Shrimp Toast from Great Wall No. 1 (954 Manhattan Avenue, 718-349-8424)
Something that’s been on almost every single menu at Year of the Takeout eateries has been shrimp toast.
Now, this dish is a classic dim sum staple, but I should mention that in this writer’s experience, it’s not at all common on the more southern part of the Atlantic Seaboard at these kind of fast-fooderies.
(If you’re a reader from a different region, like the Midwest or the West Coast, I would love to know if this is on your respective carry-away menus. Do tell!)
Anyway, there are a few key things to mention about shrimp toast.
Probably the best way to describe these triangular chunks is to compare them to a crustaceany monte cristo of sorts.
A salty, shrimpy paste gets sandwiched between thin slices of bread that have been fused together to make a sealed pouch. The closed form appears to be doused in cooking oil, and then pan fried, but not dipped in an egg bath. The contents, though fishy, do feature nuance — they have that blended, sausage-y mouthfeel of a dumpling’s filling.
The main problem with this restaurant’s $3.50 pick?
Some of the edges do seem a teensy bit charred. But the morsels still feel gobble-worthy and fill your gullet on the cheap.
Overall, their greasy simplicity elevates them to a sort of primal comfort-food status — they’re not “right,” they’re not “wrong” — they just kind of are what they are … inexpensive gut-grenades without any pretensions. And there’s something to be said for that.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 3, 2012