06.04.06

Beef Jerky Time

Posted in Chinatown, Chinese, Manhattan, Meats, On The Open Road at 4:34 am by Administrator

The odds were stacked against me.  The car in front of me was a S.U.V.  It had New Jersey plates.  The driver was a woman.  She was talking on her cell phone.  She was Asian.  And we were in Chinatown.

I could tell you the accident was entirely her fault, and I could probably get away with it.  But I admit I wasn’t driving defensively.  Still, legally I think it was her fault.  

I was on my way to the Manhattan Bridge with a fare to Park Slope, and this woman in front of me clearly had no clue where she was going.  She’d already made me miss a light by driving excruciatingly slowly down Ludlow Street where there is no room to pass.  So when she slowed to a near stop underneath a green light in the intersection of Division Street and Pike, I saw room on her right side and made a move like a stock car driver who’d been drafting for 10 laps.

Even though I’d been behind her for blocks, she apparently had not the slightest clue as to my existence.  At the moment I was swinging out from behind her, she decided to accelerate and turn hard to the right.  I slammed on my breaks and turned with her as sharply as I could, but the collision was inevitable.  Thankfully, since the speeds were just breaking the double digit barrier thanks to her ineptitude, no one was hurt and the damage was minimal (inperceptable on her behemoth).

As she leapt down to the street, cell phone in hand, she actually screamed, “Where did you come from” proving me right that she never even knew I existed.  I was ready to reconcile and move on with my life, but my fare, a saucy native Brooklynite, was angrier than I was and beat me to the scene.  By the time I emerged from the cab (I was held up because I had to button the top button on my pants and zip up; SHUT UP, I’D BEEN DRIVING FOR 8 HOURS) my fare and the Asian woman were in a face to face screaming match.  There was nothing I could do.  She was on the phone with the police before I had the chance to say a word.

The NYPD, however, did not find the matter as pressing as she did.  We pulled our cars to the side of the road and waited well more than half an hour for a cruiser to arrive.  My saucy fare could have easily taken the opportunity to hail another cab and head home.  But he’d had words with this woman, and he was emotionally invested now, so he chose to linger. 

As money hemoraged from my pockets while I stood there, the wait actually turned out to be the only good thing to come out of the whole sordid debacle.  Standing next to my wounded yellow cab, now on the corner of Canal where Pike becomes Allen, I caught sight of a young Chinese boy holding a large sheet of beef jerky in a piece of wax paper.

Beef jerky holds a place of honor along with pickles, crabs, cannoli, fried chicken, sushi, and soft serve in my pantheon of foods that make my life worth living.  I am now, and have always been, a card-carrying member of the Jerky Of The Month Club.  On my cross-country roadtrip last year, I had to completely restructure my budget, because I hadn’t considered how incredible the jerky would be out west.  I found myself stopping as many as 5 times in a day at roadside jerky stands, each of which seemed to top the last.

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(New Mexico)

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(The edge of the Grand Canyon)

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(Texas)

But here in New York, I’d not found so much as a sliver of jerky that could stand up to anything I ate out west.  I heard there is a man in College Point, Queens who converted his home into a jerky factor, but there is no trace of him on the internet or the Bobst card catalog, and I’ve begun to think I am chasing a ghost.  He might be the Keyser Soze of cased and cured meats.

Convenience stores across most of the nation sport mammoth jerky sections.  But most New York deli’s have jerky sections that look something like this:

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(Meatless jerky, like tits on a bull)

So happening upon this Chinese boy with a sheet of delicious-looking beef jerky was like a stumbling upon Atlantis for me.  Just a hundred feet from where I stood waiting for the NYPD, a short walk from where I’d spent years as a pickle man at Guss, on a block I’d traversed a million times before, was Ling Kee Beef Jerky.

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It is not the dried out jerky of American west, but it makes my mouth water just the same.  The jerky is made fresh behind the counter and barbequed before it goes into the case to be sold for about $1 a sheet.  All sorts of options like pork, chicken, and spicy make Ling Kee a storefront I’ll be visiting often when I’m cruising that section of Chinatown.

