Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Eaten Lately, NYC (#2 in a Series)

Spicy & Tasty - Flushing, Queens

Went with a large group to this much reviewed, blogged, and message-boarded Sichuan restaurant, so I got to try about a dozen dishes. Some of the more memorable were:

- Small (moth ball sized?) rice balls floating in a sweet rice wine broth/liquid. The server actually tried to discourage my fellow diner from ordering this, being afraid we wouldn't like it, but it was good as a dessert.

- Beef tendon in chili oil. Served cold as an appetizer, the tendons were thin, almost clear strips. Chewy and nicely Sichuan spicy. A big portion, far beyond mine or anyone else at the table's appetite for tendon.

- Smoked pork with fresh garlic shoots. This was the highlight for me. The pork was almost bacon-y and perfectly complimented by the vegetables.

All the cold appetizers were very good, including large strips of eggplant is a less-spicy-than-it-looked red sauce. Fried chunks of duck with a side of hoisin-type dipping sauce was good, but I think I would've preferred smoked duck. Maybe next time. I'd also like to get to the bottom of some of the more mysterious menu items, such as "luxurious duck" and "enhanced pork". (I'm sure a Chowhound search would help unravel these enigmas)

I also had a $1 Peking Duck bun from Corner 28 and a Vietnamese iced coffee from Pho Hoang (though not the cripsy duck jaws that they offer as snacks). Both hit the spot. Hoping to try one of the street cart lamb skewers next time.

East 20s Sandwich Triangle - Gramercy/Flatiron District, Manhattan

One night last week, I'd narrowed down my dinner options to three sandwich places in the East 20s in Manhattan: Eisenberg's, Baogette, and DeFonte's. I'd been to Eisenberg's once and had an egg cream (made lightning fast and very tasty) and a pastrami sandwich (not bad, but not particularly memorable). I'd already made two visits to the recently opened Manhattan location of DeFonte's of Brooklyn and had the hot roast beef (huge, delicious, and rare, but not very warm) and the pork hero (huge and delicious). After polishing off the roast beef, one of the DeFonte's employees asked me how I was doing - he seemed both concerned and impressed. I'd only stopped in Baogette for a Vietnamese iced coffee (good - sweet & strong like it should be).

I came up with the solution of hitting Eisenberg's for a vanilla egg cream, doing some shopping I needed to do in the neighborhood, and then making my third trip to DeFonte's (I was thinking eggplant parm). The egg cream part worked out, but I'd forgotten that DeFonte's closes at 8. So, it was Baogette, where I tried the most hyped new bahn mi in town. I haven't tried all the top contenders, but Baogette definitely belongs in the top tier.

Nicky's (which I'm a big fan of) makes a good point of comparison. I prefer Nicky's crusty demi-baguette to the par-baked version (there were clear bags of the half-baked, frozen bread right inside the door) at Baogette, but I'd give Baogette a slight edge on what's inside the bread. The multiple forms of pork and what seemed like a mayo-based sauce combined with the veggies to make some sandwich magic. I stuck with the classic for my first visit, but I'd like to get back to try Baogette's bahn mi variations - especially the curry beef ("Sloppy Bao") and catfish versions.

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