New York Street Food's Blog
Just another WordPress.com weblog

Oct
01
Hannah Voss and Aldo Pinotti serving at Schnitzel & Things, at 52nd Street, which won a Rookie of the Year Award at the annual Vendys.

Hannah Voss and Aldo Pinotti serving at the Schnitzel & Things - Rookie of the Year Award at the annual Vendys.

NYT talked to some of the winners from last weekend’s Vendy Awards, and the lesson to be learned is – Get There Early.

Biryani Cart and Schnitzel & Things have been selling out by 1:30 or so most days this week.

Advertisements
Sep
30

In case you missed it, the WSJ had an article on food trucks around the country.  They talk about a new generation of lunch trucks hitting the streets, serving high-end fare such as grass-fed beef hamburgers, escargot and crème brûlée.

The NYC food trucks they name-checked were Rickshaw Dumpling Truck, Dessert Truck, Calexico Carne Asada.  I don’t agree with the WSJ too often, but here we see eye to eye.

Sep
30

Tyra Banks took a cue from the Vendy Awards and tried to find America’s Next Top Food Truck.  I half expected her to tell Kenny Lao of Rickshaw Dumpling Truck to “work it”.  She also featured Le Gamin and the Treats Truck.   Expect longer lines for the next few days at these game proprietors, as well overhearing inane conversations while in line.

Sep
28

Unfortunately, not every Vendy Award Finalist can win their category, but every finalist had great food.  Here’s a look at the great street food that did not win in their category, but we were all winners for having eaten their food.

Vendy Cup Finalists (excluding the winner)

The Rickshaw Dumpling Truck had great dumplings (duh!), but their plate had some nice cold noodles, too.

Rickshaw Dumplings

Rickshaw Dumplings

Rickshaw Dumpling truckThe King of Falafel and Shawarma, Fares Zeidaies, had a fervent following, and their matching outfits were quite colorful.  Their egg-shaped falafel was awesome, too.

Falafel from The King of Falafel and Shawarma

Falafel from The King of Falafel and Shawarma

King of Felafel and Shawarma

King of Felafel and Shawarma

I tried the jerk chicken at The Jamaican Dutchy cart, and it was very well done.  Hot, but not brutally so.  O’Neill Reid, the proprietor, takes his cooking very seriously (as they all do), and it shows in the end.  I didn’t get a picture of the jerk chicken, but below is the yummy squash bread.

O'Neill Reid - Jamaican Dutchy Card (in red)

O'Neill Reid - Jamaican Dutchy Card (in red)

Jamaican Dutchy squash bread

Jamaican Dutchy squash bread

Dessert Category Finalists (excluding the winner)

The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck had a perpetually long line all day.  Their menu was very creative.  The choice of toppings was staggering and unusual for ice cream: olive oil and sea salt, ground wasabi peas, toasted curried coconut, trix cereal, mixed berries and saba, banana-Scharffen Berger cocoa puree, cayenne pepper and dulce de leche with crushed Nilla wafers.  Crazy stuff!

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

Big Gay Ice Cream truck sandwich

Big Gay Ice Cream truck sandwich

Cupcake Stop had exceptional variety, as well.  Some of their flavors were Oreo crunch, candy apply, tiramisu and a few others of the same quality.

Cupcakes from Cupcake Stop

Cupcakes from Cupcake Stop

Cupcake Stop truck

Cupcake Stop truck

Rookie of the Year Finalists (excluding the winner)

This was the first time the Vendy Awards had a Rookie of the Year category, and it had some of my personal favorite types of food, schnitzel (who won-see my post on the winners) and BBQ.

Picknick Smoked was one of my favorites.  The pulled pork was nice and smoky, and not too drenched in sauce.  They also put cole slaw on the sandwich, which I like.  Their Arnold Palmers (half iced tea and half lemonade) were some of the best thirst quenchers of the day.

Picknick Smoked BBQ

Picknick Smoked BBQ

Picknick Smoked BBQ truck

Picknick Smoked BBQ truck

nyccravings was a nice nosh, with pork and vegetable dumplings, taiwanese pork chops and crispy fried chicken.  I really liked their sweet beijing sauce, too.

nyccravings table

nyccravings table

nyccravings truck

nyccravings truck

I can’t wait until next year.

