The Trenchermen

We eat other people’s food.

Posts Tagged ‘Pork

NYMag Sandwich List #38: Pork ‘Burger,’ Xi’an Famous Foods

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I’ve abandoned my plan to systematically eat and describe all of the sandwiches on the NYMag 101 sandwiches list, but I continue to use the list as a wellspring of culinary discovery.  (Someone was kind enough to create a Google Map of the 101 sandwich locations.)  With that in mind, eager to break from my PBJ lunch routine, my office-mate and I wandered into the heart of Manhattan’s Chinatown — East Broadway, under the Manhattan Bridge — for a taste of Shanxi cuisine at Xi’an Famous Foods.  To connect the dots for our readers, it’s a chain of small restaurants that started in Flushing, in the Golden Mall (yes, we’ve eaten there before and blogged and vlogged about it), and has now expanded to Chinatown and the East Village.  The highlight of the restaurant’s offering is the “Liang Pi” Cold Noodles.  The sandwich featured in the NYTimes is the Lamb “Burger,” which I found to be loaded with far too much cumin.  But NYMag loves the Pork “Burger,” so I gave it a shot.

NYMag says this sandwich, which is made of pulled pork stuffed into a bing-like bun, could “rival any Carolina barbecue.”  I disagree.  Although the smoky, vinegar sauce is nice and less sweet than most Chinese barbecue sauces I’ve tasted and the bun is warm with a nice crunch, the sandwich is altogether unremarkable and familiar.  It is incredibly greasy and the pork is stewed into a textureless mush.  At least the cumin-loaded Lamb “Burger” offers an unfamiliar and exciting flavor combination.

As for the Carolina comparison: forget it.  The best barbecue I ever encountered was in Holly Hill, South Carolina, at a place called Sweatman’s, and it is an act of exceptional generosity even to mention Xi’an Famous Food’s Pork “Burger” in the same paragraph.  To say this “Burger” is a “rival” of a place like Sweatman’s is a cruel joke.

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Written by trencherman

October 20, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Restaurants

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Arthur Bryant’s BBQ (Kansas City, MO)

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We recently traveled to the great tornado-whipped state of Missouri for a wedding, a house-cleaning, and some strenuous and significant family time.  But all of that was in Springfield, a city that I would imagine to be in a different state from Kansas City if the maps didn’t tell me otherwise.  (Actually, that’s kind of a trick, but I digress.)  We flew into Kansas City International Airport, which meant that before driving three-and-a-half long flat hours to Springfield, we were able to stop for some world-class barbeque.  It was tough to choose our spot, but it came down to Oklahoma Joe’s, which Anthony Bourdain called “one of the 13 places to eat before you die,” Jack’s Stack, a chain that Zagat Survey named the “#1 Barbecue House in the Country,” and Arthur Bryant’s, which is, according to Calvin Trillin in 1974, “…possibly the single best restaurant in the world.”  We went with Arthur Bryant’s, because it was most convenient and because I’m a huge Calvin Trillin fan.  (Ed. note:  Trillin spends his summers less than 5 miles from my parents, in Nova Scota.)

As for the food: delicious, but definitely not the best restaurant in the world.  The highlight of the meal was the Beef Sandwich, which was a mountainous stack of fatty smoked brisket piled on pieces of white bread that were clearly overmatched by the meat’s juices.  There were several choices of sauce, all varieties of the classic molasses- and tomato-based sauce Kansas City is known for. The rib tips were fairly charred, but the tender pieces of meat hidden beneath the blackened crusts were smoky and sweet.  We also had a pork sandwich that was decent, but not memorable.

The restaurant itself was charmingly simple.  A big, brick building in a dodgy neighborhood.  The interior walls are unevenly covered in a smattering of local sports images, collages of prominent African-American public figures, and autographed photographs of celebrities and politicians.  Among the most prominent of the latter category were photographs of Jimmy Carter eating with Arthur Bryant himself, as well as a series of images of John McCain and Sarah Palin enjoying a meal with-the-people while campaigning in 2008.  I’d say that speaks to the universal appeal of the place, but who knows.

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Written by trencherman

September 21, 2010 at 3:37 pm

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Northeast Chinese Food (Flushing, NY)

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Yesterday, several of us biked up into Flushing to see the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival and to try some food from Northeast China (Dōngběi sìshěng, formerly part of Manchuria).  Earlier this year, the New York Times ran a great article about food from this region and the few restaurants in Flushing that produce it.  Very appealing stuff.

