2012 nyc vendy awards


It’s been two years since I last attended the NYC Vendy Awards. Like years past, they were held on Governors Island but had several other vendors and some additional award categories.

In addition to the usual categories of Vendy Cup, People’s Choice, Rookie of the Year, Best Dessert, and Most Heroic, was the Best of Market. Best of Market would be going to a truckless vendor who sets up shop in local street fairs or festivals.


Most Heroic went to Sammy Kassem and his Bay Ridge Halal truck. Sammy was recognized for his courage and perseverance, as he has dealt with a lot of harassment regarding his truck.


Nominees for Rookie of the Year were: Cambodian Cuisine Torsu (Cambodian), Chinese Mirch (Indian-Chinese), Fun Buns (Taiwanese Buns), Morocho (Peruvian Fusion), Okadaman (Japanese), and Phil’s Steaks (Philly Cheesesteaks). My favorites from this group were the okonomiyaki from Okadaman and the “whiz wit” from Phil’s Steaks. Now being a Philly resident, I’ve gained an appreciation for what exactly a cheesesteak is and how it should be. The Philly Cheesesteak is often mislabeled and misinterpreted to be something that it isn’t. That being said, I’m glad that Phil’s Steaks is doing what they do. They’re serving their steaks on Amoroso rolls and even the name of their whiz wit is an homage to how you would order a steak down in Philly. Of course, just because they look legit doesn’t mean they are. Their steaks tasted better than some places here in Philly! They took the Rookie of the Year award!


Best Dessert nominees were: Andy’s Italian Ices (water & cream ice), Coolhaus (frozen desserts), Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls (New Orleans style sno-balls), La Bella Torte (Italian desserts), Melt Bakery (Ice Cream Sandwiches), and Monsieur Singh Lassi (Lassi drinks & pops). Several desserts were great from Andy’s chocolate pretzel ball ice (special for the day) to Monsieur Lassi’s mango lassi shots. I really enjoyed Imperial Woodpecker’s “Tiger Blood” sno-ball, which was a cherry shaved ice topped coconut and condensed milk, and Melt Bakery’s ice cream sandwiches. In the end, the people voted Melt Bakery for Best Dessert!


In the Best of Market category were: Baby Got Back Ribs (Ribs), Lumpia Shack (Filipino inspired spring rolls), Mayhem & Stout (Braised Meat Sandwiches), Parantha Alley (Paranthas), and Pestle & Mortar (Ceviche). Having been to Lumpia Shack previously at Smorgasburg, I really like what they’re doing. They’re making Filipino spring rolls fun! Lumpia Shack took the award for Best of Market!


The nominees for the Vendy Cup & People’s Choice were: The Cinnamon Snail (Organic Vegan), Hamza and Madina (Halal), Piaztlan Authenic Mexican Food (Mexican), Tortas Nezas (Mexican Tortas), Uncle Gussy’s (Greek), and Xinjiang Prosperity Kebabs (Chinese kebabs). All of these trucks put out some fantastic food. I’m sure the judges had a tough time choosing a winner for this. I’m somewhat obsessed with Chinese kebabs. There aren’t many places I’ve found here that do it right, let alone serve Chinese kebabs. Xinjiang recreates the taste and experience of the lamb kebabs I had in China almost, if not, spot on. Obviously, Xinjiang was my favorite to win. The winner of the People’s Choice was The Cinnamon Snail and the winner for the Vendy Cup was Piaztlan Authentic Mexican Food!

Check out more photos from the Vendys after the jump:

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katsu burger – ohayou gozaimasu


In the month of planning before the trip to Seattle/Portland, I read a good amount about Katsu Burger. When we started to place all our intended eats on a map, I was bummed out to see how it was not exactly in downtown Seattle. Plans to go to Katsu Burger were chalked up as tentative, since there were lots of wedding activities and much closer burgers to eat.

I finally got my eyes on a menu two days before going and I told my friend that we HAD to go. The concept at this place is so neat and crazy but it could totally work if pulled off properly.


For those of you who don’t know, (ton)katsu is traditionally a pork cutlet which has been breaded and fried. This place serves the meat in their burgers, katsu style. They are dipped in a tempura batter and coated in panko before deep frying. The burgers, sans the “katsu style” meat, are served like regular ones, with bread and toppings. The burgers here all have Japanese inspiration/influence and are topped with sauces like Kewpie mayo, tonkatsu sauce, or teriyaki. Their menu has specific meats for their burgers but you can swap whichever meat you want. The options are the beef, marinated tofu, or brined chicken & pork.

There were so many burgers and it took us a bit to figure out which ones we wanted to try (We were sharing many of these meals, not eating multiples burgers in one sitting, haha. Not that you’d put that past me, of course). Since we didn’t have breakfast that morning, we were pretty hungry and went with two Ohayou Gozaimasus.

