Friday, July 16, 2010

Gold Street Halal

"Gold Street Halal"
Location: Corner of Gold Street and Maiden Lane in front of Sovereign Bank branch.
Date: Friday, July 16, 2010 at 11:45am
Cuisine: Middle Eastern and American
Grub: Chicken over rice with side salad = $5 (Rabia tossed in a falafel ball and a few fries too)
Review: This nondescript silver cart with a Sabrett's hotdog umbrella on top is what a halal cart should be. Marinated chicken, freshly cooked, not greasy. Rabia, the cook, is a young guy who barely speaks English, but seemed to have no communication problem with the Asian postman hanging out with him. Rabia's pre-cooked chicken is piled high in big pieces on the side. He chops it up into bite-sized pieces when you order and warms up the rice on the grill too, adding some seasonings, sauces and a bit of vegetable. Rabia has a light hand with the yogurt and spicy sauce, letting the chicken flavors come through. HD preferred Rabia's chicken and rice to the plain chicken and vegetables I had made her. My only criticism is the uneven quality of the chicken. Some pieces were perfect white meat, but others had a bit of gristle/cartilage. The falafel was dry and flavorless. Fries don't travel well, but HD wolfed them down. Salad is basic iceberg and tomato, but fresh and crispy.
Rating: I'd return the day after tomorrow. 3 out of 4 pita.

Friday, July 2, 2010

La Cense Beef Truck

"La Cense Beef Truck"
Cuisine: American
Grub: Steakburger and a pickle: $7.50
Date: Friday, July 2 at 11:45am
Delivery: Call 1-800-935-4699 with (undisclosed) minimum order
Review: This green-and-blue truck just started parking on Wall Street a week ago. Big sky country meets big finance with an eco sensibility. That's how I'd market this truck to Hollywood producers. The burger is precooked to well-done and not all that juicy. But it's not too dry either. It is well-seasoned and the beef flavor is delicious. I'm not a big fan of grass-fed beef. To my palate, it's too dense. The sauteed onions and soft bun were a nice contrast to the density however. My husband would love this. And HD kept asking for more. Don't be fooled by the small silver package this burger comes in. It's a big chunk of meat. Still, I think you should get a freshly cooked burger for seven bucks. But might be a good lunch outlet for bond traders worried about the BP spill. (Small gripe: I ordered a hamburger, but the worker gave me a cheeseburger. I didn't realize until we were several blocks away. But nice touch placing the cheese on the bottom and the onions on the top.)
I ordered a pickle for 50 cents. It was way too salty and not cured enough. More like a salty cucumber.
Usually, I'd say beware of trucks with a slick painting job. But this truck is clearly a marketing gimmick for La Cense Beef, which, and I'm guessing here, is trying to become a high-end Omaha Steaks. There's a pamphlet at the truck window about all the raw meat you can order to cook at home. (La Cense? You'd think America was beyond the mystique of Haagen Daaz and other fake Euro names. )
Rating: 3 pita. I'd go back next week.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Street Sweets

"Street Sweets"
Location: Hanover Square between Pearl Street and Water Street (Tuesdays only). Murray between Greenwich and West Street on Fridays. See for their schedule and locations.
Date: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 and Friday, June 19, 2010
Grub: Spinach ricotta croissant $5
Review: In my fruitless attempt to find the Picnick Smoked BBQ truck that used to be on Wall and South streets, I ended up at the Street Sweets truck again. The second time in five days. There's something irresistable about that turquoise blue truck. And how can you call yourself a real Manhattanite without spending five bucks on a croissant regularly? Admittedly, the spinach croissant is fabulous. Flaky, buttery whole wheat croissant dough stuffed with a healthy portion of spinach. And there's just the smallest amount of ricotta to prevent the filling from falling apart when you bite. I've now tried it at room temperature and heated. My preference is for the former. Heating breaks down the butter and makes the bread too oily. HD liked the taste, but struggled to get the spinach down. Much of her portion ended up on the floor.
Rating: 4 pita. But unless I win the lottery, I should refrain from returning there for the next month.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

