In our opinion, Rookie of the Year was one of the tougher categories to call. Last year, it was pretty obvious the Korilla machine was going to run everyone else over. This year, there was no clear favorite.
Phil’s Steaks won the Rookie of the Year Vendy Award for 2012, and in retrospect, it’s not much of a surprise. We’ve been big fans of Phil’s since Day 1, on a cold, windy day on West 23rd St back in January.
Phil’s authentic Philly cheese steaks are one of the most popular street foods around, and it’s not hard to see why. Cheese steaks are one of the best munchies there is, and Phil’s steak, cheese, and Amoroso’s rolls are excellent.
Anybody who reads NYSF knows how much we love Okadaman. There is nothing else like it on the streets of New York, and in this case, we’ve been big fans since Day -2 (yes, negative 2). Okadaman invited us out to their commissary in Queens for a Sneak Peek two days before they opened. It wa a brutally hot day, but we’ve been singing their praises ever since.
Okadaman’s okonomiyaki, takoyaki, yakisoba and kara-age are top-notch, and we wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised if Okadaman won Rookie of the Year.
Morocho is another great rookie vendor. We are not aware of any other street vendors selling Peruvian food, but it’s the high quality of the cooking that makes Morocho stand out.
Their lomo saltado looks like a regular taco, but the meat is marinated in oyster sauce and soy sauce, giving it an Asian twist. They also served aji de gallina, a chicken, potato and egg dish that was great.
It’s always fun to learn something new, and Morocho taught us about chicha, a native drink from the Andes. It’s made from purple corn, cloves, cinnamon and pineapple. Miguel and Rafael brought along a container of chicha for everyone attending the Vendys to enjoy, as well as some purple corn as a decoration. Yes, it was as delicious as it sounds.
Fun Buns had their wonderful pork belly buns, served with crushed poeanuts, cilantro and their special blend of herbs and spices.
We remember a while back at the Bian Dang truck, Diana told us about an idea they had for a new cart serving Chinese bao (buns). She swore us to secrecy, but the word has been out for some time, and everyone knows about the bao at Fun Buns.
Chinese Mirch put together a sampler of two kinds of momos (Tibetan dumplings) served over noodles. The momos were tasty, as were the noodles, with black sesame seeds and a nice sauce rounding things out.
Chinese Mirch also attracted attention another way – they brought along a troupe of Chinese drummers and a dragon that performed a few times during the day. The dragon was very animated, dancing around and playing with people in the crowd, especially children.
Cambodian Cuisine Torsu was also nominated in the Rookie of the Year category, but was unable to attend. We weren’t able to find out why, but someone from the Vendys did tell us they called at 4:30am the night before to say they would not be able to make it. Hope everything is alright with Jerry and his family.
I’m sure we’ll be seeing some of the Rookie of the Year Finalists at future Vendy Awards, competing for the Vendy Cup. It wouldn’t be the first time, with Schnitzel & Things and Souvlaki GR both moving from the Rookie category to the Vendy Cup category and Big Gay Ice Cream Truck competing in the Best Dessert category in subsequent years.