Recently, New York has been inundated with a new gastronomic phenomenon: food trucks. Especially prevalent around NYU in our last year, food trucks provide quick, convenient, and mostly gourmet fare right outside your building or around the corner. For some restaurants, their food trucks bring the food to you with their mobile offshoots. In my nutrition class last year, we debated the (lack of) sanitation and health issues surrounding food trucks but let's face it, they are fun, delicious, and here to stay.
Today, we went to PARKED, a food festival celebrating local food trucks and carts at South Street Seaport. The streets around Seaport were already packed with one of those ubiquitous New York City summer street fairs (gyros, Italian sausage subs, mozzarepas, grilled corn, etc.) so PARKED was extra crowded.
The first thing I had was a mini shrimp roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound. The mini shrimp roll actually was a mini roll with mini shrimp on it! The roll was buttery and crisp and the shrimp were slathered in a mayo sauce and sprinkled with paprika. They were a bit tough/overcooked perhaps and pretty salty, but not bad.
Next, continuing with the seafood, I had a baja-style fish tempura taco from Domo Truck. We've seen this truck (with its odd taco-shaped mascot) around NYU but haven't tried it until today. The taco was topped with fried pieces of fish that reminded me of a dish from Chinese restaurants that my dad used to bring home for dinner. The fish were covered in a salsa and crisp cabbage strips (almost a coleslaw but not quite). The taco was pretty good, but didn't really look like the famous California-beach-surfer-dude fish tacos that I've seen on TV.
We sampled a mini Sicilian slice from Valducci's Pizza truck. I actually really liked this pizza: a pretty thin, crunchy slice topped with a tart tomato sauce and unobscured by the typical load of cheese. While I'm sure it'd been sitting out all day, it somehow managed to taste pretty fresh. A good Sicilian slice that any other pizzeria can try to emulate!
Alex had a grilled cheese half from Gorilla Cheese, which is always conveniently parked outside NYU Stern. Very unfortunately, they advertised a grilled cheese with bacon, but the tiny triangle they handed us had nothing but cheese on bread. Meh, it seems we had yet to find a really good nosh...
...until we hit Taim Mobile! Taim is reputed as the best falafel in New York City. I've always been meaning to eat at Taim's restaurant in the West Village or get food from Taim Mobile when they're in the Union Square area, and finally I had my chance today. Taim Mobile served up four falafel balls of, I think, their red pepper falafel and a tahini dipping sauce. The falafel were crisp and crunchy, warm and spicy, and overall a very good nosh!
After falafel, we took an interlude and paid for tacos from Korilla BBQ. As I've written about before, Korilla BBQ was started by fellow Stuyvesant High School alumni and have since grown into a mega-famous food truck from The Great Food Truck Race. Sadly, the visitors of PARKED probably depleted their stock of rice so we got chicken tacos. "It was good. The Korilla sauce was really tasty," according to my visiting cousin Josh, 11. I wish they had more stuff, like rice and veggies, and Josh didn't care for kimchi so the taco was a bit on the plain side (basically, we had a plain chicken taco at a place famous for Korean BBQ-style food), but I'm glad to know that I can grab Korilla BBQ around the city whenever I want.
While we were on line for Korilla BBQ, Alex popped over to the neighboring Mexican Blvd for their tostada. It was a pulled pork taco topped with a zesty hot sauce and salsa verde - very flavorful and spicy, in a good way!
He also snagged a mini Cubano sandwich from Bongo Bros. It was a beautiful cross-sectional sandwich: the layer of pork, the layer of mustard, the layer of Swiss cheese, and the surprising green pickle peeking out between the layers of bread. It was a good Cuban, but reminded me of a real, full-sized Cuban sandwich that I (ironically) had in Puerto Rico.
Then, we saw the Go Burger Truck and heard about its Kobe hot dogs so obviously we had to try it out. The mini hot dogs were pretty cute - scored on the ends so when cooked, they opened up like little flowers - and topped with a strong mustard. I was trying really hard to figure out how this hot dog, with its fatty, massaged, spoiled Kobe beef, tasted different from the generic dogs I've had. The Kobe beef-ness didn't really stand out to me, but the dog had an unusually smooth texture and was a good hot dog at any rate.
For Josh, I picked up a small peanut butter cookie from La Belle Torte, though I was eyeing their cannoli shells with drool creeping up into my mouth.
Next door, I got a mini Argentinian empanada from Nuchas, although I couldn't really distinguish any important flavor profiles from my tiny bite after sharing it four ways. They offered Argentinian, spicy chicken, and portobello, which obviously piqued my interest being a self-professed mushroom lover...maybe next time!
Next next door, we found a truck called Chinese Mirch...which was a big head scratcher for me until I read their description; this food truck incorporated Indian flavors into Chinese-style cooking. Right up my alley! In fact, their offering deviated from both these cuisines: we got chicken momos with sweet dipping sauce. Besides being ridiculously fun to say, momos are a Tibetan dumpling that are similar to Chinese potstickers. I really enjoyed the momo! It had a ton of flavor packed into a beautiful little pleated pouch, and the sauce paired nicely with the meaty flavor within. I didn't realize a little chicken dumpling would be so satisfying, but there you go.
Our next snack of choice was definitely a departure from anything I've ever had. Snap Truck offered - get this - avocado fries in chipotle mayo. You have to see it to believe it. Imagine a wedge of avocado. Breaded in panko. Deep fried. And then plopped into spicy sauce. Wow! It was extremely intriguing. I love avocado plain, pit out and out of the skin, but this was also really good. Usually avocado lacks any textural element, but here you have an extremely crunchy, hot exterior giving way to the soft, mushy avocado. There's also a flavor contrast here, since avocado is creamy and mild, but was offset by the spicy chipotle mayo. Because of its deep fried nature, I don't think I could have this often, but this was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime thing!
Time for dessert! First, we had some ice cream and speculoos from Wafels & Dinges. Another NYU staple, Wafels & Dinges usually serve up Belgian waffles with an array of toppings. I wasn't really a fan after having a tough, chewy waffle with chocolate sauce a few years ago, but recently my mom brought me a waffle topped with strawberry and powdered sugar and I was converted. It was soft and pillowy even after sitting in her Manhattan office all day, and the waffle was ever-so-slightly sweet. Their ice cream was quite good, too, almost like a cookie dough with gingersnap cookies.
|Wooly's Original with Mango Sauce|
Finally, we spotted a truck called Kelvin Slush. I've walked past this particular truck in the city often without stopping to figure out what they sold, but boy have I been missing out! The different flavors of slush base are topped with other complementary flavors of syrup. We sampled the citrus slush, which was so refreshing. It was a bit on the sweet side for my liking (especially if you added more syrup on top of it) but definitely great for a muggy hot New York summer day.
When we downed our slushes and wiped ourselves clean of all the evidence of what we ate today, I was really satisfied and abuzz, happily. I can't think of any other city where a food truck festival would be popular, or even possible. New York is already known for its diversity in the food sphere, but small food vendors add even further to the massive, majestic field of possibilities to chow down in New York City.
Other culinary delights:
|Ice Cream Sandwiches|