The Cart Outside the Office

I never fail to be amazed by the long lunch hour lines at Magdy’s Philly Cheese Steak Cart. Sometimes I stand off to the side and count the number of people. 15 is about average. All sorts of people. Mostly men. The cart is located just steps from the entrance to the building of the client site I work at. And everyday, I sniff the air around me as I dash out the revolving glass doors, trying to soak in the scent of that salty grease wonder without looking utterly ridiculous.

But last week it rained. Which was a very good thing because it meant that there would be no line at the cart! So I threw on my coat, declared it a wonderful day while thoughts of philly cheese steaks cheerfully danced in my head. I thought I had my order planned out, what else would you get at a philly cheesesteak cart?…till I saw lamb gyro as a menu option! I instantly changed my mind (because I am easily swayed by such whims) and ordered the lamb gyro on a roll.

$4 buys you a seriously humongous sandwich. It’s large, long, and heavy, I kid you not. But the smell, oh dear, the smell which flies as smoke from the dark grease ladened griddle is wonderful. I could just sit and sniff all day. But then of course I’d get hungry.

Monch, monch, so delicious!

The ‘gyro’ is fried as two long rectangular pieces, the chopped up and layered into the spongy hero (which does a particularly excellent job at soaking up the pungent savoury grease), along with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, a white sauce, and a red sauce! The guy asked me if I wanted white or red. I didn’t know which one I wanted, so I asked for both. It never hurts to ask. I took the sandwich back up to our audit room, unravelled the roll of foil, and thought, “there’s no way I can finish this.” I looked up and said this out loud to Dmitriy who sat next to me. “Oh really?” he says. And whaddayouknow. Ten minutes later, I’ve demolished the whole thing. Never underestimate the power of a female on a rainy day.

Hope you had an awesome Wednesday!
Read Zach’s review on Magdy’s here!

Magdy’s Philly Cheese Steak Cart
NE Corner of 46th & Park
He’s even there when it rains :)

Chow Funn, Yes, Please!

(note: my new client is located in midtown, so I’ll be doing plenty of midtown lunching for the new few months! :)

Lunch today was, plainly put, awesome! It was greasy too. But so good, it doesn’t even matter. While at the client site this morning, an unexpected pang of homesickness hit as I browsed through local food blogs. Most of my friends have returned home to Hawaii for winter break, home to dreams of butter mochi, malassadas, and loco mocos. This is the first year I won’t be in Hawaii for Christmas and New Years, which will be strange I suppose, but exciting nonetheless. It was not the sun and beach I missed, it was local food. More specifically, Kaimuki Chop Suey’s beef broccoli chow funn.

I tried to stay focused on work, validating fund lots, but my mind constantly wandered. It was not meant to stay put in accounting! So at 1pm, I stood up and announced to no one in particular, “I gotta get some noodles!” I walked out the corner of 46th & Park, having no clue where to go. But a few turns here and there and soon I passed Menchanko-Tei. However, today was not the day for ramen. No it was not. I wanted funnnn. I needed funn. Fried. A few doors down I peered into the windows of a restaurant called Hop Won.

There was a long, but quickly moving line of midday lunchers, eager for a fix of Chinese fast food. Perfect. I dashed in without hesitation, placed an order for char siu chow funn (sadly beef broccoli chow funn was not an option) – I even exercised an opportunity to flex my Cantonese speaking abilities! The order was ready in two minutes flat, and I dove down and demolished that plastic box of filled with steaming noodles. Slippery and shoyu-laced with onions, bean sprouts, and plenty of chair siu and snow peas. It was lovely. Not quite like Kaimuki Chop Suey – no one does chow funn the way they do, but it was perfect for the moment.

I’ll be back next time the craving hits!

Hop Won
139 E. 45th St
NY, NY 10017
(212) 661-4280

Via My Mom

Roast Pig? Look Again…

I opened up my Gmail to find a letter from mom.
Subject line: It’s not roast pig…

My Goodness!

…and indeed it was not. She had but three words, “it’s roast dog!” The photo was taken by her friend who just returned from a trip to Hanoi. Ahhhh, what a way to start off the week.

Sunday, Once More

12/17/07, Sunday Morning, Outside My Front Door

The best day of the week is, without second thought, Sunday. It is the most luxurious day, the most restful, and certainly, a very delicious day. On Sundays, I turn my phone off to silent, I wander the city alone, eat what catches my fancy, and recharge for the upcoming week.

Cause you see, it matters not how hectic the previous week. Despite how lazy the Friday or how disappointing the Saturday, I can always count on Sunday to mend the world back whole.

Friday night was an absolute do nothing sort of evening. Saturday afternoon was productive – Christmas shopping, Greenmarket shopping, and errands of every sort imaginable. Saturday night called for a night out with Diana and Patty at Tiny’s followed by dessert at Sugar Sweet Sunshine. On average, I probably have dinner at Tiny’s twice a week. Aside from the fact that the restaurant is less than a minute walk away from the apartment, the prices are good, and the sandwiches are even better. I’ll go through rotations where I just want one type of sandwich over and over again. I do this till I get bored, and then move on to another sandwich combination. My latest fix is the veggie meatball on a crusty semolina roll with pesto, carrots, cucumbers, and sprouts. At the price of $3.75, which includes a handful of chips, this is even cheaper than Chinatown!

