howdini's Profile

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Empellon Al Pas-bore

Make no mistake: l've been to Empellon Cocina a couple of times, and l've had a delicious meal each time...he just really needs to up the ante with this place.

about 6 hours ago
howdini in Manhattan

Empellon Al Pas-bore

Oh, l live right around the corner and l LOVE Downtown Bakery, especially their breakfast tacos! Their enchiladas guajillo are also excellent. Really, really nice folks, too.

The tortillas at Empellon are homemade, though they held together just fine. l was thinking that the meh flavors might be a result of the early opening/getting their act together, but to quote Stupak, “We’ve named it Empellón al Pastor because I’m not giving myself an out,” says the chef. “We have to master this taco. If we fail at everything else in this restaurant, we have to get this one thing right. I’ve never been more terrified.”

He's obviously really serious about it, and has put in a lot of work, but dang, the result should be a far sight better than this, l think, especially considering the fact that he's had two other Mexican restaurants in which to practice.

about 6 hours ago
howdini in Manhattan

Empellon Al Pas-bore

FINE. Here it is.

about 15 hours ago
howdini in Manhattan

Empellon Al Pas-bore

l visited Stupak's new taqueria on St. Marks and Ave. A the day before yesterday, to try his much-vaunted tacos. l ordered an al pastor and a chicken chipotle.

The al pastor, the signature taco, was sub-par by any standard: weak flavor, tasted of salt more than anything else. The chicken chipotle was ok, though not very spicy, and tasted almost exactly like the ones at San Loco.

At $4ea., they're no bargain, as $3 will buy you a far superior [and more well-stuffed] taco at the Morelos cart, and Morelos serves theirs with two tortillas as well. The tortillas at Empellon are quite good, but they're following this recent trend of only providing one tortilla per taco, which is utter BS. They do have lots of tequilas for $5/shot, which is a pretty good price.

l'm sticking with Morelos.

[l took a photo, but decided against posting it, becuz l'm pretty sure you've all seen photos of tacos before]

about 17 hours ago
howdini in Manhattan

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao (Flushing)....Any Better Successors?

Losing the soup due to the dumplings sticking causes me to into [internal] fits of rage.

about 17 hours ago
howdini in Outer Boroughs

Emilio's Ballato, has anyone been recently, is it a great version of a red saucer ????

l haven't been to Ballato in l don't know how long, but Sauce, on Rivington and Allen, does good, old-fashioned red sauce kinda stuff.

Oct 21, 2014
howdini in Manhattan

Bao - XLB specialist on St. Marks

Thanks, l've been wanting to go for some time...it's such a schlep to get out there, me without a car.

Oct 21, 2014
howdini in Manhattan

Shu Han Ju - New Szechuan at 6th Ave. and 11th St.

Thanks for the rec! l'm often visiting Guitar Ctr., so always looking for places close to it.

Oct 21, 2014
howdini in Manhattan

Long Island: Went to Chowder Bar and White Cap, any other places to try along Montauk Highway between Babylon and Patchogue?

Those crab cakes look fantastic.

Absolute Bagels on UWS

You're spending a month in West lslip without a car?!?!? My heart goes out to you!

Oct 11, 2014
howdini in Manhattan

Absolute Bagels on UWS

l grew up on LI in the 70s and 80s; there'd always been good bagel joints there, but l'm not sure how it is now. My favorite growing up was Biagel Nosherai on Jericho Tpk. in Syosset, which shuttered way too soon.

l usually rate bagels with plain or pumpernickel.

Oct 11, 2014
howdini in Manhattan

Absolute Bagels on UWS

Oh, l believe it, tho LI does have some very good bagel shops.

Try to check out Bagel Hole in Park Slope if you ever get the chance...those, for me, are archetypal.

Oct 10, 2014
howdini in Manhattan

Absolute Bagels on UWS

Heh. That method definitely works, c oliver, but nothing beats those fresh-out-of-the-oven bagels. Next time, try splitting them in half before freezing: they'll thaw and heat up more quickly, making you happier faster!

l agree totally with what zbs said about hot-out-of-the-oven fresh, tho l do prefer them to cool for a couple of minutes, as l don't like the cream cheese to melt, and l think they might crisp up a bit as they cool. Those crispy little blisters on the bottom are the stuff of my nostalgic dreams. That said, as to what l had at Absolute: l got neither of them at the ideal time, so l know l wasn't trying them at their best, but l have definite preferences as to what bagels should be like at different stages in the out-of-oven timeline. The pumpernickel was feh, the everything, meh [better than meh, actually, but l couldn't sacrifice a good Yiddishche rhyme].

ANYWAY, l see that zbs is a maven after my own heart, so l'm more inspired to check out Black Seed.

Oct 10, 2014
howdini in Manhattan

Absolute Bagels on UWS

lt is terrible here, in this culinary wasteland, yes.

Oct 10, 2014
howdini in Manhattan
1

Absolute Bagels on UWS

Thanks for the info on East River; l'm very interested in trying them. l have no excuse for not having tried Black Seed yet, as l live in the EV and it's close enough, but the siren call of Chinatown is too great when l'm that close to it...

Oct 10, 2014
howdini in Manhattan

Absolute Bagels on UWS

l haven't tried either! But from what l understand, Black Seed is Montreal-style bagels, yes? l'm talking classic NYC bagels, here.