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As for the NYPD, they had a curious reaction once they ambled onto the scene.  As I munched on a sheet of warm pork jerky, I asked if they would file a police report saying it was her fault (I had a saucy witness) so that I wouldn’t have to pay for my cracked bumper and busted headlight.  The problem was that, even though the woman had called them in the first place, once she calmed down and realized that there was no real damage to her S.U.V. (not to mention that she might be the one at fault), she figured she’d be better off not filing a police report at all.  

So now she was demanding that the police leave, and I was demanding that they stay to write a report in my favor.  One cop pulled me aside and asked me, rhetorically, “How long you been driving a cab?  You should know by now, if we file a report, it’s gonna say it was your fault.  Even if it wasn’t.  Get it.”  I wish he’d just said, “Forget it Dave, it’s Chinatown.”

Interestingly, class had trumped race, and the NYPD felt compelled to protect the property of a rich suburbanite over the rights of a lowly yellow cabbie.  She was the recent immigrant, and I am the white male.  But the NYPD, not known for being particularly friendly to recent immigrants, was firmly on her side, because she had the nice Mercedes S.U.V., and I had the dirty yellow Crown Vic.  Thankfully, I also had a new jerky joint.

Ling Kee Beef Jerky, Canal Street and Ludlow Street, Chinatown, Manhattan

Visit www.famousfatdave.com for a chuckle or to book an eating tour          

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(Jerky Country U.S.A.)

21 Comments »

  1. Peter said,

    June 4, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    You should also try New Beef King on Bayard. They make some excellent wet and dry Jerky. Not sure how it compares to Ling Kee, bu it’s definitely worth a try, and sicne they’re both in China town, it would be easy to do a comparison.

    http://www.newbeefking.com/

  2. Bob said,

    June 4, 2006 at 8:02 pm

    Reminds me of the cabbie maxim never give way to a four by four.
    Great post and did I tell you I hate SUVs or as we call them 4×4s

  3. Roberta Bear said,

    June 4, 2006 at 9:24 pm

    That last picture is great. Kind of symbolic of the endless road, your endless quest for food, more food, and still more food.

  4. Tom said,

    June 5, 2006 at 3:09 am

    I have some homemade stuff from our bartender’s Dad in Montana coming in the mail next week.

    It’s so good a 6′7″ drunk guy named Conan (sweet tap-dancing-christ I wish I was making this up) threatened my life if I didn’t get more in.

    Stop by my shop at 81 Broadway the next time one of those Williamsburg douche-bags makes you come over the bridge and have a piece on me.

  5. Melissa said,

    June 5, 2006 at 6:56 am

    As your Thai girlfriend, which falls into the “Asian” category, I am deeply offended by the beginning of this post. Just kidding, I’m really not. As your Significant Asian, I know you’re just being funny and you are not a bigot. Precious FFD, some of the readers might not hear your sarcasm and humor intended behind seemingly offensive comments, and that scares me. So there, Whitey.

  6. Jeremy said,

    June 5, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    fuck those pigs. you should have skinned his back and taken it to the jerky store for curing.

  7. Cindy said,

    June 5, 2006 at 6:09 pm

    My favorite part about visiting Ling Kee (well second to eating the fabulous jerky) is reading the newspaper review clippings. Hilarious!

  8. nelson said,

    June 5, 2006 at 7:02 pm

    FFD, you might also want to look up the homemade brand Dirty Jerky. I only know of one bar in Brooklyn carrying it. so delish, I know veggie’s who eat it when drunk!

  9. serling2 said,

    June 5, 2006 at 8:30 pm

    yeah, i dont understand your comment “she was the recent immigrant, and I am the white male.” sounds racist and chauvinistic….

  10. Administrator said,

    June 5, 2006 at 9:14 pm

    Dear Serling2 and anyone else who might find me offensive,

    I can assure you I am not a racist. Neither am I am chauvinist (except when it comes to the Yankees). Regarding the line about “she was the recent immigrant, and I am the white male,” I was trying to highlight the irony in the NYPD’s reaction to a situation in which many people might think they’d be on the side of a “white male” (what I am) over a “recent immigrant” (what she was).

    The NYPD, I’m not sure every knows, is still infamous in this town for shooting a recent immigrant named Amado Diallo 41 times in front of his house for reaching for his wallet (there’s a Bruce Springsteen song about it) and sexually assaulting a another recent immigrant named Abner Luima with a plunger in a precinct bathroom. Amongst cabbies, the NYPD is also known for constant harrasment. Maybe it is because most of us are immigrants, maybe because most of us drive like schmucks.

