At noon, Hanover Square in the Financial District becomes a lunchtime bazaar with a wide array of uniquely decaled lunch trucks and nigh identical steel carts, all lined up and selling Indian, Polish, American, Italian and Latin foods. Between the people craning their necks and noses to catch the scent of something appetizing, I wander what could be the UN of street foods, looking for lunch while listening to orders being yelled and food being fried, grilled and blended. And in my search for something fast and cheap, I found Fud-Hi, a Korean-American fusion lunch cart.
According to the description beneath its menu, Fud-Hi means “food high,”—the physiological state that follows a food coma. It also means “food with high standards,” a claim that Fud-Hi says all its menu items meet. Having read this promise of “food high” inducing lunches made with quality ingredients, I took a place on line with great expectations of eating food with unique Korean-American flavors.
As I do whenever I venture to a new place to eat, I ask the regulars what’s the best thing that they’ve had, and the three people I spoke to at Fud-Hi praised the Crispy Chicken over Rice ($9), which has fried buttermilk chicken, Fud-Hi special sauce (a mix of buttermilk, parmesan cheese, mayo and garlic) and white Kimchi salsa, served over rice. However, being a sucker for burgers, I chose to lunch on Fud-Hi’s Kalbi burger ($6.5), a Korean BBQ style burger with tomato, lettuce and white Kimchi salsa; with a side of fries for an extra $1. Kalbi or galbi, is beef marinated in Korean soy sauce, which gives the meat a sweet flavor, and having eaten other Korean dishes with kalbi, I was excited to try a Korean twist on my favorite American food. The white kimchi garnishing the burger was crisp and didn’t have a pungent taste that overpowered the flavor of the burger, instead it provided a very gratifying crunch, and made a great substitute for pickles. But no matter how good the meat and toppings, a burger is only as good as its buns, and I was pleased to taste that the Kalbi burger’s buns were toasted and buttered. The bread was thick enough to hold the burger and condiments together in place but didn’t make it a challenge to hold or bite into. My only qualm about the burger was that there was lettuce. Perhaps it’s because I have a personal vendetta against what I would consider to be the most tasteless and bland leaf, but the strips of lettuce seemed out of place, and was the only ingredient that didn’t bring any value to the taste or nutrition to an otherwise delicious burger.
As to whether or not I got “hi,” that’s up for debate. I’m usually yawning around noon, especially after a filling meal. But I’m not complaining, the burger tasted great and I spent less than $10 on it, I’d consider that as a win-win. However, I did find myself conflicted, feeling satisfied after devouring my burger and yet sad that it was gone. But that can easily be remedied with a second trip sometime in the future.
Fud-Hi is open Monday-Friday from 11AM-2PM in Hanover Square—a short walk from Wall Street and the Stock Exchange. Check out Fud-Hi on Facebook.