April 28, 2010

Mooncake Foods

28 Watts St.

New York, NY 10013


A soggy view across Watts St. at Mooncake.

Purists will say this isn't a true Buffalo wing. They'll point out the undivided wing. They'll complain about the lack of cayenne hot sauce. They may even say it doesn't even look like a real buffalo wing. Well purists be damned. If these wings are wrong, I don't want to be right!

Mooncake is a place I've been going to pretty regularly for lunch lately. I've tried a bunch of their dishes, from grilled chicken to beef shins, miso glazed salmon to pulled pork sandwiches - and I have yet to be disappointed. I never thought to order their wings because it's a much different establishment than the pubs and sports bars we usually chow down in. Its just a tiny, trendy-ish bistro dishing out solid Asian fusion comfort food.

Well this week I decided to give their honey and soy chicken wings a try and I'm really glad I did. I don't think I've ever eaten a wing that was cooked better than these. They were fall-off-the-bone tender as if they'd been slow-cooked for hours, but had a great grill char on the outside. Normally I'm not a fan of wings with honey based sauces, but the flavor of these things was terrific. The honey mixed with the soy gave these a unique taste that doesn't really compare to anything we've had so far. They also came with a citrus dipping sauce (which was great in it's own right) in lieu of the traditional ranch or bleu cheese.

The order only comes with four pieces of chicken for $6.50... but wait. Before you dismiss this as a terrible deal you should know that the wing itself is not divided into a wingette and drumette. Instead, it's served as a whole wing. So really, it's like getting an order of 8 wings anywhere else. Not to mention (and I'm not sure if you can tell this by the picture) they are pretty large pieces of chicken. The drumettes are almost the equivalent of a full size drumstick.

After I devoured my lunch (they stood no chance) I had to get up to wash my hands. I came back to find that my whole office smelled like honey & soy wings. I have to say, this made me happy. In fact, and I probably shouldn't be admitting this, I gave the bones one last sniff before I tossed them in the trash. Yes, I liked them that much. I definitely have them in my top five right now, and they're in strong contention for the top spot. The only thing bad I can really say is that I'm sorry this was a solo mission and Jeremy and Steve have to hear about it through this review instead of tasting them for themselves. Well, it's not like I would have shared anyway.

So if you're in the mood to try something a little different, or just want some solid Asian fusion, give Mooncake Foods a try. The service is fast and friendly and the food will not disappoint.

April 23, 2010

Nicky's of Centerport

Nicky's of Centerport
"Where Everyone's A Regular"
6 Little Neck Road
Centerport, NY 11721

Sometimes a place completely takes you by surprise. I have lived in Centerport for about a year and a half now and I have driven by Nicky's everyday. It is in a little, unassuming shopping center just off Northern Boulevard and nothing about the outside of it says "come on in for wings." Don't get me wrong, the parking lot is ALWAYS packed and I just assumed that the price point was good and the food was good enough to get the local Centerport faithful to come in and eat. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I walked through the door. Please indluge me here while I go on a bit about this place. If you are looking only for the wing review, please skip the next six (6) paragraphs.

To call this place local is to completely underestimate what "local" means. When I walked in, I felt like a tourist, I may as well have been wearing a Goofy t-shirt and Mickey Mouse Ears because everyone seemed to have their place in the bar. I would not have been surprised if they told me that there was assigned seating. They all knew the bartender (Sandy) and she knew all of them. They all knew the waitress, they all knew each other and here I was, a foriegner, crossing their border into a country I did not have a Visa to enter. One patron even brought a board game to play at the bar. Nicky's did not give me a bad feeling, but walking in alone, it was a bit uneasy.

I pulled up a seat at the bar, hoping I did not take someone's assigned seat, and was greeted quickly and kindly by Sandy. I ordered a beer and a menu. As I looked over the menu, a young couple sat down in the two empty seats next to me and they were regulars. Sandy guessed exactly what he was going to order. I ordered my wings and a side of jalapeno poppers. When the wings arrived, I took out my phone and took a picture of the wings (you can see our pictures of most of the places we review on our facebook page). As I took the picture, the couple inquired as to why I was taking a picture of my dinner. I explained to them about the blog and we chatted for a while about wings and the local area.

