Yesterday we went to NYC, with no particular agenda. A couple of themes did emerge, however. One of them was that New York really does have the craziest variety of food on the planet.
We stopped into a pretty famous Jewish deli on the Lower East Side, with the very cool name of Russ & Daughters. It offered seemingly every kind of Jewish comfort food, from egg salad to pickled salmon to caviar to blintzes and beyond. Unlike lots of old school delis, this place has made the transition into the 21st century quite gracefully. (I am going to attribute that to the presence of the "daughters.")
I can understand why real New Yorkers get wistful for their favorite comfort foods when they move away. Witness this photo: Not even in Beverly Hills/West Hollywood have I seen "Icelandic schmaltz fillets." And I had been craving those babies all day, let me tell you.
We ended up eating at a kitschy Cantonese place that I'd been reading about, called Congee Village, also in the Lower East Side. Thank god the menu had clear English translations, because the "special plates" were 16 of the most gut-wrenching items I've ever seen in one place, hands down. I will list them here, in their full glory (and including any typos):
#301. Duck's blood with ginger and scallion.
#302. Duck's blood with chives.
#303. Baked fish intestine in clay pot.
#304. Goose intestine with soy sauce.
#305. Goose intestine with black bean sauce.
#306. Boiled goose intestine with bean sprouts.
#307. Fried intestine.
#308. Pickle vegetable with intestine.
#309. Soy bean sprouts with intestine.
#310. Cold jelly fish.
#311. Boneless chicken feet with Thai sauce.
#312. Duck tongue & sugar peas with XO sauce.
#313. Cold preserve egg mix pickle.
#314. Wasabi mix three kinds sea foods.
#315. Sun dried dace fish steamed with preserved pig's belly.
#316. Steamed silver fish & dried squid with soy sauce.
Is this a joke list? It sounds more like something out of a haunted house horror chamber. I think the worst one is the #312- how many ducks' tongues can you really eat?- but then I think about #311 and picture the puddle of skin that must be . . . boneless chicken feet.