Day 7: Big D’s Grubtruck for Big Flavor Grub!
Big D’s is known for their Ginger Chicken tacos and mouthwatering Bulgogi grinders (grinder = Bánh mì style sandwich), but when I saw Spicy Pork on their menu, I was hoping I’d get that instead. I got to 50th and 6th on a proper June afternoon (finally!) and the bright sun warmed up midtown’s appetite as I found a long line full of hungry StreetGrubbers. Nestled comfortably between Crisp on Wheels and the Desi Food Truck was a taxi-yellow box on wheels with a bright orange plaque showcasing Big D’s happy mug. I asked Big D himself for my usual, and got exactly what I’d hoped for, with a bonus of pork and chive dumplings. For chive-newbies, it’s an earthy, oniony-type herb that has a flavor profile between leek and scallion. And what’s Bulgogi you might ask? Check out this short clip to find out.
When I got my bag, I nearly dropped it on the floor. This thing had heft, and my super-sized hunger was screaming in anticipation. I removed the box and uncovered a sandwich nearly as big as my helmet – check out the pics! The bread was fresh, you can always tell, with a well-crusted shell, and soft, yet resilient interior. It was almost flat like a panino (un panino, due panini, si?), and fought mightily to contain all the pork and veggie filling. By now, you all know that I’m no fan of cucumbers, so I didn’t know what to expect when I saw thick cuts of it. I feel the same about carrots, but there was clearly more meat here so that kept me happy.
I took as big a bite as I could muster and barely made a dent. I knew right away that I’d be eating this also for dinner. I managed to get almost everything into that bite – carrots, daikon radish, pork, and bread (no cucumber!) and I immediately thought of my time in Vietnam, nomming on fresh prepared-before-my-eyes Bánh mì (a Bánh mì is simply a French baguette encasing grilled pork and pickled veggies). The bread had that just-baked taste, flaky, soft and chewy, and almost a yeasty-like moistness that retracts when you yank at it.
The carrots and daikon were crisp, and mixed things up with their sweet and pickled flavor. It’s just not a taste and texture I expect when I grub on a sandwich, but it tickled my palette just enough to prepare me for that intensely-seasoned pork. And I’m not talking salty – just serious, smack in your face big flavor. Big D marinates the pork in a secret recipe (no- he wouldn’t tell me), but I tasted all the flavors of the rainbow, sweet, savory, sour, with just a hint of spicy. The kimchi puree atop added another level of boldness, and had a paste-like texture that I was surprised I actually liked. The veggies were good , but the pork was definitely the star of the show.
The dumplings were gigantic, but I have to be honest, I wasn’t crazy about them. The filling was great though – the chives offered that fragrant, onion taste, and the ground pork was plump, tender, and juicy, but I just LOVE super thinly-wrapped dumplings, where the skin just melts in your mouth, and the skin here was on the thicker side. I dunked them into both sauces, and preferred the soy garlic, with just a hint of spice to keep things alive. Thanks Big D for pumping out all that bold, intense flavor – and to my readers, don’t let their quickness at moving those lines fool you, you can just tell that their grub was cooked and treated with nothing but love and respect.