The young couple told me about Off Broadway, a place in Greenlawn, NY (just south of Centerport), that has a wing night on Wednesdays. They don't have a kitchen, but Lisa's Buffalo Grille (which is right across the street) supplies the wings. They are owned by the same person, according to the husband. They were also very interested in what I thought about Nicky's wings, since Nicky's is known locally for having the best wings. In fact their menu tells you that their wings are their most popular appetizer. The husband also ordered a plate of wings, which was exactly what Sandy had guessed he would order. Something tells me he has had them before, but that is just a guess.

Enter Kenny. An infamous local at Nicky's. He walked in and the insults started flying. Nothing offensive on this night, but from what I can gather, this was more of an off night for him. He was wearing a bright orange sweater, drank red wine and was hilarious to observe.

I heard him reffered to as "Comb-over Kenny" for reasons that would be very obvious if you were there and he did nothing but insult me from the second we spoke to each other. He seemed harmless enough to me, but he has a very wicked tounge at times. I get the sense that they humor him a lot at this place. Kenny owns a local business that claims to be "Specializing in Courtesy" and the people at the bar seem to find this hilarious. He went from calling me a "nice man" to saying that he was "done with me" back to being a "nice man" to saying that I should be kicked out of the bar for being mean to him. I was cracking up. When Sandy came over, I explained to her that Kenny wanted me to be kicked out of the bar, so she bought me a beer. Kenny's plan seemed to backfire.

I have not laughed or had this much fun with people I had never met before in my life in about a decade. By the time I left, I really understood the slogan, "Where Everybody Is A Regular," because I felt like a regular. The young couple, Kenny and Sandy did not care that they had never met me before, I just became a member of the Nicky's family. It was a very good time.

Now, for the reason this blog exists, the wing review. Nicky's offers two different buffalo wings options on their menu. You can order the Half Serving Buffalo Wings for $6.95 ot the Full Serving Buffalo Wings for $9.95. They come in Hot, Medium and Mild. The half serving is 12 wings and the full serving is 25, which makes the wings between under $.60 per wing on the half serving and $.40 per wing on the full serving. That puts their wings about average in price, if not a little below average. I ordered the half serving of Hot wings, I was not feeling 25 wings that night... I would have been hurting.

My dozen hot wings came out and I dug right in. This place is known for its wings for a reason. They were big, juicy and cooked perfectly. I see why people, who know about Nicky's, drive from all over the island to visit this place. They take the traditional hot sauce and do it as well as it can possibly be done. I really have no complaints. They were hot. My nose was running after a few wings and I was actually looking to the jalapeno poppers to soothe the burning... yes, jalapeno poppers worked to soothe the buring in my mouth. I was impressed by the wings and am really pissed that it took me this long to step into Nicky's.

Overall, I really liked Nicky's of Centerport. I suggest that if you are off the beaten path and in the Centerport area, check this place out and definitely try the wings. It is truly a diamond in the rough.

P.S.- T, C, S and yes, even you K... it was very nice meeting you all! Thanks for making me feel at home!

April 20, 2010

Hooters of Fresh Meadows

Can you say Big Daddy? BIG DADDY!!!!!!! It wasn't a Western Wednesday at Hooters in Queens but it was quality. The new Hooters in Queens is located off the service road by the Long Island Expressway (exit 25). Now that the weather is nice, you have the option of sitting outdoors as well as sitting indoors. The outdoor area, however, is not equipped with T.V.'s. But let's be real, the inside is better. The atmosphere was great, especially if you have the seat where the step stool is. If you don't know what I mean, ask for that table and tell them that the Wingmen sent you. You'll thank me later. In addition, the girls were having fun with their beer promotion. If you stated you want a Big Daddy, they'll give you a big beer. Its kind of funny when the Hooters girls are laughing at your expense.

