I have been skeptical of the Nuchas signature empanadas truck ever since I went to the kiosk and felt they were so disappointingly small that I couldn’t bring myself to spend the nearly $3 per empanada. But I was having one of those rough days at work. My task list was long, and the copy machine wasn’t working, so I had to go the Staples on 40th and 6th. In a rush to get back, I thought I was going to have to go to Hale & Hearty or something equally boring. But on my way out I looked around the corner, and the Nuchas truck was parked right there. Since Rachel has covered most of the other empanadas, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to test out the veggie empanadas.
I smirked and rolled my eyes as I looked through the window at these tiny things. They reminded me of a comment Midtown Lunch’er CheeeeEEEEse (who must also be watching some Jim Gaffigan comedy clips) shared on Rachel’s last post:
Hilarious. As apprehensive as I was, I knew if today wasn’t the day, I would probably never try them. So I got the $10 special which is three empanadas and a drink (nothing fancy: soda, tea or bottled water). At $2.76 (plus tax) per empanada, I figured the special was equivalent to a free drink I wouldn’t have otherwise had. (There have also been sightings of 2 for $5.00 specials at the Nuchas kiosk in Times Square.) The three vegetarian empanadas are: Portobello with spinach, herbs, mozzarella, and spinach dough; spicy cheese with assorted cheeses and parmesan dough; and shiitake curry with shiitake mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, onion, peppers, and coconut milk with turmeric dough.
When I brought the empanadas back to the office and lined them up with my metro card, I was still under the impression the empanadas were small for the price. I know I’m spoiled in the arena of empanadas since I live in Queens, but the empanadas around my neighborhood are bigger, taste delicious, and only cost between $1.50 and $2.00. I was still experiencing the mental pain of paying so much for so little. (Note that this picture shows the shiitake curry empanada but they are uniformly sized.)
Overall, I thought the empanadas were decent, especially considering they were meat-free. Although I’ll admit it’s not necessarily authentic, I really liked the Nuchas empanada dough. They’ve made the dough soft and flaky without being overly greasy, and I’m a big fan.
How do the veggie empanadas stack up? I know everyone has different preferences and tastes, but here’s my take on the three.
Like Rachel, I enjoyed the spicy cheese, but the onion flavor was overpowering. The cheese was sloppy, runny, and pungent, and this was the only empanada where I could taste any real spiciness.
The shiitake curry empanadas, and the only vegan option on the menu, were satisfying but lacked salt and spices. I thought that it was interesting to combine what I think of as Italian vegetables like zucchini and eggplant with Indian flavors. I could feel the tongue-numbing turmeric, which is advertised as being in the dough, but I suspect it was also in the filling.
To me, the portobello and spinach had the best flavor. Densely stuffed with spinach, It reminded me of a spanakopita. You couldn’t actually see the mozzarella because it was melted and stirred into the filling, but you could taste the saltiness.
I definitely could have eaten at least one or two more of these fellas, and I was disappointed with the spice factor. Would I eat there again? Maybe in a pinch or perhaps to try the meat empanadas. Would I recommend to someone else? Maybe not to a Midtown Lunch’er who doesn’t like to pay $3.00 for a glamorized hot pocket, but yeah… I would recommend Nuchas to someone who isn’t a stickler for empanada authenticity and who doesn’t know/care about price. They are pretty tasty, and the dough really makes the empanadas worth it.
Nuchas, Broadway btwn 44th-45th Streets in Times Square and truck at 40th and 6th OR 47th and Lex — follow their twitter feed for daily location
Posted by jenjfen at 9:00 am, September 5th, 2012 under Nuchas.