New York, NY: Shangri-La Express

(credit: Roberto B.)

By NYSF Contributor  | New York Street Food

(credit: Roberto B.)
(credit: Roberto B.)

We’re always happy when a NYSF Reader tells us all about a new food truck or cart that we were not previously aware of. Unlike other food websites, we do not have a staff of writers scouring the city, searching for the latest and greatest. NYSF is just me, myself and I.

So when someone tells us about a new vendor, we usually ask if they would like to write a Guest Post for NYSF. Roberto B has alreay done this twice, writing up Hyderabad and the Supreme Burger Truck.

Even though last week was the new cart’s first week, Roberto must have stopped by Shangri-La Express a few times, to review all the dishes he did.

We enjoyed Roberto’s review of Shangri-La Express, and expect you will too.

“Last week, I stepped out in the chill for lunch and appearing from the mists was Shangrila-Express, a new addition  to the already diverse mix of vendors crowding 50th street between 6th and 7th.

Despite the long line of midtown truck chasers eager to pounce on the new guys and the voice in my head reminding me that my Queens apartment is surrounded by Tibetan restaurants and trucks and that poor Fun Buns had no line and very delicious filling specials  that day, I jumped on the bandwagon

The line moved reasonably fast and I ordered the combo to get a range of tastes.  I was a little annoyed “two meats” on the combo meant “two chickens” no option of a shabalay (meat patty) or the Nasha (salmon).

(credit: Roberto B.)
(credit: Roberto B.)

So I just ordered the  Sha-balay as a side (a very large side).  They are a lot like Jamaican patties but the beef is less ground, less spicy (leeks, salt, maybe pepper), and there is very little filler, if any. The dough is a pleasing round shape, thin in the middle, and doubled over pie style on the edges.

The Sha-balay turned out to be my favorite from this truck, and at $7 for 3 large patties, could pass for a full lunch.

The combo comes with either a chicken lollipop (the photo looks like a sweet and sour fried drumstick but I didn’t order it) or a Momo, possibly the best known Tibetan staple, a Tsampa (tibetan grain flour) dumpling .

As expected (but not necessarily inevitable), the momo was filled with the same exact meat as the Sha-balay, but it was a good meat, and I liked the way they fried that sucker.  Good consistency.

Maybe because it was fried and I usually opt for steamed,  it didn’t distinguish itself from a Chinese dumpling so well. Personally, I like a doughier Momo, where the meat juices come pouring out on the first bite, and this wasn’t that.  But it was nice.  You only get one lonely momo with the combo.

The condiment to go with the Sha-balay and Momo was, weirdly, the second biggest winner for me.  The Momo carts and most of the restaurants in my neighborhood give you a sticky spicy sauce that usually seems like it’s been around for a while. I use a little, but have a massive collection in my fridge.  ShangriLa-Express’  hot sauce is complex – thin, but it still sticks to the appetizers, and  is composed of multiple spices and vegetables.

Regarding the entrees, the Spicy Chili Chicken was not spicy (Ed note: The menu offers Spicy or Non-Spicy. Maybe it wasn’t ordered Spicy.). It was more a spin on ”sweet and sour”, and there were some tasty, mild peppers in the mix. There was lots of comfortingly greasy sauce that covered up the deficiencies of the chicken (bland white meat, slightly overcooked).

The Himalayan Curry  was a lighter and much more flavorful sauce, just a tad hot in a black pepper way on a different cut of chicken (but it tasted pretty much the same).  Don’t get me wrong, it was a perfectly edible protein in two very nice sauces.

The Saffron Rice was competent.  In retrospect, I thought  it was funny that the woman behind me on line requested “less rice” where I thought they were a little stingy with the rice compared with most carts in their price range.

The cafeteria grade lettuce and tomato made it possible to tell myself that I had a portion of vegetables with my lunch.

The staff inside were really nice guys, a little overwhelmed by their “new kid on the block” popularity, but taking it in stride.  I will definitely try them again.  It hit the spot for a fair price and I wouldn’t be surprised if they up their game. I really want to see what they do with Salmon.”

Thanks Roberto for another detailed, informative review. You’re welcome to write for New York Street Food anytime.

We’re probably going to try the salmon, and maybe the lollipop too.

(credit: Roberto B.)
(credit: Roberto B.)