Monthly Archives: October 2005

Mole, rice, and strong winds in Red Hook.

As I usually have brunch both days of the weekend, and usually relatively close to home, the number of available meals on the weekend in which to explore is pathetically few.  This weighed heavily on my mind Saturday night, and after spending most of the day doing things of no great consequence at Casa King, I and my roommate decided to explore on Sunday morning, weather permitting.  Our first target was Defonte’s, but after calling and not having the phone picked up, we settled on another Red Hook destination on the 2005 Voice list in El Huipil (116A Sullivan St. between Van Brunt and Conover – B61 bus to stop between King St. and Sullivan St.).

After missing the bus by about ten seconds and walking most of the way, we caught the B61 on Columbia St. and were pleasantly surprised to discover that card reader was broken and our ride down would be free.  I guess that’s a small consequence for those of us with monthly passes, right?  But I always wonder why certain busses don’t charge.  Broken readers?  Sympathetic bus drivers?  Some kind of additional silly refund from the MTA?

Anyway, the B61 efficiently whisked us from “Carroll Gardens West” (the Columbia Street strip – what to call it – Container Port Heights?) to Red Hook’s “main drag” – Van Brunt St.  I put main drag in quotes simply because Red Hook has one of the least-likely looking main drags anywhere in New York.  Hip bakeries, nouveau-diners, Cocoran Realty signs – and dilapidated buildings, cracked cement curbs with weeds growing through, and empty lots full of waste, rusting cars, and stray pets.  It’s like the bastard love child of rural Vermont and the West Village, with a pinch of Main Street, Afton, Wyoming – and this is the main drag!

Of course, El Huipil isn’t on the main drag.  It’s actually invisible from Van Brunt St. and, if you didn’t know there was a restaurant on the block, you’d be tempted not to go down it; the encrusting of the neighborhood only gets worse upon leaving the main areas.  Having confidence in our directions, as well as quite a few hours of daylight ahead, we located El Huipil and were, to our surprise, apparently the first customers of the day at just after noon.

After the staff turned on the lights, we discovered that quick service was one very tangible benefit of being the first folks in the restaurant – our entrees were practically under our noses before we’d had a chance to really lounge around.  And it was just as well – we were both very hungry!  My roommate had ordered eggs with cured beef (which I think was $6, but I’m going by memory for prices), with a side of rice ($1.50); I’d ordered the mole-drenched chicken enchiladas ($9).

As it turned out, the extra rice was probably unnecessary – his eggs came sided with rice and beans.  I know that, in most situations, one would sort of sigh and wonder why the waiter hadn’t warned us.  I’m convinced now that it’s because the rice there is good enough to warrant ordering extra – salty, flavorful and fresh, El Huipil’s rice was the biggest surprise of the day.  I’d go back just to eat it, and I don’t often say that about any kind of rice.

The beans were also excellent, as were the corn tortillas provided as a side for the eggs.  The grapefruit Jarritos ($1.50) he ordered tasted just like the Squirt made with real sugar (Clemens’ in Windsor Terrace sells Mexican Squirt in glass bottles).  On my side of the table, the chicken enchiladas were drenched in mole and covered (surprisingly) with lettuce and some kind of powdered cheese.  I devoured the lettuce first, taking care to swirl it around in the delicious mole, and tucked into my enchiladas after the greenery was gone.

The three enchiladas were as basic as it gets – moist pulled chicken rolled in corn tortillas.  No cheese-sludge to be found here!  The mole sauce is more than enough seasoning for the chicken and tortillas, though – somewhat spicy, savory, and thick, there’s nothing else quite like it in the world.  A great ‘brunch-time’ choice – how long will it take for some enterprising chef to figure out that the chocolate base of the sauce and the non-sweet flavoring make it the perfect pancake topping?  It would seem to be right up Superfine’s alley.

Anyway, I was so entranced in my own food that I forgot to taste my roommate’s eggs and beef, but he assured me they were delicious, and El Huipil’s breakfasts are served all day.  Again, I ask: why weren’t more people here?  Perhaps Red Hook’s brunchers are of a later-awakening sort.  

