Monday, January 28, 2013

A brief list of our fave bizarre food joints in New York City

With an increasing number of TV shows that venture out and review a range of exotic and bizarre foods around the world, the American palette has become more adventurous in the past few years. Dishes that were once considered strange or reserved for a specific ethnic group have become increasingly sought after as delicacies by a wider demographic. For those in New York City seeking to try bizarre cuisine, consider some of the following locations:

Maharlika, 111 1st Ave, New York, 646-392-7880 This trendy new Filipino restaurant knows its roots and isn’t scared to stray away from the average eater’s comfort zone. Here, you might notice people eating what appears to be a poached egg, but take a closer look and you’ll notice bits of bones and feathers in its own broth. What could it possibly be? Maharlika offers this fertilized duck embryo called a Balut, which is a popular Filipino street snack. Their signature dish, Pampangan Style Sizzling Sisig, consists of pig ears, snout and belly, which is boiled, grilled and sautéed. If you’re feeling less daring but still in the mood for something relatively unconventional, try the beer battered, fresh-from-can, Spam Fries.

El Pequeño Coffee Shop, 86-10 Roosevelt Ave, Jackson Heights, Queens, 718-205-7128 With a name like that, you might expect to find more muffins and bagels and less roasted guinea pig. But that’s just what you’ll find at this Ecuadorian restaurant located in Queens. This off-menu item, the Cuy, or guinea pig, is spit roasted and served whole–with the head intact. El Pequeño’s began as a humble coffee shop around 15 years ago, but over the years it has morphed into one of New York City’s premier destinations for a modern take on authentic Ecuadorian cuisine.

Sik Gaek, 161-29 Crocheron Ave, Flushing, Queens, 718-321-7770 & 49-11 Roosevelt Ave, Woodside, Queens, 718-205-4555 The most popular item on the extensive menu at this Korean restaurant is Sannakji, or live octopus. Arriving at your table whole and actually moving on its own platter, the octopus will continue quivering even after it is killed right before your eyes. Upon your request, Sik Gaek’s chefs will then chop the tentacles up into smaller pieces, which will eventually cause the octopus to cease wiggling. The real reason to have them chopped up, though, is so you can dip the pieces into the restaurant’s delicious homemade chili sauce.

Watch Weird Food Club members struggle with moving octopus tentacles here.

Ali’s Kebab Café, 2512 Steinway St, Astoria, Queens, 718-728-9858 At this small Egyptian restaurant in Astoria, be sure to ask owner, chef, and artist, Ali el Sayed, for “the good stuff”. You’ll soon be treated with a heaping serving of pan-seared lamb brains, a sautéed lamb heart, spicy veal sweetbreads and finely chopped goat testicles. There’s no menu, so if “the good stuff” seems a bit too wild, the owner will gladly list the dishes he is serving that day. This quaint atmosphere adds to the authentic feel of a real café in Egypt, and enhances the overall eating experience for any good bizarre foods aficionado.
Guest post by Angie Picardo.
Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a website dedicated to helping consumers find the best credit cards, travel advice, and soon, recipes.

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