Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart Gets a Proper Look See
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I don’t know who Kim is, or his Aunt, but they have a pretty awesome cart. I first wrote about this place months ago, when the Bulgogi Cart first appeared on 49th St. Brand new, and so full of promise, I was excited for Bulgogi Sandwich, and cheap Korean food from a cart. And then, it disappeared. Frantic, I found myself wandering the streets in search of something… and by coincidence, Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart had just hung a handmade sign, touting their very own bulgogi.
I tried it, and remembered thinking it was good, but not as good as it could be. It turned out to be better than the actual Bulgogi Cart on 49th, but not as good as the version Cafe Duke serves on 51st. Even so, it was from a cart- and Kim’s Aunt Kitchen earned a place on my list of return lunches. They had a pretty extensive menu of fried seafood, and random Chinese dishes like Lo Mein, but the draw for me was definitely the Bulgogi.
Flash forward a few months, and the cart gets picked by NY Mag as one of the best carts in NYC… for their Fried Fish Sandwich. Fried Fish Sandwich you say? Methinks it’s time to revisit Kim’s Aunt. So back I went for the $3.50 fried whiting sandwich… or what I now come to think of as “The Best Bargain in Midtown”.
Fishy sandwich porn and a +/- after the jump…
They have flounder, and sometimes maybe other fish (?) but NY Mag spoke highly of the whiting, and it is the cheapest- so who am I to argue with that? In the same family as smelts, whiting is also sometimes referred to as hake or pollock. It’s basically just a plain white fish. Cheap, and not a strong flavor of anything but fish. In other words- the type of thing you’re gonna wanna fry. I ordered, and watched him put the thing together.
I was pretty sure this was going to end up being two different sandwiches but was taken aback when he pulled the fold over move. In disbelief, my brain tried to wrap itself around the situation. “You mean… the whole thing is for me?!?!” Amazing! So much fish… and for only $3.50. Borderline ridiculous. It came topped with tartar sauce and hot sauce, and when properly assembled looked like this:
The world is divided into two different kinds of people. One group looks at that photo, and thinks “gross!”. The other group is too busy drooling to say anything. Which group do you suppose that I am in?
I’m not going to lie to you. The thing stunk up my office… and not necessarily in a good way. Used to my lunchtime antics, most people were intrigued by the “delicious” smell emanating from my desk, but I’m sure there were others who were less excited to have their work space stink like a New England seafood shack. There is no mistaking the smell of fish… and when you buy a fish sandwich for $3.50, you can rest assured it is going to smell (and taste of fish).
And that’s what it comes down to. If you are one of those people who hates “fishy” fish, this is not the cart for you. But if you love fried fish, and tartar sauce, and a great bargain- the whiting sandwich at Kim’s Aunt Kitchen will be your new goto lunch. Feeling like a fancy pants? Order the flounder for $4.50 and eat like a king.
They still have the bulgogi I tried on the first visit, and it has actually been officially added to the printed menu- along with gyoza. The quality of the bulgogi meat is definitely better than the 49th St. Cart but it doesn’t have as strong a bulgogi flavor. For $6 it comes with rice or lo mein. For $8, it comes with gyoza as well. Loving the variety, I got the gyoza, and went with Lo Mein just to try it. The gyoza were not the greatest I’ve ever had (they’re probably just the same frozen ones you can buy in your grocery store) but they have a nice garlic and scallion flavor, and I enjoyed the variety. (I even got a piece of chicken, which I wrote about last week.)
I liked the Lo Mein as well, although its strong soy sauce/Chinese flavors totally overpowered the bulgogi, making the whole platter just taste like beef lo mein. Not necessarily a bad thing, but if you are looking for Korean food, you might want to stick with the white rice. I seem to remember that version tasting better.
All in all, I have to give it to NY Mag for this one. I will eat bulgogi from anywhere… but for fried fish, sometimes you need that recommendation from a third party. Now if only I could meet Kim’s Aunt… I’ll bet she’s a real special lady.
THE + (What someone who likes this place would say)
- Super cheap
- A ton of food. For $3.50, you get twice as much fish as you would expect in the whiting sandwich.
- I love fish! The fishier the better! Fry it and serve it up!
- I love sandwich bread
- Great variety. With your bulgogi you can get rice or lo mein- and gyoza! From a cart!
- The bulgogi is made fresh when you order it. (i.e. it starts off as raw beef, and is cooked from scratch)
THE – (What someone who doesn’t like this place would say)
- I hate smelly/fishy/cheap fish. Even when it’s fried.
- Everything is super greasy
- The bulgogi tastes more Chinese than Korean
- The gyoza are not worth the money
- I would never eat fish from a cart
Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart, 46th btw. 5+6th.