Anyway, the wings were delicious. That night, the three of us ordered the hot wings along with the garlic parmesan. The waitress claimed that after ten of the garlic parm, we would be tired of them but we ordered 25 anyway. Long story short, she was right. They were good, but there was something about their consistency that tired you out. My recommendation is to order 10 and split them up. A few will do and not tire you out. The hot, however, were great. They weren't ridiculously hot, but they cleaned your sinuses. Those wings didn't stand a shot. We were good lil' Wingmen and cleaned our plates and were allowed to have another Big Daddy.

West Taghkanic Diner

West Taghkanic Diner
"The Home of Home Cooking"
Route 82 & Taconic Parkway
West Taghkanic (Ancram), NY 12502
Map and Directions

This place was awesome! I love old-school, greasy spoon, rail cart diners. I always have. Jody, Jeremy, myself and all of our friends used to hit up 24 hour diners after hockey games, high school events or even hill parties. There is nothing like an egg sandwich at 2 AM! It was a Saturday in April and I was on a mission to sell my boat... begrudgingly. As I was traveling back home after an exhausting day of running from Long Island to Massachusetts and then to Upstate NY and back, this place appeared on the horizon and I was destined to stop.

I will say that I had no idea where I was. Upstate New York is a ways from my stomping grounds and honestly, not a place I choose to visit all that often. I need to give this area a better shot because the diner was amazing. Long counter, multiple booths with tables and chairs thrown in, shiny metallic decor and a neon sign... I mean really, what is cooler than that?

My father and Uncle Phil were with me on this trip and as we walked in I was thinking breakfast for dinner all the way. It is damn near impossible for me to pass up eating breakfast at diners, but they also had wings on the menu and what kind of Wingman would I be if I did not see what the West Taghkanic Diner had to offer?

They had a few flavors of wings on the menu and for about $6.50, you get a dozen wings. That is just over $.50 per wing, which is a pretty good price. The flavors are Hot, Mild, BBQ and Honey Dijon. I asked if they could split the order 6 and 6 and they said sure, so I ordered 6 Hot and 6 Honey Dijon. My father ordered breakfast and Uncle Phil got the fish and chips, which the waiter said was one of their most popular dishes.

The wings were really good. The Hot Wings were traditional and were made well. They had a decent amount of kick while holding on to that quintessential buffalo wing flavor. They were not as crispy as I would like, but the taste and good size of the wing overshadowed the lack of crisp. The Honey Dijon were the best honey mustard wings I have had in a very long time. They were large, juicy and covered in honey mustard. They were perfectly prepared and the flavor was amazing. They are worth the trip up the Taconic Parkway. I am truly bummed that I live so far from this place.

The fish and chips, according to my uncle were pretty good and my dad enjoyed his eggs, fries, sausage and rye toast. The food at West Taghkanic Diner is better than one would expect when driving by the neon sign on the south side of Route 82. The service is a bit suspect (they forgot to bring me my fries, my dad only got 2 of his 3 eggs and they brought him white toast... he ordered rye), but they corrected their mistakes quickly and were happy to do so.

I suggest that if you are ever in the area, stop by and give this place a try... you won't be disappointed and you can buy a t-shirt as a souvenir.

April 16, 2010

Hurricane Grill and Wings

Hurricane Grill and Wings
1037 Route 112
Port Jefferson Station, NY 11776

The second stop for Jody and I on our Monday off was Hurricane Grill and Wings in Port Jeff Station (it is in the shopping center with the DMV, we had a little trouble finding it). Back in November of '09, Jessica Miller Gomez commented on our Facebook page that Hurricane's was coming soon and we would have to check it out when it arrived (Thanks for being a fan Jessica!). We finally were out there and decided to give them a shot. Eric, don't get upset that we didn't stop at Grumpy's, we plan to, but it will be a huge Wingmen Event! It will take some planning.

So we walked into Hurricane Grill and Wings and instantly felt like we were in Orlando or Tampa at some waterside bar. It felt very different from your typical Port Jefferson, North Shore of Long Island, right on the Long Island Sound bars.  This was more tropical, complete with hardwood floors made to look like they have sand on them, seascapes on the walls, luau feeling decorations Reggae music playing, and fake palm trees. I feel like I have been to this exact place in San Diego, Miami, Orlando... and now Port Jeff, which is good because I can't remember when 3 feet of snow have fallen in Southern California or Florida, but it does in Port Jeff!