Oct 10, 2014
howdini in Manhattan

Absolute Bagels on UWS

While l was on the UWS yesterday, l had a chance to try a couple of bagels from Absolute Bagels, which some say are the city's best. To which l respond: absolutely meh. l was told by a friend that their bagels are somewhere between the old-school small, dense, crispy bagels, and the newer style big puffy ones. Nope: they are firmly in the puffy-style camp, albeit a bit smaller than most.

l asked which batch was the freshest, and was referred to the everythings, so l got one of those and a pumpernickel. The pumpernickel was totally average-to-sub par: kind of chalky, and didn't have the great, deep flavor that l expect of a good pumpernickel. The everything was much better, but still no better than Murray's, David's, H&H, Ess-A-Bagel, et. al.

The best bagels l've had in NYC remain the ones from The Bagel Hole in Park Slope: totally old-school as described above, totally delicious. Terrace Bagels in Windsor Terrace take top prize for new-gen style bagels.

l hope to try Utopia Bagels in Flushing soon, as l'm given to understand, from reliable sources, that they're the city's best. We'll see.

Oct 10, 2014
howdini in Manhattan

Bao - XLB specialist on St. Marks

Went again last night, this time with my son [chef-in-training!]. He wasn't in the mood for spicy, so l didn't get to try the spicy xlb, but the regular pork ones were good, as always, tho l'm still missing that depth and richness that other joints provide. lnspired by Pookipichu and foodwhisperer, l ate them in the traditional way, rather than carefully nibbling a hole and pouring the soup into a spoon, my usual m.o....l much prefer the traditional method, thanks!

Also had an order of the wood ear and chinese yam, the flavor of which was ok [think basic, corner Chinese takeout white sauce with more flavor], but which would have been much better if there'd been more than [literally] three small slices of wood ear [which, to their credit, were perfectly cooked] and a metric ton of yam. The mouth feel [l hate that term...is there a viable substitute?] was kind of slimy, which l wasn't into that much. Definitely overpriced at $12.95, imo.

Braised pork knuckle arrived in a deep bowl with plenty of [wait for it...] unctuous
pig parts, a *very* generous supply of beech mushrooms [also, like their wood ear brethren, perfectly cooked], all swimming in a wonderfully flavorful, deep red sauce. This sauce was very similar to the type which comes with "Mao's favorite braised pork" at most Sichuan restaurants, redolent with star anise, but this rendition also had a gentle heat from sliced ripe jalapeños, making it particularly nice.

Scallion pancake with beef was very good, but here we had a revelation: dip that fkr in the braised pork knuckle sauce...whoa nelly, does that taste awesome! Now l'm wondering if they'd provide, upon request, a small bowl of that sauce for dipping. Really, really delicious flavor combination.

l'm psyched to explore the rest of the menu. lt's really great to have a couple of very good Sichuan, and now a good Shanghainese, restaurants in the EV.

Oct 10, 2014
howdini in Manhattan
1

Resource for Chinatown/ East Village food tour?

Ha! Deluxe: right.

Oct 07, 2014
howdini in Manhattan

Resource for Chinatown/ East Village food tour?

Great WV crawl, Kathryn! l haven't been to Rocco's in a while [l used to work on Bleecker], but the coffee there was always fantastic: the regular is essentially a big, expertly made latte for $1.50.

Oct 07, 2014
howdini in Manhattan

Resource for Chinatown/ East Village food tour?

That's Shanghai Cafe: the xlb there are very good, as are the sheng jian bao.

Oct 07, 2014
howdini in Manhattan

Resource for Chinatown/ East Village food tour?

Great, thanks!

Oct 07, 2014
howdini in Manhattan

Resource for Chinatown/ East Village food tour?

What do you like to order at Hong Kong Cafe? l love their efu noodles, crispy garlic chicken, salt-pepper squid and pork chops, water spinach...never with the right people to do the xo lobster. What other dishes would you recommend?

Oct 07, 2014
howdini in Manhattan

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao (Flushing)....Any Better Successors?

Fried xlb?!?!? What sorcery is this?!

Oct 04, 2014
howdini in Outer Boroughs

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao (Flushing)....Any Better Successors?

Yes, l love that dish too, with or without pork.

Oct 02, 2014
howdini in Outer Boroughs

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao (Flushing)....Any Better Successors?

Yeah, you turned me on to them...thanks again! Their xlb aren't too shabby, either.

Sep 30, 2014
howdini in Outer Boroughs

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao (Flushing)....Any Better Successors?

Great, thanks!

Sep 29, 2014
howdini in Outer Boroughs

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao (Flushing)....Any Better Successors?

My sentiments exactly. Have you tried other menu items there?

Sep 29, 2014
howdini in Outer Boroughs

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao (Flushing)....Any Better Successors?

Are you talking about Bao on St. Marks? l was thinking the same thing: good skin, "clean" broth, but not as flavorful as, say, Shanghai Asian Manor or Shanghai Cafe. lt does enjoy the distinct advantage of being on St. Marks, tho.

Sep 29, 2014
howdini in Outer Boroughs

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao (Flushing)....Any Better Successors?

Oo, l haven't tried them at 456...have you had the ones at Old Sichuan? Made with chicken, but very, very good.

Sep 29, 2014
howdini in Outer Boroughs