A Fine Chicken Soup Breakfast at El Nuevo Bohio
Like many Bronx restaurants that are Puerto Rican in origin, El Nuevo Bohio caters to both Dominicans and Nuyoricans. Breakfast was on my mind, and I stopped by a crisp, not so gently cold morning in anticipation of what I hoped would be a fine plate of mangu. For the unfamiliar, mangu is the de facto national breakfast dish of the Dominican Republic: plantains boiled and then mashed, best cut with butter or vinegar, and served with pickled onions, salami, eggs, and/or fried cheese.
While many other Dominican places I've been to offer you a choice of just one or two toppings, the mangu here is served with a side of everything. It's just too bad that the kitchen is not as generous with the salt shaker as they are with the sides. The eggs are rubbery and the plantains so dull they taste, or rather don't taste, as if they have been seasoned with anti-salt. You're left scratching your head, wondering how plantains so dry could have ever been cooked in water. The fried cheese, which can get oily but is always delicious and surprisingly not an import from the Texas State Fair, does not compensate for these deficiencies.
In place of a disappointing plate of mangu, may we recommend a much tastier power breakfast of Chicken Soup ($3 for a small, $6 for a large) and Avena ($1.25)? The avena, listed under hot beverages, is not a cup but a bowl of oatmeal.
You'll probably want to start with the chicken soup, which has a broth that is sweet only by savory standards. The noodles are soft, so much, but the chicken is surprisingly flavorful and it doesn't completely fall apart. It takes some give to get the meat off the bone, which is a welcome contrast to the noodles. El Nuevo Bohio's is a good rendition of a classic, but don't expect the broth, which is appropriately salty, to wow you. The ambition matches the price tag, but it's a solid bowl nonetheless.
Cooked with condensed milk and canela (Mexican cinnamon), the avena is plenty thick with a soft, uniform texture and comfortingly sweet flavor. The cinnamon greets you in wafts, inviting you to dig in, and is a perfect complement to the sugar. Great things could be done with this flavor profile, given a adept chef's hands.
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.