Kwik Meal Proves That Pasta From a Cart Can Be Delicious
When Kwik Meal cart owner Muhammed Rahman announced that he’d be bringing Kwik Meal IV to 45th and 6th and converting it into a past cart, I admit I kind of thought he was crazy. Pasta from a cart? Sure, he owns a pizza and pasta joint up in Harlem (and he famously used to work at the Russian Tea Room), but pasta just doesn’t seem like it would lend itself to the high volume craziness of the Midtown lunch street food scene. I was quickly proved wrong by my first visit to the cart. The angel hair with chicken and veggies was a good lunch, and not only was the pasta not over sauced (a crime in my opinion) but it had this great spicy kick to it that reminded you in every bite you were eating pasta from a street meat cart. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was “amazing” or the best pasta I’ve ever had, but it was definitely better than I expected. And for $6, how could you go wrong?
Since then Muhammed has expanded his menu from 3 to 5 pastas, and yesterday I stopped by to try his new penne with meat sauce.
Even though there are five different pastas, the marinara base is pretty much the same for all of them (or you can order your pasta with garlic and olive oil.) Rather than making a separate meat sauce, he just adds seasoned ground beef to his marinara when he puts the order together. The pastas are all parboiled in advance, and then reheated in the sauce before getting served. The biggest surprise is that the pastas don’t end up mushy.
As for the penne with meat sauce, I loved it. It was so flavorful, the penne was cooked nicely, and it had an amazing kick. There were some problem though… there was way too much sauce for the amount of pasta, and it was pretty greasy, plus I don’t know about the string beans (yes it had string beans.) But the flavor was good and spicy, and I enjoyed sopping it up with the piece of french bread he gives you (maybe you could ask him to go light on the sauce?) Oh, and it turns out the heat comes from a familiar place… the green hot sauce from the Kwik Meal carts. That’s right. He puts a little squirt in all his pasta dishes, to give them a really unique kick. Genius!
Of course I don’t want to send you over there thinking it’s the greatest pasta in the universe. It’s not. And if you ask him to make it mild, you’ll lose out on what makes the dish so unique. But for $6 it’s a surprisingly good Midtown Lunch, and it’s certainly better than any of the build your own pasta bars at the generic delis. But even more than that there’s just something about it, beyond the taste, that just feels so right… so homemade… so downright weird. Italian pasta, from Kwik Meal cart. Only in Midtown!