Day 2: Fruitstand guy, A-Pou’s, and Mud Truck = all food groups in one shot!
I woke up before noon, much too early for a Saturday, and ran out of my apartment in a hasty search for grub. I was starved, and as much as I ate the day before, went to bed hungry – underestimating how much I snacked on a daily basis. It was only day 2, but I realized eating only StreetGrub for the remainder of the month may test more than my will. I spot a fruit stand and ask for the very first thing I see. I fill my bookbag with $5 worth of bananas of which 3 I immediately inhale. My day can now begin.
A quick hop on the 6 led me to Astor Place, where reader-NOMinated A-Pou’s (pronounced Ah-Pwau, meaning grandmother in Mandarin) nestled itself neatly between Lafayette and Cooper Square. My “breakfast” began to finally register in my brain, so I was only hungry for a quick snack. I got the usual “you decide!” with Rex, and in an matter of seconds, was handed their best seller – a hodgepodge of assorted pot-stickers, all fried to an eye-pleasing caramelly brown crisp. I suddenly forgot about the bananas, and stuffed the first dumpling into my mouth.
The skin was thin, almost to a translucent glow, and was stretched gently over a heaping mixture of ground chicken, sweet soy sauce, pepper, scallion, and sesame oil. But as good as that sounds, the wrapper was the star of the show. The top had a melt in your mouth butteriness, but wasn’t mushy, and starkly contrasted its undercarriage – crunchy, and well-crisped to add just enough counter-texture to make it work. I was happiest when I got to the burnt edges, where the smoky flavor of the oil was allowed to shine. I sampled all four – Hong Kongese chicken, Korean Kimchi beef, Taiwanese pork, and Japanese vegetable, and surprisingly, liked the veggie one best. It had a wonderful mushroom, corn, carrot, and scallion mixture that I felt was the perfect mediator between the Jekyll & Hyde profile of the wrapper. To find out where they are right now, follow them on twitter.
I spotted the bright orange Mud Truck across the street and relished the thought of adding another bird to the kill list. I’m not a big coffee-drinker (and have never been to Mud), but the salt-fest in my dumpling box left me thirsty for anything liquid. I asked Sam at the window for my usual (you decide!), and received a cup of chocolatey (the dark kind), frothy brew with a hint of caramel, malted goodness. The body was smooth yet bold and intense, and left me freshly energized until dinner. Check out the clip below to see the action! Thanks again Sam and everybody at the Mud Truck! See you guys soon.