Spicy Beef Shank Are the Winner at the Fun Buns Cart
The Bian Dang Taiwanese food truck’s spinoff, Fun Buns cart, has been parking in Midtown more often lately. They’ve been attracting the attention of Downtown lunchers, and Brian wrote a post about the Taiwanese style buns a few months ago. I kept seeing them pop up on Twitter in that same spot on 48th btw 6th and 7th on a Friday and then again on a Monday (although I later found out Monday is usually at 46th and Park). I was hoping to try the lemongrass chicken that wasn’t available before would be there so I could give it a try, and to see if anything else was new. Here’s what I found out.
First off, the menu has changed slightly. The lemongrass chicken is now called braised chicken “marinated with garlic and shallots in sesame oil”.
They also have three types of chips, Oishi prawn crackers, Nongshim shrimp crackers, and Oishi salt and vinegar cracklings. The menu prices haven’t changed: $3 a bun or an $8 2-bun combo with chips and drink, or a $9 3-bun combo, also with chips and a drink.
Although I love prawn crackers and the the vinegar cracklings sounded amazingly good, I wanted to try all three buns and I needed to keep it under 10 bucks, and I wanted to taste all the meats. I ordered a beef, a chicken, and a pork.
The buns were small-ish, and I included a photo so you can see the size better. The bun in the picture had gotten a bit soggy on the way back and it wouldn’t stay shut. As far as price goes, I was slightly perturbed by the size of each fun bun for the price, but to be fair, they do stuff a good amount of meat inside.
This was my first experience with this type of dish, and I was expecting the bun dough to be like a Cantonese BBQ pork bun, cha siu bao, but it wasn’t quite as sweet. Still not bad, and even though the bottom of the buns became slightly soggy on my trip back to my office, they held together fine. The toppings were nice – plenty of crushed peanuts, warm pickled greens, and cilantro. Although I know a lot of people don’t like cilantro, I think it added the a fresh, flavorful touch. But, I was slightly disappointed that all the buns had the exact same ingredients apart from the meat. I’m sure these toppings are traditional, but they might have gotten a tad more creative with that if they’re going down that road with the meat, too.
All of the meats were moist and nice. I gather they were all slow cooked, even though the pork is the only meat that actually listed the slow cooking process on the menu. I tried the chicken first, and I must admit I didn’t taste a whole lot of flavor there. The pork was tasty and on the sweeter side. It was much fattier than the other two meats, but being the belly and all I suppose one might predict that. But in my opinion, the meat that absolutely stole the show was the beef shank, the same meat Brian really enjoyed. The anise and cinnamon flavors were spicy and complex, and with the beef, the overall the flavors of the bun worked perfectly together.
I was already a fan of Bian Dang, and now I’ll also give Fun Buns a thumbs up. However, the prices do seem a bit high for some very small buns. But if the price doesn’t bother you, the beef buns are definitely worth looking at.
Fun Buns cart, Currently at 48th + 6th on Fridays, and 46th St. and Park on Mondays