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Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog Event – Behold, the “Felly Dog”!

May 5, 2010

Although this hot dog eating extravaganza was almost a month and a half ago, this food porn is just too good to leave sitting on a hard drive somewhere. If you missed the event, don’t fear! There’s another one coming up later this month – on May 22nd, to be exact – so plan ahead! If it’s anything like this last one, it’ll be a blast.

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For those who don’t know, I used to be an avid yelper. I used to go to their events (both official and unofficial) all the time and meet new people, many of whom I now consider close friends. However, due to personal scheduling issues and changes in Yelp’s demographics, I haven’t been going to very many events recently. Javier J.‘s Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog event was my first event back in 2010.

Javier might be the most awesome event planner ever. Not only does the guy provide hundreds of free bacon wrapped hot dogs to almost fifty hungry yelpers but he goes all out on the condiments, bringing both traditional and non-traditional toppings. Forget just plain ketchup, mustard and relish – inspired by Dogzilla’s Japanese hot dogs, Javier packed yakisoba noodles, nori flakes, avocados and wasabi mayo. He didn’t just stop there though – he went even deeper into Asian fusion territory, bringing French baguettes and pickled vegetables for a “bun mi” and kimchi pickled radishes for a Korean dog.

I ate two of these hot dogs – one Japanese inspired and one Vietnamese inspired – but was still looking for that perfect combination. It was then I concocted the ultimate Asian-fusion loaded hot dog: the “Felly Dog”.

(Behold! The “Felly Dog”)

The Felly Dog consists of a veggie dog (yes, that’s right – a vegetarian hot dog) wrapped in bacon (why wrap vegetarian meat in real pork? why not?), topped with wasabi mayo, nori flakes, pickled carrots, avocado, kimchi radishes, with yakisoba noodles. I thought it was pretty tasty (but at that point, I was giddy off bacon wrapped hot dogs so I can’t guarantee that it’ll taste as good for you).

By the end of Javier’s event, I had eaten three whole hot dogs, two beers, two cans of soda, a couple vegan brownies and an individual sized bag of chips all by myself. (Not too shabby, if I say so myself!)

This was a great event.

53rd and 6th Halal Cart (Manhattan, NY) – The Million Dollar Question: Why?

May 5, 2010

An actual conversation while standing in line at the 53rd and 6th Halal Cart:

(This is considered a very short line.)

Stranger: Is everyone waiting in this line waiting for this cart?
Us: Yup.
Stranger: What makes this cart so special? I always see people waiting for this cart. None of the other guys have lines. Why go to this one…?

Now THAT is the million dollar question. Why?

The 53rd and 6th Halal Cart currently has 965 reviews on Yelp with a 4.5 star average rating. 94% of people “liked” it on Urbanspoon. It even has it’s own Wikipedia page. What makes this halal cart so different from the other dozen halal carts parked down the street? (Btw, you know you’ve hit it big time when googling an intersection links directly to your cart.)

(This is their specialty – chicken and rice.)

After tasting it for myself, I’ve decided: It’s their white sauce. It has to be. I can’t come up with any other reason but that.

Their specialty platter is essentially just lettuce, rice, chicken and pita with whatever sauces you decide to load it up with. Now take the sauce away from the equation: The lettuce is lettuce. The rice is rice. The chicken is a bit mushy. The pita is nice and fluffy but people don’t order “chicken and rice” for the pita. Honestly, without the sauce, it’s average at best.

However, the white sauce almost transforms this plate of blah to one that even I found myself craving the morning after. What’s in the sauce? No one knows…secret recipe. It’s creamy, not heavy, the consistency isn’t too thick but it’s also not watered down by any means. There are no distinct seasonings that jump out at you. I’m not even going to begin to guess what’s in it. All I know is that the white sauce has to be the reason why this cart gets more foot traffic than all the other carts in the area combined.

WARNING: The 53rd and 6th Cart has a white sauce and a red sauce. The white sauce, I’ve already explained above. The red sauce is suicide hot. Like, PAINFULLY SPICY. The cart even has a caution sign for the hot sauce. I put a little of it on my plate – didn’t think it was too bad so I added a lot more. Um…Yeah. Don’t do that. My mouth was on fire for a good five minutes. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t focus, my tongue was numb…

…Just stick to the white sauce.

53rd and 6th Halal Cart
53rd St and 6th Ave
New York, NY 10019
Website: http://www.53rdand6th.com/

53rd and 6th Halal Cart on Urbanspoon

Cafe Habana (Manhattan, NY) – Corn Never Tasted So Good

May 4, 2010

The above picture may not be the prettiest one to grace this blog but you know what?

Aesthetics don’t always matter. Flavor does.

Cafe Habana’s grilled corn is one of those things you have to try if you haven’t yet. The description sounds simple enough: It’s just an ear of corn that has been grilled, sprinkled with cheese and spices with a hearty squeeze of lime. However, knowing that makes you no less surprised upon your first bite.

Cafe Habana’s grilled corn is the unification of salty melted cheese, tangy lime juice and sweet corn.

I think I’m going to get another one tomorrow.

Cafe Habana
229 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 625-2001
Website: http://www.cafehabana.com/

Café Habana on Urbanspoon

Checkers Downtown (Los Angeles, CA) – FOUR Is My Favorite Number

May 2, 2010

I’m an accountant. I know numbers, I can do math. Check it out:

FOUR at the Checkers Downtown
– Only offered on the 4th weekday in week (i.e. Thursday).
– Good for 4 hours, from 4-8PM.
– Four drinks at $4 each.
– Four plates at $4 each.
– Eight (not four!) new things to try.
– Even if you order all four drinks and all four plates, you’re still under $40 before tip.

(See why FOUR is my favorite number?)