99 Percent Vegetarian

"99 Percent Vegetarian"
Location: On the same square as Alan's Falafels at Broadway and Liberty
Date: June 9, 2010
Time: 11:45, no line
Grub: Choose 4 dishes for $6. I picked yams, pasta, tofu scramble and chili
Review: Slip on your Birkenstocks and have Eugene (Oregon) on your mind before you head over to 99 Percent Vegetarian. Everything is mushy and watery. When you get home, all the dishes will have run into each other. All the dishes -- each in a different faux ethnic style of Indian, Tex-Mex, Italian and Soul -- are poorly prepared. Much in the way that a groovy college guy would try to impress the vegan ladies with his culinary skills and not realize you need to saute onions and use a bit of salt and olive oil to make things taste good. The curry tofu scramble had a off-putting odd flavor -- bitter? -- as did the chili. The chunky hot sauce, which I requested on the side, had kick. But like the other dishes, it lacked any complexity. HD loved the linguini pasta.
Rating: Never go back. No pitas.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

East African Silver Truck

"East African Silver Truck"
Cuisine: East African
Grub: Tilapia fish platter with a side of stewed chicken = $6
Date: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 11:40am
Review: This Eritrean man cooks a fusion of African, Middle Eastern and Indian styles. And he has a following. Even at 11:40am on a rainy Tuesday morning, people were coming by for goat curry. The tilapia is fresh, thick, moist and coated with brown spices. Not just powders, but twigs of something or other too. Say "yes" to the hot sauce. The fish is flavorful, but it's even more delicious with the extra kick. The orange rice was bland as was the side of cabbage, carrot, peas and corn. Not much of a salad. Neither HD nor I liked the chicken. But the fish is a winner and worth returning for.
Rating: 3 pita. I'd return next week.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Greek Sony Umbrella Cart at Hanover Square

"Greek Sony Umbrella Cart at Hanover Square"
Location: Pearl Street at Hanover Square. (Not Hanover Street!) Heading south on Pearl Street, you'd be most likely to see the acronym HDNA on the black umbrella. Very near the rear of Financier that faces Stone Street.
Cuisine: Greek
Date: Friday, May 14, 2010 at 11:50am
Grub: Lamb kebab pita = $4
Diners: Construction workers, secretaries
Review: This crazy Greek cart is the raison d'etre for this blog. It's small and often sandwiched between other carts. It would be easy to walk by and not notice, as I have countless times. And the lower prices would make me worry about the quality. Two construction workers tipped me off about it last week. The lamb is addictive. Grilled black on the outside and flavorful on the inside. I kept picking up pieces to make sure I'd extracted every morsel of meat. Big chunks of tomato too. The cook threw in a piece of sausage just because I was asking about it. Be prepared for nutty Greek ambiance. The cook's friend -- in the picture on the left -- was screaming Greek into a cell phone the whole time. And while the cook was preparing the food, he lectured me on the Greek economic crisis and how the contagion would soon spread to Spain, Portugal and Italy. I asked him about Iceland. "Ah, they're still in trouble," he said without hesitation. As we paid, he gave HD a big kiss on the top of her head. On my way home I grabbed HD summer rolls at the Banh Mi cart across the street.
Rating: I'd go back next week. 3 pita

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Jamaican Curry Cart on Whitehall

"Jamaican Curry Cart on Whitehall"
Cuisine: Jamaican
Location: Whitehall between Bridge and Pearl, in front of One Battery Park Plaza
Diners: Local office workers of all races. There was even a snooty blond fashionista on line.
Date: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at noon
Grub: Stew beef roti = $6
Review: This must be the slowest cart in New York. One grumpy woman, dressed in green hospital scrubs, a clashing green cap and an apron in another shade of green, takes her time dishing out the curries. When we arrived, there were only 2 or 3 people in front of us, but it still took over 5 minutes to get to the front of the line. And then she had to take a phone call. But man, this grumpy woman makes a mean curry! Boneless beef is stewed in a traditional brown-n-yellow curry sauce with potatoes and chick peas. It has a bright tanginess that you don't get in an Indian curry. I went for the extra hot sauce too. The roti pancake tastes homemade and looks to have specks of corn or semolina between the layers. Chicken curry seems to be popular too, but it's mostly dark meat on the bone. Those in the know get the goat curry. I'm told it runs out quickly. Not sure if her call ahead system really works, but she lists this number on the menu: 646-436-9974. Get there before noon if you don't want to stand in a line all day.
Rating: I'd go back next week. 4 pitas.