Wafels and Dinges

Merry Christmas Eve!

How about some waffles and spekuloos? Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top because the weather is frightfully warm for Christmas right now.

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Wafels and Dinges makes my knees weak. Anytime I pass by one of their yellow trucks, I can’t help but get a waffle. My usual is with strawberries, whipped cream, and spekuloos sauce, which is this gingerbread/graham cracker spread that’s nutella-esque but better. It is amazing. You must try it if you’ve never had it before. The other day, I saw that for the holidays, they were also selling tins of spekuloos cookies. Has anyone tried those? They sound like brilliant deliciousness.

Wafels and Dinges
Various locations, check Twitter

Smorgasburg

More than ever before, I feel this need to consume, to spend money, and to buy. In a small part, it’s because I am no longer in school, have a paying job, and therefore can afford to be a consumer.  In a much larger part, I think it’s this city. When I think about why I love this city, it’s because New York offers you products, events, things that you can’t find in other places. When you are presented with all of these clothes, food, events, and trinkets that you never knew you needed, I feel this looming fear of missing out. And I think, “I HAVE to take advantage of living in this magnificent city. I MUST have that…and that…and also that.” All of a sudden, buying Smucker’s jam is no longer good enough. I have to go buy Sarabeth’s.

Smorgasburg is the perfect example of a food consumer’s playground and what I find so mesmerizing and mind-boggling about New York. All the stands that make it to Smorgasburg feature artisan goods, homemade specialties, or quirky twists on classics. Next up is a conglomeration of various eats from various trips to Brooklyn.

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The line at Yuji Ramen is so long because people love their dry ramen. The more popular choices like the uni miso will also run out within an hour, so make this your first stop. I do like their system of taking your name and order down and then giving you a time estimate, so you don’t have to waste time standing in line. You can wander and explore other stands and come back in 15 minutes for your food. Plus, I think Yuji’s neighbors appreciate not having a an obnoxious line snaking around their storefronts too.

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This is the bacon, egg, and cheese ramen. It’s like a breakfast explosion but with noodles. The egg is poached perfectly, and the noodles are al dente with a nice bite to it. Happy slurping!

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Palenque serves Colombian open face arepas. The arepas are crispy and smell so good. There are all kinds of toppings and many vegetarian options…

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…like seitan!

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The Lumpia Shack is a hub for Filipino food. These were the classics (ground pork, carrots, shallots with some pickled veggies on top), but they also have non-traditional fillings like duck or pork belly.

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Milk Truck does some very creative grilled cheese sandwiches. The Classic with a Twist adds in onions and dijon mustard to gruyere on rye bread. Look at how the cheese oozes. My favorite grilled cheese is still weirdly from Bouchon Bakery (yeah, a french bakery of all places), but this is not too shabby either.

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Continuing in this trail of comfort food, we have the Hash Bar, specializing in hash browns. There are a number of add ins you can choose from bacon and sausage to onions and mushrooms. And DO add an egg on top!

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Tacos from a stand that I can’t remember name of. The taco itself was kind of forgettable too.

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Nadia’s Kitchen does this Moroccan merguez sandwich that is really outstanding. The sausage is bursting with flavor, and the bread is toasty. This is very filling, so split it with some friends, if you want to have stomach room to eat anything else.

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Bee Hive Oven made really fluffy, Southern style biscuits. I have this thing for biscuits. Virginia, which is where I’m from, is home to some excellent biscuits, and it’s been amazingly difficult to find similar quality biscuits in New York. I was so excited when I tasted Bee Hive Oven’s biscuits that I came away with a 8-pack to freeze and save for later. 

Now that you’re stuffed yourself with all this food, it’s time for dessert. One of my friends always says, “Dessert doesn’t take up room.” I think it’s a lovely motto to live by.

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I love Blue Marble Ice Cream! It’s so creamy and rich, and the vanilla just tastes like VANILLA. You know how sometimes vanilla ice cream can end up more icy with a tiny hint of vanilla. Well, this is creamy VANILLA. So good.

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I didn’t really care for this slush from Kelvin Natural Slush Co. It was very sour, so my face was scrunched up from two sips of it. This went into the trash unfinished.

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People’s Pops always has fun flavors for a refreshing treat. After all the heavy foods, this is actually a dessert that can help balance out the oil and grease in your system.

