Tag Archives: new york

Ay Chung Steak House – 05.15.2010

Ay Chung Steak House
(Inside Flushing Mall)
133-31 39th Ave
Flushing, NY 11354

This title is a bit misleading but it’s the name and address of the stall that sells Stinky Tofu.  Located on the bottom floor of Flushing Mall, Ay Chung is one of the many food vendors in the food court of this mall which feels like a step back in time to the Saved By the Bell era of ’80s shopping.  You will not find Zach Morris here however; this is a straight up asian mall with a very impressive food court.  To para-quote fellow eater Regina, “it’s impossible to find a restaurant here, look at the signs, there is no name or address in english!”  You will find a myriad of chinese style (specifically Taiwanese) eateries, each preparing food fresh before your eyes at darn-right questionably low prices.  Eatclub set out on a quest to find stinky tofu and Flushing Mall did not fail.

Before the review of stinky tofu, I have to give honorable mention to the cumin flavored lamb bun and glutinous rice disk (insert chinese name here).  Accompanied by the honeydew bubble tea, both are excellent and deserve a dedicated review of their own.  In short, try anything and everything when you visit.

Cumin Lamb Bun.

Glutinous rice Taiwanese dish.

Stinky tofu tasted nothing like I expected.  I enjoy many foods that people have an aversion to:  kimchi, cilantro, durian, natto, fish sauce, the list goes on.  Stinky tofu does not make that list.  I ate 2 deep fried chunks and I could not eat anymore, the aroma was overpowering.  Honestly, I can only describe the flavor as a sponge soaked with bad breath.  Yes, halitosis; it invaded my sinuses, activated my olfactory sensors and would not turn off. It definitely caught me off guard as I was expecting something very sour, or blue-cheesey, or even miso-like.  No, this is a totally new flavor I never experienced before.  Keep in mind, bad breath is the flavor I sensed strongest using my nose while tasting (you may notice a different bouquet).  The texture is familiar, merely fried tofu, and the taste on the tongue is mild, slightly pungent but otherwise bland tofu.  Stinky tofu indeed lives up to its reputation and makes it as my top dislike (followed by pork intestine and celery).

Stinky tofu looks rather benign and innocuous.  Beware: deadly to sensitive sniffers.

Don’t let my words discourage you, go out there and try it before you knock it.  I assure you, I hesitantly promise to eat this again when/if I ever visit Taiwan.

Flushing mall has some serious cheap, tasty and authentic eats.

I can’t get over the flavor of stinky tofu, tastes like how a mouthful of cavities smells.

The burps after consumption.  Can’t tell if you have bad breath or if it was just the tofu.


Bonus review:  because it was impossible to fill up on stinky tofu.

Regina says, “it’s impossible to find a restaurant here, look at the signs, there is no name or address in english!”
Is Spicy & Tasty an accurate translation?

Beef stew noodle soup.  The spiciness comes from chilis and Sichuan peppercorns so it’s a different kind of heat.  Be sure to add as much homemade cabbage topping (not pictured) as you can handle.  Very authentic and tasty.

Soup dumplings.  Well made considering this place doesn’t specialize in this unique dumpling style.

Omelette with oysters.  Very egg-y tasting dish.  Add barely cooked through oysters with a sweet tomato sauce and you have some atypical flavor combinations going on.  Not bad but not great.

All look same.


Ippudo – 01.14.2010

65 4 Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Once you taste real ramen, you will be craving it for life.  That craving is what we succumbed to this evening as we hunted down yet another NYC ramen joint.  The “joint” this evening turned out to be a hotspot as my ramen-loving Greek pal and I ventured through the doors, exiting the quiet NYU ‘hood and entering a raucous ramen room.

Despite us getting there late (10:30pm), we had to wait 15 minutes, on a midweek evening no less.  That allowed us to confirm that Kirin beat out Sapporo as the darft of choice that night.  Anyhow, we were led to our table amid a boisterous Japanese welcome with the host actually pulling out our seats for us.  This ramen house definitely wins best service.  The place is trendy; dimly lit with close seating perfect for a ramen-lovers date.  Nothing against the place, but I did not love it.  I prefer ramen houses to be hole in the wall and and less flashy.