After polishing off quite a few wings at Tommy's Place, we decided to try the $18.49 sampler plate. Anyone who knows Jody knows he has a hard time passing up a combo plate, so this choice fit right into his indecisive sensibilities. We had 20 wings with four different flavored sauces. We ordered the Honey Mustard, Mango BBQ, Thai Ginger and Garlic, and Gold Rush as our four flavors. They mostly came at the suggestion of the bar tender, since there are a LOT of flavors to choose from. Check them out here.  You can see there are quite a bit of them and you can even create your own.

Combo Platter- Starting to the left of
the ranch dressing and
moving clockwise: Gold Rush,
Honey Mustard, Thai Ginger & Garlic,
and Mango BBQ.

Lets get into the review-

1- The Honey Mustard were good. The flavor was a bit on the sweet side, not enough mustard, but it is understandable, since a lot of people are getting into the sweeter flavored wings these days. Miller's Honey Mustard was way more traditional, as are Wings To Go in York, PA (which I have not been to in years. We need a trip down there boys, those were good wings). I would suggest staying away from these only if you don't like sweet wings.  If you are a honey mustard fan, go for it.

2- Mango BBQ were a wildcard for us. As our faithful followers may know by now, we have never been really happy with any BBQ wings we have tried, but Mango BBQ, how do you pass up Mango BBQ? They were quite sweet, as I am sure you can imagine, but also completely solid. A lot of flavor. Best BBQ wings I have had, and I have tried a lot of BBQ wings.  The Mango adds sweetness, but also distracts your mouth from the tomato and molasses base that usually makes BBQ too much for me.  I'd eat these again.

3- The Thai Ginger and Garlic wings were way too gingery for my liking and sickly sweet. There is way too much honey in that recipe. They were good, but the flavor was just too strong and sweet for me. If you are into ginger, give them a whirl.  We all have our own particular tastes and these just were not for me... they can't all be winners.

4- The big winner of the afternoon was the Gold Rush Sauce. They are described as a "special honey mustard sauce with a hint of heat" in the menu and as "not honey mustard tasting at all" by the bar tender. In my opinion, it was honey mustard mixed with a buffalo sauce with some spicy red pepper thrown in the mix.  This sauce is great and I wish I had some bottles of it right now, I'd BBQ myself some winglets and douse them in the stuff.  I'd go back for these... and of course to try some of the other flavors.

All of the wings were large, juicy and had a good crisp to them, like all wings should. They reminded Jody of Rookie's in Huntington because they had some many flavors on the menu and they were big juicy wings. Hurricane's has a good beer selection, advertises a happy hour everyday from 4-7PM with two for one appetizers, $2 pints and $8 pitchers, and is a nice novelty bar. If there were outside seating and it was located closer to the water in Port Jeff Village, I could see this place being crazy in the summer. I am looking forward to seeing how popular it becomes.

The Wingmen should make another trip there with some fans to help us get through all of the wing sauces. It is a job for more than 3 people! Who's in?

We will give this a preliminary Wingmen Approved stamp, we have to go back, try more and see what else we enjoy.

April 13, 2010

Tommy's Place

109 Main St.
Port Jefferson, NY 11777

Last Monday was a beautiful day and Steve and I both had off from work. We wanted to grab some wings while still enjoying the weather. Since we were around the Eastern Suffolk area, we decided to head to Port Jeff. We used to spend a lot of time there in high school - 14 years ago (holy crap!) - but I haven't really hung out there too much since. It's still a collection of quaint shops, restaurants and bars down by the water - and you can still get a burger at Tara's for a buck, so I guess not much has changed in the decade-plus since I've been there.

We ended up in Tommy's Place, which is basically at the very end of Main St. (Rt. 112) just before you get to the ferry docks. We put in an order for two plates of wings, Homemade Buffalo and Teriyaki. At $6.99 for about 10 wings, they were decently priced.