    I wish I had written the line more clearly. Hopefully, this comment clears it up for anyone who misinterpreted it.

    ~FFD

  11. Mary Drew Powers said,

    June 6, 2006 at 12:27 am

    I wonder if you’d like to try some real Montana Buffalo Jerky? Hilariously, it’s made in regular, jalapeno, and teri-yaki…or whatever passes for teri-yaki out here. I wonder if this is the stuff the bartender’s dad makes…..?

  12. acmr said,

    June 6, 2006 at 12:50 am

    I had to laugh when you said that the only good thing from that whole mess was the chinese jerky that you saw. Talk about food making every boo-boo feel all right!

    And then again, there’s that comment “Meatless jerky, like tits on a bull..”. Were you breast fed as a child?

    Lastly, on your stereotyping of female asian drivers — there ARE some of us who CAN drive…but admittedly, my sister should not have been given a license by the DMV. Can we start calling you whitey too?

  13. Big Mamma said,

    June 6, 2006 at 1:40 am

    In answer to the question, “Were you breast fed?” Yes. And I should know.

  14. Jason said,

    June 6, 2006 at 7:41 pm

    Ok, this comes from a Jerky junkie. If you want to try the best beef jerky you have ever had you have to try Robertsons beef jerky. It’s the best there is. It is made in Seminole Oklahoma. You can order it on-line @ Robertsons-hams.com. Enjoy!!!

  15. Jocelyn said,

    August 3, 2006 at 6:57 pm

    I’ve had the chicken jerky before. It’s awesome!

  16. Chip said,

    September 14, 2006 at 6:15 am

    If you want to try some great texas jerky visit my website. I have free samples if you visit the site you can email me and I will send you some to try.

  17. John said,

    December 16, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    Apparently a lot of folks up north and east don’t understand you “tits on a bull” comment, so I won’t take the time to enlighten them. But outside of Robertson’s jerky in east Oklahoma, if you go west a couple hundred miles there’s Jigg’s Smokehouse, who has some of the best jerky, if not the best I’ve ever had, not to mention their world famous Wooly Burger. If you’re out there and you drive by it on I-40, just west of Clinton, Ok. and you don’t turn around, you’ve missed out on a fantastic jerky experience!

  18. Jennifer said,

    November 17, 2007 at 2:31 am

    Ling Kee is the best I agreed if anyone wants to try the address is 42 Canal St
    and the telephone is 2129651206

  19. Jeannie said,

    March 17, 2009 at 3:39 am

    Ling Kee beef Jerky is great. I have to go once a week at least for their jerky.

  20. The Year of the Pig: Adventures in Cookbooks, River Cottage, and Chinatown said,

    March 25, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    [...] I just love the way they throw a huge piece of raw flesh on the cover and let it speak for itself.  It’s not some nicely seared piece of sirloin surrounded by truffled cream spinach, or a picture of a living cow in a pastoral setting.  This is upfront, and if you can’t face it you probably shouldn’t be eating meat.  I digress.  This Chinese soup recipe couldn’t be much easier.  I had to go to Chinatown to buy rice wine, a clear, mild sort of liquor that cost 6 bucks.  I also picked up rice wine vinegar and some refrigerated Chinese noodles (I recommend a store called Dynasty Supermarket on Elizabeth St., and there’s a Chinese liquor store a few doors down for the rice wine.  On the way to the F train at E Broadway, on Canal St., there’s a place that sells $1 sheets of homemade pork, beef, and chicken jerky, and it’s really, really good – read about it and a good story here.) [...]

  21. BRUZER & BUCKETS said,

    September 24, 2009 at 4:41 am

    MY WIFE AND I LIVE IN SOUTH FLORIDA, ON A ROAD TRIP A FEW YEARS BACK WE FOUND OURSELF ON HIGHWAY 395 AND SAW A SIGN THAT SAID .. .. JERKEY 15 MILES AHEAD. IT WAS GUSS FRESH JERKY IN OLANCHA CA .NOW WE HAVE ALL HAD JERKY BEFORE BUT THIS WAS LIKE A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE..THE HOT-N- SWEET JERKY WAS THE BOMB !!!!!! WE BOUGHT 6 PACKAGES AND HIT THE ROAD TO JERKY NIRVANA….

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