WARNING: I am smooshing three days of eating into one entry, from the not-so-recent to the most recent. This might be long and photo-heavy. Or just photo-heavy, which probably won't bother anyone.
Do not adjust your monitor; these egg custard tarts are glowing with a green color only found in rejected plastic toys, rejected beacuse the coloring was found to cause cancer in small children and lab rats.
I went to Egg Custard King Cafe with JJ, a fellow food blog reader (obviously taking one for the team by stepping out of the online realm into the real world to get the FULL ROBOPPY EXPERIENCE, HEAD ON, OUCH, PAIN) with much knowledge of Chinese food. She informed me that ECK served Hong Kong diner food. HK diner food? Wuh-zuh? Unfortunately, my limited knowledge of Chinese food has resulted in lack of HK diner food knowledge. I also never got to visit HK, which is something I should've done when I lived in Taiwan. (Instead, I went to Japan four times...not such a bad choice. Bwahaha. Don't ask me what I ate though, as I don't remember.)
But Egg Custard King Cafe isn't known for just serving HK diner food. GUESS WHAT IT'S KNOWN FOR. GUESSS...
I need to ask tougher questions.
I was informed that the entree I wanted, meat cake and salted fish on rice in a clay pot (not the exact name, but close enough; not like it was called "Slippery Golden Unicorn Treasure on Fragrant Pearly Grain Mountain"), would take half an hour to prepare. What would JJ and I do in the meantime?
We started with two warm, fresh egg custard tarts, which were quickly devoured in all their wobbly-soft, creamy, flaky crust-encapsulated goodness. Egg custard tarts are definitely one of China's best contributions to the culinary world. Actually, a gazillion other food-related things from China would have to rate higher in importance to global culinary development than egg custard tarts, but this stuff is pretty damn good and at the very least is one of the best (or maybe THE best) Chinese dessert. If you've never had one, then...holy shit, stop reading this and GET SOME EGG CUSTARD TARTS. If possible.
Oh ho ho, of course we weren't content with just one type of egg custard tart. JJ spied two lone Portuguese tarts in the bakery case and before I knew it, she said something in non-English (I mean, Cantonese) and these two babies appeared before us. Sweet! As for what a Portugese egg custard tart is, Wikipedia says "it was a traditional Hong Kong-style egg tart, topped with a layer of syrup or granulated sugar, then baked in the oven to caramelize the sugar." My impression was also that the crust was different, but it was hard to compare to the other one since even if had been the same type, the temperature would result in a different texture. Conclusion: it was good, although warm egg custard tarts automatically win over non-warm.
Some parents worry that their kids are partying, drinking, or dealing crack. My parents probably worry that I eat too much. And here I am, eating too much. I'm not too proud of it, but at least I'm happy...an emotion that will change when I explode and die.
JJ got this dish of stuff with rice. That is not the real name, unless this restaurant has a really hard time naming dishes (menu writer went on break). It was supposed to be sweet and sour, but she felt it was too sour, which offset the balance of...stuff...okay, perhaps she'll fill me in on what it was because my memory is crap. I tried a bit and thought it was kind of sour, but I wouldn't have known if it was a good or bad rendition of the dish since I had never eaten it before.
Update (3/29/06): JJ's comment:
Hey, just wanted to clarify what I ate at ECTK - that dish was beef with sour cabbage. But it wasn't what I expected. There was little gravy (a must have in an "on rice" dish) and the sour cabbage wasn't soaked long enough to remove a good bit of the residual bitterness. Overall, it was OK but it wasn't WOW like Robyn's dish. Which I wish I ordered. Spread the joy of the egg tart around! They have the best egg tarts in all of NYC. The ones at Fai Da are just yellow jelly in a Crisco like crust. BLEAH!
While looking at the extensive menu, one item popped out at me: "meat cake". Yes. Cake of meat. Oh, but the fun didn't stop there; the dish also included salted fish. And rice. In a pot. I figured meat cake would be like fish cake, but not made of fish, and salted fish...I've actually never had it before. JJ warned me that it could be offensive to uninitiated taste buds, but dammit, I'M SEMI-ADVENTUROUS, assuming that the food in question isn't alive or of insect origins. My pallid cakey meat and salty fish came in this cute little clay pot, topped with what I think is shredded ginger.
