Thursday, June 17, 2010

Recent Eats

Last weekend was the 8th Annual Big Apple BBQ Block Party in Madison Square Park. The heat of the day was much more bearable than last year, so this time I decided to brave the line for Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q, which I had read was the place to go for pulled pork.

Twenty minutes later, I forked over $8 for my pulled pork shoulder sandwich and a side of coleslaw. Some have griped that the portions are overpriced, but I thought the serving was ample, especially given that you will often pay about the same or more in any barbecue restaurants in the city. The pork was tender and much better than the pulled pork I got last year. Those lines pay off. The sandwich was served dry, but at the end of the line were rows of Big Bob's classic barbecue sauce and a version with a slight jalapeƱo kick to it. I much prefer adding my own sauce. The spicy one was a winner here. And while I don't typically love coleslaw, this one was a good side, crunchy and slightly sweet.

Dinner took me downtown to Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles on Doyers Street in Chinatown. There are several hand-pulled noodle shops around Chinatown, but this is one that falls farther west in the area. The place is barebones, not quite a hole-in-the-wall, but don't expect atmosphere, unless you consider brusk service and a view into the kitchen your kind of atmosphere. (The view into the kitchen was actually quite fun because we could see a man stretching the dough into noodles.)

We got an order of steamed pork and chive dumplings. They came out wonderfully hot and the meat was tender. Steamed dumplings can lack flavor, but the meat was seasoned well and the dough tasted fresh and handmade.

We ordered pan fried noodles with lamb. Though there are options on the menu for different cuts and sizes of noodles, we weren't asked which we wanted — we just assumed we'd take what we got. Well, what we first got was a plate of pan fried noodles with just vegetables. We puzzled over this for awhile and settled on ignoring it.

We also ordered pan fried noodles with duck. It came out the first time with shrimp but was quickly swapped out. And soon after, a container with a side of lamb came out. They realized their mistake. The dishes were quite the same but for the chosen toppings. The noodles had a great texture — chewy and slightly uneven — and good flavor. But the dishes were a little on the greasy side and the meat a little tough. Perhaps next time I'd go for noodle soup instead.

After dinner, we stopped at the nearby Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. The moment we walked in the door we were asked for our orders as they were on the verge of closing. I tried for my favorite flavor, almond cookie, but it was mostly gone. So we chose a scoop of red velvet chocolate chip and a scoop of red bean and ended up with an all pink cup. The ice cream here is on the icy side, but they have interesting (mostly Asian) flavors and I almost always come here just for the almond cookie. The red velvet was the better of these two, though it was a long way from Shake Shack's version. The red bean was mild, but recognizable if you know what red bean tastes like. But I managed to get dessert after dinner, so I was a satisfied diner.

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