TODAY’S LUNCH: ROPA VIEJA FROM THE QBA CUBAN TRUCK

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NYSF UPDATE – In response to our review below, we received the following email from Lynna, the founder/chef of QBA Cuban Kitchen:

“Perry, Once again your palate is spot on! Yes, the qba Ropa Vieja was missing a key ingredient yesterday. While I cannot divulge the missing element, it definitely adds to the complexity and superb flavor that our Ropa Vieja normally has. Which is partly why the jalapeño aji enhanced the experience.   We corrected it for today, so our Jersey City guests got the full Monty :).  I promise to return to NYC w/our full flavored version next time.  Is there a way for me to let your readers know this?”  DONE.

Original NYSF Review

The QBA (Quick But Authentic) Cuban truck came onto the NYC street food scene in June, but we haven’t been there since the first Cuban sandwich we had back in June, which was tasty.

We heard they jiggered the menu and daily specials a bit, so it was time to try them out again.  It didn’t hurt when they tweeted the daily special was ropa vieja, one of our favorites, which ended up being Today’s Lunch ($8).  How was it you ask?

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The ropa vieja special comes with rice and beans and one of their side sauces: garlic aioli, jalapeno cilantro or guava habanero.  I always ask the server’s opinion in these situations and this time it paid off nicely.

The server said the owner/chef Lynna previously told her the ropa vieja already had a smoky paprika sauce, and the garlic aioli would probably detract from the existing sauce.  She recommended the jalapeno cilantro sauce, which would add heat but not change the underlying flavor.  Great!

When I opened the container, the wonderful smell of beef and peppers arose.  There was a lot of shredded beef in a light red sauce with red bell peppers and onions.  The first couple of bites were good, but not great.  The beef was nice, but in a friendly, non-threatening sort of way.  I love paprika, and some of the flavor came through, but not much.

Then I added the jalapeno cilantro sauce…and it took the dish to another level.  The jalapenos added some heat and the cilantro added some herbiness (is that a word?), which was perfect with the beef.  I didn’t need much, but a little of the jalapeno cilantro sauce went a long way.  It even brought out some of the flavors of the underlying paprika sauce.  Mission accomplished!

The rice and beans had some red onions on top, and was a nice accompaniment to the ropa vieja.  There was rice under the ropa vieja as well, which was even tastier after the ropa vieja sauce dripped down onto it.

Today’s Lunch gets an 8.5 out of 10.  The ropa vieja was a bit understated until the jalapeno cilantro sauce was added, at which point it popped.  The side dish of rice and beans was good.  The cost of $8 was not cheap, but not expensive either considering the amount of food.  I know Today’s Lunch (unlike yesterday’s) will certainly hold me until dinner.

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