Pasha’s Special Rice Platter
Months ago, one of my coworkers would not stop yapping about this street meat cart. It went missing for a few weeks and he maintained a strict schedule of lamentation every time lunch rolled around. “Oh how I wish the curry chicken cart was still here!” he’d moan. I found the prospect of a curry chicken cart rather dubious and told him as much. Maybe there was a cart that served chicken in something other than jerk or standard halal form up in Midtown, but certainly nothing like this existed in the Financial District. Did this keep him from his daily bitching? Hell no. I put up with that garbage for a month straight, and after that it was more a testament to my resolve not to seek out this curry cart (which had returned), just to spite him. Well, yesterday I broke down from my silent protest. I tracked down this curry cart to see if it was really worth all the anguish.
Located on the west side of William Street between Pine and Liberty, Pasha’s Special Rice Platter looks to be the only food cart within a block radius, so there’s no mistaking it for anything else. I wandered right up and took a look at the menu despite already knowing what I was going to get. There’s a decent amount of variety with representatives of each of the four major lunchtime food groups: grilled meats, fried stuff, daily specials, and Asian food (this of the Southern persuasion). The prices looked reasonable, ranging from $5 to $7.50 with most around $5.50. The most expensive item was Italian sausage and gyro over rice, which sounded like an interesting combination. They even had a few specials, like a burger with chips and a soda for $5 (!!). I marched up to the counter and ordered my $5 curry chicken and rice and followed by asking if I could take a few pictures. He politely declined (I asked twice, to make sure that I’d heard him right), so I did what any self-respecting food blogger would do: took pictures from where they couldn’t see me. Lucky for me, this cart sits just below the Chase Manhattan Plaza, where, if you can snag a seat, is a great place to eat lunch during the summer and also happens to be an excellent place to secretly photograph a food cart.
Sadly, the days of eating outside are quickly disappearing, so I retreated back to my office to test out the dish. Popping the lid, I thought for sure I would need a knife to cut up the big chunks of chicken, but they’d been stewed to the point of being fall-apart tender. The side of one of those flimsy plastic forks was quite enough to break things down into bite-sized pieces. There was a lot of flavor packed into the chicken and sauce as well. The curry sauce was thinner than I’m used to, but well spiced, as evidenced by the chunk of cinnamon I found as well as a number of cardamom pods (which I don’t recommend you eat, no matter how much they look like a cross between grapes and capers).
The flavor was fantastic, but unfortunately there were drawbacks as well. First, it was quite greasy. I’m talking “pools of oil” greasy. I’m sure it was in large part due to the cooking method they chose for the chicken. Rather than a grill or griddle where you can cook the fat away, stewing the chicken takes the fat out of the bird and puts it into the sauce. It made for a very flavorful sauce, but may not be so appealing to a lot of people. Second, I’m not opposed to the idea of a little fat on my chicken and know that it can be damn near impossible to trim up the more flavorful bits without losing tastiness, but this was a bit much even for me. On more than one occasion, I had to reach into my mouth to pull out something that I either couldn’t chew or refused to swallow. That’s not to say I found the meal unpleasant, just that it was a bit more laborious than I really want from a dish like this.
Despite its faults, I really enjoyed the flavor that came out of this little street cart. As you might remember from Michael’s cart a couple weeks ago, I’m a big fan of spices, so this was right up my alley. I’m not sure it was worth hearing my coworker whine for a month solid, and it probably won’t ever be my go-to cart, but I can definitely see myself returning from time to time.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Curry from a cart? Can’t go wrong!
- Lots of flavors to keep your tongue happy
- The chicken is incredibly tender
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Too greasy for my taste
- Untrimmed chicken is unappetizing
- I don’t want to pick through my meal to find the edible parts
Pasha’s Special Rice Platter, William btw. Pine and Liberty