heat from the Chinese peppercorns, but wasn't unbearably spicy at all. Also the meat sauce and additional sauces and flavorings all melded to form a very tasty dish. We got a menu from the vendors there, and from this first taste we both think we'd like to give the restaurant a try.