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The strawberry cream popsicle is great. What’s not so great is that I didn’t realize the unfortunate positioning of this photo until after I got home. Oops.

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My must-get at Smorgasburg every time are these ice cream sandwiches from The Good Batch. Vanilla ice cream with caramel between stroopwafels, which are Dutch spiced waffle cookies. I’m a sucker for all things spice and cinnamon. These are amazing and highly recommended.

I always end up spending an obscene amount of money at Smorgasburg. It’s back to the whole “I didn’t know that I needed specialty, artisan-made fill-in-the-blank, but I won’t be able to find this anywhere else and since I live in this city, I have to take advantage of all that it offers, so I am now going to drop another $20 on five pieces of chocolate.” My own personality has a lot to do with this mindset as well. Moderation is valuable lesson that I am trying to learn. Maybe that can be a New Years resolution.

 

Smorgasburg

Ceci-Cela

Buttery flaky croissants are my downfall. There have been so many times when I said that I’ll have a healthy breakfast before giving in to having a croissant instead.

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Ceci-Cela makes an excellent croissant. Layers and layers of buttery goodness with a flaky crust.

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It also doesn’t hurt that the back room of the bakery is so cozy and welcoming. It’s amazing that you can be on a crowded, noisy NYC street one minute and then sitting in this quiet corner the next. I love these magical New York transformations.

Ceci-Cela

55 Spring St (btw Mulberry & Lafayette) New York, NY 10012

New World Mall Food Court

Flushing’s New World Mall Food Court has come up in previous posts, but I wanted to do a different roundup. There have been numerous articles and blog posts that you can find all over the internet talking about this food court and what to eat here. Everyone knows about Lanzhou Handmade Noodles and the Sichuan Ma La Tang place. This time, I am going to concentrate on a couple of my favorite places that I think haven’t gotten as much attention and coverage as they should.

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One of my favorite food stands has the funniest English name: Casserole. Big Bowl of Noodle. Unsurprisingly, hey specialize in stews and noodles cooked in clay pots. You can see the clay pots lined up on the stove, filled with to the brim with stock and bubbling over as it stews. It’s a mouth-watering sight.

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This braised pork ribs and vermicelli in a clay pot is out of this world. The wait time is a little long because they cook it to order, so you have to let it stew for a while. I assure you, though, that the wait is worth it. The ribs were tender and juicy and balanced off with a good portion of napa cabbage, wood ear, and mushrooms. The vermicelli was cooked to order, so it doesn’t get soggy and limp.

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They also have an array of Chinese su bing, which are pastries with this flakey, crumbly skin that can be either sweet or savory. The sweet ones might have red bean or black sesame in the center. I bought a savory salt and sesame pastry, which made for a perfect breakfast the next day.

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Another mom and pop shop in the food court is No. 10 Xiang Ba La, for which I can’t think of any translation that doesn’t sound weird and awkward. “Yummy Aroma” is what I’m going to go with. They make really homey, Northern Chinese food. Comfort food! The Ba La Chicken is basically a chicken and potato stew with peppers and onions and a hint of spice. The flavors are homey, something out of a mom’s kitchen rather than out of a restaurant kitchen. They also carry Beijing style yogurt, which is tangier and has a more liquid consistency than American yogurt. I love this stuff and haven’t found it anywhere else in New York, so I will buy a ton to stock up. Does anyone know of a grocery store that sells this?

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Dessert at the New World Mall presents you with a lot of choices as well. Inside the JMart Grocery store is a small bakery stand called the New World Bakery. They specialize in egg tarts, which are best when they’re fresh out of the oven. For a slightly more indulgent treat, get this Portuguese egg tart, which is creamier and sweeter version. If you like creme brulee or flan, you’ll love this.

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Back downstairs to the food court, Snopo does shaved ice. Light, fluffy ice drizzled with condensed milk and topped with tapioca balls and red bean, this is a giant dessert made for sharing. You can custom make your own combination of ice flavor and toppings, or they also have set combinations with cute names like Snow White or Cinderella. The thing is that I can be a witch, so the cuteness is a bit much and gets on my nerves. Only complaint though.

