Bronx Eats: A Trinidadian Steam Table in Soundview
I've deemed the 6 train the best subway for serious eaters in the Bronx, with something good to eat near almost every stop, but you might be wondering about Elder Avenue.
For blocks in either direction on Westchester Avenue, you're more likely to find ancient but unpromising Greek diners, beat up bodegas, and fast food franchises than anything interesting. S&R Grocery and Deli offers one solution to the dilemma of where to eat if you're in the neighborhood and on the run, in the form of Trinidadian steam table fare.
In the back of the store, past aisles packed with packaged products, you'll find a steam table loaded with chicken curry, tostones, chow mein, fried rice, and more standards. All the cooking is done in house, and the generous size of the kitchen—with its many burners—would make any bodega cook jealous. The prices are bottom-barrel cheap: $4 for a small container, with as much of any food as you can possibly fit in there.
You can go ahead and get some chow mein, though we'd caution you to do so in this weather, but my money is on a combo order of cassava balls with "bhanjuri" pork. (I've yet to find the word used elsewhere, but this is what they call it.) Bland, starchy and a little crispy, the cassava provides a perfect canvas for the chunks of pork belly, which are stewed and covered in a sticky, sweet, and salty sauce. As for the meat itself, it is rich and fatty, the porcine flavor upstaged by the sauce.
When I say the food is salty, though, I mean it—and that's coming from someone who likes his food on the salty side. It is still, in spite of this, a tasty dish. A tall glass of beer offers one antidote, as does a helping of "mango sauce," barely cooked, juicy slices of mango which provide the platter a much needed dose of brightness.
About the author: Chris Crowley is the author of the Bronx Eats and Anatomy of A Smorgasburg Pop Up columns. Follow him on Twitter, if you'd like. In person, your best bet is the window seat at Neerob, or waiting in line at the Lechonera La Piranha trailer.