The 8th annual Village Voice’s Choice Eats event was another successful and delicious food frenzy! This year’s event was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion, which provided ample space for the 50+ restaurants and vendors that showcased their signature dishes from a diverse group of cuisines.
Tabata Ramen was the first table which we made a beeline for, and really enjoyed the egg noodles marinated in a comforting garlic oil broth with pork and scallions. The dumplings from Thai Rock in Rockaway were one of the more interesting dumplings I’ve had. The ingredients were seemingly normal filled with a peanut and turnip sautee, but the hand made Thai-styled crepe skin was textured and unique. Papa’s Kitchen in Woodside served Laing taro leaves steeped in coconut milk with green chilis, crab and shrimp.
In Indian cuisine, the Kati Roll Company, one of my personal go-to places at their E. 53rd Street location, had an impressive display of their different types of kati rolls, from their aloo masala roll with potatoes and peppers, and the chicken tikka roll with tandoori mix and yogurt, both served on hand-made layered paratha flatbread. Awadh served two Indian dishes, their Sufiana Subz Biryani with basmati rice and mixed vegetables, and the Khaas Korma chicken tikka with saffron and a cashew sauce.
There were different variations on short ribs among all the dishes. Delaware and Hudson served sour braised beef short ribs, and the Spicy Pot in Brooklyn paired their hot tea smoked ribs with sesame cold noodles. Untamed Sandwiches had their signature Hot Goldie Sandwich with grass-fed beef short ribs, red onions, and a black pepper aioli sauce. Queens Comfort infused their mac and cheese with short ribs, fontina, and a green peppercorn sauce.
There was no shortage of pork, especially when we took a look at the roasted whole pig from the restaurant family of Kuma Inn and Umi Nom. Applewood, where we also got to meet the chef for a photo opp, served a slightly spicy braised pork shoulder paired with ricotta dumplings.
Mable’s Smokehouse served smoked pulled pork over a jalapeno corn cake, and Boomwich in Brooklyn had Dr. Cubano Sliders with braised pulled pork on a brioche pretzel bun. Even Sigmund’s Pretzels incorporated a pig in a blanket with their signature oven fresh, hand rolled pretzels.
Fort Defiance in Brooklyn served up deviled eggs with fried capers, and nearby Juliette in Williamsburg spicy Florida rock shrimp sliders on a brioche bunch with sriracha mayo. John Brown Smokehouse in Long Island City provided generous slabs of their pecan smoked pastrami in Rueben sliders. Los Tacos No.1 let us have our choice among their taco sampler of steak, chicken, pork, or cactus.
To quench our thirst, there was an abundance of beers and cocktails with headline sponsors Stella Artois and Rums of Puerto Rico, and also hand made pomegranate and tamarind snow cones from Whole Foods. My favorite beer of the evening was the Smuttynose Zinneke Belgian Stout, which was dark and extremely smooth.
For a little bit more zip, they also had their Rhye IPA. Nearby was Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer, great on its own or stirred into a cocktail, and for something much stronger, Manhattan Moonshine let you try their prohibition-style whiskey straight up, if you can take it.
There was no shortage of desserts, especially since there was a separate upstairs lounge area exclusively for Choice Sweets. Sugar Couture had large banana pudding personal pies topped with a smoked peanut butter cookie, and on the opposite end of the size scale, Butter Lane had mini bite-sized vanilla, banana, and chocolate cupcakes displayed on a large tower. We also loved Drunken Bakers’ butter & scotch mini s’mores bars and the bread pudding with blackberries and whipped cream from Coppelia.
Our favorite ice cream vendor, Ample Hills Creamery, served three of their popular flavors: salted cracker caramel, ‘Snap, Mallow, Pop!’, and chocolate milk and cookies. We also enjoyed Luca & Bosco‘s smooth and creamy pumpkin ice cream.