Tropical II: Ecuadorian in LIC on Greenpoint ave
My first meal here today. I work across from the graveyard which, coincidentally, is the perfect way to describe the lack of lunch options in the immediate area just over the Greenpoint ave bridge.
Heading North on Greenpoint Ave Tropical is on the north east corner almost immediately after crossing over the LIE.
It’s a small funny little square bldg, looks like it was a Long John Silvers once upon a long time ago. The lot was completely full at 1PM, mostly town cars. Inside I think we were the only people who didn’t speak Spanish, which was a good sign right off the bat.
I had what I think was the house special, tho I'm not sure if it was one dish or two. Anyhow... I first had a beef soup which consisted of a fresh light broth (vegetable beef perhaps) with cilantro, carrots, onions, cabbage, big yucca chunks, some deliciously tender fatty beef on the bone (like short ribs), and some kind of flat crumbly sausage like thing. Not sure what kind of meat it was. Soup was great! Not quite hot enough but extremely fresh with a great cilantro flavor in the broth.
After that came my main which was the house special. But maybe the beef soup was the house special. I dunno it was hard to tell what she was saying. Anyhow the beef stew was basically pepper steak over salad with white rice. The sauce was fantastic and made up for the small amount of beef, which was a but tough as pepper steak tends to be, however I would say it was still fresh. It was served over ice burg lettuce which mixed actually mixed in quite well with the cooked onions and peppers. The rice was white rice cooked with a little chicken broth and a nice madura to top it off.
I also ordered a side of maduras as I can’t get enough of them, they came out super, soft and brown with crispy bits at the ends. Perfect. I slathered them with what I think is some sort of Aji hot sauce. I am dying to know exactly what the sauce is because it was the absolute best thing I had. It’s a greenish white puree, def made there, not bottled. I asked the ingredients and what she remembered was Celery, cilantro, chiles, lime juice, and vinegar. In researching online it seems there are many versions of Aji hot sauce. Anyhow it was sooooo good. I put it all over everything and am going to try and mimic it at home. I had a good idea of the ingredients just by tasting it but it was the celery I couldn’t place. I dumped it on the rice and the maduras.
There was a delicious fresh papaya juice served with sliced lime. A must have.
My companion had the Seco de Chivo. Goat stew served with yellow rice. I have never loved goat as it usually just seems like chewy lamb. This was quite tender. Big portions of meet, some on bone. The sauce was a light brown. I didn’t get much of it, but the meat I had was quite good.
They have a large selection of ceviches as well as a whole side of the menu just for seafood.
If anyone else has been and can make some recommendations I’d love to hear them. The menu is big and there’s a lot to choose from. The picture of the tripe stew looked very tempting, perhaps next time.
A good homemade aji is usually found in most Ecuadorian homes, and recipes can vary greatly. The beauty is that you can prepare the aji to your liking...hot, medium or somewhere in between. Who says that good food has to be spicy hot? Although I'm not sure what the restaurant's menu presently offers, noteworthy selections may include caldo de bola, a hearty style soup in the tradition of sancocho. It's main component is a tasty ball made from platano verde and stuffed with shredded beef, veggies, chopped egg and occasionally raisins. This type of soup may be served as a meal and accompanied by a bowl of white rice with a slice of avocado. Also of of note is the Guatita or Guata which is basically a stew of tripe cooked in a peanut sauce topped with cilantro and usually served alongside yellow rice. Humitas (Ecuadorean version of tamal) can be prepared sweet or savory, and when prepared correctly are delicious! Seco de Chivo is great when the meat is tender. I've tried this dish at various restaurants, and unfortunately, the meat is lacking and therefore, mostly bone in sauce. Also when prepared correctly, the sauce alone, prepared with the base of a good qulality beer, is enough to merit to eat along a side of arroz amarillo and some maduros fritos and esalada de aguacate (avocado salad). Delicious!
My family had been raving about this place for a while, and I finally went there with them yesterday. We arrived around 7:00pm and it was still pretty empty.
We ordered the Bandera (www.tropical3.com). The meal satisfied the taste buds of all. Some of the goat was a little bit tougher, but cut-up and with the sauce was still great. The shrimp ceviche (4 shrimp) on top was delicious. The tripe with the potatoes was delicious.
Looking forward to going back soon, and working my way through the menu.