Choice Eats, a tasting event held by The Village Voice, is an inexpensive ($25 for pre-bought tickets) way to try food from several different restaurants. However, Lon and I don’t feel that it is an accurate way of judging a restaurant because serving food without a kitchen is a very different skill. Some restaurants have more experience working events like these and some restaurants were noticeably unprepared. Keep in mind that our evaluation of the food is based solely on what we experienced last night and does not necessarily reflect the restaurant.

We did not try every booth because there were way too many Carribean food booths and too many Indian rice dishes. We also skipped Hummus Place (mulit-local), Petite Abeille (multi-local), Kampuchea Kampuchea, Vanessa’s Dumplings Vanessa’s Dumplings, and The Sunburnt Cow The Sunburnt Cow, because we’ve already eaten their food.

So, let’s go through the dishes from worst to best because that’s how I used to eat as a kid. (Did you save your favorite candy flavors for last?) Krik Krak Krik Krak served Deep Fried Pork that had cooled and turned into a rock. I literally could not bite through it and I crack crab shells with my teeth. Their other dish of Mixed Vegetables on top of polenta-like cubes was cold and bland. Tiffin Wallah Tiffin Wallah served a rice pancake with toppings. I couldn’t tell what all the mix of sauces were on top but I really thought it was gross. Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Queen of Sheba Ethiopian served two wrap-like dishes and both of us could not eat it. The sour and spongy Ethiopian bread must be an acquired taste.(I have tried Ethiopian food before and did not like it previously either.)

The next category means it wasn’t gross but still disappointing. Sadly, this is a long list. Maremma Maremma served a Porchetta with Mixed Beans. The beans were a bit under-cooked and the flavors did not go together. Fette Sau Fette Sau had this wonderfully tender pastrami that tasted like nothing. Someone forgot to season it at all. Chiyono Chiyono served a cold seaweed croquette that only tasted like potato. Their lotus root and red bean dessert was marginally better. I enjoyed the Stewed Chicken from Culpepper’s Culpepper’s but not much else out of their 7 or more offerings. Foods that shouldn’t be eaten cold was the main problem here. Lastly, Nirvana Cafe & Bar Nirvana Cafe & Bar gave out very salty Cod Fish Balls.

A bunch of samples fell under pretty good. Kuma Inn Kuma Inn makes a decent vegetarian noodle dish. Xunta Tapas Bar Xunta Tapas Bar served warm Tuna Croquette and Chorizo. Schnitzel Haus served their Goulash hot and Lon liked the sandwich from Cantina Cantina. (I did not.)

We have two winners for presentation. Pacificana Pacificana jazzed up Chinese take-out food by chopping up General Tso’s Chicken and serving it with cucumber and scallion on a circular fried wonton skin.
Deshi Biryani Deshi Biryani cleverly places lentils in a hollow puff , and a tangy and spicy sauce is spooned on, all assembled right before you eat it so that the shell remains crispy. The presentation winners also win for easiest to eat, no fork needed, important for this kind of event.

The two runner ups were Mercadito‘s Mercadito Shrimp Taco and Jimmy’s No. 43‘s Jimmy’s No. 43 Toasted Walnuts with local honey, fennel dust, and sea salt. Both were simple, distinct, and really nicely balanced in flavor.

Ok, the moment you’ve been waiting for….The winner of the night was Fatty Crab Fatty Crab. They served a wonderfully fragrant Coconut Rice without overdoing the coconut, which matched perfectly with very tender Beef Short Rib. The whole plate was served hot and tasted fresh, like it was just made. No one else achieved this illusion. Nice touch, with the toasted coconut flakes on top.

We really didn’t try anything amazing at the event, but for $25, it’s enjoyable enough. Be prepared for some waiting on lines but most of it moves at a reasonable rate. There’s plenty of alcohol for those who just now peaked interest. I’m telling you all this because I’m pretty sure they will repeat the event next year. By your tickets in advance!

posted by jessica at 09:52 AM Filed under Events. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.