Tag Archives: Bistro Truck

I’ve devoured Time Out’s 100 Best dishes and now, once again, I’ve been inspired to create my own list. These are the 100 dishes I have continued to think about since tasting them at some point in 2011. Look for another five dishes every few days. These are in no particular order. 

NUMBER 45: PUPUSAS at EL OLOMEGA

The winner of this year’s NY Vendy Awards (the awards given out every year to food carts and trucks) was Solber Pupusas, which has been serving pupusas at the Red Hook Ball Fields for the last 10 years or so. But about a decade before Solber pulled up to the soccer park, El Olomega began serving these Salvadoran specialties. And they’re still doing it every April through October.

Pupusas, for the unfortunate uninitiated, are grilled corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and any number of meat or vegetables (including Time Out’s favorite, zucchini). The fillings are always fresh and flavorful here and they’re held up by a charred sweet corn patty and a trio of sides: tomato salsa, fried plantains, and a tangy mound of pickled cole slaw. I think it’s about time El Olomega got some Vendy love.

EL OLOMEGA
Red Hook Ball Fields
Clinton Street and Bay Street
Red Hook, Brooklyn
elolomega.com

NUMBER 44: JERK CHICKEN at VERONICA’S KITCHEN

I’ve been on somewhat of a jerk chicken kick this year. Maybe it’s because I’ve been immersed in the world of food carts (because of the Urban Oyster tours) and there are quite a few Caribbean vendors making their own versions. One of the best I’ve ever tasted is the one coming out of Trinidadian owned Veronica’s Kitchen.

Veronica Julien serves a wide range of Caribbean specialities, like roti and curry goat, but her chicken is phenomenal. Due to space restrictions on her cart, she roasts the chicken (as opposed to the usual grilling), but still gets a smoky dark char on the meat. Speckled with pepper flakes and cooled down with allspice and garlic, the fall-off-the-bone meat is full of flavored and feels as if it’s been lovingly cooked in someone’s home kitchen. It just so happens to be a kitchen on wheels. Price: $6/$8

VERONICA’S KITCHEN
Front Street (at Pine Street)
Financial District

NUMBER 43: CHICKEN SOUVAKI STICK at SOUVLAKI GR

It sure says something if I eat the same thing for lunch over and over again. I’m the kind of person who likes variety and mostly prefers to go to new restaurants rather than repeat places and if I do re-visit a restaurant, I will most definitely try something different (unless a dish made this list, of course).

Whenever I’m down in the Financial District (which is about twice a week), I make a stop at the Souvlaki GR truck to get a few of their chicken sticks (usually over a salad). This Greek food truck is just over a year old and already has two Vendy Awards, a brick and mortar restaurant, and a spot on my 100 Best list from last year for their Greek fries. The more authentic order would be pork (Time Out even included that on their current list), but I prefer the leaner and softer chicken. They shun the chicken breast and instead use marinated skewers of chicken thigh (the more flavorful cut) on the charcoal grill to give it a blackened, tender flavor that is tastier than any chicken should be. Included in an order is their unbelievably fluffy homemade pita bread and real Greek tzatziki sauce. Price: $1.75 per stick.

SOUVLAKI GR
Front Street and Old Slip,
Financial District
116 Stanton Street (between Ludlow and Essex Street)
Lower East Side
(212) 777-0116
souvlakigr.com

NUMBER 42: LAMB MARRAKECH at BISTRO TRUCK

There have been quite a few changes at Bistro Truck this past year. For starters, they decided to bring the love to other neighborhoods in New York (instead of parking every day in the Flatiron, like they did the previous year). They also re-vamped the menu, adding a delicious lamb burger and fish sandwich.