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My favorite dessert place here is Manji or their weird sounding English name “Beautiful Memory Desserts,” which has an amazing menu ranging from sago to durian. Above is “black pearl” in vanilla sauce with green tea ice cream. Black pearls are really just chia seeds. The vanilla sauce is an icy mix with a hint of vanilla – it’s like an icier vanilla ice cream. Mix it all up with a bit of real ice cream, and it’s delicious.

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Manji has a lot of variations of sago, such as this refreshing mango pomelo sago.

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Continuing with this mango theme, thai black glutinous rice with mango in vanilla sauce. All of my favorite things in one place!

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I asked them what their most popular items were, and they suggested the mango glutinous balls. Fresh mango dices in the center and dusted with coconut shavings. I’ve seen these in bakeries before, but the freshness here puts Manji a step above those bakeries. I can definitely eat two orders of these.

Hope that was a useful guide to some of the shops in the New World Mall food court. Try them out and let me know how you like them!

New World Mall Food Court
136-20 Roosevelt Ave. Flushing, NY 11354

Casserole Big Bowl of Noodle

Xiang Ba La

New World Bakery

Snopo

Manji Dessert

Cha Chan Tang

Cha Chan Tang translates to “tea cafe,” which is a common, casual type of restaurant originating in Hong Kong. With fast service and simple food, it’s like the Hong Kong equivalent of American diners. Due to the early British influences in Hong Kong, these cafes serve both Cantonese and Western food, or rather the Cantonese version of Western dishes.

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The menu ranges from sandwiches and spaghetti to fried rice and bubble tea. We shared a pretty eclectic spread of different things. A plate of potstickers comes with a sweeter soy sauce for dipping.

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I’ve never had satay sauce in noodles before, but this beef satay wide vermicelli was really good. I associate satay sauce with hot pot or grilled meat, but I think I will be ordering satay noodles more now.

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You can’t ever go wrong with chicken wings, especially garlic and black pepper chicken wings. Crispy and juicy, these were quickly demolished.

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My favorite and what I will come back for are the fried mantou. Mantou is Chinese steamed bread that’s usually a replacement for rice at meals. However, they can also be served almost as a dessert: fried and then dipped in condensed milk. The perfect mantou already carries a slight hint of sweetness to it, so I am usually light-handed with the condensed milk. It’s hard to find fried mantou, so I was very excited to see these on the menu. Definitely give this a try if you’ve never had it before!

Cha Chan Tang
45 Mott St (btw Pell St & Bayard St) New York, NY 10013

Harney & Sons

Harney & Sons sells quality tea and tea-ware in a gorgeous, high-ceilinged shop in Soho. Canisters upon canisters of tea go on forever, and beautiful tea sets ranging from the traditional to the quirky are on display. In the back is a tea lounge where you can sit down with a pot of tea and catch up with friends.

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We got a pot of sencha to share and what better snack to go with it but a plate of warm vanilla scones? Smear on some clotted cream and a dab of berry jam for the perfect bite.

Harney & Sons
433 Broome St (btw Crosby St & Broadway) New York, NY 10013

Hester Street Fair

The sad part about the weather getting cold, besides the fact that the weather is now freezing cold, is that outdoor fairs like Hester Street Fair on the Lower East Side are closed. Here are a couple snapshots from warmer days:

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Oaxaca tacos are small but tasty: chorizo on the left, and fish on the right. The chorizo was definitely the better of the two, as the fish taco was bland and too soggy. My heart still lays with their carnitas though.

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Deviant Chef does Asian/Latin influenced burgers, so imagine cemitas with curry chicken or a miso infused burger. I got to try their kalbi sandwich, which was pretty good. I also saw a mabo burger on the menu that sounded very interesting: “Berkshire pork and pork belly blended with fermented black beans, Korean pepper paste, Chili garlic paste, garlic, onion & scallions.” That’ll be for next time.

Thankfully, outdoor markets aren’t completely gone yet. Broadway Bites, where I just had an amazing lobster mac and cheese the other day, is here until Thanksgiving. Bryant Park’s holiday market opened last week. I’m also looking forward to the holiday market at Union Square that should be opening later this month. Put on some extra layers and go check those out!

Hester Street Fair
Corner of Hester and Essex St.

Oaxaca Tacos

Deviant Chef