May 3, 2006
Flushing, cheap dumplings, ice cream, and Brooklyn fooding
[Firstly, I must thank you all for your feedback on the posters in the last entry, whether you commented here or on flickr. I didn't expect that much feedback! YOU ARE ALL TOO AWESOME. I must admit, I feel like my head is going to explode if I try to incorporate all the suggestions, but my partner is much more organized than I am so perhaps she'll have some ideas. She came up the the apple idea, actually. As for what I did, I'm not sure. I took photos of the apples? And tried to photoshop it together? Damn. (shakes head)]
School is almost over, right? Riiiight? Right.
Food studies isn't the most intellectually taxing program, nor does it involve much work, but my study habits have slipped terribly. Like trying to climb out of a vat of vaseline...or something. Ewwww. Right now I'm at the end of my junior year of college and when I think back to how hard I worked in middle school and high school I think, "...My god, what happened since then? That crap wasn't important! WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!"
Updating my blog, that's what.
On Saturday morning after a night of very little sleep (not that we had a crazy Friday night, but I'll get to that in another entry), Tristan and I went to Flushing to check out its Chinatown. A million people (or less) told me that I had to eat in Flushing at some point, but I was always too lazy to go. We found out that the subway ride is about an hour, which isn't that bad (once I spent way too long on a subway trying to get to Brooklyn because I took the wrong one and backtracked when I really should've kept going forward...anyhoo, you learn from your mistakes; don't go to Brooklyn), not that I'd want to make the commute every morning. During our hour of being half-awake on the subway, we...I don't know. We were half awake. We probably poked each other repeatedly and gave each other weird stares. That, my dear readers, is what true friendship is about.
Even though the main reason for ME to visit Flushing is to eat, we weren't hungry and hence did not participate in any eating.
Well, not real eating at least. This ginormous bowl of noodles looked pretty tasty. Alas, it was only a 2D photo. [sob]
As we roamed around, I took photos of almost every bakery I could find. We didn't walk around a very large area, but I counted 18 bakeries (mix of Chinese and Korean). 18. I still don't understand the Asian obsession with bakeries, but ...hell, it's cool with me. My mum is in Taiwan right now and she emailed me to let me know that she ate some freakin' amazing bread. She said she'll bring some back and freeze it. Heehee.
After the aimless Flushing roam-age, we subway-ed back to the Manhattan Chinatown to grab lunch at Fried Dumpling on Allen Street, my favorite of all the 5/$1 cheapo fried dumpling places in Chinatown. I don't know why it's my favorite (I've been to four other places), but I like the location and the "slightly dingy but not too dingy" aesthetic quality of it.
My "unlikely to be recommended by any doctors" lunch consisted of five pork and chive fried dumplings and two vegetable egg rolls accompanied by a honeydew shake. I was never aware that Fried Dumpling also made shakes and bubble teas until I found myself staring at the menu by the register. Hmmm. Cheap shake? I'LL EAT IT.
And I did. Um. It wasn't bad for about $2, but I can't say it wins over any other shake I've had. I'm not sure what the exact ingredients were, but I saw the woman behind the counter dump a lot of white powder into the blender along with ice and other things (like whatever is giving the green color). The white powder left a chalky aftertaste on my mouth lining. Maybe it was chalk! Heehee!...
Okay, I doubt it. I drank about half of it until I started sucking up the little "fruit" bits that had been suspended on top of the shake (Tristan got a different melon drink and the fruit bits sank), at which time I found that I wasn't fond of swallowing little "fruit" bits whole that would enter my stomach after skipping the mastication process. Since Tristan is like my fun little puppy of joy (well, a six foot tall puppy) that I can feed random things to, he happily consumed the rest of my shake.