After eating, we adjourned to wander the piers of Red Hook, which, on this blustery fall day, were unbelievably beautiful in their states of decomposition.  Check out my roommate’s pictures of several of the buildings at his blog.  Nothing like a long walk along the shore at this time of year, and, hey – you’re making room for the coffee and inevitable cookie or slice of pie from the bakery that’s next to the B61 bus stop.  

2 Comments

Filed under NYC

I heart Doner Kebap, and I’m not afraid to show it.

Thanks to blogger Abstract Dynamics for our newest connective link to the rumbling unconscious that is the internet.  I really don’t take these lightly, particularly when one considers that the link above mine belongs to an MIT professor.  Ay, papi!  Rarified company.  Thanks!

Generally I write about my most recent dining experiences.  I find that the details fade so quickly in my mind, and my enthusiasm has often drifted along to the next GREAT THING that I’ve discovered – key to getting my point across to you is to harness that enthusiasm into the article.  So I’m going to try and fake it this time, because I haven’t had either of my favorite Doner Kebap sandwiches since June of ’02, and I haven’t had one I could say I was happy with since this past April.

Let’s start with the basics: Doner Kebap is a Turkish fast food that has rapidly become more popular than hamburgers or sausages in the fast food segment of the German and Austrian diets.  Turks are the largest minority group in Germany, and Germans’ Doner obsession is, I think, the surest sign that their toehold in Germany is more than impermanent.

Doner Kebap is very similar to the schwarma that we all know and love from our local falafelries, but that’s about the closest comparison I can make.  Why?  Simply because, like schwarma, Doner Kebap is more of a category than a set item.  The meats vary wildly in type and quality, the sauces range from tadzhiki-style yogurt, to a conventional chile sauce, to what looks like spicy Thousand Island dressing, and the breads?  Could range from dry pita to fluffy flatbread.  Intrigued yet?

Not surprisingly, the best two Doners I’ve ever had were about as different as could be.  Very surprisingly, they were not in Berlin, which has among the biggest Turkish populations in Germany – indeed, they weren’t even in Germany but the southern provincial capital of Graz, Austria.  “Graz, Austria?”  I can hear you scratching your heads, “But I’ll never go there!”  I realize that it’s not exactly a tourist destination but, culinarily speaking, it is a land of many unique things that I’ll be writing articles about at some point.

Anyway, about the Doner – there’s always a Doner stand by train stations in Germany and Austria, much like McDonald’s surgically attaches itself to any port of entry and exit in the US (why, oh why, can’t we get decent airport food?).  But the unique thing about Euro-Kebap in Graz (on Bahnhofguertel across from the train station) was that, unlike most train station fast food, this one was actually GOOD.

I believe Euro-Kebap was chicken-based.  I say this not because I’ve forgotten, but because I’m never sure with the kind of mystery-meat kebap that Euro used.  The meat was perfectly cooked, though – the huge pre-cooked layered skewer was shimmering with grease, and these guys move enough meat in a day that they can turn up their rotisseries to a much higher temperature than your average place in America (they also don’t save the meat overnight, kids – can you believe it?).  The bread was pita style, which is fine except when the grease and sauce soak through and get everywhere (though that was kind of part of the fun).

As always, with Doner, you can order “alles” and receive lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, or indicate which toppings do or don’t tickle your fancy.  Requesting “scharf” (spicy) in this case defines your choice of sauce – the orange spicy sauce in lieu of the afore-mentioned white sauce, which is a little less tadzhiki-ish here by virtue of its thickness.

However, I believe the pinnacle of the sandwich will always be defined by the best bread, and, unfortunately, Euro-Kebap’s pita does not live up to the round Turkish bread of my other favorite place, which unfortunately I can’t recall the name of.  I’m going to dub it “Family Kebap,” because it’s run by a father and son who are very friendly and, if I recall correctly, speak excellent English.  (I’d love to go back and grill them about where they’re from and all, now that I’ve got this gig.)  I do know that you can get there by taking any Strassenbahn to Jakominiplatz and walking southwest on Reitschulgasse – it should be on the left-hand side before you get to Dietrichsteinplatz.

