Foodcation: NYC Part III

1 Jul

Halal Chicken & Rice cart, 6th Ave. & 53rd St., Theater District

So my friends Kenny and Dorothy both RAVED about this infamous chicken and rice cart that has generated a cult following, as evidenced by the absurdly long line winding down the corner of 53rd and 6th. You know you’re at the right spot when you see the guys in yellow t-shirts, handing out platters in yellow bags with red logos. It really is all about that white sauce, whatever the hell is in it. It’s creamy, almost like a runnier sour cream but with much more flavor. I went for both the chicken and lamb, which were a tad dry for my tastes but the sauce offset that. It’s a perfect post-drinking-binge meal, but even for completely sober folks like we were, the chicken & rice & white sauce was a filling and cheap ($7!) option for a late dinner.

A platter that matters

Katz’s Deli, 205 E. Houston St., Lower East Side

I don’t think I need to say much about this spot – it’s world-renowned, been visited by famous chefs, hungry foodies, and locals alike, and has lasted for generations. I’ll admit I was a little intimidated here because it’s been featured on TV so many times. But folks here are friendly and greet their regulars like family. They always give patrons a small slice of whatever meat you’re about to chow on, which only teased me of the big flavors of the Reuben Combo that I shared with my friend Jen. The sandwich was thick, completely hearty, and salty of course because of the layers of meats and sauerkraut. But what else do you expect from a quality Reuben? I love the tang of Thousand Island dressing in sandwiches (strangely enough, not in salads though) so this hit the spot. I also shared a macaroni salad with all my companions, which was very creamy and had that rich, mayo-infused taste. There’s only so much you can do with macaroni salad; this was on-par with the best ones I’ve had. But really, if you want a sandwich that’ll break your jaw and hike up your blood pressure, go to Katz’s.

Practically a picnic on our table

Dessert Truck Works (@desserttruck), 6 Clinton St., Lower East Side

I’m honestly not sure how you can put down a café that sells only desserts – high quality, belongs-in-a-five-star-restaurant desserts. Can you tell I loved this place? Even after the towering sandwich I ate at Katz, I made room for one of DTW’s warm chocolate bread puddings, which is famous for winning a Throwdown with Bobby Flay. No wonder: the bread was thick but saturated with warm, gooey chocolate, enhanced by a twinge of bacon flavor that comes in the bacon custard sauce (you can also get a vanilla sauce instead). It was expectedly rich and filling, despite being a small portion. I actually prefer small dessert portions, because really, dessert is not good for you, and the mammoth servings of brownie sundaes and chocolate cakes that chains like TGIFriday’s offer pack a week’s worth of calories and always leave you feeling like you can’t move. I was stuffed after DTW, but I could still walk myself to the subway.

There's chocolate beneath all that sauce and ice cream...

My companions all ordered different desserts and we sampled each others’. Jen got the Molten chocolate cake with an olive oil ganache center, pistachios, and vanilla ice cream. I could definitely taste the olive oil but it wasn’t jarring or overpowering with the ooze of chocolate from the cake. It was fruity enough to provide a slightly tart complement to all the sugar in the cake.

The donut has a vanilla bellybutton!

Dorothy and Angie shared warm brioche donut holes and crème brulee– the donuts were so warm and sugary, the bread perfectly baked, and the shot of nutella in the middle just gave the sweetness more punch. If you’re going to get a donut, get one covered in sugar and filled with nutella. I mean, come on.  The crème brulee was delicious, perfectly toasted and caramelized on top, creamy below. I think for a place that specializes in unique desserts, offering a classic was a good move.

How perfect does that look??

What stole the show was actually the goat cheese cheesecake. It was tart from the goat cheese but didn’t lose its sweetness, thanks to a shallow pool of sugary rosemary caramel. The rosemary was very subtle, but that’s probably a good thing since I don’t want to taste herbs in my cheesecake. Topped with blackberries and a little crunchy cookie, I’d say this is one of the best desserts I’ve ever had since its so flavorful yet light and fresh-tasting. And you know something is good when it’s just as good as chocolate.

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