Sammies packed in the tummies, we flew out into the cold and across the street to Sugar Sweet Sunshine. The burst of sweet baked goods filled the air, and in due time we each lay claim to our dessert of choice. Amidst bites of Patty’s pistachio cupcake, Diana’s banana pudding and my butterscotch brownie we talked about things that are blog-inappropriate, and for good reason. Sugar Sweet Sunshine is the perfect hang out nook, everyone finds a dessert that fits the mood, the couches are big and inviting, the inside warm, and the rainbow case of cupcakes calls for many smiles. The brownie exceeded expectations, wonderfully caramely, moist through the corner cut, a light crust, more soft than flaky and studded with butterscotch chips. We parted ways around 10pm, minutes before the Manhattan streets lay victim to a strange combination of rain and snow.

Later Saturday night in the West Village was a bust. I will not go further into that. I finally went to sleep around 4am. It was a sleep of the restless sort, caused by letdowns beyond my control. Such evenings are rare. Thank goodness.

I woke up at noon this morning, remnants of the evening past still tugging my mind. But it was Sunday, so everything would be alright. You can always count on people and circumstances to let you down. But Sundays – “cave” days, are just divine.

Blue Ribbon Bakery Market: Inside. How Cozy!

The day started with a toasted slice of pullman’s bread from Blue Ribbon Bakery Market. Robyn recommended this bread to me a few weeks back over dinner at the actual Blue Ribbon Bakery restaurant (will be posted soon! :)

Blue Ribbon Bakery Market: Pullman’s Loaf

It’s an exceptional loaf of bread, with a hearty golden crust and solid crumb that stands well to my somewhat over zealous smears of butters and marmalades. In the mornings I like my thick cut slices on the extra toasty side with a slather of butter and sprinkle of raw sugar. I picked up around the apartment, and then set off on the windy day for objective-less wanderings around the Village. Walks without purpose, other than a vague end goal of something delicious, are walks of my favourite sort. Sundays are meant for minimal human interaction. It’s the only day of the week I can truly keep for myself and recollect my thoughts. And organize my life. I tend to do that a lot.

The afternoon lead me up the East Village, across Union Square with a bit of dog watching in the park and book browsing at Strand. Soon I found myself just steps away from Joe the Art of Coffee on 13th Street. So I turned in. Why not?

A warm cappuccino, and a seat perfect for day dreaming and people watching. I marvelled over the little ‘heart’ for a minute or so – it’s something to appreciate, and pulled out a copy of the Sunday New York Times. It’s the real estate section of the paper I like best (aside from Wednesday’s food section :) Raised with parents who both work full time in real estate, I can’t help but be curious. When I walk past the West Village brownstones late at night, I pause in front of lit homes, taking a peek at the interior through tall glass windows. Other people’s lives. Or what I take them to be. Is fascinating.

The traffic this tiny coffee shop commands is bewildering. Never did I witness a calm moment during my two-hour stay. People bustling in and out, coffee, mocha, hot chocolate in hand. At one point I thought, “bah. So many NYU students.” And then I realized I was once one myself. Only for a year though! Bwhahaha. In the bakery case, sticky buns tempted alongside slices of almond brioche, carrot cupcakes, maple walnut muffins and strawberry donuts. A sight for any eyes.

However it was the homely apple muffin that called my attention. It lacked the crunch of a crusty exterior, but the cinnamon spiced innards, with tender chunks of apples, moist raisins that literally popped in your mouth, and not chopped or halved, but whole walnuts, more than compensated. The world needs more muffins like this.

12/17/07, Sunday Afternoon, East Village

As the afternoon turned dark, I decided to walk home from Joe’s, despite the rain. It was quite a nice walk. The streets were not too crowded, as I imagine everyone must be hidden home on this dreary day.

Along 3rd Avenue, I conveniently passed East Village Cheese and decided to wander in for a look-see. The only thing that could make a Sunday more lovely is cheese. And butter.
The place was crowded, as usual. It is not hard to imagine why. With a wide selection and some of the lowest prices in this city, one always walks out of this place feeling like you’ve scored a bargain.

A bit of pondering, a lot of drooling, and soon I had made my selection: a block of French butter, and a wedge of double creme brie. The total cost? $3.99. Such a steal!

So now as I write, the butter just a few inches away from the computer and the brie begging for a nibble, I’ve just decided tomorrow’s breakfast: a slice of Blue Ribbon Bakery’s Pullman loaf, extra butter. Extra toasty. Like today’s breakfast, only with better butter.

Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop
127 Rivington St
NY, NY 10002
(212) 982-1690

Sugar Sweet Sunshine
126 Rivington St
NY, NY 10002
(212) 995-1960

Blue Ribbon Bakery Market
14 Bedford Street
NY, NY 10014
(212) 647.0408

Joe the Art of Coffee
9 East 13th Street
NY, NY, 10002
(212) 924-7400

East Village Cheese
40 3rd Ave
NY, NY 10003
(212) 228-1578

Friday Night Lazies

Drained from the week, Friday night calls for a peanut butter cookie from Cake Shop just down the street. A huge and soft floppy creature more akin to cake than cookie, it’s quite divine on the cool evening. Far from sweet with a salty touch, all you need is a cup of milk for company. Fork required.

Oh. And yes. I also ate real food this evening. Silly me. Almost forgot to tell you about that! From Super Taste in Chinatown, a $4 bowl of hand pulled noodles swimming in a broth alongside beef and bok choy. I personally prefer a bowl of wonton mein or hooh funn in a curry broth when it comes to noodle soups (if you have not gone to Boky on Bayard St, please do so now :) The hype over ‘hand-pulled’ noodles is baffling. I like the toothsome bite of mein and the sensual and slippery luxury of funn. These hand pulled creatures hover in-between, often textureless without integrity. The heap of stringy beef slung over the top also doesn’t help much.

Cake Shop
152 Ludlow St.
NY, NY 10002
(212) 253-0036

Super Taste Restaurant
26 Eldridge St.
NY, NY 10002