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New York Daily Photo: Street Cuisine
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Sunday, 25 March 2007

Street Cuisine

One of the great joys of living in the city is the street life - this offers the type of experiences virtually nonexistent outside, such as sidewalk dining. The are over 10,000 food vendors in NYC selling from street carts. Most vendor's fare is quite ordinary - pretzels, hot dogs, ice cream and/or beverages. But there are those vendors that rise above the pedestrian and make really excellent food - many feel that some of the best, authentic cuisine can be had on the streets from these vendors, some of whom have achieved near celebrity status and are known throughout the city with individuals making trips to sample their food. In fact, street food now has its own culinary prize: The Vendy Award. This annual award is a fundraiser sponsored by the Street Vendor Project - it takes place in the courtyard of St. Mark's Church in the Bowery in September of each year. Visit the website where you can read about their goals/efforts and the award with past winners. One of the finalists for 2006 was Sri Lankan chef, Thiru Kumar who for the last 6 years has run a cart called NY Dosas (seen in the photo) with vegan cuisine, on the south side of Washington Square (he has received many execllent reviews and won numerous food awards apart from the Vendy nomination). His specialty is dosas, a south Indian type of crepe, which he cooks on site. In addition to the dosas he makes uthappam, idly, vada, sambar soup, ponidcherry masala, pattu and many other exotic sounding specialties. On a busy day there have been as many as 60 people waiting in line, many of whom are students from neighboring NYU. I found Thiru to be extremely avuncular - part of his popularity is the feeling he is taking you under his wing, making suggestions and helping those unfamiliar with his food decide what to order. He is open M-F and occasionally on Saturday. Thiru even gives out a card with his cell number and email for those wanting to check his schedule ...


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