Back to the bread – it’s called pide, and it was pointed out to me by this website that it is sort of reminiscent of Italian Focaccia.  Good call!  I would call it slightly less tough than Focaccia – it’s doughier in consistency, which aids in the soaking up of the meat juices and sauce.

Speaking of meat, Family’s Doner is lamb-based, which means an even bigger monster of a meat-on-a-stick from which your very tasty meat is carved.  The texture and look of the meat on the skewer is sort of like the Doner Kebap place on MacDougal, except that it’s not rancid.  The sauce is your usual white sauce, and if you order it “scharf,” you’ll get a generous sprinkling of some pretty hot dried chiles (looks like your neighborhood pizza’s spice topping, tastes much better).

So, better meat, better bread, not as good sauce – Family Kebap was definitely my favorite, but my friends all liked Euro-Kebap better.  What’s a brother to do?  Well, I ate a hell of a lot of both of them, as well as at a couple different places in Berlin that served good but not great versions.  Never did I pay more than 3.50 for one, and this was back when the Euro was way under the dollar in value.  The Doner Kebap was far and away the best food deal of my entire trip to Europe and that includes the late night chips, cheese, and beans extravaganza that I had at Oxford.  Dynamite!

Leave a comment

Filed under NYC

Guangxi house specialties.

Last night’s solo food excursion was to be low-key – needed to eat, go home, get clothes, and return uptown to my girlfriend’s apartment for pie and baseball.  So it was probably a good thing that I chose to go to Original Guilin Noodle, located at 118 Madison Street, though it didn’t appear that way at first.  

Madison Street, if you haven’t been there, is for many blocks the border between small-building Chinatown/LES and the projects on the East River that you can see from the Manhattan Bridge.  Things are fairly low-key down there, which is probably why the hole in the wall whose menu declared “Original Guilin Noodle” had a sign outside that said something like “Sun Lin Restaurant.”  Sietsema hadn’t mentioned the dual nomenclature in his Best of 2005 list, from where this restaurant came, so I’m glad I didn’t give up too easily and try to find a backup eatery.

The reason for Sietsema’s mention of this place is that it features the most obscure Chinese regional cuisine yet to reach New York – the food of Guangxi, a region near the Vietnam border.  It’s really intriguing to me that there are so many (up to 8, depending on whom you ask) different styles of Chinese cooking – can you imagine a culinary trip to China, touring the country and eating in the best restaurants in every region?  I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.  I’m going to try and do something similar within the NYC border, in lieu of a Chinese jaunt any time soon.

Once in and seated at one of three tables in this fairly dilapidated place, I was handed a takeout menu, and I started to inspect the Sietsema-recommended house specialties.  The owner/waiter/chef opened the menu to the mail page which featured an array of American Chinese dishes that I was certainly not interested in, so I pointed back to the house specialties and asked if they were available (I always wonder, walking into an empty restaurant, whether they’re closed or on limited menu).  The owner was seemingly surprised, and indicated that they were indeed available.  I selected the first entrée on the list, listed as “Alomatic Beef with Wild Pepper.”  I assume that was a misspelled version of “aromatic,” but I’m still not sure why that was an apt title for the dish.

What arrived at my table roughly six minutes later (I watched the man cook, which was fun) was a fantastic stir fry of beef, cauliflower, at least two kinds of fresh peppers (one was red and green, not sure if that was the primary source of spice – it looked like there were some smaller, spicier ones), something that seemed almost like a cucumber but was crunchier, tiny onions, mushrooms that looked like they were out of a cartoon, snow peas, and a black bean sauce.  It was accompanied by a bowl of white rice perhaps a bit on the dry side, but very serviceable.  The ensemble was spicy, but not in the way that Sichuan cooking is spicy – the spice was totally contained in the peppers and their seeds.  