Oh, the dumplings. They were really good. We had to wait for a fresh batch, which is definitely yummier than dumplings that are left to sit out for a while. These dumplings resemble Japanese gyoza more than the thick, blob-looking dumplings that I'm used to eating (such as the kind you can get at Sun Dou Dumpling Shop). Juicy, ground pork of questionable origins mixed with chopped chives is wrapped in a thin dumpling skin and fried perhaps 30 or more at a time on a griddle before being presented to you on a styrofoam plate in all its crispy, golden goodness.
Tristan went for ten. I could eat more than ten.
...But I didn't. I was totally stuffed from the two egg rolls and five dumplings. I think two egg rolls happen to be more filling than five dumplings, so I probably ate more than Tristan.
The night before, Patty had said she wanted to go to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. Hell, we had just eaten a bunch of fried food...HOW MUCH MORE HARM COULD WE DO?
So naturally, we went (and it was Patty's first meal of the day—woohoo, I destroy people's health!). I've been to CIF at least three times before, but it must've been a while since my last visit since I noticed they had gotten a new interior. The walls went from grimy yellow to white and clean. I feel like it lost a bit of personality, but I guess it's good to update every now and then. I also noticed that they updated their prices by 25 cents (one scoop is $3 now). Harhar! Har.
I wanted avocado, but they ran out. Doh! Taro is a favorite flavor of mine, but I recall thinking that their taro wasn't nearly taro-y enough.
I went with black sesame, which is one of my favorite flavors at Il Laboratorio del Gelato. Even though Il Lab is my favorite place for ice cream, CIF's black sesame was awesome. There was a lot of black sesame flavor and little chewy bits of black sesame all throughout the ice cream. Mmmmm. The texture wasn't my favorite (I like denser ice cream), but it was good and something I'd eat again.
I was the only lame-o who didn't get an edible container. I mean...I could've eaten the paper cup, but that would've been weird. By the way, those mounds of ice cream count as one scoop. Mmmm-hm! One day perhaps I will try TWO SCOOPS and then keel over in pains of ice cream overdose.
Even though I could seamlessly tie this entry together and pretend that no time has passed whatsoever since I wrote the last bit, about 24 hours HAVE passed. I cannot ignore this. ...Okay, I can. But I won't. Sometimes when writing emails I'll actually type out my agonizingly slow thought processes along the lines of, "....uhh....huuh...what...." while knowing the whole time that I could delete that crap and write something fluid.
BUT I AM NOT FLUID! More like rocky and dumb. Or whatever the opposite of fluid is.
Actually, not a lot has happened in the past 24 hours. I took my group voice class final, meaning for the second time in my life I had to sing in front of a group of people and that this performance was necessitated by the need to not fail school. The first time in freshman year, I chose to write a song for Japanese class on my own free will and I had to sing it it while playing my guitar. Yesterday, by the luck of the draw (we had to memorize five songs and sing a random one), I sang "O Del Mio Dolce". Will I ever sing in English? NO. NO MORE SINGING.
...Actually, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. It still sucked, but I'm absolutely terrified of singing or performing in front of people by myself, so it was an accomplishment for me. I won't even sing in front of really good friends.
After my final, I went to Bouchon Bakery to visit Sarah on her last day of work. Aw. The Thomas Keller love affair is over. I bought some treats for a friend and a little cake for meself, which I shall report on later. I realized that I needed some food for dinner and that Whole Foods was conveniently just a few floors down. What did I buy? A MINI BAGUETTE AND A BOX-O-SPROUTS. Yup, that's it. I spent about $3 and went on my merry way with a bag of baked goods and ...sprouts.
I don't know why, but I really like sprouts, a penchant I discovered in my senior year of high school when I started eating more healthily. When I got back to my dorm I took chunks of the stuff and shoved them in my mouth. Mmm, tastes like fresh baaaabies—in seedling form. I ultimately used most of the sprouts to make a sardine, cheese and sprout sandwich with my baguette. Weird combination? Perhaps. I also have a random love of sardines, which are definitely my favorite canned food. Sardine burps are pretty bad, but it sure tastes good goin' down.
