Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

If you read this blog, it’s no secret that I absolutely love The Vendy Awards. It’s a full day of eating such amazing diverse food on an island minutes away from Manhattan. But it’s also a celebration of the community and hard work of the vendors on the streets of New York. I’ve been attending this annual event for the last seven years and I guess it’s at that point when they ask you to host the entire thing.

I’m well-connected to the Street Vendor Project through my work with Turnstile Tours. We give food cart tours to educate the public on the hardships of street vending and we donate time and money to the advocacy work of SVP.

When they couldn’t get a celebrity emcee this year, they turned to the biggest star of all: me!

So it was pretty cool. I got to be on the mic, talk way too much, and announce the winners. I felt like Billy Crystal without the millions of people watching or the fat paycheck.

But I also got to try all of the food. I think this might be the first year that I worked my way through all 22 vendors. And they were all incredible. Seriously, I struggled about which vendor to write about today. It could have been the spicy jollof rice from the winners DF Nigerian or the chewy Indonesian coconut cakes from Moon Man or the plump meaty Russian dumplings from Anton’s or the German soul food from Kelvin’s Truck. And I didn’t even mention a single one of the incredible heartfelt Latin American tastings from the special political category (Bad Hombres).

The tasting I keep coming back to though is from Joon. I have a soft spot in my heart (and belly) for Persian food and I was quite taken by the presentation. This young company vends at Queens Night Market and is also going to be coming to one of the Christmas Markets in Manhattan later this year.

What they’ve done here is they use the coveted tahdig, the crispy rice from the bottom of the pan, and they’ve turned it into a pocket to hold the signature meat stews. I always love the fesenjan, a chicken walnut and pomegranate stew.¬†And I was surprised by the sweet savory hit of the khoreshte aloo (chicken plums and dried apricots). All the stews were served with a tangy yogurt sauce.

I’m not saying this was the best thing I tasted at the Vendys. That’s nearly impossible considering how diverse and well-thought out all the food was. But it’s a vendor that didn’t win that I wanted to get a bit more recognition to. And by the way, the reuben quesadillas that beat it in this category were pretty spot-on as well. And while there is always a winner chosen, at the Vendys, they are really all winners. And so are the patrons (and emcee) who get to taste¬†all the food.

JOON
Queens Night Market,
47-01 111th Street
New York Hall of Science,
Flushing Meadows Park,
Corona, Queens
(718) 622-4400
https://www.joonrice.com
THE VENDY AWARDS
Every September,
Governor’s Island
vendyawards.streetvendor.org
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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