A Closer Look at Some of Bian Dang’s Other Offerings

It’s been a LONG time since anyone here talked about Bian Dang, fka NYC Cravings, so I decided to wander over and try something besides the pork chop or chicken leg over rice. More after the jump.

Their menu also offers dishes like fishcake, snack platter, beef stew over rice, … and because someone has a sense of humor, sometimes a free spa on days over 90. Just go inside the truck and sweat out all your toxins…

The snack platter is white rice topped with their delicious crack-laced brown sauce over rice (for those who don’t have a sense of humor, it is NOT really laced with crack, but it IS crazy delicious), along with a tea egg, all for $4. It’s perfect for someone with a smaller appetite or even better… so you can order other things and eat more.

Like the pork buns they now also serve, three for $3. They’re on the small side, and perhaps a bit more bland white ‘bread’ than you expect with an inner meatwad that needs a little more salt, but dipped in their uncle’s homemade hot chili oil that they give you with every order – a great snack or a great add on to your meal… or an appetizer to split with a coworker.

They also frequently offer hand written specials taped to the window, so be sure to take a peek. The day I went, they had two specials: pork belly over rice and crispy salt&pepper chicken cutlet.

For $8 each platter, this is quite a lot of food.

The pork belly is a very standard dish that most people who are familiar with Taiwanese/Chinese food will recognize. I mentioned this in my post on Moo Shu Grill; I do not particularly care for this flavor profile. As I told my dining companion that day, “it tastes too Asian for me” but for those of you who like that combination of star anise, soy sauce, etc. – well, you’ll like this. They hit the nail on the head and the pork is fatty, tender, juicy. (The version I’ve made at home is star anise, cloves, soy sauce, Sriracha, brown sugar, rice wine and rice wine vinegar, etc.) He certainly seemed to like it just fine – even better after dumping an entire container of homemade chili sauce on it.

As for the salt&pepper chicken cutlet; whoa. First of all, this is served on top of the white rice with that delicious brown gravy pork sauce, which is awesome on its own already. Second, Bian Dang knows how to FRY THINGS PROPERLY. Extremely crisp on the outside from the panko crumbs, amazingly juicy on the inside… hello, beautiful chicken cutlet. Elevating this from a regular ol’ fried chicken cutlet, though, is the “salt & pepper” part of the cutlet. For those unfamiliar, the “pepper” part of the name actually refers to jalapenos or spicy peppers, not black pepper as might come to mind. Many Cantonese restaurants have this dish – salt&pepper squid or salt&pepper pork chops – but Bian Dang’s choice of a chicken cutlet is exactly the perfect foil. I find white meat tends to be rather bland, but the zip of the jalapeno here just gives it that ever so slight kick in the pants that it needs. I didn’t see any jalapenos, but the taste is definitely there in the very back – I wouldn’t even consider this heat. It’s almost as though they took jalapenos and either juiced them/soaked them in whatever mixture they used to bread the crumbs, or deep fried the jalapenos with the chicken cutlets to get the very slightest bit of heat in the background, but all of the jalapeno flavor. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and would not hesitate to order it again. GREAT special.

As far as I know, they are also still honoring the “porken” – as recently as in the past month, my brother said it worked for him. What’s that? If you ask for the “porken” they will give you both a fried chicken leg and a fried pork chop over rice with that amazing rich pork gravy… for the same price as just the pork chop or just the fried chicken leg. Yes, that’s right: $7.

Though they mostly park on 53rd and Park Avenue these days due to parking issues elsewhere around the city, check their Twitter before heading over as at least once or twice a week, they switch places with one of their fellow trucks (usually Moo Shu Grill). Whatever you do, don’t forget to include them in your lunch rotation!


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    How would you compare Bian Ding’s rice bowls to Moo Shu Grill’s? Could you elaborate on how the pork belly tastes “too asian” for you? Is it the sort of liquorice-y, slightly medicinal taste the marinade has due to the anise?

    Thanks for another great, thorough post.

    • Do you mean in terms of size? I think they are fairly similarly sized. I haven’t had a problem with Bian Dang’s rice being undercooked or hard in the 5-6x I’ve eaten at the truck (a few times in 2009, and a few times in the past few months), even though at least once, they gave me the last of the rice they had for the day (when they first opened, they occasionally ran out of rice).

  • If that menu was modified anymore we could call it Wikipedia.

    That chicken cutlet looks hella-crispy though. Too bad it’s a special. I don’t know when, or if, I’d be able to try it.

    • They are pretty good about monitoring their twitter, so I bet you could tweet at them to ask before you head over. Also, I believe they have these two specials fairly frequently.

      • The S&P chicken pops up all the time. If it isn’t there, then the pork belly will most assuredly be available. And sometimes, of course, both are there. I’ve randomly been three times the past month and seen the chicken three times and the pork belly two times.

        I’ve always ordered the combination platter as the “combo”, because I think “porken” is a dumb. It’s, naturally, understood to be the same thing.

    • Yea, they’ll usually post any specials for the day on fb and twitter. They had “pork trotters” (aka pig’s feet) a couple times in the past too. prepared pretty much the same as the pork belly. It was good, but def not the best.

  • I find Bian Dong’s snack platter (minced pork over rice) way too watery. It’s a few dollars more ($6.25), but the minced pork over rice from C Bao (14/6) is solid (more Taiwanese authentic), with mini bits of pork belly over rice (with cilantro and Taiwanese pickled vegetables on the side in a separate container). Best yet, it’s actually being sold ($7) through Come Buy on 28/5 (making it a Flatiron Eat).

  • That is a beautiful cutlet.

  • Looking at the egg north of the gravy over the rice in the third pic, I am thinking eye of sauron atop his tower in mordor

    or maybe just a big hand holding up a brown female mammary gland

    now don’t sass me, you know Wayne would have gotten around to pointing this out sooner or later, only he’d have said it in a far more clever fashion

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    These guys are winning the cart battle, IMO, giving the people what they want at normal prices. Way to go! Still have to get my ass over there. I will though, when it isn’t 52nd street and 90 degrees. Domo Taco was on 45th and 6th (east side) today. Weird place for a cart. Never saw one there before. That looked good too.

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    Today, come by Bian Dang for a free sample of Oi Ocha Shincha green tea with the purchase of any entree! Shincha is the first harvest of green tea – with a more refined umami taste than found in regular green tea – and is in the US for the first time in bottled form. It comes from ITO EN, the leading purveyors of green tea in Japan. Come by today for a taste of the celebrated tea!

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    I found the zong-zi to be on the greasy side, and it didn’t contain the dried shrimp or any of the vegetables listed. A disappointment. Maybe the vegetarian version is better.

    OTOH, I did get to take advantage of the Oi Ocha promotion that hannahp51 listed above.

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