As I got up to leave after inhaling the beef and every last bit of pepper and weird mushroom, the proprietor looked very pleased that I had obviously enjoyed his handiwork.  “You should try my soup,” he said.  “Next time, I will, definitely.”  “When’s next time…tomorrow?”  “Maybe.”  And I was serious – even if it’s not tonight, it will be soon, because I can’t wait to have that guy cooking up a storm for me.


2 Comments

Filed under NYC

I call this sculpture "Golden Bags with Fish Sauce."

Fresh off last week’s delicious Zabb excursion, I had another craving for spicy Thai last night.  Instead of going to Jackson Heights, though, we headed to Myrtle Thai, on Myrtle Av. between Vanderbilt and Clinton in Brooklyn.  I’m not really sure what to call this neighborhood…Clinton Hill North?  Prattville?  Anyway, Myrtle Av.’s got quite a strip, befitting its status as a former elevated line path.  Plenty of restaurants and even a hip coffee bar can be found, and the BQE is a mere stone’s throw north (and the Navy Yard beyond, if you’re getting really adventurous).

The restaurant is a fairly large space, yet seems sparsely decorated – the joint was nearly empty for most of our meal, which may have contributed to the sparse feeling.  The back room with the kitchen is rather large and the open window and door allow a view of the cooking process to the diner looking towards the rear.  The staff was very friendly and intrigued by my request for spice – I wonder whether most of their business is Pratt students looking for cheap Pad Thai and curries.  It seemed so, from the in- and out-flux of customers while we were there.

Anyway, we ordered the Golden Bags appetizer to start the meal off.  Like Sietsema suggests in the recent Best Of 2005 (though he referred to another restaurant’s iteration – Myrtle Thai won Best Brooklyn Thai, not Worst Appetizer Name), the dish’s name is a fairly unfortunate misnomer.  They seemed more like chicken meatballs with a slight hint of fishy flavor (probably the ground shrimp, but it was faint), wrapped in a wonton-style dough – one could also call them a deep fried dumpling.  The sweet-and-sour dip served with them seemed somewhat incongruous, though not totally bland – in retrospect, I think I would have liked some fish sauce to dip these in.  I ended up trying them with the hot sauce on the table, which wasn’t bad, but not fantastic.

I had advised my friend, based on my experience with cashews at Zabb, to try the cashew nuts dish with his choice of meat (pork).  Unfortunately, Myrtle Thai didn’t cook the cashews as well or seemingly as long as Zabb did – the dish was still serviceable, however, with a sweet-ish sauce, onions, carrots, peppers, scallions, and the probably-could-have-been-left-out pineapple chunks.  More meat would have been a nice touch, too.  Hmm, that kind of sounds like I’m panning it – far from it.  My friend enjoyed it, and I found it a nice change of pace from when the fish sauce and larb got a little too intense.

My beef larb (I wonder if “larb” is a different Anglicization of the same Thai word that begat Zabb’s “laab” – are the two related?) was dynamite, though – I had made sure to let the waitress know I wanted an authentic level of spiciness, and I believe that my request was honored.  Shredded but not ground, the beef was coated in its seasonings.  To be sure, this beef was pungent, sour, spicy, and extremely flavorful.  Fish sauce was seemingly used as a primary seasoning, to what I consider great effect.  A perfunctory array of shredded carrots and lettuce also adorned my plate, which I skipped in favor of the rice that arrived with the salad.  Feeling the rice also a bit bland, I requested and received fish sauce to put on the rice.  Man, that stuff is salty but hot, too, in a creep-up-on-you sort of way.  And, yes, it smells funky as hell.  C’est la guerre.

