Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Kwik Meal & Kwik Gourmet
5th and 6th Avenue and 45th Street, New York City, NY
Review by Susu, MaceVindaloo, Ed

One of the marks of any "local" is to know where to go to get a great meal for not much money. People get great respect and mojo for picking out awesome places with great food from incongruous sources. What is more unexpected than gourmet food from a street-based foodcart, and one that misspells its name and it has "gourmet" in its name. Even though the purveyors wear chef whites, it doesn't really indicate that there actually is awesomely good food to be found.

They serve hotdogs and greasy spoon fare like Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. They do offer falafel and shwarma-style sandwiches, but if you read the reviews pasted to the sides of the cart, their "lamb" is really bits of lamb, not pressed lambloaf. And they have surprising specials, like the jumbo tiger shrimp with rice, or crispy salmon. It's served with a sort of tsatziki, that cucumber yogurt sauce more famous with Greek dishes. And it's all very, very good — especially the lamb pitas!

The cart's owner is a former chef at The Russian Tea Room, and he decided to strike out on his own. He now has two carts, both on 45th Street, spaced one avenue apart. This confuses some people, who are not used to seeing a cart to remember. Most carts serve the same food, and are interchangeable. How lucky were we to stumble upon this one?

They actually COOK to order here! Hotdogs are split and cooked on the flat-top grill. Shrimp and salmon were parcooked, it's true, but finished off with great care on cast iron skillets and griddle plates. Rice was pre-portioned into containers, but the salad, sauce, and proteins were placed atop it to order. It's not from-scratch, but they are a street cart, where people wait in line and get impatient.

Friends who went subsequently opted for "double meat" — for about $2 - $3, you get double the amount of meat in your pita or platter. The guys proclaimed it was TOTALLY worth the "splurge" — if $2 - $3 can be considered a splurge. Though honestly, there can be too much meat, at least for some of us. We'd recommend getting another pita or platter if you're still hungry. Otherwise, the single portion isn't overly filling, which is also nice. After all, this is in a business district and their major sale time is for lunch. It wouldn't do for people to need a nap after partaking.

They'd won the New York City "Vendy" award for the best food cart, people's choice category! For those of you who fear streetfood, it's an institution in this town, with permits, health inspections, reviews, and awards. And we'd put this Mediterranean-Middle Eastern-Moroccan-etc. amalgamated effort up against any brick-anbd-mortar establishment anywhere, even in NYC.

The pita sandwiches are cheap; the platters are a bit more, and all are totally worth their cost. We actually went back for seconds, and experienced the falafel pita, the lamb pita (single meats), the shrimp platter, and the salmon platter. We went back a week later and tried the hotdog and the Philly cheesesteak, too. All of it was impressive and wonderful, and a little different from what other carts do. Too bad we didn't have room for thirds in either occasion!

We suppose it's not unusual to remember a customer who comes back for seconds, but the cook yelled out to us when we passed by a third time, "How was it?"

"Awesome!" we replied, and we meant it!

Disclaimer: The opinions and observations noted are the property of the author. Neither Wookieehut nor any associates makes any claims or lucre from the posting of this report or review. This webpage is presented by Wookieehut.com. Enjoy!