We chose a restaurant called Rural Restaurant — it is called Hong Yi Shun in the article in the Times — that was small but busy.  There were a few families inside and one large group of men drinking from a bottle of bái jiǔ that they kept on the floor under one of their seats: all signs pointing to an authentic experience.

But getting to the point: the food was incredible and, for the most part, unlike any other Chinese food I’ve eaten (except the one time I ate food from this region, at a great and now-defunct restaurant called Dong Bei Ren — literally, East North People — in Shanghai).  The best dish was probably the Spicy Cuminy Lamb, which is small chunks of lamb rubbed with star anise and ground cumin and sauteed with spicy peppers.

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Written by trencherman

August 8, 2010 at 7:17 pm

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Fried Dumplings (Chinatown, NYC)

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As I mentioned in my recent post on PB&J, one of the food categories that thrills me endlessly is the dumpling.  I will eat just about anything in dumpling form.  While I certainly appreciate the finer, more delicate manifestations of the form, I also love the dumpling because it’s generally cheap.  Around Chinatown, you’ll find a number of holes-in-the-wall that serve $1 dumplings, or some variation thereof.  Generally, it’s five dumplings or four buns per order.  Not bad for $1.  The problem is the range in quality.

After years of research, I’ve determined that Chinatown’s finest purveyor of the lowest-brow Chinese pork dumpling and bun is “Fried Dumpling” (how many of these spots have the same name?) on Mosco Street, a narrow side street just off of Mott.

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Written by trencherman

July 23, 2010 at 10:35 am

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NYMag Sandwich List #49: Chicken Bánh Mì, Bánh Mì Saigon

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Since it’s been a few weeks and since my brain is basically like a blog archive, I figured I might as well release a few from the “archives” today.  This is the first one, representing yet another step on the road to the laudable goal of eating every sandwich on NYMag’s top 101 list.  On June 8, T and I stepped out for lunch at Bánh Mì Saigon, a cheap Vietnamese bakery located in the back of a jewelry store in Chinatown.  Seems like it should be some kind of hidden secret, except that the awning for the store displays a giant sandwich and there’s a line of people waiting inside for sandwiches.

Anyway, we decided to triple-down, ordering the hyped Chicken Bánh Mì as well as the more traditional pork and pâté varieties.  As much as I love this particular variety of sandwich, New York City’s obsession and saturation with banh mi options has perhaps spoiled me.  So either I’m jaded or this sandwich wasn’t too special, because I was not impressed.  Number 49, really?  Hardly.  The bread was decent, but dry, as if it had been prepared the night before.  The crust scraped my gums unpleasantly, and there was little relief in the form of a spongy interior.  That bread was dry!  The chicken was good, but, as the review on NYMag notes, it was hard to differentiate between this chicken and the well-cooked pork that is more traditional.

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Written by trencherman

June 23, 2010 at 8:35 pm

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NYMag Sandwich List #80: Torta Ahogada, La Superior

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Just this week, New York Magazine published its list of “The 101 Best Sandwiches in New York.”  Now, seeing as we love lists, food, and New York — the trifecta — this list kind of hit the sweet spot.  I’m sure we’re not alone in our desire to eat our way through the whole list, but we’re gonna go for it and document it.  Inasmuch as we have eaten very few of the sandwiches described, you might say a whole world has opened up before us.

Anyway, let the eating commence!  (And let The Trenchermen blog awaken from its slumber!).  This is the first of what will hopefully be (at least) 101 posts based on this list.  Ambitious and awesome, I know.

Last night, I went to La Superior in Williamsburg and ordered the Torta Ahogada, sandwich #80 on the NYMag list. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by trencherman

June 4, 2010 at 11:10 am

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Carousel Bakery (Toronto)

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Carousel

Home of a pretty damn good peameal bacon sandwich.  I think this is what people in the US refer to as Canadian bacon.

Peameal bacon is a slightly pickled/cured piece of pork loin that is rolled in peameal.  Its then sliced and cooked up on a griddle.  And, its damn good.  Carousel Bakery is at the St. Lawrence Market.  They make a pretty solid peameal bacon sandwich on a pillowy roll.  They also have whole grilled jalapeno peppers which you can throw in there.

I had a medical exam for my greencard nearby this morning so afterward I swung by on my way up to my office.  I skipped the peppers but I did put some very spicy (in the front of the nose wasabi kind of way) maple mustard. Here are some photos.

 

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Written by jayrhu

August 4, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Posted in Restaurants, Street Food

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