Myrtle Thai is a great place to get some good Thai on the nights where a trek to Jackson Heights from Brooklyn seems out of the question.  Pratt students, are you listening?  Try the larb; at authentic spice levels, it’s breathtaking!  I know that the concept of “fish sauce” is moderately disgusting to even the most resolute carnivore, and that many of you are no doubt meatless in one level of stringency or another, but this stuff is addicting.  You’ll be the hippest stinky-food kid in the dorm.

Leave a comment

Filed under NYC

Sichuanese Serendipity

I was walking with a friend down 9th Avenue one day, latitude of Chelsea, and we were looking for a place to grab a quick-ish bite before going to a gallery opening.  Not exactly a typical scenario for me, or at least the location and post-eating activity weren’t, so I was at a loss as to where to go.  Not content to merely find a diner, we eventually wandered down to 24th St. and ran smack dab into a Grand Sichuan.

I had heard decent things about Grand Sichuan from Chowhound.com and, given that my dining partner was amenable, decided to try it out.  As it turns out, this was a fairly fortuitous decision – Grand Sichuan, while perhaps not the pinnacle of the art of Sichuan cooking, re-awakened my long-dormant passion for Chinese cooking, and I owe it a tremendous debt of gratitude.

Yesterday night’s circumstances (tried to go get onion strings at RUB, discovered it was closed Monday, didn’t feel like walking the other direction on 23rd to Shake Shack or Eisenberg’s) dictated a return visit to the Chelsea location, after several visits to the new St. Marks Pl. location which could best be described as ‘uneven.’  To my great surprise, at 7 PM, the place was packed, and we waited around five minutes for a table.

Once seated, the service was quick, naturally.  My dining partner ordered chicken with sour cabbage, which seemed to me to be a very flavorful chicken and cabbage soup that lacked soup.  Or, more accurately, had the soup portion reduced to a sauce/glaze, but retained a powerful “chicken stock” flavor.  I liked it, and despite the meat and cabbage being somewhat bland, it provided a nice counterbalance to the fiery concoction that I ordered.

A little more background is in order: upon discovering that I quite enjoyed what Grand Sichuan had to offer, I did some additional research on Chowhound.com with regards to it and other Sichuanese, specifically Spicy & Tasty, Sietsema’s 10th pick on his 2005 list (though I figure maybe he actually liked it better and was hiding it – the list screwed up the address, which is actually not 39-07 Prince Street but next to Sentosa in the 37 block).  What I found seemed to confirm that dishes made with the spice arrangement called “ma la” were the thing to aim for.

“Ma la” describes two different kinds of spiciness.  The first character, “ma,” refers to the spice properties of the Sichuanese peppercorn.  More information about the peppercorn can be found here, particularly if you scroll down a bit (note that the blurb about it being illegal to import is, at this moment, incorrect).  Ma cuisine’s most distinctive characteristic is a kind of numbing effect completely different from the usual chiles.  La, on the other hand, refers to the more standard chile-based heat.  Combining the two leads, ideally, to a kind of multi-spice nirvana – the peppercorns numb you, the chiles heat you, and your face starts to sweat profusely.

Back to the fiery concoction: I had sampled some of the most divinely spiced ma la pork in chile sauce at Spicy and Tasty on my trip there (more on that in a future article), and wondered aloud to my waitress whether Grand Sichuan had anything that was “ma la” in a beef category.  She suggested the beef in chile sauce, which I can’t find on the menu described exactly so, but it could be the braised beef filets with chili sauce (both beef and chicken dishes had the kind of tenderized meat that I’ve come to expect from braising).

Anyway, what was delivered was EXACTLY like the pork dish I’d had in Flushing, except for a crucial detail: the Sichuan peppercorns weren’t right.  No numbing effect, sadly.  I’m guessing they either gringo-ized it (given that I specifically asked for ma la, seems less likely) or perhaps just don’t have the real peppercorns in inventory.  No matter – the dish was good anyway, extremely spicy with its chiles, and the cabbage underneath soaked up the red sauce in a pleasing manner.  The meat, as I said, was very tender, and there was more than enough of it to fill me up.

