Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In which I ♥ NY (More Than Ever): Third Floor, and Sunnyside taco-ing

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Third Floor is a quintessential Korean bar, complete with an uninspired alcohol menu, expensive anju, and lots of young (sometimes very young) Koreans and Korean-Americans. When I dropped in after my dinner at Momofuku Ko to meet up with DT, a band from California was jamming in the back, four kids full of manic energy just straight gyrating and jumping as they poured out music. I can't say I became a fan of their sound, but watching them live was fun.
Later, after the band had packed up and the bar cleared out a bit, DT's friends arrived and he ordered the above fried chicken. On Tuesdays, Third Floor has a deal where from 5 to 8 pm, you can get unlimited beer, unlimited tonkatsu, and unlimited fried chicken for $14. From my experience, the tonkatsu is terrible—bland and tough—but the chicken is good. It's coated with a cornstarch batter, making the crust lighter than your typical flour-based version, and is probably the most greaseless fried chicken I've ever had. The only thing I'd caution is that the pieces seem to be from odd parts of the chicken—these are not neat little wings or breasts or drumsticks, but fried chunks of whatever else is left. Oh, not necks or beaks or um, anuses; just pieces where you have to work your way around some little bones or cartilage. If you don't mind that, the chicken is pretty tasty.

We loitered at Third Floor for several hours, but eventually decided to call it a night. DT and his friend were parked one stop away from my apartment, and they promised they would drop me off if I took the train to their car with them. Once we were sitting inside, though, DT had other ideas. "You know, there's this great taco truck in Sunnyside," he said. "Let's check it out."

And so we did.
After several false moves, which included bypassing our destination and then making a stop at the wrong truck, we found the one DT had in mind at 46th Street and Greenpoint; the woman at the window was slimmer than he remembered, but otherwise the same. I was still digesting my dinner but after our little hunt I couldn't pass up a chance to sample her wares.

I went with the tongue taco just for shits and giggles. DT's friend had ordered the carne asada taco, and when both were handed to us on one plate, he grew nervous.

"Wait, wait, how do you know which one is tongue and which is beef?"

"Oh, that's easy," I replied. I pointed to the one closer to me. "Mine has taste buds."
True to DT's word, the taco was one of the best I'd ever had (though I don't have a lot to compare with—I rarely order them). The tortillas were soft and super fresh; the tender, marinated tongue was rich and savory; and mouth-searing pickled jalapeños and the creamy green sauce I added later really elevated the whole shebang. If I had had more room in my stomach, I probably would have immediately gone for another one.
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Instead, I got an al pastor torta to bring home (I knew it wouldn't be as good the next day, but I figured a day-old torta from a truck of awesomeness was better than no torta). When I ate it the following afternoon, I thought it was good but that there could have been more filling. It was cheaper though (four bucks; it was six at the other truck) so maybe that's as it should be.

It had been one of those nights that really makes me cherish New York City, for all of the different ways to experience food here. That day I had gone from an amazing, high-end meal at Ko to a truck dispensing tacos off Queens Boulevard, and both had been delicious and eye-opening in their own way. A great meal can be found here at any price point and at any hour, and I get giddy whenever I consider the depth and diversity of the choices available.

I woke up the next morning thinking about how much I love NYC. And wondering how the hell I'm supposed to leave....


  1. What a great post! I loved it more and more as I read until you reminded me that you were I'm sad. =( But I will visit that taco truck in your honor, ok fine, just cause I want to have a tongue taco.

  2. that was a fun night.. i was a bit worried at one point that we weren't going to find the taco van afterall.. but we did! and it was all worth it.. woohoo! to food adventures..

  3. Okay, I’m going to catch some serious ridicule for this, but I’m pretty sure that the “band from California” was Seriously… and I know this not because I follow the K-pop boy band scene, but because I happened to notice that they were performing as part of the 3rd Annual Asian Cultural Festival at Queens Theatre in the Park the night before. Seriously.

  4. V, you're totally right! I couldn't remember their name and was feeling guilty for not stating it. They are definitely Seriously.

  5. yeah, what are you gonna blog about out there?

    though, it'll be neat to see what you find.

  6. i've never seen a live band at 3dFl. weird!

    hey so those pieces of fried chicken bits with the bones and cartilage? maybe that's like this stuff we had at some izakayas in japan ... fried soft chicken bone. taste's like regular asian fried chicken but with the extra-satisfying crunch in the middle!