While I wait out the laundry cycle.
The sandwich: Spicy pork kim-cheesesteak from the Kimchi Taco Truck, 46th and Lexington on Fridays, elsewhere other days.
The construction: Korean spiced pork tenderloin with Cheez Whiz and kimchi on Italian bread.
I had the choice of Cheez Whiz or provolone, as is often the case with cheesesteaks. I chose the former because I had reservations about the way provolone would go with kimchi. The guy in the truck offers spicy or mild sauce as he bags your order; I asked for one of each. More on that to follow.
Important background information: Kimchi is a Korean side dish of spicy, fermented vegetables — usually cabbage.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a cheesesteak of any variety made with pork before. I’ve obviously had regular ol’ steak cheesesteaks, and I’ve had a bunch of chicken cheesesteaks too. But somehow I never thought of or had the opportunity to eat one made with pork. So there’s that.
I ate this sandwich on Friday, when, as I mentioned, I was quite busy. There was a bit of a line at the truck, and it turned out for whatever reason sandwiches take longer than other orders. I did a lot of standing around waiting for this sandwich, then once I got it, I was already late for a session at the studio to tape some Minor League Reports that’ll roll out next week. I had to hustle up five streets and across four avenues, all the while concerned that the studio guys were getting pissed at me and my sandwich was getting cold. This was a high-anxiety sandwich.
What it looks like:
How it tastes: Hell and yes.
When I got to the studio, I threw the sandwich down on the table they use for Daily News Live, unwrapped it, photographed it and took a bite. I secretly hoped our guys would have some sort of technical problem that might give me more time to convene with the sandwich. They didn’t. I got pulled away from it two bites deep. And I couldn’t complain; I’m the one that showed up late.
I knew from the first bite that this was a great sandwich, but I don’t think I realized quite how great until I had to step away.
Now I have to stand here so you can adjust the lights when that delicious thing is staring at me, just barely out of reach? Can’t we get a crash test dummy for this?
There’s a familiar flavor in Korean barbecued pork that I can never precisely identify. It’s a sweet, almost smoky flavor; I think it’s a combination of something and ginger. I want whatever that something is so I can bring it home and pair it with ginger. It’s a really good flavor. And this sandwich had a lot of it.
It was difficult to distinguish the kimchi flavor from the pork, and the Cheez Whiz mostly served as a creamy bonding agent for the meat and cabbage, creating a uniform texture throughout the inside of the sandwich: A big, delicious pile of vague Korean pork goo.
The mild sauce didn’t add much; it also got drowned out by the amazing pork flavor. But when I added the spicy — a peppery red sauce that tasted like a more liquefied Sriracha — holy hell. A perfect complement to the sweetness of the pork.
The sandwich got all the texture it needed from outstanding bread, crispy and flaky on the outside, toasty and soft on the inside. Even after it sat out on the table for a while, the roll held strong under the grease from the cheese and pork.
I stole bites between takes. Video producer Jeff had to keep reminding me to slow down when I read from the TelePrompter. Easy for him to say; he didn’t have an amazing sandwich waiting.
When I heard that phone-in guest Toby Hyde needed to finish something up and wanted a little more time before we filmed his parts, it was about the best news imaginable. I powered through the end of the still-warm sandwich. If the segments were framed differently, you’d notice a continuity error: a stain would appear on my right pants leg for the parts of the segments with Toby on the phone, then disappear during the wraps. Luckily my pants are not in the shot. Unluckily they are stained with delicious sandwich. Hazards of sandwich writing.
What it’s worth: Cost $7 and maybe a mile walk, plus a little bit of stress.
How it rates: 91 out of 100. Not an inner-circle Hall of Famer, but undoubtedly a deserving one. It has been added to the sidebar.