Ohayou Gozaimasu means Good Morning in Japanese, so most of the ingredients would be what you’d expect from a breakfast burger. Served on a locally baked sesame seeded kaiser roll is the katsu prepared beef patty, cheddar, fried egg, thick cut bacon, Kewpie mayo, tonkatsu sauce, shredded cabbage, tomatoes, red onion, and pickles. She went with the beef and I swapped for pork in mine.


These burgers weren’t just beautiful, they were also some of the best ones I’ve ever had. All the flavors really complimented each other well. I certainly enjoyed the pork over the beef, as katsu is traditionally served with pork cutlets and it was tender and full of flavor while maintaining a crispy outside. Not trying to downplay the beef, of course, since that was still a very tasty burger, it just didn’t have as crispy of an outside.


In addition to our burgers, we got a side of fries, wasabi coleslaw, and a black sesame milkshake. The shoestring fries come with your choice of three different seasonings (sea salt, curry, or nori) and a dipping sauce (Kewpie mayo, tonkatsu sauce, curry mayo, teriyaki sauce, miso honey mustard, wasabi mayo, sriracha sauce, or spicy mayo). We got the curry fries with curry mayo. Both very tasty though we didn’t finish em (the portion was huge). The black sesame milkshake was great as was the wasabi coleslaw.

I haven’t been that happy after consuming a burger in a while. Despite being in a small strip mall next to a convenience store, the space had a lot of burger/Japanese art on the walls and super friendly staff. This place alone makes me want to be in Seattle even more.

If you’re a burger fan and are planning to be in Seattle, take the trip down to Katsu Burger, I promise it’s worth it!

Oh, I was so happy that this also happened. Thanks for the photo Denise!

Katsu Burger
6538 4th Ave. S
Seattle, WA 98108
206.762.0752

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little big burger – cheeseburger


The last burger we had during our Portland trip was at Little Big Burger, a local burger chain. The menu is short & to the point, offering three burgers, fries, sodas, and a float. We got cheeseburgers and an order of fries to share. The burger offerings are a hamburger, cheeseburger, and veggie burger.

Their cheeseburgers are made up of 1/4 lb. Cascade Natural Beef patties, choice of Tillamook cheddar, swiss, chevre, or blue (went with the cheddar), lettuce, onion, pickles, and Camden’s Catsup. They’re all cooked medium (unless specified) and served on local brioche buns. The shoestring fries are made from Yukon Gold potatoes and seasoned with white truffle oil and sea salt.


My burger was cooked more to medium-well, unfortunately. Besides that, it tasted good. I enjoyed the use of Camden’s Catsup, as it packed a slight edge.


The truffle fries were tasty, too. I’ve had several truffle fries in the past that had either too much truffle oil or salt. Luckily, the fries here weren’t overly done. They also come with a dipping sauce (perhaps a secret sauce?), which I found to be just alright.

This wasn’t our favorite burger on the trip, but for $3.75, it’s not a bad place to check out if you’re looking for a quick, affordable burger.

Little Big Burger
122 NW 10th Ave.
Portland, OR 97209
503.274.9008

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slow bar – slowburger


The next burger on the Portland itinerary was the Slowburger from Slow Bar in Southeast Portland. The Slowburger consists of a 1/2 lb. Painted Hills beef patty, gruyere, onion rings, butter lettuce, and pickle relish. It’s served on a toasted, soft, sesame-seeded bun alongside handcut fries.


This experience wasn’t the greatest, but I could see its potential to be an awesome burger. All the ingredients made for a really tasty burger. I enjoyed the tanginess from the relish and the crunchiness of the onion rings. The handcut fries were also very good. What killed it was the meat which was just cooked to well when I asked medium-rare.

By no means is this burger bad. It just has some temperature issues. If I lived out West, I’d definitely like to give the Slowburger another shot.

Slow Bar
533 SE Grand Ave.
Portland, OR 97214
503.230.7767

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red coach restaurant – bacon cheeseburger


The second half of our trip brought us to Portland, Oregon. After spending most of the day at the Oregon Zoo, we worked up an appetite only a burger could satisfy. Taking the light rail from the zoo to downtown Portland put us close to Red Coach Restaurant, a family owned burger joint which has been in operation for over 50 years!

Red Coach’s cheeseburgers are made up of 1/4 lb. local, hand formed beef patties topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and (if ordered) bacon. They’re griddled before being placed between a soft kaiser bun.


The burger is a good size, it’s not too large that you end up in a food coma after consumption and it’s not too small that you leave unsatisfied (though I could have easily take down a second). The kaiser bun was great. Again, where have these good kaiser burger buns been hiding?! Every kaiser burger bun experience as of late has been good. The bacon is cut thin and tasty. I am also not the biggest fan of crinkle cut fries but these are some of the best ones I’ve had. Red Coach serves a great, simple, traditional burger which is worth the stop in if you’re in downtown Portland.

Oh, and this happened…

Red Coach Restaurant
615 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97205
503.227.4840

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