Monthly Archives: March 2008

All Tacos, All The Time*

As I was heading up to Manhattan Avenue the other day, I noticed a bright beach umbrella attached to a silver coffee cart parked at the intersection of Bedford, Driggs, and Nassau. I had an immediate gut feeling: tacos. And I was right. A sign on the front of the cart advertised “Tacos: bistec/steak, pollo/chicken, cecina/salt beef, lengua/tongue, alhambre/mixed.” Although I was on my way home for dinner, I couldn’t resist giving one a try. I chose the cecina, which was served with chopped onions and cilantro and optional green sauce. The meat was cut more thickly than I like, and rather chewy as a result, but the sauce was great and overall the whole package (which I gobbled like a savage walking up Manhattan Ave) was quite tasty. Next time: lengua.

*Yes, I’ve been writing A LOT about tacos lately. Oh well.

Taco Santana Revisited

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From left to right: quesadilla with cecina, enchiladas banderas, cecina plate.

The second visit was not disappointing. At the moment, Taco Santana is by far my favorite place in the neighborhood(ish).

Taco Santana, 301 Keap Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Tacos (LA Edition)

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If I haven’t made it clear before, I love tacos. We tried a few places on our CA visit (above are the specimens from Loteria Grill in the Los Angeles Farmer’s Market), and here’s what we thought:

Loteria: Yes, I know that this place is super-touristy. We tried one pollo al pipian rojo taco and one cochinita pibil taco. The latter was a bit bland (though with a good pickled onion topping), but the former was fantastic. I’ve never had a red pipian sauce (just the green variety), and I loved it.

Yuca’s: Yes, I know that this place is also kind of touristy. We had a couple of carne asada and carne enchilda tacos. Honestly? Eh. After the build-up (I’d read such praise!), Yuca’s let us down. The tortillas were dry, and the meats were kind of dry without much smokiness or spiciness. I didn’t finish one of mine, which is really rare. Perhaps we should have tried the cochinita pibil?

The Best Fish Tacos In Ensenada: Bingo! These were great. I had a fish taco and a shrimp taco, and I could have easily eaten another two of each. In both cases, the meat was sweet, firm, and perfectly fried, and the radish relish available at the condiment station was fantastic (and a nice twist on the usual plain radish slices). Tortillas should be better, though.

Loteria Grill, 6333 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Yuca’s, 2056 Hillhurst, Los Angeles, CA 90027

The Best Fish Tacos In Ensenada, 1650 Hillhurst, Los Angeles, CA 90027

My Favorite Thing (LA Edition)

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While in LA, Ted recommended that we try Ruen Pair if we wanted Thai food. This ended up being my hands-down favorite meal of the trip. What we ate:

Spicy Combination Salad: salty egg, black (aka century) egg, salted cabbage, dried shrimp, Chinese sausage, ginger, red onion, chili, lime, garlic, etc. Whoa, dude. This was incredibly spicy, with so many different tastes going on. It was deeply funky, quite sour, and rich with sweet fattiness from the sausage. I inhaled more than my share, heaped on to an order of sticky rice.

Sauteed Morning Glory (aka ong choy): very tender stems, given a strong, salty flavor from a garlicky bean sauce. I’d definitely order this again.

Chinese Broccoli with Crispy Pork: a standard preparation. Quite tasty but unexciting, and in retrospect I wish we’d chosen something a bit more unusual. Still, you can’t go wrong with pork belly.

Ruen Pair, 5257 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

A Few More Revisits…

Al and I had a couple of meals over the weekend at two places we’ve really enjoyed in the past, Tiffin Wallah and You-Chun. What we ate:

At TW:

Bajjia: Fried perfection. Thin slices of green pepper, acorn squash, and sweet potato in a thick (yet light) batter.

Uttapam with paneer: Another example of frying done right. This was quite a bit more browned and crispy that the last version we had (at the outstanding Sri Ganesh in Jersey City), but still very tasty.

Pondicherry Masala Dosa: A fantastic mix of flavors. The crepe was crisp and seemingly greaseless (thought later the takeout bag told a different story), with a lot of earthy heat, and the curried potato and mixed vegetable filling added a bright spiciness.

Complaint: the chutneys aren’t very good. They’re using premade stuff, and not even high quality stuff at that.

At Y-C:

Kimchi dumplings: Loved these. They aren’t quite as out-of-this-world as the ones available at the snack bar attached to Han Yang Mart, but they’re close. I love the contrast of such a thin, delicate wrapper with the robust, almost rough flavors of ground meat and fermented cabbage.

Soft tofu stew (aka soon dobu jigae): No surprises here, just a nice rendition of one of my favorite dishes. Despite the intense-looking red-orange broth, it wasn’t searingly hot. The level of heat built nicely over time, instead of immediately walloping you over the head. The odd bit of seafood (cockles, squid, tiny mussels, etc) added a bit of brine and textural counterpoint to the silky bean curd.

NB: The specialty of the house is naeng myun, featuring wonderful homemade noodles, but with flurries blowing outside we weren’t feeling like a cold dish. It’s something that’s worth making a trip for, though.
Tiffin Wallah, 127 East 28th Street, New York, NY 10016

You-Chun, 156-03 Northern Blvd, Flushing, NY 11358