Their famous lamb marrakech also got some tweaks. Instead of using lamb meat, owner Yassir Raouli now uses a whole lamb shank. It’s served on the bone, which is beside the point since the tender braised meat falls right off it. It’s topped with some caramelized onions and almonds for texture, with a side of cous cous, salad, and spicy harissa sauce. This is the kind of gourmet food you expect at a restaurant, not a food truck. However my behavior of gnawing on the bone to savor every morsel of meat is probably best tolerated on the streets. Price: $10

BISTRO TRUCK
Locations Vary; Will Return in the Spring
Follow on Twitter: @bistrotruck
bistrotruck.com

NUMBER 41: CHICKEN BREAST KABOB at KWIK MEAL

I mentioned above that Souvlaki GR uses the thigh meat of the chicken because it has much more flavor than the easy to dry out breast meat. Well, Muhammed Rahman at Kwik Meal has been using the thigh meat for years in his chicken over rice. But this year, he began offering the white breast meat as a chicken kabob over rice. And he’s somehow figured out how to master this forbidden poultry cut.

The chicken is marinated with special spices including cumin and garlic and dotted with red chili flakes. The smoky meat is grilled perfectly maintaining a tender, juicy texture. A serving of the famous green chili sauce adds some tangy  heat while the yogurt sauce cools things down a bit. A definite notch up from most halal carts in the city.

KWIK MEAL
West 45th Street (at Sixth Avenue)
Midtown West
kwikmeal.net

If Time Out New York can do it, so can I. I’ve been inspired and satiated by Time Out’s 2009 Top 100 list and look forward to conquering their 2010 list very soon. But from now until the end of the year, I present my own Top 100 Dishes of the year in reverse order. Look for another five dishes every few days.

30. GALBI at BAPCHA

I’ve been giving Food Cart Tours now with Urban Oyster for a little over six months. And the tour has expanded since we started to include more trucks and carts. I’m still meeting new vendors every day and tasting new food. But the first contact I was able to personally make for the company was with John and Jeanie Lee at Bapcha, formerly known as the Bulgogi and Kimchi Cart.

Bapcha means “food cart” in Korean and the couple sells delicious, freshly prepared Korean food. Everything from mandu (fried dumplings) to kimchi (fermented cabbage) to galbi (beef short ribs). And when I first tried the galbi, I knew that this cart had to be part of our tour.

The short ribs are marinated in a special Korean soy sauce (that includes the secret ingredient: pear juice). It’s grilled to well past medium rare, but it maintains a tender chewiness that is reminiscent of brisket.  The taste is smoky and sweet. The fat is almost non-existent but the flavor is all there. With a squirt of hot sauce and a side of sweet korean noodles, this is a perfect lunch alternative to a burger. Or a steak sandwich. Price: $8

BAPCHA
South Side of West 49th Street (between Avenue of the Americas and 7th Avenue)
Midtown West

29. PEANUT PORRIDGE at JAMIACAN DUTCHY

SADLY, JAMAICAN DUTCHY IS NOW CLOSED.

Breakfast is served way too early for me. At Jamaican Dutchy, they start serving it at 7am and keep it going until about 11. And as of late, I’ve reverted back to my teenage days and sleep until about then. Partly it’s because I’m up all night writing blog entries.

So I’m never in midtown early enough to taste Jamaican Dutchy’s authentic breakfast foods like salt fish, callaloo, and different types of porridges. The porridges rotate depending on the day (sometimes banana porridge, sometimes hominy porridge, etc.) On Fridays, they make peanut porridge.

And one of the perks of giving these Food Cart tours is that I’ve become friends with many of the vendors and Ricky at Jamaican Dutchy has been kind enough to save me some porridge on numerous occasions. I’ve only gotten to taste the peanut porridge, but it’s pretty outrageous.

Porridge is similar to oatmeal, but less grainy and more creamy. It has pieces of peanuts and comes close to a rich peanut butter flavor with a touch of sweetness. I can’t imagine eating this for breakfast every day (because of the richness), but I imagine that’s why they alternate porridge flavors. It’s served hot in a paper cup and on a cold day on the streets of NYC, it’s just what the doctor ordered. No matter what time of day it is. Price: $4

JAMAICAN DUTCHY
West 51st Street (at 7th Avenue)
Midtown West
Follow on Twitter: @jamaicandutchy
(646) 287-5004
thejamaicandutchy.net

28. SPEKULOOS SPREAD at WAFELS & DINGES

Most of you know in addition to searching for the best food in NY, leading food cart tours, and waiting tables, I’ve also been tackling Time Out New York’s Top 100 Dishes of the year. And truth be told, their annual list is what inspired me to compile this long and rambling list of dishes.