Despite these misgivings, Ippudo has a hip vibe and more importantly, delicious ramen.  The menu describes the Ippudo Special Ramen Kasane-Aji:  Ramen noodle in layered “tori-paitan” creamy chicken and tonkotsu soup topped pork chashu, beansprouts, onion, 1/2 seasoned boiled egg, kikurage, scallions & yuzu.  As complicated, as it sounds it is indeed tasty, especially with the garlic oil drizzled on top.  The broth is very good: creamy, rich and with layers upon layers of flava.  The toppings are also very well done with perfectly cooked boiled egg (albeit cold yolk) and excellent chashu.  Fatty and salty and not at all dry as some broiled pork can be.  The noodles on the other hand were not to my liking.  Although perfectly cooked, they were straight like spaghetti not springy and coiled.

The Ippudo Special Ramen
The rockstar service

Pricey for ramen
Darkness and loud conversations and crammed seating.

You crave beer after ramen.  After beer you crave ramen.  Repeat.

Picture perfect pork buns

Ippudo Special Ramen

Oily goodness clsoeup

Cool bar with obligatory hipster bartender

Paul’s Da Burger Joint – 12.30.2009

Paul’s Da Burger Joint
131 2nd Avenue
New York, NY

I had the Eastsider burger with ham, cheese, bacon, onion, mushroom, tomato and onion.  Nice and oily and the ham is a nice addition to the burger.  Everyone who ate it seemed to like it.  A top 10 burger joint imho but not top 3.  A real good burger; I would need to be able to eat medium rare and of high quality meat.  Even though i ordered it medium rare, it was cooked medium well.  Nice decor with checkered table cloth and a funny waitress.

– Paul, Chief Flava Officer

Bohemian Hall – 08.08.09

Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden
29-19 24th Avenue
Astoria, New York 11102

Now this is a beer garden

Kegs and kegs of sweet sweet beer

The ever helpful and friendly staff at BHBG

Brats and knocks

Bratwurst ($8)

Eatclub or Drinkclub?

Dedicated eatclubbers M, M, S, S, E, Y, B, P, and J (l-r)

Super Taco – 04.29.09

Super Taco
truck parked on 96th and Broadway
(6pm-late night)

Possible Swine flu pandemic grips nation with fingers pointed at Mexico and New York City with the most reported cases in US.  I know, let’s go to the city to grab some real Mexican food prepared by Mexicans.  Great idea!  Only 2 brave souls accepted this grave task, bravely putting their lives in danger by dutifully heeding Eatclub’s call to eat authentic.  We survived but caught an incurable infection:  Mexican food fever!

Fast and friendly staff

Super Taco is street food at its most evolved.  It is indeed a truck parked on a corner with a full kitchen busily preparing fresh food as it is ordered.  There is an expansive menu (though some knowledge of Mexican is required), a makeshift salsa bar with lime wedges, and even a counter for eating standing up.  Somehow, this truck even manages to have a phone number for takeout orders.  For cart comparison’s sake, 53rd & 6th Halal cart makes Super Taco look like white table cloth fine dining.

Three carnitas tacos

Steak, chicken, and al pastor tacos

We ate tacos.  Real tacos at $2 each:  chicken, carnitas, al pastor, and steak.  You get a double corn tortilla piled with your meat of choice, and a mountain of onions and cilantro.  Slather on some red and green salsa, squeeze the lime wedge and savor this super taco.  The fillings were all fresh but some definitely stood out.  Carnitas were very cartilage-y and were an acquired taste.  I am sure its authentic but it wasn’t for us.  The steak was just average tasting but you can’t expect quality beef from a truck.  The chicken was outstanding, clear tasting flavor and juicy enough to quench your thirst after crawling out of the Baja desert.  Al pastor was the meatier and heavier alternative but just as good.  Perfectly cooked marinated pork strips cooked up with a touch of pineapple.  Drool.  This truck is the real deal.

The TACOS!  @$2 a piece, why not try them all, especially the chicken and al pastor.
Large menu and open late.  You can even call ahead for pickup.

Carnitas was like eating a taco filled with gristle.

You may not get swine flu from the food but perhaps from the cook.


For dessert, we stopped by Koronets near Columbia University for their infamous pizza slice.  It was big.  Quarter shown for reference.

