Where to find the best New Orleans cuisine in New York? How about at the back of a random bar in Brooklyn on a few foldable tables? That is the goal of Tchoup Shop, a pop-up restaurant based out of d.b.a bar that’s appearing every weekend from the summer to the end of Saints football season.
This may not be the setup that every chef dreams about, but to be able to produce tasty and authentic Cajun cuisine in this kind of space is truly impressive! While the presentation of the food was fairly rustic or home-style, the quality of the ingredients and the thoughtful combination of ingredients were worthy of a higher-end interpretation of New Orleans classics. I haven’t had many opportunities to try Cajun food while living in Vancouver, so I was really excited to eat some new things!
Things Roger Ate Like a Pig
Chicken-Tasso-Andouille Gumbo – 5.5/6 (Excellent – MUST TRY), $5 for cup, $8 for bowl
- Gumbo (a thick soup with various meats and veggies) with chicken, tasso ham, Andouille (sausage), okra, peppers, green onions, and spices with rice on top
I walked in a cold and wet foodie, so what better to cheer me up than a warm bowl of gumbo? This was Cajun comfort food at its best. The soup was served piping hot which warmed me up quite nicely. The gumbo itself was wonderfully complex, with the richness of the broth complemented by the mild spice from Cayenne peppers and the flavors of okra used to thicken the broth.
The soup didn’t seem as thick as a typical roux-based gumbo, and I liked the hint of slimeyness that the okra brought in place of flour as a thickener. The base stock for the soup was based on tasso ham, another spiced and smoked meat typical of Cajun foods which introduced a lot of umami taste.
The chicken was very tender and soaked up the flavour of the gumbo well. The Andouille sausage, a coarse-grained sausage spiced with garlic pepper and onions, had a nice firm texture, although its flavor was muted in comparison with the gumbo which had some similar flavors. Even if some flavours overlapped, the overall flavour of the dish was prominent. There’s no beating around the bush when it comes to New Orleans cooking!
Fried Catfish Po’ Boy – 5/6 (Excellent), $12
- Served with scallion mayo, spicy savoy cabbage, pickles, and Louisiana-style Crystal hot sauce
So what next after that hearty bowl of soup? How about a nice big sandwich to top things off? The po’ boy is another staple of New Orleans food. It’s a simple concept really – take a thin and crispy French footlong bread, put some deep fried seafood in, top it up with some complimentary condiments, and devour in a sloppy mess!
What really separated this po’ boy from others were the little details in the condiments that really enhanced the dish. Starting from the outside, the bread was well toasted, giving it a crispy texture, and thin enough to not take away from the delicious fillings.
The fried catfish was fresh and wonderfully flaky, with a batter light enough to not take away from the quality of the fish. Scallion mayo was a great pairing with the sandwich, as green onions provided a good contrast by cutting through the spice of other ingredients. I ran out of this sauce quite quickly though, so more would have been appreciated.
The spicy savoy cabbage was mildly spiced but had a more intense sourness, reminding me of kimchi. This, along with the pickles, balanced out the deep-fried aspect of the sandwich while adding complexity to the spice taste.
The final ingredient? This wasn’t a creation of chef Simon Glenn himself. It’s Crystal hot sauce native to Louisiana! This was unlike typical hot sauces in that the pepper flavor tasted more smoky, likely a result of the “aged red cayenne peppers” listed as the main ingredient of the bottle. The sour vinegar element was also quite strong and it had a hint of sweetness, both of which went really well with the fried catfish.
Sometimes you find good food in places where you least expect it, and this was definitely one of those occasions! I’m hoping that the Tchoup Shop guys can find a partner and start preparing a permanent space because food this good shouldn’t be hiding at the back of a bar on weekends only.
Date visited: Oct. 7, 2012
Price range: $10-20