THE BITE: Last week, Ned let you know about an article that The New York Times had published about Coney Island Taste (2580 Coney Island Avenue). What he didn’t tell you was that we both stopped in the day before for lunch. It seems Peruvian food has been declared the next hot ethnic food and the old Grey Lady is jumping on the bandwagon. But as usual, your intrepid food editor and wondrous publisher have already been there long ago. C’mon, Times, try and keep up.
At Coney Island Taste, Fabiola and Jesus Roa serve up an outstanding lunch special. For only $7 you can choose from up to three meat dishes which are served with your choice of rice and peas, beans and/or potatoes. Just for good measure, they throw in a bowl of soup and a can of soda. This is a deal that’s hard to resist.
At our visit last week, I chose the pork chop for my meat, along with rice and peas and beans. The pork chop is roasted with Fabiola’s “secret” spices along with some tomatoes, onions and garlic. I could taste salt, pepper, garlic, but there was a little something-something that gave this pork chop a unique flavor. Was it Aji Panca, the dark red, mild pepper with a smokey, fruity taste so often used in Peruvian cooking? Fabiola wouldn’t say, but I will say it was delicious. Look at that picture, with such a wonderful sear on the pork chop, the Maillard reaction boosted the unami effect that raised this chop to near perfection.
The beans were nicely cooked and well seasoned. The rice and peas were flavorful with the rice still sticky and the peas cooked to perfection. I’ve always tried to duplicate that texture when I cook yellow rice at home, but have failed miserably whenever I attempt it.
The soup of the day was a beef, vegetable and noodle concoction made with what I’m pretty sure was oxtail. The soup was warming, filling and beefy. You may be thinking, “Of course it was beefy, it was beef soup,” but stop for a second and think. Many soup mongers in the neighborhood offer watered-down soups where the flavors of the ingredients are lost in the broth. When’s the last time you had a truly satisfying soup in the neighborhood?
Here the beef flavor was front and center while the noodles and vegetables offered subtle supporting roles in both flavor and texture. The soft noodles were a nice contrast to the chewy meat. This soup could easily be a meal on its own.
Soup, meat, rice, beans and a can of diet Coke all for only seven dollars? What more could anyone need?
Coney Island Taste, 2580 Coney Island Avenue, (718) 339-8371.
The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.