1 large cheese slice for $3.50

Mamoun’s Falafel, Joe’s Pizza, 53rd and 6th, Red Mango – 08.13.2008

Mamoun’s Falafel
119 Macdougal St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 674-8685

IMO the best falafel in NYC. A village landmark, it’s more than just the falafel that makes this hole-in-the-wall joint stand out, it’s the snapshot of NYC life it captures. There is only one narrow entrance to the dimly lit 2 table dining room/ordering area/kitchen. In there amidst the chaos, to-go customers, sit-down eaters, and delivery boys shuffle around and single file line emerges with diners patiently waiting for cheap and tasty middle eastern comfort food. They have schwarma (real lamb freshly sliced from the spit), kufta, various kebabs, baba ganoush, tabbouleh, etc.  NYU students, bar hoppers, tourists, vagrants, hipsters, and professionals all make up the line that often forms out the door.

Mamoun’s falafel. Always order more than 1.

Prepared freshly when ordered, the falafel sandwich comes with 3 falafel balls mashed in a pita with lettuce, tomatoes, parsley, onions and tahini sauce. Pair it with the hot sauce (hot) that is floating around the tables in a communal squeeze bottle and prepare yourself for a flavor explosion. The fresh veggies and tangy tahini are a bright contrast to the crunchy, heavily spiced and herby fried falafel. The hummus is excellent: smooth and flavorful despite its bland appearance. How can something vegan taste so good? Truly a food miracle in my book. Grab some falafel in the quick moving line and eat outside on the bench to enjoy ethnic fast food with an eclectic view.

Joe’s Pizza
7 Carmine Street (and Bleecker St.)
New York, NY

The Sicilian slice with a dusting of parmesan.

“Without a doubt this is the best pizza in the entire city,” Ben Affleck says in a NY newpaper. I have to disagree with the Daredevil. The pizza is average. Yes, I tried it only once and yes the fresh mozzarella slice looked good but I am basing my opinion on what I consider a reliable barometer of good NY/NJ pizza: the Sicilian slice. I have no idea what authentic Italian roots it has but it doesn’t matter. I judge by your plain Sicilian slice. It was large and cheesy and for $2.50 it was a great value. The large crust was airy and crunchy with some buttery flavor but the other 2 elements of the pizza trinity (cheese and sauce) were off the mark. I may try their plain slice to give it a proper tasting but Joe’s is about as unremarkable as Gigli right now.

53rd and 6th Halal Street Cart
Corner of 53rd Street and 6th Ave. Cart across from Hilton driveway and next to water fountain.
Open 7pm-4am
New York, NY

Very messy and very tasty.

Another NYC landmark, 53rd and 6th goes by many names: street cart, halal guys, platters, gyro man, street meat…the list goes on. And so does it’s line for food served in humble aluminum trays and plastic forks; a wait that can be up to 40 minutes on any given night. Why all the fuss you ask? Juicy grilled chicken and grilled gyro meat over surprisingly flavorful yellow rice. It is true the portions have shrunk from ginourmous to now huge, and the food isn’t cooked at the cart anymore, and yes prices have gone up but you will not find a better and tastier deal for $6. And who knows the city’s best food spots than NYC cabbies: where they congregate and spend their hard earned tips for inexpensive, quick, and filling food on the go, an eater must also eat. Order the combination platter with rice and pita, slather on the yogurt sauce and atomic hot sauce, grab a spot on the nearby benches and enjoy NYC street cart dining at its finest.

Hint: The other less busy looking cart across the street and diagonal to the Hilton is run by the same guys. When the line is huge, go here. Don’t let others convince you otherwise, IT IS EXACTLY THE SAME.

Red Mango
723 8th Ave. ( @ 46th Street and 8th Ave.)
New York, NY

Red Mango frozen yogurt with mango, raspberries, and mochi.

Korean frozen yogurt, or as I call it KoFroYo, has become Eatclub’s defacto standard post-Eatclubbing dessert. This trendy hotspot serves up sweet, tangy frozen yogurt with a myriad of toppings that span from fresh fruit to dark chocolate chips to Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Its yogurt is certified active from American Yogurt Society (something like that) and according to its website, only 80 calories per serving (small). Healthy, tasty, and good for you. What more could you want? Perhaps lower prices but the quality is consistent and the shops are a hipplace to hang out and people watch. There are other KoFroYo chains out there but Red Mango was the first in the states (popped up in Cali first) and it is the best.

Correction:  Pinkberry was first in the US in 2005 but Red Mango has been around in South Korea since 2002.  Thanks to xteethx, one of eatclub’s ever vigilant readers.

All this in one night. We ate till we puked. Thanks to E, Soph, Bethany, Haeme, Annie, and YM for making it through this ephemeral eatclubbing extravaganza.

The city that never sleeps and always eats…