As far as the other dishes I’ve tried, the soup dumplings (crab and pork, definitely, if you have a choice) that we opened the meal with were also extremely good.  On my first trip, I sampled the chicken with broccoli from the American Chinese menu (I didn’t order it, I promise), and it was as delicious as I’d ever tasted the old warhorse.  The “Mao’s home cooking” menu provided the entrée that started the whole revolution for me – sour string beans with minced pork (ironic, because this is actually Hunanese, not Sichuan) – and the beans and pork combined to make a spicy and flavorful dish that I could have probably eaten more than a single plate of.

I’ve had other things at the St. Marks branch of Grand Sichuan, but I can’t really recommend that location as strenuously due to the inconsistency – on one trip, the dumplings were limp and the tea-smoked duck a little too dry.  On another excursion, the house special tofu was good, and enough to feed four people, I’m convinced.  I’d say that a good rule of thumb for that location is that the food will be better on the busier nights.

If you skipped the soup dumplings, a check including two entrees would typically cost less than $20 total.  A splurge, I realize, for the budget conscious parties of two among you – particularly factoring in tax and tip, if you eat in (I can see takeout being an effective option if you live nearby).  I’m of the opinion that two entrees could feed three, though.  And, of course, you’ll save money by drinking the free tea instead of coffee or coca-cola, and the very juicy orange slices at the end are better than no dessert at all, right?  Even if they do remind you of post-game snacks from your Under-8 bunch ball soccer years.

Given its convenience – i.e. it’s not located in Flushing – and the quality of the preparation of the food, if not the 100% authenticity of the spicing, Grand Sichuan is a great option for satisfying those spontaneous urges for Chinese food.  Take a handkerchief, though.

Leave a comment

Filed under NYC

I’ve tasted dong after midnight before, but it’s usually saltier.

In the intriguing culinary melting pot that is Jackson Heights, one can find just about anything.  On a cursory, three-block stroll on a recent night, I picked up menus for a combination Nepalese/Tibetan/Indian joint, a Vietnamese place, and a down-home eatery that features the most intriguing Korean menu I’ve seen since leaving Boston.

The raison d’etre for my journey to Jackson Heights, however, was Thai: Zabb, in the 11th spot on the 2005 Sietsema list, at 71-28 Roosevelt Av.  As is carefully pointed out with every article or Chowhound.com thread written about the place, Zabb is Isaan/Esan/Northern Thai, which apparently gives it license to produce mediocre curries, as curries are (supposedly!) more of a southern specialty.  I actually tried the Massaman curry and found it about what I expected – full of chicken and potatoes, perhaps a bit one-note with its spicing.  But the rest of the stuff we tried – ye gods.  You’re going to like this place a lot, provided you can handle the heat.

It’s an interesting atmosphere at Zabb.  One very long dining room, much like a hip Lower East Side establishment, only the long wall is mostly bare.  Some figurines in the window and a widescreen TV on the back wall complete the decoration, along with a shelf from which one can purchase some kind of box of cookies to take home (we didn’t).

Would the bare-bones décor impact the quality of the food?  Not one iota.  The first dish to emerge was a seafood Pad Med Ma Muang, which was funny in that we didn’t order it.  After a couple of bites, the waitress came back to tell us that it wasn’t ours.  Too bad, we said – already having taken a bite or two and liked it quite a bit, we were going to keep it.  The sautéed cashew nuts frankly make the dish – a completely different flavor when cooked, and I couldn’t eat enough of them.  Also included in the dish were onions, scallions, peppers, squid, shrimp, and de-shelled (thanks!) mussels, along with a chile sauce more sweet than spicy.  It was, fortunately for us, a good dish to counterbalance the spice of the other three dishes we ordered.

