Tonight we engaged in the hour and a half long gluttonous orgy that is “Taste of Sunnyside.” For the seconds year in a row (sadly, I couldn’t attend last year’s), the Sunnyside community center on 39th street hosted this culinary event in which over 20 restaurants participated. Even though each sample was relatively small, and we didn’t even try everything, we still got completely stuffed. This post will highlight some of the various dishes we got to enjoy.
The locals apparently lined up early. We got to the venue about 10 minutes before the 7:30 start time of the second session and already encountered this throng of people. Fortunately, once the door opened, everyone got to go in rather quickly. They were also handing out some mozzarella sticks outside, and I was alarmingly surprised to discover that the sticks were of very poor quality. I soon discovered that this was because they were from White Castle, so that was par for the course. Also making an appearance was Jimmy Van Bramer, who had apparently attended the earlier 5pm session.
Here is a glimpse of what it looked like inside. Each restaurant had a table and a big sign with their name. Once you sampled a given restaurant’s food, they would check it off on a card, so that you wouldn’t be able to come back for seconds. In practice though, there was so much food that I don’t think anybody would be capable of trying everything once and then wanting more.
Here is another shot of the event. Many of the newer restaurants, like Nodus Thai in the corner here, ran out of food quickly. They clearly underestimated the voracious appetite of hungry Sunnysiders. In addition to food tables, there were a few tables from local organizations and sponsors, such as Yelp (whose representatives knew about my blog!),and sunnysidepost.com (I got to finally see editor Christian Murray in the flesh).
Lets get this out of the way first. White Castle was the only fast food chain at the event, and they offered their classic sliders, as well as these mozzarella sticks and
onion “chicken” rings. Don’t worry, I will do a fully review of White Castle at some point, so I will withhold my comments till then.
Surprisingly, “Go Natural”, a health food store, had a table, because they apparently do serve some food (I will have to do a full review of them at some point). This fresh carrot juice was truly delicious, and I say this as someone who really isn’t a fan of vegetable-based juices.
In addition to the carrot juice, Go Natural had three separate dishes, as seen above. All very much vegetable based (except perhaps that Soylent Green?) and presumably quite healthy (and tasty!)
I was happy to see the one main Mexican restaurant I haven’t had a chance to do a full review of yet: Arriba Arriba. Their offering was a bit disappointing though. Standard chips with guac (and I would say below-average chips), plus a little bit of shrimp, which was a little bland.
I do want to give credit to Arriba Arriba for their Sangria though – it was very good.
The Copper Kettle had a strong showing, with three main dishes, of which we tried two. I have the salmon in more detail on the next picture, but the chicken pot pie was really amazing. I truly did not expect such a rich taste from such a simple dish. I will definitely have to order this at the restaurant.
Her e is a closeup of the salmon serving from the Copper Kettle. They put effort even into the presentation (in what was definitely a harried environment). The salmon was good, but not as good as the chicken pot pie.
The new French restaurant “Bistro 46” which is opening up very soon on 46th street had a table, but I am not quite sure what was their intention at this event. These were basically homemade brownies, and we didn’t even get to try them, as I was saving it for dessert, but they were all gone within the first hour of the event. Hopefully the actual restaurant is going to have more to offer.
Sorry that this is a little blurry, but that perhaps accurately conveys the less-than-stellar taste of this sushi from Ariyoshi. Sushi is relatively expensive so I can understand how they tried to keep the costs down a little, but I think they went a little too far – it was mostly rice. Fortunately at the restaurant itself the sushi is better. They also had pea pods, and these breaded chicken thingies, which was nothing special.
One category Ariyoshi did win in my book was “best dressed chef” at the event.
Dee Thai had some noodles, rice, and beef, and a sweet 15% off coupon for everyone. I am a little surprised they didn’t show off one of their curries, but I guess that may have been difficult at this venue. I couldn’t try the beef since I don’t eat mammals. The other stuff was good though, but nothing spectacular.
I have not yet been to Dazies in person, but I always hear good things about it, and how it’s the best Italian restaurant around here. But their offering at this event didn’t really showcase that. All they had were two pasta choices, as seen here (penne ala vodka and pasta with marinara sauce). It was definitely good, but I don’t think pasta by itself will ever be a good representation of a whole restaurant.
Anise Fusion, one of the newer restaurants in the neighborhood, had a really fancy presentation. I don’t think I actually tried any of this unfortunately (and I think they ran out of at least some of their items during the event).
Anise Fusion definitely wins for coolest table decoration.
Another new Sunnyside restaurant, Sunrise, showed off their famous wings. I heard a lot about these wings, but this was the first time I got to try them. I try two different kinds, and they were certainly both good, but I wouldn’t rank these up as “famous.” I’ve definitely had better wings before. And the particular ones I tried were not spicy, so maybe that had something to do with it.
The piece de resistance of the whole event, in our opinion at least, was this small shrimp dish from Salt & Fat. A truly succulent shrimp with an exemplary sauce. Makes me want to go back to the restaurant again (and regret how it was closed on the day we intended to go there for the 1 year anniversary of this site).
Souk El Shater was one of the unlucky restaurants to not bring enough food, and by the end all they had was this baklava. But the baklava was very delicious (and slightly better than the one offered by the Turkish cultural center, which also had a table tonight – I am surprised that Turkish grill didn’t show up, but I guess now that they are rated the #2 Turkish restaurant in the City by Zagat, they don’t really have to pander anymore).
It was a little sad that Saffron Garden only had this rice pudding to offer, given that their Indian food is really delicious.
And finally I leave you with this appealing (and tasty) cupcake from Pink Ice, which is a bake shop that will be opening up at 44-13 Queens Blvd very soon.