Anyhoo. BACK TO SATURDAY!
After roaming around Union Square, Tristan and I went to Brooklyn to eat with his friend Thea. Sadly, despite its proximity to my dorm I had never been to Carroll Gardens before, which is horrible because IT IS FULL OF ALL KINDS OF FOOD! We ended up at a Middle Eastern restaurant called Zaytoons, but there was a Peruvian place down Smith Street that looked good too. I guess I'll have to return later.
The restaurant is on the small side, but still comfortable to sit in. The ambiance is comfortable and not too dark or bright. Something I noticed was that the ceiling was covered in small, embossed metal plates, which Thea said was a feature of many of the buildings in the area.
I ordered the merguez platter, which featured "spiced Lamb suasage with onion, parsley, garlic and seasonings" on top of rice with a side salad and hummus with a pool of olive oil. All this was only $9.50. Lordy. I ate all of it. ALL OF IT. The sausage was very flavorful with ...um, the aforementioned seasonings, the rice was light and chewy (I don't know if that even makes sense, but whatever), hummus was smooth and creamy, the salad didn't suck, annnd so on. My only complaint is that the sausage may have been too seasoned, as I could taste its ghost rising out of my digestive system every time I burped, but it was still delicious.
Tristan ordered kibbeh ($10), a "Lebanese-style spiced ground mixture of beef, lamb and bulgur wheat" that we noticed also had pine nuts. I think I actually liked this more than my dish since it wasn't as heavily spiced as the lamb sausage. Thumbs up for the ginormous egg-shaped meat blobs!
Thea's appetizer platter ($8) contained...a lot of stuff. Looks like theres tabouleh, hummus, falafel, garden salad, and grape leaves. I think she ate it all. MORE THUMBS UP!
Even though we were stuffed, Tristan and I got desserts. I only tried a bit of the milk pudding with orange blossom water and pistachio, but it had this...flavor essense. Do you ever eat something and feel like it doesn't have a taste as much as an scent that pleasantly fills your nasal passages (yes, I know that smell and taste are related, but....just work with me here)? This was kind of like that. I guess it was the orange blossom water.
I originally had my eye on the pudding, but since I didn't want to get the same thing as Tristan I went for the chunk of baklava. Warm, sweet, flaky layers of filo dough atop mashered walnuts that aren't overly sugared/syruped to death equals yummy baklava.
If you keep in mind that Tristan and I probably ate the same amount of food (except that he drank 10 times as much water as I did) and that he's a guy who's a foot taller than I am, something seems terribly wrong with that. I mean, something seems terribly wrong with me and my stomach. Right? RIGHT? It doesn't compute.
And lastly, the moment a surprisingly large number of you have been waiting for: EGG CUSTARD TART TASTING! Later that night I re-baked a few of the tarts I bought the day before from Egg Custard King Cafe and forced others (Tristan, Nathan, and my roommate Ashley) to eat/suffer with me. For everyone who's wondering what the honeydew ones taste like, they do not taste like fluorescent green chemicals or ...Soylent... indeed, they kind of taste like honeydew. Ish. I'm not a big fan of honeydew flavor except in Japanese melon pan (and even that is far from my favorite), so I can't say I'd get this again. The almond tart reminded me of Chinese almond jello in taste and consistency; it didn't seem as creamy as a regular egg tart (nor did the honeydew). Once again, it was alright, just not my favorite. Original is still the winner for me, preferably fresh from the oven and jiggling with "it's probably gonna burn the skin off the roof of your mouth" doom. But it's so worth it.
I still have to write the entry for last Friday, but until then, check out these sites:
- The Hungry Cabbie: THIS IS AWESOME! I know because I actually spent a good amount of time reading the entries and not just staring at photos.
- Kawaii Not: Pancake Orgy: THIS IS ALSO AWESOME! Look at those cute pancakes!...doin' stuff.
Posted by roboppy at 1:34 PM
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