And so many of the items I have on this countdown come from last year’s Time Out list (partly because that list made up about 1/3 of my meals last year). The new list was released in October, right when I was putting together my own Top 100. And the one item that coincidentally appeared on both their list and my list (completely coincidentally) was the Spekuloos Spread at Wafels & Dinges.

And what’s even funnier is that we both picked the sauce that they put on their fantastic Belgian-style waffles. The waffles themselves (which come in two forms – Brussels and Liege) are great, but the spread that is listed as a possible dinges (topping) is just amazing.

Spekuloos is a Dutch or Belgian holiday cookie very similar to a gingerbread. Wafels & Dinges makes it into a spreadable condiment, much like nutella or peanut butter. In fact many people on the tour think this is peanut butter at first. Or maybe a melted-down Teddy Graham. It has sweet, spicy notes of gingerbread and graham crackers. And with some whipped cream and bananas is a perfect addition to any waffle. Or buy a jar for yourself and eat it out of the jar. Like Pooh and his honey. Price: Free with purchase of a waffle, $7.95 for jar

WAFELS & DINGES
Multiple Locations
Follow on Twitter: @waffletruck
(866) 429-7329
wafelsanddinges.com

27. CHILLED BERRY SOUP at BISTRO TRUCK

SADLY, BISTRO TRUCK IS NOW CLOSED.

It’s the dream of every street food junkie to have all the carts and trucks in one location. And in many ways, the Vendy Awards brings that dream to reality each year. They’re hosted by the Street Vendors Project and with the price of admission, you get to sample the food of all the nominees.

This year I was fortunate enough to attend with Urban Oyster and can tell you I can’t wait until next year. I had some amazing food that day, but one dish in particular really blew my mind and surpassed all expectations. It was an unassuming little sample of the Chilled Berry Soup from the Bistro Truck.

Bistro Truck is usually parked in the Flatiron District and I’ve had some of their Mediterranean food in the past. But I had never tried their soup. The chilled berry soup (which is currently not available in the cold weather) was such a refreshing treat at the Vendy Awards. It was a thick, yet smooth blend of berries and spices. It’s slightly sweet, but savory enough to be a great appetizer. And a swirl of yogurt or two held the whole thing together. There was so much food at the event and I had to resist taking another cup to ensure I had room to sample everything. But you can be sure I will be returning to the truck come next summer when I pray the soup will be available once again.

BISTRO TRUCK
Fifth Avenue (between 16th and 17th Street)
Flatiron District
(800) 290-4924
Follow on Twitter: @bistrotruck
bistrotruck.com

Photo Courtesy of: foodie-call.com

26. TILAPIA WITH GREEN CHILI SAUCE at KWIK MEAL

I would have never thought to order fish from a cart. I think of Halal Carts and the things that come to mind are chicken, lamb, falafel, and rice. With a few sauces thrown in for good measure.

Well, Muhammed Rahman of Kwik Meal (and formerly a sous chef at the Russian Tea Room) likes to keep the culinary surprises coming. We visit Kwik Meal on the tour and sample his fantastic falafel. But I figured I should be as well-versed in his menu as possible. So I came early one day to try his fish.

It’s grilled to order (they even ask you for a temperature on the salmon) and it tastes unlike any fish I’ve ever had. It’s been marinated in a mix of Bengali spices and is topped with Muhammed’s special green chili sauce. Basmati rice (with lots of Indian spices), fresh mixed vegetables (from mushrooms to snap peas), and a white sauce (yogurt based) add to the perfect composition of the dish. I can’t remember when I’ve ever had tilapia this flavorful and tender. It inspired me to buy some myself and try to cook it. But I just don’t have the same magic as Muhammed, so I’ll stick to his preparations from now on. Price: $8.50

KWIK MEAL
West 45th Street (at Sixth Avenue)
Midtown West
kwikmeal.net

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