Overall, the wings were meaty and cooked well. I prefer a little more crisp, but they were still moist and tender. The Buffalo were pretty standard, not too hot but a nice flavor. I'm not sure what "homemade" means in this case - did they just mix some hot sauce with butter, or did they make the sauce from scratch using actual peppers? Steve's sister, Meredith, works there so maybe she can get us some answers (can you?).

If you're like me and love teriyaki wings, this is definitely a place to add to your list. The sauce was really thick and coated the wing very well. It was kind of, um, gooey... in a good way of course. I've been trying this flavor pretty much every chance I get and this is one of my favorites.

Other notes - The service was good. The bartender was friendly even though we accidentally rubbed it in her face that we had off and she didn't. Parking can be tough though. I found some two hour spots a few blocks away but Steve parked right in front of the bar in a 1/2 hr spot (what can you do in PJ in a half-an-hour?). The bartender said the local police were pretty strict on enforcing the rules. I think they're only in effect until 7 pm though.

April 12, 2010

Canz Restaurant & Bar

Canz Restaurant & Bar
1610 Old Country Road
Westbury, NY 11590

Canz Roadhouse or Canz Restaurant & Bar is a localized version of Hooters in Nassau County, NY. The place has, you guessed it, empty cans all over the place but I think they mean something completely different when they say "I (heart) Canz" or "Do you have a Crush on my Canz" on the back of the waitresses' shirts. I may be wrong, but I am sure I am right. It is a sports bar with a lot of TV's playing just about any sport event airing that particular evening and hires attractive waitresses that wear skimpy uniforms... like Hooters. Another one is opening soon in Astoria, Queens.

Jody and I were there for a team dinner with our baseball team and the guys had already ordered hot wings and they arrived at the tables just after we grabbed our seats. Great timing on our part, if I do say so myself.

The hot wings were really good. They were the traditional butter, hot sauce and cayenne pepper hot wing recipe, but they were made perfectly. They were of decent size, coated well with sauce, and had a little kick to them, but not too much. They seemed to be fried first and then baked/broiled to make the inside juicy and outside crispy. If that is not their method, then whatever it is, they need keep it up because it's working! For traditional hot wings, these were some of the best I have had.

Since that was just the appetizer, some of the team ordered dinner, but Jody and I happened to notice that hot wings were not the only wings on the menu. Upon further review, we saw that there was Plain, Mild, Medium, Hot, BBQ, Honey BBQ, Asian, Teriyaki and Dirty Canz. Dirty Canz has a note that says "Extremely Hot" next to it. Jody went with teriyaki, being a big fan of teriyaki flavored wings, it was an easy decision. I, on the other hand, went with the Dirty Canz wings. I mean, "Extremely Hot" is a relative phrase... what is hot to one person is mild to another, so how bad could it be?

As I ordered, the less than polite waitress told me that they were "inedibly hot" and asked if I was sure. Of Course I Was Sure! Damn it, I'm A Wingman! I politely said yes, I am sure and she kind of shook her head and walked away. The team, upon hearing that I ordered the Dirty Canz, proceeded to rib the crap out of me. Now, this was nothing new, I had already been taking abuse for ordering a Blue Moon beer which happens to come with a slice of orange. I heard such clever things as "You don't fruit the beer!" and "What size skirt do you wear, Sally 'Fruit-in-the-Beer'?" I don't care, Blue Moon is good and the orange is a nice addition. Why am I explaining myself to a computer screen? Whatever, back to the review.

Well, I ate my words with the Dirty Canz wings. When they came out, I did not get the smell of something really hot and spicy... you know, when you nostrils burn before you even taste them... they just did not have that kind of smell. They looked good and they were the hottest wings I have ever eaten in my life. I mean these were eyes tearing, nose running, lips burning, forehead sweating, mouth smoldering, hiccup inducing hot. These wings need to be served with bread or milk because water and beer just do nothing to combat that kind of heat. After the first wing, everyone was laughing at me, and I would have been laughing at me too if I was not looking for a fire extinguisher to put our the fire in my mouth. That level of heat is nothing I have ever tasted before and most likely will never do again. Of the 12 ordered, I only could eat 4, Jody had 2, and the rest were eaten by other members of the team. They all agreed that they were HOT wings.

