Tag Archives: asian

Luckyim Thai (Thai)

IMG_8301

Food Truck: Luckyim Thai

Sighting: 47th and Park

Country: Thailand

Our next food truck takes us to southeast Asia. On 47th and Park I came across Luckyim Thai.

I actually wasn’t thinking of going to this truck at first; I was really eyeing the truck next to it (which shall remain nameless). But as I approached that one I heard the two guys in the truck in a loud shouting match. Not great for business. So I did a 180 and landed right in front of this truck, where they served me courteously and with a smile. While I liked even more is that it seemed like a family-run operation.

Their menu is surprisingly extensive for a small truck, but I knew immediately what I would order, the pad thai. For the last 30 years, anytime I would visit a Thai restaurant this would be the one thing I order to use as my benchmark in comparing them with each other.

Here’s what I ended up getting:

pad thai from nyc

The shrimp was excellent with a snap, something I’d expect to find in a restaurant and not a food truck. The noodles were also cooked to perfection—not too dry, not too sticky, and not watery. The sauce was quite a bit sweeter than I’d like. I heard in retrospect that you can request them to make it spicy; I wish they’d written a reminder on their sign, as the default is decidedly not spicy at all (let’s face it, as cosmopolitan as Manhattanites claim to be, a lot of them are still wimps when it comes to a little heat).

The portions are pretty generous, filling a sturdy white plastic container and complete with carrots, egg, crushed peanuts on top, and a lime wedge. While I enjoyed it overall, it struck me that it didn’t contain bean sprouts or scallions. Not that I minded too much, but a purist might have had more issues with that.

Ordering is pretty simple, not the ridiculously convoluted process that other trucks seem to have. While I enjoyed it, I’d say it’s more of a nice-to-visit than a must-visit.

4 of 5 stars.

Price I paid: $9

Line: short

Tricks for fast ordering: before you go, Google those things on the menu that you forgot the meaning of, things like pad se-ew and drunkman noodles.

What to order if you’re a newbie: The pad thai and if you’re feeling extravagant, the Thai iced tea.

The menu:

luckyim thai trick

 On Twitter:


Korrilla BBQ (Korean)

korilla bbq truck

Food Truck: Korilla BBQ

Sighting: 47th and Park

Country: Korea

Our next stop is Korea or specifically the Korilla BBQ truck on 47th and Park.

Korilla has been a staple of the New York food truck scene since it opened in 2010. This is one of those trucks where any time of the day it’s there, there’ll be a line.

The day I went there was already a line forming at 11:45 AM, and it’s a testament to this truck that there were a bunch of trucks already open up and down the street, but people were dutifully waiting.

They try to keep the line moving so they post instructions on the truck, but as with many of these trucks you’ll draw the ire of everyone behind you if you spend too much time trying to figure out what’s going on. Here’s the ordering process:

1) First, you can get either a rice bowl or a burrito. The main difference here is basically whether you want to eat with a fork or with your hands.

2) Next you choose your rice. You can get white, glutinous (sticky) rice, or you can splurge for a dollar more and get bacon kimchi fried rice (hint: splurge)

3) Next you choose your protein. If you want the quintessential korean experience go for the bulgogi (ribeye), which is excellent—it’s marinated and cooked to perfection with a slightly sweet and savory flavor.

4) The next steps are where people tend to get a little tripped up. You can choose cheese or salsa as a topping. Then, you choose different pickled vegetables, including kimchi, pickled cucumbers, daikon radish, and slaw. I find here it’s easiest just to say “the works” and let them decide what to give you—you’ll get a taste of everything and then you’ll be able to be more selective in the future (or in my case, just ask for the works each time).

5) Finally you’ll pick a sauce. Korilla Sauce is sort of your typical mayo-ketchup Russian dressing-type sauce. To the other extreme, the k’illa is really, really spicy (I just downed a whole can of Diet Mountain Dew after eating a couple bites, and I’m usually someone who tolerates spicy pretty well).

I got the bulgogi and fried rice with the works and a combination of korilla and k’illa sauce. Here’s what it looked like.

korean bbq for lunch

Pretty, huh? It tasted amazing as well. It was like going to a Korean BBQ place, but instead of getting your meal in a thousand small bowls they just jump everything together.

The portion size is just right, but I had the feeling they skimped a little on the beef. Still, the mix of sweet and savory and salty with the beef, veggies, and rice made for an incredible combination.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Wonderful meal, but the long line, difficulty in ordering, and small portion of the beef made me dock them half a point.

