Here Are the Five Best Memorial Day Weekend Food Events in NYC

Not fighting the traffic or beach crowds this three-day weekend? Make the most of sticking around the city by taking advantage of what’s cooking up around town.

Free Suckling Pig Roast, Ariana, 138-140 West Houston Street, Friday, 7 p.m.

This Village Russian restaurant is kicking off the weekend with a free suckling pig roast and punch party. At 7 p.m., the kitchen will start serving up bits of the buckwheat-stuffed hog, and the bar will pour a berry and vodka punch. You’ll want to get there early to partake — food and drink are first come, first served.

Passport to Taiwan, Union Square, Sunday, noon

Come Sunday, Union Square will be filled with performances, art exhibits, and plenty of food celebrating Taiwanese-American heritage and culture. Look for goodies like bamboo tamales, shaved ice, oyster omelets, and intestines with noodle. Food-related exhibits include dough figurines and sugar paintings, which showcase the artists’ use of edible materials for creative purposes. A full line up of food vendors and activities can be found on the event’s website.

Rub-A-Grub, Do or Dine, 1108 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, Sunday, 2 p.m.

With a three-part menu accompanied by DJ sets, this musical feast includes bloody marys, beer and shot specials, and record-sized plates of hearty BBQ. Music will be provided by the I Love Vinyl crew, and a selection of appetizers courtesy of Justin Warner’s team are also part of the tasting menu. Tickets start at $15 for the event without food and $30 if you plan on dining or drinking.

Manhattan by Sail’s Out@Sea Party, Slip 1 — Battery Park, State Street at Battery Place, Sunday, 9:45 p.m.

Celebrate having Monday off by staying up late on a Sunday with this two-hour boat party geared toward the gay and lesbian crowd. Hop aboard the Clipper City Tall Ship where you’ll find a full bar — including Jello shots, pickle backs, and other drink specials — and a DJ, who’ll play sets as you take in the city skyline. Tickets are $20 if you use the promotional code MBSFFOS14; they can be purchased through the Manhattan by Sail website.

A Drinking Game NYC presents Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, A Celebration of Whimsy, 21-A Clinton Street, Monday, 9 p.m.

To cap off the weekend, head out for this live stage version of the 80’s cult classic, which involves drinking — both by the actors and the audience. When you hear key phrases and buzzwords, everyone drinks, which means that by the end of the show, certain lines may not come out as intended — or at all. There’s a cash bar inside the theater that will provide beer, wine, and soda, though the event is 21 and up. Tickets are $15.


The 5 Greatest Pork Buns in New York

Pork belly buns are almost a delicacy here, but in Asia, gua bao are the equivalent of hamburgers — cheap, easy to make, and unequivocally delicious.

I ate my fill of the street-food snack in Taiwan over the summer, and I was shocked at how large they are. The buns were the sizes of small coin wallets, and the juicy pork belly sat marinating in brine alongside pickled vegetables, a tub of hoisin sauce, cilantro, and crushed peanuts. Since I got back home, I’ve been scouring the city for the best gua baos.

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Here are my five favorites:

5. BaoHaus
Eddie Huang’s BaoHaus is a great drunk-food establishment near Union Square. Although the portions are a bit small, BaoHaus has become synonymous with the gua bao obsession. What you’re looking for is the Chairman Bao: a gua bao stuffed with pork, crushed peanuts, cilantro, pickled mustard relish, and Taiwanese red sugar. 238 East 14th Street, 646-669-8889

4. Jum Mum
Jum Mum is a relatively new steamed-bun contender. Owned by the same people who manage Spot Dessert Bar a few doors down, Jum Mum gives you three large, generously filled buns for $6. Look for the Emperor Bun filled with pork belly, a couple pieces of shredded lettuce, and cilantro paired with a tangy hoisin sauce. 5 St. Marks Place, 212 673-6745

3. Rai Rai Ken
Rai Rai Ken might be known for its affordable ramen, but the gua bao is most definitely a standout. First of all, it’s $7.50 for two carefully assembled beauties: Your standard steamed bun, a nicely cooked pork belly, some crunchy cucumbers, lettuce, and mayonnaise. They also throw in a side of chile sauce for those craving an extra kick. 218 East 10th Street, 212-477-7030

2. Ippudo
Coming in at a close second is Ippudo for its Hirata Buns. The bun itself is freshly steamed so what you get is a thick, warm rice pillow filled with juicy pork belly, a special sauce (a great mix of tangy and spicy), iceberg lettuce, and mayonnaise. A bit pricey at $9 for two, but so worth it. 65 Fourth Avenue, 212-388-0088

1. Momofuku
Throughout the years, Momofuku’s pork buns have garnered a cult following of their own. The meat melts when it touches your mouth, and they are slathered with hoisin sauce, pickled cucumbers, and a nice sprinkling of scallions. The buns are finished off with a touch of Sriracha. 171 First Avenue, 212-777-7773

Honorable mention:
Fun Buns NYC
This newish food truck from the creators of Bian Dang and the Taiwanese staff serves pork belly buns with soy sauce, garlic, star anise, and cilantro. The best deal is the $10 combo, which comes with three buns of your choice.

Don’t see your favorite buns? Tell us about them in the comments!


Where Was I Eating? TKettle

That was impressive. I was eating the bubble waffle at TKettle, a Taiwanese dessert joint in the East Village.

Congratulations to Yelena — the first commenter of the day. Email me your address and we’ll be sending a free cookbook your way.

Stay tuned next week for another round.