I don't want to ignore the Teriyaki wings in this review, but honestly, I cannot tell you what they tasted like. The Dirty Canz burned my mouth so bad that I couldn't taste a damn thing. They were also cooked well and had smoked sesame seeds sprinkled on them. I was using the sweetness of the teriyaki sauce to cut the burning from the Dirty Canz. Jody will have to comment on the teriyaki sauce since I only saw what they looked like and remember a hint of ginger in the recipe.

Canz is nothing more than a sports bar with a similar gimmick to Hooters. It seems to be working for them and their food is pretty good. The wings are worth the trip, but they are expensive... $26.95 for 30 wings or, almost $1 per wing! They do have Monday Wing Night special, $19 for all you can eat/drink wings/draft beer. That is worth the trip. They have a bunch of other nightly specials, check out their website for more. The Wingmen would, and probably will, go back... maybe we'll hit up the Astoria one when it opens.

One last note. I am going on record and saying that I will most likely never eat the hottest wings on the menu again. I mean, normal hot wings are ok, but if they come with a warning label, make you sign a waiver or have to prepare them with a Hazmat suit on, I will shy away. I'm in this for the taste, not to prove anything. Does that make me less of a man? Probably.

April 02, 2010

Foster's Grille

Foster's Grille
Home of the Charburger
235 Smithtown Blvd.
Nesconset, NY 11767

Back in September, I was down at my brother's in Virginia and he suggested that we try Foster's Grille in Chantilly for wings (reviewed in September, 2009). We ordered them to go and ate them at the house while watching football. I remember them being a bit overpriced and relatively mediocre wings.

So, having recently married and being in the middle of house hunting, I ended up in Nesconset, just down the road from the Foster's Grille that I had mentioned just opened in my September post. Being a Wingman, I had to give it a shot. I am a team player and all.

For $10.00 I got 10 hot wings, fries and a fountain drink (free refills), which is not a bad deal at all. My dad, who was with me had the Charburger, fries and fountain drink which was also $10.00. He loved the burger, so I have to go back for a Charburger.

As was the case in Virginia, the Hot Wings were not very hot at all. When you have an option between Hot and Mild, one of them has to be HOT!!! If people can't take the spice, then they should order the Mild. They were also a bit soggy. No crisp to them at all. My dad noticed as I chowed down and said "I can't eat wings like that, they have to be crispy." I completely agree with him, they need some crunch to be a great Hot Wing. Oh, and I must repeat that they must be HOT!

Now, back in September I said "I don't know if they lost their crisp in the Styrofoam container, but they just had very little crunch to them and we all noticed. Things do tend to get soggy when taken "to go," so I will not say that this was their fault, but, however, they were not hot at all, and that is their fault!" I am guessing that the Styrofoam container had nothing to do with the soggy, non-hot wings at all.

Now the positives, they were cooked really well. Perfectly juicy on the inside and came right off the bone. They were also large wings. Were they big enough to be worth $.70 or so per wing? Probably not, but I didn't mind too much. The Hot sauce also tasted pretty good. It wasn't hot, but had a good flavor to it.

Overall, they were average wings, which is in line with what I posted back in September. Would I ever go back? Absolutely. They weren't bad enough to keep me away. If you are new to the blog, check out the Johnny Famous review or the C. J. Sullivan's video review to see places where I will never (ok, most likely won't) eat the wings again. Foster's is not even close to being in their company. The service was really good, they have a lot of specials (see the Facebook page for a picture of the Daily Specials), and they have a decent beer selection. Plus, who knows, it may be my neighborhood wing joint soon!

One last note- Wings-to-Go at Foster's: 25 wings = $18, 50 wings = $36, 75 wings = $53, 100 wings = $65. That is pretty expensive; $.65 for a wing is a lot.