The meat—it glistens. Just thought you'd like to know.
JJ suggested that I mix the meat and rice together to lessen the intensity of the fish taste and evenly distribute all the meaty juices. MOST AWESOME IDEA EVER? Yes. This is a completely useless description, but this dish was ...pretty delicious. I'd want to eat it again. Why? I don't know. Apparently I like ground up meat caked together in a funky uniform patty and salty fermented fish when smashed into little pieces and evenly distributed in rice.
One of the best things about rice in a clay pot is the presence of crunchy rice bits created from the wrath of the hot burnin' pot interior. Mm, mm! I wouldn't want to eat a whole bowl of crunchy rice bits, but they provide a nice textural contrast to the non-crunchy rice bits.
You're not surprised that I ate the whole thing, right? Right. The pot wasn't actually that large (really!), so it wasn't hard to polish off.
Oh, my dish was $4.95. Sweet. Egg Custard King Cafe is only about a 10 to 15 minute walk from my dorm, so I imagine it'd be a good, uber-cheap place for fellow NYU students to go to if they're not afraid to try something new. Even better if they like meat cake and salted fish, HAR HAR. The menu is pretty big, so I would think that anyone can find something they like.
Many thanks to JJ for accompanying me to dinner and strolling around Chinatown! Her knowledge of Chinese food beats mine by about five gajillion percent to the hundredth power.
And that was Monday night. Moving on...
While walking from my last anthropology recitation (woohoo!) to my workplace (...woo?), I craved sammich. What do you do when the sammich craving hits? YOU FIND SAMMICH PURVEYOR. I walked down 6th Avenue, vaguely recalling a deli...somewhere...
I never noticed Six & Twelve before seeing it on menupages. And that is why I love menupages; it has greatly increase my sammich-hunting prowess, (along with my girth, which is more of a downside). Six & Twelve also has freshly made dumplings and sushi, in case sandwiches aren't your thing. The dumplings looked pretty tempting; I may have to try them next time.
For a out $6 I got a sandwich with mozzarella, tomato, basil, roasted red peppers, and balsamic vinegar dressing on ciabatta bread. PRETTY FREAKIN' AWESOME. I felt like I ate Italy; later I felt like I burped Italy. This sandwich lasted lunch and dinner, as I was stuck in the computer lab until 10:30 PM working on a crappy anthrpology paper. My sandwich lay in the depths of my backpack, probably getting colonized with bacteria in the process. Of course, it was still good when I ate it at 11 PM and hey, I'm still alive! STILLL ALLIIIVEEE. Once again, I have evaded food poisoning.
In between eating the two sandwich halves, I went to Think Coffee (on Mercer Street between 3rd and 4th streets) to work on a food science and technology group presentation with my partners. I couldn't believe I never noticed this place before, but I figure it's pretty new and that I'm not just blind.
This coffeehouse is one of the largest I've ever seen (with plenty of seating and space, even outlets for laptops) and is thankfully open until midnight for all those times that I'm lingering around campus around midnight...which is almost never, but it's nice to know this hang out option exists. They've got lots of drinks (no, really?), which admittedly I'm not very interested in, being of the non-caffeinated population. So what did I get?
Cream cheese brownie? THUMBS UP. There was absolutely nothing objectionable about this moist, not too dense nor sweet cream cheese-swirled chocolate block. They also had a selection of cakes, biscotti, and cookies. Perhaps I will try those next time? PERHAPS YES.
And that was Tuesday. It was quite solitary.
Sarah is the most foodie-minded person I know that I eat with on a semi-regular basis. She's pretty much up for anything, as long as it doesn't suck. She informed me that she'd be free on Wednesday night for fooding. Ohh, but where shall we go?
Sarah: Wanna go to Blue Ribbon Bakery?
Me: WHO WOULDN'T?!