The Catfish Laab salad is justifiably legendary – it’s impossible to describe without making it seem less than it is, but I’ll try: chopped cooked catfish with mint, lemongrass, lime and chile, served warm on an iceberg lettuce leaf.  There, doesn’t that sound sort of boring?  It isn’t; trust me.  Simultaneously fishy, spicy and flavorful, and uniquely textured, it was as new and different to me, having dined an untold number of times on Thai, as real Sichuan was after growing up on American Chinese.  In fact, the closest comparison I can come up with was the Bahamian conch salad I sampled while in Nassau, though the dishes are more spiritual cousins than relatives of flavor.

Besides the curry, the only other dish we tried was the unlisted “Stink Bean with Pork.”  Those who read chowhound.com are likely familiar with the debates over the desirability of the actual stink bean, calling it “rancid-smelling” and/or “reminiscent of Chinatown garbage.”  I’d ordered this in the hope that I could offer an opinion, but I suppose I need to be firmer with my waitress next time – the beans that emerged were the usual green beans, not stinky at all.

The dish, however, was no disappointment – the probably-steamed beans were paired with pork per our request and it was delicious, and the sauce very spicy in a totally different way than anything else we’d ordered.  Should have taken more notes on the dish, I guess.  I wonder if it was the same as the Pad Prik Khing that shows up on the menu.  Hard to say, and I’ll have to order that on the next go-round to see what we get.

Anyway, given its close subway proximity to Manhattan (Jackson Heights is the second stop in Queens on the F and third on the E), the relative ease with which one can find it on the Roosevelt Av. strip, its late opening hours (until 2am!), as well as the recent positive coverage in the Village Voice (Best Use Of Catfish 2005 went to the Laab salad I just described), I wasn’t surprised to see a fair number of gringos evident.  I know I’ll be going back as well – I’ve got my eye on the “spicy salad of cow’s offal” innocently entitled Yum How Dong.

Leave a comment

Filed under NYC

D-o-double-gizzle with sizzle in the drizzle.

Amid last night’s drizzle and Yom Kippur-induced slow night out (I mean, seriously, it was freaking dead at the bar), I decided to get a little Pho at a place called Cong Ly, which was suggested to me in the comments section of my pho article of a few days ago.  Unfortunately, I arrived rather too late for a side-street restaurant in Chinatown, and the place was closed.  I only had about 15 minutes to get to my friend’s birthday party anyway, so I had to walk in the direction of Norfolk and Delancey and get food somewhere on the way.

Enter Broomedoggs, at 250 Broome St.  I had picked up one of their menus on a recent pleasant Saturday walk through the LES, and discovered upon later study that they served a currywurst as one of their specials.  Currywurst, for those who don’t know, is a specialty of the fast food trucks almost everywhere in German-speaking Europe.  Along with the kasekrainer, which is a sausage somehow injected with cheese, the currywurst ended many a drunken escapade (particularly in Graz, where neither of the good doner kebap places stayed open late).

So, yeah, I was pretty excited to try it.  When I arrived, I was the only customer, which concerned me a little – I suppose that the crappy night contributed to this, though.  After ordering, I had a nice chat with the employee manning the sausage-cooking tools, and asked him whose idea the currywurst was.  He wasn’t sure, but said one of the partners might have come up with it; he was also surprised to learn that it was a German favorite.  Friendly dude.  Apparently they now serve cheesecake, which I can’t imagine eating for dessert after a sausage, even if it was made by nuns.

As far as the wurst was concerned, it was tasty, if not quite what the German in me was expecting.  The German sausage is infused with its curry flavor, and this one was basically a knockwurst tossed with curry sauce.  The curry was mild, though flavorful, and complemented the sausage well.  The knockwurst isn’t a small sausage, either – for $5, I felt like it should be on the larger side and was not disappointed.

Broomedoggs also offers regular hot dogs, turkey dogs, chicken dogs, tofu dogs, kielbasa, and something called a Black Angus dog, all for $5 or under, along with assorted drinks.  As they are open late (4am Friday and Saturday) and located in a soon-to-be-very-popular corner of the Lower East Side, I feel like they will have a cult following in short order (if they don’t already).

Is it as good as Crif Dog, though?  Hell, no.

Leave a comment

Filed under NYC