NYC Cravings Truck is Not Just Taiwanese Fried Chicken Anymore
It’s been just over a month since the NYC Cravings Truck made their Midtown debut, and while not all lunchers have been as gaga about the Taiwanese truck food as I, the crowds are still turning out Mondays (on 46th btw. 6+7th) and Fridays (on 53rd btw. Park+Lex.) I’m a huge fan of their Taiwanese fried chicken w/ pork sauce covered rice, but since I originally wrote about it they’ve added tea eggs, pork chops, and tianbula (fish cake) to their menu.
So last week I returned to try the rest of the new additions. (It’s a tough job, but somebody has got to do it.)
As soon as the Cravings truck hit the streets with their Taiwanese fried chicken, the drumbeat began for pork chops. Fried pork chops over rice with pork sauce and pickles cabbage is a standard Chinese dish, popularized here in NYC by Chinatown spots like Excellent Pork Chop House and Hua Ji (both covered by our Downtown Lunch reporter Daniel Krieger.) Cravings version tasted great to me, and had a similar flavor as the fried chicken. For some, they may not be worth the extra $1 (they’re $7 compared to $6 for the fried chicken), but if you’re in the mood for pork chops, these are probably the best you are going to find in Midtown for this kind of money. Not everybody loves them though, but any complaints I’ve heard usually contained the phrase “I can get a better, cheaper version in Chinatown.” Sadly though, we don’t work in Chinatown. For Midtown, this is as good as it gets!
I’ve eaten at a few Taiwanese restaurants in my life, but I wouldn’t say I’m incredibly familiar with the cuisine- and tianbula (fried Taiwanese fish cake) is completely new to me. I’ve had fish cake before and consider myself a fan, but usually it has been strips, and came boiled in a soup. The Cravings version is fish cake in giant cutlet form, deep fried just like the chicken and pork chops they serve. It’s probably more filler than fish, but the consistency was meat-like enough that you could confuse it with dark meat chicken or pork chops momentarily. Also it surprisingly didn’t have a very distinct fishy flavor. I liked it a lot, but wouldn’t choose it over fried chicken or fried pork chops, especially since it’s the most expensive of the 3 (at $8.) Maybe it’s for that unique breed of “vegetarian that also eats fish.”
The first time I visited the truck, they had their vegan dumplings (just meh) but were out of their pork dumplings. This time I tried the pork dumplings, which at 4 for $3 hover somewhere between being not as shockingly expensive as the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck, but not as shockingly cheap as what you get in Chinatown. The dumplings don’t stand up to well to being served off a truck (the wrapper doesn’t really stay together) but I really liked the flavor. They had this sweet and savory thing going on that made them not need any dipping sauce. There will be haters (i.e. “I can get 15 better dumplings in Chinatown for that price!”), but I was kind of a fan.
The $1 tea eggs were fun, but my sometimes unreliable palatte couldn’t detect anything but egg. No tea, soy sauce, or five spice detected. Just a hard boiled egg. I guess that will be a positive for some, and a negative for others
The one thing I like about the NYC Cravings Truck is that it’s a work in progress, but the fundamentals for success are all there. When they first opened there were complaints that they only served the thigh/leg. Now they’re experimenting with different cuts of chicken. Who knows what the “standard” serving of pork chops is, and they’ve notoriously undercooked large batches of rice on multiple locations. Sometimes the pork sauce and sour cabbage is a bit too salty, and yes, I’m sure you can get better versions of everything they sell in Chinatown for a few dollars cheaper. But you know what? We’re not in Chinatown. And overall, the food they’re serving is stand alone delicious. It might not be the Taiwanese home cooking you grew up with, but it’s all Midtown has got!
- It’s the only place in Midtown to get Taiwanese style pork chops over pork sauce and rice with sour cabbage!
- It’s the only place in Midtown to get tea eggs
- Despite the price tag, the pork dumplings are pretty tasty, and don’t need any sauce.
- It’s a good amount of food for $6-8
- This isn’t Chinatown!
- You can get better, cheap versions of all this stuff in Chinatown
- $1 for a single tea egg? Are you on crack?
- $3 for 4 dumplings? (See above question re: tea eggs)
- The truck can be inconsistent (bad rice, too salty, etc.) but they’re working on it