We've both been there before. Anything that garners repeat visits is good stuff. So good that the wait at 8 PM on a Wednesday night for a party of two is 45 minutes. Goddammit. (We probably should've predicted that, but we're not very familiar with eating out late, or at least I'm not.)
Sarah: Wanna go to Otto?
Me: GELATOOO? (Translation: "Yes.")
Alas, Otto is as hot as Blue Ribbon Bakery and also requires a 45 minute wait for the chance to stuff ourselves with gelato and whatever else it is they sell (like, pizza or something). We should've worn signs that said, "REJECTED".
Wandering around the West Village, bemused that we, as obsessively food minded people, couldn't figure out where to eat in the WEST VILLAGE (it explodes with eateries, if you don't know), we finally went with the reliable favorite: Doma. It's a cozy cafe where 50% of the customers come bearing Apple laptops to make us PC users feel inferior. And the food is awesome.
Guess what I got? Come onnn, guessss.
Nope, not duck butts!
SAMMICH! DELICIOUS SAMMICH! OH YEAH. I've tried two of the sandwiches so far and I just had a basil and mozzerella sandwich the day before, so on Sarah's recommendation I went with the smoked turkey and gouda panino. Sarah knows her stuff. Follow the wisdom of her tastebuds and you will be happy.
From top to bottom we've got uber-tasty Balthazar bread, lettuce, sliced smoked turkey, gouda, herbed mayo, and even more uber-tasty Balthazar bread. This bread...(shakes head)...folks, this bread is amazing. So amazing that I just called you guys "folks", which is kinda weird.
So. What is up with this bread? The outer crust is like a micron-thick crispy carb shell protecting the soft, not jaw-achingly chewy innards. ...Not that it's really protecting it since the bread ends up being chewed by your teeth and broken down by your stomach acids in the long run, but just go with my description. The downside to this crispy crust is that biting into it causes crust shards to fly out of your mouth and onto your about-to-be-crust-shard-covered table, but hey, that could just be my messy eating habits..
Besides the bread, the rest of the sandwich was great. As someone who doesn't usually go for cold, sliced meats, this was some juicy, flavorful cold, sliced meat. Also, the herbed mayo was favored by..my tastebuds. Why? Well, think of how regular non-herbed mayo makes things taste awesome (the tastiness being inversely proportional to the level of healthiness, which you probably know is not so great), and then add a couple more points to that if you like the taste of fresh herbs. Result? LOTS OF TASTY POINTS. Or something.
We finished our meal with a slice of carrot cake. For whatever reason, I liked that the frosting was in between the two layers instead of on top. Also, the frosting was much better than other carrot cake frostings I've eaten (which tend to ruin the cake part for me); light, not too sweet, and goes down smoooothly. The cake was also un-crappy with its high moisture content and copious shredded carrot bits. Whoever invented carrot cake belongs on my list of awesome people—what were they thinking?
"This crunchy root vegetable would go really well with this cake recipe."
It sure does.
We contemplated getting another dessert, but decided that we had eaten enough. At Doma.
Sarah: Wanna go to Rocco?
Me: [eyes widen] Uhhh OKAY! (Yup, this is pretty much what it's like to communicate with me in real life.)
No, this isn't everything we ate, or else we'd be in a hospital now getting our stomachs pumped. That peanut butter Reeses Pieces tart looked like it was about to explode. Intriguing, probably tasty, but also a bit scary.
However, I did eat this $2 chocolate dipped chocolate chip cookie. I honestly don't know how to describe this cookie besides that it's not like the crispy, chewy, flat chocolate chip cookies I'm used to. This cookie was tender, crumbly, soft, short-bready without the uber-buttery-ness...oh, I guess I did describe it. Oops. Did you get anything out of that? Hm. Well. I liked this cookie, not so much that I'd dream about it, but it was a pleasant second dessert that I not-so-elegantly stuffed into my mouth as the A train pulled into the station. The cookie had a faint taste of something lemony that I couldn't place. It might be common in Italian desserts; let me know if you have any idea what I'm talking about. I'm sadly very ignorant of Italian desserts—the quintessential Italian dessert for me growing up was tartufo. Which probably isn't that quintessential.
You have reached the end. As have I. Thank. God.