Eurasian Fusion

Cuisine, French, Malaysian, New York

The Battleground

Aux Epices, Chinatown, New York


The Contenders

Vegetable Curry vs. Peanut Noodle Big Bowl

Legs:

foods foods foods

A cornucopia of vegetables bathing in a lovely pool of spicy coconut red curry. Living the lux life, one curry at a time.

This adorable walk-in-closet-sized Manhattan eatery is truly unique. Run by a French/Malaysian husband and wife duo, this may be in the only place in New York where one can order both escargot and satay tofu. Eager to try this (affordably priced) culinary mishmash, I couldn’t wait to see what was in store.

Everything on the menu looked awesome. Seriously, everything. But I’m a sucker for curries, and I’m a big sucker for coconut curries. Top it off with the promise of a multitude of vegetables and you’ve got me hooked.

These veggies were just wonderful. Broccoli, carrots, red peppers, cabbage, zucchini, a HUGE hunk of eggplant… All were cooked beautifully and not stewed to death, which is a hard task to pull off when it comes to curries. They also absorbed that fragrant coconut bath they were lounging in, enabling me to get a sweet and spicy punch with every bite.

When requesting extra spice, our knowledgeable server actually brought out two different types of hot sauce for Snax and me: a different one to compliment each dish. Mine was tangy with a big whiff of umami and a lovely kick that was just what my curry needed. Very good recommendation; it really brought my dish up to the next level.

Unfortunately, I could only order one thing. But I will most definitely be back to explore more of their menu offerings.


Snax:

my foods

Peanut sauce and noodle big bowl with tofu, lettuce, cucumber, red onion, and pineapple garnished with a lime wedge. Large wooden spoon added for tossing/whimsy.

 

I sincerely had no idea what we were getting into as we escaped the cold and rushed into Aux Epices. It’s one thing to call your establishment a fusion of culinary styles, but you can’t tell where the balance lies until you’ve actually sampled the food. Malaysian-French sounded a bit risky until I opened up the menu and began drooling with reckless abandon.

By the time we got to Aux Epices I had worked up quite the appetite. I was tempted to go for the ratatouille, but when I saw the section listed as “Big Bowls” there’s no point in wasting another moment.

The peanut noodle big bowl is fundamentally sound and full of delightful flair. The peanut sauce is everything you would expect and then some. It’s rich, creamy, and chock full of nutty goodness. The sauce alone performs magnificently but is further elevated by the pineapple’s sweetness. Never overcompensating, like that one coworker who is all smiles and doesn’t know when to let a conversation die, the pineapple’s profile meshes well beneath the sauce and provides a smooth transition from noodle to salad. The extra punch of lime juice gave just the right amount of tang to wake the noodles and keep the lettuce, cucumber, and red onions interesting.

There were just three pieces of tofu in the entirety of the big bowl. They were cooked well but faded in the background as the other elements came to light; good but nothing special.

An overall successful dish from an impressive little bistro. From one fusion to another, you’re one of the best Aux Epices.


And the winner is… another tie?!

✓Protein ✓Sauce ✓Sides/Veggies ✓Presentation

Both dishes were wonderful in competing ways. Although Snax’s sauce was ultimately superior, his hilarious little salad stood no chance against Legs’ vegetable bouquet. And while Legs’ was more visually enticing, her complete lack of protein left an entire category to be desired.

Stay tuned next week for a Thanksgiving-themed food battle. We need to eat to the death and settle the November score.

November wins:

Legs: 1 – Snax: 1

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Kari Chameleon

Cuisine, Malaysian, New Jersey, Thai

The Battleground

Penang, East Hanover, New Jersey


The Contenders

Kari Sayur vs. Kari Mee

 

Kari Sayur Edit

Kari Sayur – a salad bar’s worth of veggies, tofu and the spicy curry sauce of your wildest dreams. Love at first bite – I’m head over heels!

Legs:

There are not enough adjectives in English to describe how much I love the food at Penang. Once I got a dish I didn’t love, but it was still pretty good. Other than that one fluke, the food here is sure to blow your mind.

My Kari Sayur was apocalyptic. This hearty dish was served with a freaking ladle, the better to shovel food directly into your mouth with.

The “mixed vegetables” in my menu description included okra, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, cabbage, onions and peppers all stewed together and absorbing that gorgeous broth. Penang has once again performed culinary magic and managed to keep the texture of the vegetables in tact despite their stewing process. Crisp and refreshing, these vegetables broke the mold. My fried tofu was also delicious, as expected. True to tofu form it acted as a flavor sponge and soaked up as much spicy curry broth yumminess as it could.

Spicy curry broth. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Chili, lemongrass, curry and coconut milk come together in this tomato-based sauce to leave you breathless and begging for more. As you eat the flavors build, crescendoing to a beautiful and trusting relationship. Just as intimate friends begin to share the dark corners of their lives with each other, this incredible sauce slowly revealed its hidden flavors and left my tongue bursting with surprises. The GIGANTIC portion meant that I got to eat it again the next day – and it was even more delicious on round two.

Give Penang your business – you won’t regret it!


Chicken and shrimp tangled up in egg noodles and immersed in a spicy lemon grass, coconut curry. Tell your noodle soup there’s a new sheriff in town.

Snax:

Penang, where only the strong survive. The blend of Malaysian and Thai cuisine makes for an outstanding selection but there’s only one contender I trust to put me on the board, my old friend Kari Mee. Always ordered extra spicy. Always satisfying.

The broth is a flavor that I have yet to encounter in any other dish. Lemongrass and coconut unite in a celebration of flavor that lasts as long as Christmas in America. Each passing moment reveals a new layer to savor. Spicy, sweet, earthy, and just a slight creaminess make for a broth that just won’t quit. Now avert your eyes as I drink straight from the bowl.

Kari Mee comes with either chicken or shrimp…or both. Yeah, let’s do both. The shredded chicken falls apart in your mouth and carries the broth like the Olympic flame. Such majesty and grace is matched as the chicken passes the torch to shrimp. Masterfully prepared shrimp with a slight snap makes for a wonderful addition to this already delectable dish.

The egg noodles are an excellent backdrop for the broth and protein to thrive. They don’t have much of a personality on their own and they’re not supposed to. Still, I am thankful for Penang’s noodle competence.

As I lift a piece of tofu from Legs’ Kari Sayur I can feel the tension build. I need a win. Badly.


And the winner is… Legs!

✓Protein ✗Sauce ✓Sides/Veggies ✓Presentation

This was a really, really close one. Our sauces were more or less the same, although mine was a stew and Snax’s was a soup. What really pushed me into the winner’s circle was my amazing serving pot and my garden patch of veggies. It’s hard to compete in a category when you don’t have much representation. Better luck next time.

September/October wins:

Legs: 3 – Snax: 0

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