Sep
28
The Awards

The Vendy Award and The People's Choice Award

I went to the 2009 Vendy Awards on Saturday, and a great time was had by all.  There were 650 tickets sold and 11 Finalists were there in person competing in four categories: 2009 Vendy Award, Grey Poupon People’s Taste Award, Rookie Vendor of the Year and Desserts.

The 2009 Vendy Award winner is the Country Boys/Martinez Taco Truck, which is usually at the Red Hook Ballfields in Brooklyn.  Their pork tacos were awesome, and they had the longest lines of the day.

2009 Vendy Awards Winner - Country Boys-Martinez Taco Truck

2009 Vendy Awards Winner - Country Boys/Martinez Taco Truck

Country Boys' award winning tacos

Country Boys' award winning tacos

The Grey Poupon People’s Taste Award, which everyone who attended got to vote for, was the Biryani Cart, run by Meru Sikder.  He has been at the corner of 46th St and 6th Ave for the past 7 years.  While everything at Biryani Cart was excellent, people seemed to especially love the Kathi Rolls.

Biryani Cart samples

Biryani Cart samples

Biryani Cart

Biryani Cart - People's Choice Award

The Dessert winner was Wafels and Dinges, run by Thomas Degeest from Belgium.  In case you’re wondering Dinges means “stuff”, which refers to the toppings, such as bananas, strawberries, belgian fudge, whipped cream, ice cream, dulce de leche, walnuts, nutella, maple syrup or butter.  Thomas was a very happy man after winning the Dessert category.

Best Desserts - Wafels and Dinges - Thomas Degeest

Best Desserts - Wafels and Dinges - Thomas Degeest

Wafels and Dinges (and Dinges)

Wafels and Dinges (and Dinges)

The Rookie of the Year award went to Schnitzel and Things, a personal favorite of mine.  I Luv Schnitzel!

Schnitzel and Things

Schnitzel from Schnitzel and Things

Schnitzel and Things truck

Schnitzel and Things - Rookie of the Year

All the finalists were great.  See my other post on the rest of the finalists.

Sep
28

El Peluche food truck

El Peluche food truck

As a long time reader of Gourmet Magazine, for their travel articles as well as food, here are their 8 favorite NYC street food vendors.

1. El Peluche

Deep in the heart of Dominican El Alto, almost under the shadows of the rickety elevated 1 train, rain or shine, you’ll find the El Peluche truck. You can get your basic fritura, your chicharrónes, your pasteles—but what you really want is the chimichurri. And no, we don’t mean the Argentinean parsley-garlic sauce, wonderful as it is; a true chimichurri is a Dominican hamburger of coarsely chopped beef served with a tangy mayonnaise-ketchup sauce and plenty of shredded cabbage, tomato, and onion on a soft, pillowy roll. Which might lead some to say that it’s not just in baseball where Dominicans know how to improve on the original. Tenth Ave. and 204th St., Manhattan

2. Hallo Berlin German Food Stand

You’ll find the hot dog, the city’s signature street food, sold on virtually every corner; but for the best wurst, head directly to Rolf Babiel’s “German soul food” cart. Babiel, who immigrated to the United States from East Germany in 1980 and has been selling sausages on the city’s streets ever since, was the winner of the inaugural Vendy awards back in 2005, and his panoply of sausages has a loyal following amongst locals and tourists alike. Lines are so long and lively that the odds are good you’ll end up interviewed by a Japanese television crew or have your flirtations with other queuers immortalized on Twitter while you wait. For the uninitiated, there’s a cheat sheet likening the various selections to cars—we’re particularly fond of the Mercedes (Bratwurst) and Porsche (Berliner Currywurst). Fifth Ave. at 54th St., Manhattan (212-333-2372; halloberlinrestaurant.com

3. BBQ Kebabs

Follow the smoke past the string of fruit and vegetable vendors peddling their wares along the gray curves of the Manhattan Bridge to a humble kebab cart, marked simply BBQ, where skewers of chicken, sweet potato, fish ball, and beef sizzle over hot coals. Skip them—that’s right, skip them all—and go straight for the sweet, juicy lamb kebab, dusted with cumin seed, hot red chile, and the faintest trace of ginger. One taste, and you’ll be transported to Xinjiang, in western China, where lamb preparation is a true art form. And at just $1 a skewer, you can stay transported for a long time indeed. Division St. and Forsyth St., Manhattan