I was originally going to wait to write this review until I’ve been four times but I just couldn’t wait. Plus, if I’ve been there twice, for two different weeks, and two is halfway to four and…

…Okay. Enough with the math. Let’s get down to the review.

If Checkers served mediocre food and mediocre drinks for $4, FOUR would still be considered a good deal. But, Checkers doesn’t serve mediocre food and drinks – they serve delicious food and well-mixed drinks, which then makes FOUR a great deal. I mean, check out these two menus and tell me this isn’t a great deal…

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FOUR – 4.15.10 – DRINK SPONSOR: OCEAN VODKA

From talking to the bartenders, hard alcohol sponsored nights are more popular than the wine nights, and for good reason – Checkers cocktails are really good. This particular Thursday, I had a refreshing cucumber-mint cocktail and their version of a Salty Dog, my personal favorite for the night.

Typically made with gin and grapefruit juice, this particular drink was made with the sponsored Ocean Vodka instead and included a hint of rosemary as well. I liked the slightly tart, very citrusy grapefruit against the salty rimmed glass.

As for food, my first dish – an endive salad – was very similar to one I had at Craft, with its combination of endive, apple and blue cheese and walnuts.

Dish 2/4: Grilled Caledonian Prawn

Of my second dish, the cara cara orange was my favorite component, adding acidity and brightness. I was also happy to see they left the heads on the three large shrimp (the head is the best part!).

Dish 3/4: Halibut Cheeks in Red Thai Curry Stew

My dining companion and I ordered two of every dish except the halibut, which I began to regret after I had a taste. Described as being in a red Thai curry sauce, the curry was actually quite demure – not at all spicy or overpowering as one would expect – and allowed the fish and vegetables to really shine.

Dish 4/4: Braised Kurobuta Pork Belly

Typically fatty and melt in your mouth tender, the braised pork belly was instead crispy, as if it was fried. I expected this to be my favorite that day, but ended up being my least due to the texture issue.

FOUR – 4.29.10 – DRINK SPONSOR: SUMMERLAND WINERY

Although hard alcohol nights are more popular than wine nights, that’s not to say the wine night’s aren’t good too. Sometimes you just want to swirl a glass of pinot rather than down a martini.

As previously mentioned, FOUR offers four dishes for $4 a piece. This particular day I just wasn’t feeling the second dish on the menu, a white bean soup with chorizo. Therefore, I only ordered the other three.

Dish 1/4: Caledonia Prawn Scampi

The sauce was flavorful but not heavy and the pasta was cooked al dente. It was supposed to pair with the chardonnay (which I also ordered, pictured above) but I enjoyed the food much more than the wine.

Dish 3/4: Maitake Mushroom Toast

The mushroom toast was a little too rich for my taste. The hearty mushrooms would have been enough, but the mushroom butter was almost overwhelming. Additionally, the toast was lost underneath the piles of mushrooms and was slightly soggy from the butter.

Dish 4/4: Pan-seared Sonoma Duck Breast

The duck was my favorite of the four for this week – I ordered two orders. My first order was spot on – the duck was tender, not dry. The dates were huge (and almost looked like medallions of sweet potato). Out of all the dishes, I felt that this one embodied the wine theme the best.

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I know some of you are probably still in disbelief. “…Wait, what? High quality for a low price?” Stop pinching yourself, it’s true. Yes, some dishes may be hit or miss but for $4, you really can’t go wrong.

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Checkers Downtown
535 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 624-0000
Website: http://checkersdowntown.com/
Twitter: @CheckersDT

Checkers Downtown on Urbanspoon

Cooking with Fel – A Nostalgic Bacon Sandwich

May 1, 2010

I don’t usually write about things as mundane as making myself lunch, but for some reason I felt the urge to document today’s…so I am. (Oh, the joys of running your own site!)

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I opened the fridge this morning, hoping to make myself some french toast or maybe a grilled cheese a la “The Afterburn” but, upon opening the fridge, I realized that just wasn’t going to happen.

(I opened the fridge; I was greeted with this.)

Now, if you follow my twitter account, you know I am not a creative cook. In the half dozen times I’ve actually cooked this year, because I’ve tried to “challenge myself as a chef” (that’s how I describe it), I’ve created two failed frittatas and one failed angel food cake. Therefore, when faced with a semi-empty fridge, I’m not going to attempt to do anything more than make myself a sandwich. (I was just hoping there would be enough in the fridge for me to piece one together.)

Lucky for me, I found three ingredients to sandwich between bread.

(I even labeled the picture for you!)

For lunch, I made myself a bacon, tomato and avocado sandwich.

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…Before I continue – are people still reading? Are you wondering why I had an urge to write about an empty refrigerator and a stupid sandwich?

Well, here’s my tidbit story:

When I was a kid, the mom used to take the brother and I to these educational prep courses every weekend. Class was always around lunchtime so the brother and I would either eat at home and then jet to class or, if we didn’t have time to do that, we would go to the neighborhood sandwich shop a couple doors down after class and order a sandwich.

That sandwich shop was the first place I ever had a BLT sandwich. As kids, we had pretty healthy diets and bacon is…not really healthy (to say the least). Thus, I remember the idea of using bacon as a lunch meat substitute BLEW MY MIND. Once we figured out we could build a bacon sandwich, the brother and I made BLTs all the time, usually including avocado in the sandwich because we always had avocados on hand. (We may be Asian, but we love our avocados!)

Fast forward to today – I honestly can’t remember the last time I made a sandwich out of bacon; I definitely haven’t had one in years. But with that first bite of bread and bacon and tomato and avocado, I instantaneously remembered that sandwich shop and homemade bacon sandwiches as a kid.

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I had a bacon, tomato and avocado sandwich for lunch today. It was really good.