NYCWFF 2015 BBQ & Blues

My buddy Jay from The Dishelin Guide hooked me up big time with a free pass to the New York City Wine & Food Festival‘s BBQ & Blues event, thrown by Thrillist and hosted by Adam Richman, of Man vs. Food fame. This shit went down at the Hudson Hotel last night.

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Twelve vendors vied for support from hundreds of hungry BBQ fanatics, each wielding a single voting chip to cast their ballot for the night’s favorite food. All the while, old rag time and tin pan alley jug band music played to set the mood.

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There was a nice open bar, stocked with vodka lemonades and hard root beer, to name a few items.

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But the focus here was the BBQ, so let me get down to business… Here’s a quick list of the pit masters: BarBacon, Mexicue, Mile End, Sweet Chick, Kimchi Smoke, Miss Korea BBQ, Otto’s Taco’s, Tchoup Shop, Vermillion, Korilla, Pig Beach and Union Bar & Kitchen.

The dudes at Korilla really put together a nice spicy plate. I was told that this typically is MORE spicy than what we sampled last night, but take a look at the menu and see for yourself.

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I snagged a nice shot of Adam licking a gun in this shot. Impeccable timing.

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Right next door was Kimchi Smoke. I was psyched to see them using the Searzall at the table to melt cheese on top of their items.

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Here’s a look at what they were serving up:

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The brisket was super tender and flavorful. Perfectly done.

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However the chonut slider was a bit too out there for me. It was a blast of every flavor known to man in one bite. Kimchi on a glazed donut with bacon and cheese! That’s on a whole other level.

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I jumped a little out of order there because I was excited to talk about those items, but the very first thing we tried was one of my favorites of the night.

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Tchoup Shop struck an amazing balance between sweet and savory with this crab and pork meatball slider. It had a hint of fish sauce to give it a distinct Thai or Vietnamese influence too. Jay put his chip on this as the best of the night.

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My favorite of the night, which I thought just edged out Tchoup Shop by a sliver, was Mexicue.

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Maybe it’s the nacho lover in me, but this was such an amazing bite of food. The chicken was deeply smoked to the point where it almost tasted like a pork item rather than chicken. The flavors were more on the savory side than the sweet side, which is what I like from my BBQ (I know that’s not normal). That may have ultimately been why I went with Mexicue over Tchoup Shop.

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Another close contender was this classic pulled pork slider from Union Bar & Kitchen.

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The pickle was nice and it cut the sweetness of the sauce nicely, but the meat was the star here – perfectly cooked and tender. A pile of that with the pickles, minus the sauce, and I am a happy man.

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A nice outside the box item was this bacon and masa wrapped rib from Otto’s Tacos. Very creative and delicious.

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My least favorite of the night was this hot dog. It just didn’t have the punch I was hoping for. I love a good hot dog too, so I was a little disappointed.

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I had high hopes for Vermillion too, thinking that there might be a nice Indian influence going on. There indeed was, but it fell a little flat for me. The tamarind was a little overpowering, but the mango rice did cut the flavor nicely.

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Miniature tacos are always a hit in my book. I might have to head back to this place (BarBacon) and try a few more items.

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And there was a third Korean BBQ selection from Miss Korea BBQ. This pork was tender and juicy, with a nice light spice to it.

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This joint offered up two items: a chicken chili and brisket.

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At Pig Beach I was expecting starch based on the menu, but this baby was almost all meat. Nice!

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One yeah – one more semi-celeb sighting from the food biz:

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Definitely a fun night, and a very challenging one in terms of lighting and color for the photos. I was on my game though, so we did alright. Big thanks to Jay again for hooking me up with a ticket!

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