4. Pizzamoto Brooklyn

We knew it was just a matter of time before the foodiest of the five boroughs came up with a mobile wood-fired brick-oven pizzeria. But we could barely have dreamt that the final product would be this good. Given the meticulously sourced ingredients—“00” flour, San Marzano tomatoes, wild Sicilian oregano, and local mozzarella—perhaps we shouldn’t have been so surprised. You’ll wait a minimum of 15 minutes for a classic Margherita, seamlessly rendered down to the basil sprigs, sea salt, and olive oil bedecking the burnished, speckled crust—but it’s worth every salivating second of anticipation. Saturdays at Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene; Sundays at Brooklyn Flea in Dumbo (917-873-4175; pizzamotobklyn.com)

5. Red Hook Lobster Pound

This cart isn’t exactly a one-meal wonder, but it might as well be: We have yet to see a single patron place an order for claws; potato salad and corn on the cob, while decent, are chorus liners whose sole goal is to make the star of the show shine even brighter. And what a star it is, from the soft top-split J.J. Nissen bun, buttered and toasted on the outside for maximum texture, to the sweet lobster salad with chopped celery, minced chives, and the barest hint of homemade mayonnaise. It’s certainly not the cheapest street food we’ve ever eaten, but it just might be the most seductive. Saturdays at Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene; Sundays at Brooklyn Flea in DUMBO (646-326-7650; redhooklobsterpound.com

6. Red Hook Ball Fields Vendors and Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies

A Brooklyn tradition since 1974, the vendors at these green ball fields in rough-and-tumble Red Hook—a number of whom have been there since the very beginning—have seen their stars, and prices, rise steadily over the ensuing decades. Old-timers are known to grumble that the quality has gone down over the years, but that’s nostalgia talking: The tacos, aguas frescas, ceviche, elotes, and pupusas, just to name a few, continue to make these soccer fields a one-stop shop for the greatest pan-Latin feast in the five boroughs. And while you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to sample that most tantalizing of neologisms, the Swingle (a frozen chocolate-covered miniature Key lime pie on a stick) from nearby Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies. Red Hook Ball Fields, near the corner of Bay St. and Clinton St.; Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies, 204 Van Dyke Street (stevesauthentic.com; Twitter: @keylimepie)

7. The King of Falafel & Shawarma

It may seem de trop to head out to a grocery store parking lot in Astoria, Queens when there’s decent falafel to be had all over Manhattan, but this enclave of the city’s most international borough has good reason to be proud of its self-proclaimed royalty. The falafel and shawarma are both excellent, but it’s the chicken sandwich, a robust pita filled with moist chicken and savory nuggets of sour dill and pickled beet in addition to the usual shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, yogurt sauce, and hot sauce, that will have you happily and hungrily reverse-commuting for the foreseeable future. 30th Street and Broadway, Astoria (718-838-8029; thekingfalafel.com; Twitter: @kingfalafel

8. Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

Certain things have a way of walking straight into the Zeitgeist, and this truck, run by perhaps the friendliest street vendor of all time, has done just that. Doug Quint operates a different Mr. Softee truck on every run, supplanting—and subverting—the familiar logos with his own, rainbow-colored ice cream cone (and in the process selling almost as many t-shirts as he does servings of ice cream). But more to the point, he’s managed to liberate soft-serve ice cream from the preconceived limitations of its genre: Try a dusting of wasabi pea dust over vanilla, or a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt on chocolate. And be sure to sample a cartwheel, an ice cream sandwich made à la minute by gently pressing ice cream and the topping of the day (caramelized bacon, anyone?) between two cracker-thin chocolate wafers. Locations vary (biggayicecreamtruck.com; Twitter: @biggayicecream)

Sep
28

More reports of Mister Softee’s violent threats against rival ice cream trucks have surfaced. And this time the target is the infinitely superior ice cream purveyor Van Leeuwen, whose Twitter feed announces, “Truck had to leave midtown 😦 . There were 3 Mr. Softie Trucks threatening our drivers life. Scary stuff! Sorry guys, maybe another time.” Or maybe you just stay off Softee’s turf and your fancy trucks don’t accidentally burst into flames, capisce?

Reached for comment, Benjamin Van Leeuwen tells us that his driver, Travis, was being followed by three Mister Softee trucks as he tried to find a place to park near Lexington and 55th Street. When he pulled over, they surrounded him and “threatened to kill him” if he didn’t leave midtown. Van Leeuwen tells us, “They do that all the time,” but so far this is his company’s first brush with the Mister Softee mafia in midtown. He tells us that Travis considered calling police, but in the past they’ve been “really unhelpful” and reluctant to file a police report, and Travis wanted to get back to work.

