Number one is a pickle-studded bowl of goo.
One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is, “What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?” And then I have to rummage around in my recollections of the many, many good meals I’ve eaten in the last few weeks. Usually, I’m left tongue-tied. But an even more common question – and you may have difficulty believing it – goes something like this: “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten lately?”
Call it adventure dining by proxy. While someone may not be willing to shag ass out to Northern Boulevard in Queens for some Korean wriggling octopus eaten while still alive, or to Bensonhurst to sample Italian pig-blood chocolate pudding around Eastertide – they sure want to hear all about it. Accordingly, just in case you were about to ask me that very question, here are the five weirdest things I’ve eaten recently.
1. Meatball at Taiwanese Specialties – Say “meatball” and what do you think of? A plainish orb of well-cooked ground flesh, albeit one that can come in varying sizes. It might be beef, it might be lamb, or yet again, it might be a mixture of meats. Well, surprise! At Taiwanese Specialties – a long running establishment in Elmhurst just south of the LIRR tracks – the so-called Taiwanese meatball is a big bowl of wiggly goo, with tidbits of meat and pickle peregrinating around inside, barely visible through the translucent sweet-potato-starch matrix. It’s good, but it’s no substitute for a real meatball. 84-02 Broadway, Elmhurst, Queens, 718-429-4818
2. “Hot Dog” at Rosarito Fish Shack – Seafood sausages are common enough in area fish markets. You could poach or broil one, put it in a bun with mayo and chopped pickle, and you’d have a magnificent take on the conventional tube steak. At Rosarito Fish Shack – a new Baja, California–style seafood joint in Williamsburg – they’ve chosen a different route. To stand in for the floater, they’ve used a muscular octopus arm, wrapped in bacon and grilled a la Crif Dogs. Then they put a lot of other crap on top of it. But when you push away the mate ketchup, chipotle mayo, and various other slippery substances, the tentacle flops out the end somewhat gruesomely. 168 Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 718-388-8833
3. Ziti Slice at Slice & Co. – For those worried about their carb intake, I suggest a visit to Slice & Co. on West 14th Street for a little ziti slice therapy. This strange pizza has been around for a while, but is usually found in obscure pizzerias in the Bronx and Brooklyn. But the idea of upscaling the crust via a wood-burning oven and ramping up the artisanal pretensions is pure genius. The cheese is a tad better, too. Still, with every bite, you’ll think how very weird the ziti slice is. 527 Sixth Avenue, 212-255-6333
4. Mikey’s Burger at Mikeys Burger – The idea of putting canned corned beef hash on a hamburger somehow appealed to me (it tastes great with fried eggs, right?), so I ordered Mikey’s Burger, which differs from the name of the place only by an apostrophe. What arrived was a decent flame-cooked burger on a good bun, but on top, instead of the expected slice of diced and canned corned beef and potato, there were what appeared to be several greasy swatches of grilled luncheon meat, but no potatoes. Waaaah! Maybe this meets someone’s definition of hash, but not mine. 241 Third Avenue, New York, 212-533-3335
5. Currywurst at Currywurst Bros. – The cross-cultural snack called currywurst was invented during Berlin’s dark days following World War II by a German woman who mixed ketchup and curry powder given to her by British soldiers, to make a condiment that quickly became a popular sausage topping. Currywurst Bros. is a German franchise that has brought the phenomenon to these shores in a fast-food context. Their version is really quite awful, the bland pork (or veal or chicken) sausage drowned in sweet red sauce. Yes, the raw curry powder helps somewhat, but you’re really just eating a frankfurter murdered by too much ketchup. 182 Bleecker Street, 917-265-8317
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