Price I paid:

Line: long

Tricks for fast ordering: memorize the menu and be prepared to rattle off your choice under 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 quickly. This is not a line you want to hold up.

What to order if you’re a newbie: Rice bowl with bacon kimchi fried rice, bulgogi or pork, and “the works”. Don’t choose the k’illa sauce if you can’t take the heat.

The menu:

menu, part 1

menu part 2
menu, part 2

On Twitter:


On the Web:

KorrillaBBQ.com.

Bian Dang Truck (Taiwanese)

Bian Dang Food Truck

Food Truck: Bian Dang Taiwanese Food

Sighting: 53rd between Park and Lex

Country: Taiwan

The first food truck I knew I had to review was the Bian Dang Food Truck. They’ve been around for a while (they used to be called NYC Cravings) and I’ve been a fan for a while.

They specialize in Taiwanese food. Now a lot of you might assume this is “Chinese food”, but as I like to tell people, Taiwanese food is to Chinese food as Mexican food is to Spanish food. They may speak the same language in both countries, but each has a culinary tradition that’s worlds apart.

The word “bian dang” roughly translates to “lunch box”. Back in Taiwan’s history when rail travel could be a full day affair, they’d sell “tie lu bian dang” at train stations and on trains. It usually consisted of a fried pork chop, some braised meat and sauce, some pickled vegetables, some stir-fried vegetables, an egg, and rice.two pork chops

For my money, this is one of the perfect lunches of the world. The flavors and textures all balance each other out. There are few tastes better than braised meat and sauce over rice, and with the juice from the pork chop seeping into the rice you’ll enjoy one of nature’s perfect flavor combinations. Add to that the savoriness and chewiness of the pork chop, the sourness and pop of the picked vegetables, the subtle sweetness and crunch of the vegetables, and you have a full meal that all fits within one convenient plastic container.

pork chop rice, egg, pickled vegetablesThe Bian Dang truck replicates this classic lunch box pretty accurately. The first thing I’ll say is that the portions are generous. If you order the pork chop over rice, you’ll get two full pork chops, and a generous helping of rice and the other ingredients.

The dish can be tricky to eat subtly at a desk in a shared workspace. First of all, there’s an awesome aroma when you open your lunch box which you can enjoy but you’ll need to make sure your co-workers do too. And if you get the pork chop, you will need to pick it up with your fingers and do your best Cujo impression if you want to get every last bit of meat out. Be sure to have some floss handy as well. On the other hand, if you order the chicken, the braised pork, or the fishcakes, you’ll be able to eat those pretty quietly.

As for the flavor, while I can’t say it’s the absolute best pork chop over rice I’ve had in my life, it’s certainly very satisfying. The meat is well-cooked and tender, The rice, sauce, and pickled vegetables are kind of piled on and tend to mix together; it’s something I don’t mind as I’d be doing that anyway but if you’re picky about the presentation of your food this might be off-putting if you’re not expecting it.

Something that wasn’t on the menu but available as a special when I went back a few days later was the braised pork belly. I went back the very next day to get it. As with their other lunch boxes this came with vegetables (some Napa cabbage in this case) and rice. Here’s what it looked like up.

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Need a closer look? Here you go:

pork belly over rice

oink oink

Yes, those are big honking pieces of pork fat. Perhaps off-putting, even repulsive to the Western palate, but for someone from Taiwan it’s one of the most sublime experiences on earth. These guys didn’t disappoint. They made it juicy, tender, and perfectly seasoned, perfect to eat with a big steaming bowl of white rice. I always used to avoid these because of, oh, things like arteries and heart disease. But my wife (who’s from Taiwan) assures me that these are good for you, so who am I to argue with her.

Incidentally, if you visit the National Taiwan Museum, you’ll see that one of their national treasures is an artifact from the Ching Dynasty–a piece of rock that looks exactly like a piece of pork fat. It’s to Chinese culture as the Mona Lisa is to French culture. And now you know.

Both times I got my food in under a minute, packed securely in a brown paper bag. The young guys in the truck couldn’t have been friendlier.

5 stars out of 5. I will be back.

Price I paid: $7 for the pork chop over rice, more for the pork belly. $1 for the tea egg.

Line: short

Portion Size: large

Tricks for fast ordering: memorize the menu and be prepared to order quickly. You’ll likely want to choose one main dish, a tea egg and a free high five.

What to order if you’re a newbie: You’ll probably want one of the “pork chop over rice” or the “chicken leg over rice”, two quintessential lunch boxes in Taiwan.

The menu:

menu for bian dang food truck

On Twitter:


On the Web:

BianDangNYC.com