Van Leeuwen adds, “It’s too bad that in this densely populated part of Manhattan, where so many people are stuck in boring jobs, they can’t get good ice cream and have to eat that stuff.” “Stuff” is certainly a polite way to describe Mister Softee’s frozen dessert product line. [Via Grub Street]

Mister Softee x 3 vs. Van Leeuwen

Mister Softee x 3 vs. Van Leeuwen

Sep
28
Picknick Smoked truck

Picknick Smoked truck

NY Times gives a nice shout-out to Schnitzel Truck, Bistro Truck, Picknick Smoked, nyccravings and (not so nice to) La Cense Beef.

Still, they are a staple of New York dining. The city’s simmering scene of gastro trucks reached a boil this summer, tapping into the dual desires of New Yorkers to eat well and eat quickly.

A few might be fleeting: the cupcake bakeries of 2009. But let’s hope that Schnitzel & Things, schnitzelandthings.com, locations on twitter.com/SchnitzelTruck, is in it for the long run.

The mustard-yellow truck has roamed the streets of New York since July, communicating by Twitter (sample: “Tomorrow = Friday = time to schnitzelate”). But it’s as serious as any restaurant with chairs.

Schnitzel & Things does one thing and does it well — it is a master of the art of deep-frying. Thick slabs of flaky cod ($9 with two sides) are enveloped in a crisp, light batter and finished with a sprinkle of salt. The pork cutlet ($9 with two sides) arrives in a billowy pillow of breading.

Oddly, veal — the traditional ingredient of Wiener schnitzel — is rarely on the menu. And side dishes are skimpy. Austrian potato salad should be a Tyrolean mound, not a spoon-size serving. Still, Schnitzel & Things provides as satisfying a meal as you’ll eat while leaning against a wall.

The Bistro Truck, bistrotruck.com, locations on twitter.com/bistrotruck, which also started up in July, takes a different approach. It offers a wide variety of Moroccan fare plus a few French classics.

The ambition is impressive, but moules frites make for difficult sidewalk eating.

Easier to handle is the merguez lamb sausage on a roll ($7), served with spicy mayo, cheese and a few fries. It’s a middle-of-the-night sandwich enjoyed midday.

For those who like to sit for lunch, there is Picnick Smoked, Wall Street at South Street, mypicnick.com. Every weekday since August, the barbecue trailer has rolled up to a small park on the eastern end of Wall Street and set up tables covered with checkerboard cloths — a country cookout in the shadow of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive.

The food is almost up to the setting. Both the Kobe brisket ($8.50), which is actually wagyu, and the pulled pork ($6.50) are expertly smoked and served in generous portions on garlicky rolls. But the meat is bland and underseasoned. Flavorful condiments, like pickled vegetables and a relish of raisins, pine nuts and capers, help some.

The desserts save the day.

Created by Will Goldfarb, one of New York’s most exacting pastry chefs, each dessert has an expert touch. The cherry pie ($4) has the flaky crust and pleasant sour bite of a county fair winner. Even the creamy cheesecake ($4) rises above the mundane, a perfect white cylinder flecked with seeds from a vanilla pod.

By the standards of the new wave of food trucks, NYC Cravings, https://sites.google.com/a/nyccravings.com/cravings/ locations on twitter.com/nyccravings, is the old guard — it appeared in May. And it quickly gained a following for its Taiwanese-style fried chicken ($7). A leg and thigh fried without batter, it’s served on rice with “secret pork sauce” and pickled vegetables.

Add a squeeze of sriracha sauce and it becomes a balance of sweet and tart, spicy and salty, crispy and tender. It’s gustatory harmony in a takeout container.

La Cense, lacensebeef.com/truck, locations on twitter.com/LCBBurgerTruck, first appeared in late June to breathless word of mouth and long waits for a grass-fed burger ($7).

Which is all they make. They also offer two sides, cheese (50 cents) and onions (50 cents). When I went they were out of onions.

And the cheeseburger I ordered was bagged and handed over suspiciously quickly. Was it precooked? I can’t say. But the cheese was unmelted, and the beef as dry and tepid as the bun.

Sep
27

This blog is all about New York street food; the best food trucks and food carts in New York City.  Please share your favorites with everyone in the comments section.  I will also post about interesting street food outside New York, too.