By Atara Huberfeld
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a YU student in possession of restaurant money must love spending it at Paprika.
Okay – I know that’s not entirely true. But based on the number of YU students found there on an average night, Perspective’s Ode to Toastie, and the recent panic over Paprika being removed from and then re-added to the caf card, it’s safe to say that Paprika is beloved.
I had the misfortune of visiting Paprika only hours after it had been removed from the caf card. The people working in the store were as confused as I was. The cashier didn’t even know what had happened until he couldn’t find the physical iPad used to charge caf cards. But caf card or not, I was in Paprika, and I was there on a mission.
Paprika has been host to various smaller restaurants within its store. The most recent of these additions is Chicken & Kone. It appears to be a takeoff of the popular Chick’nCone, a food truck and pop-up restaurant in Manhattan. The names describe both restaurants rather well. Their staple dish is chicken cubes served in a homemade, hand rolled, ice cream cone. The idea is…odd. I’m not sure who came up with the pairing, and in all honesty, there were probably controlled substances and unusual cravings involved.
I’m not familiar with the original Chick’nCone menu, but Chicken & Kone’s is simple. Chicken in a cone with a sauce of your choice, or a combo of the chicken and a side dish. The side options are French fries, sweet potato fries, and cauliflower fries. On this fateful Wednesday afternoon, I ordered a chicken in a cone with garlic mayo and a side of cauliflower fries. I ordered it to go and promptly subjected my seatmate on the way to the Tekes Ma’avar to an unexpected assortment of smells.
Eating the cone is a bit of an adventure. The cubes are piled higher than the cone as if it were ice cream defying gravity as it towers tremblingly over a sugar cone. The cubes are also slightly larger than bite-size and are covered in sauces. I quickly gave up on biting into the cone once I had thoroughly coated my chin and was rewarded with little chicken for my efforts. I had to eat the chicken with a fork and knife and break off pieces of the cone as I went.
The chicken itself was unusual. I was under the impression that it would be just fried chicken cubes, like a cut schnitzel. Instead, the cubes were fried, but they were also covered with a sauce, like General Tso chicken. Had I known that the chicken had a base sauce, I may not have chosen to further douse the chicken with garlic mayo, an additional strong taste. I’m not sure exactly what was in the sauce on the chicken, but it was slightly sweet with a subtle sharpness, nearly bitter but not quite. Needless to say, it did not blend well with the garlic mayo.
Unlike the chicken and its unfortunate secret sauce, the cone itself was delicious. It had a great crunch and did not get soggy, despite the two sauces. It was sweet, with a cinnamon-y taste, and I would have loved to have eaten it with Häagen Dazs’ finest chocolate ice cream. When paired with the chicken though, it became a disharmonious combination of unknown spice, sickly sweet, and cinnamon. That may work for some, but it was not to my taste, as my mother has taught me to say. The fried cauliflower was delicious, though. I dipped some of the pieces in the excess garlic mayo from the cone and enjoyed that together.
As my anonymous seatmate put it as she saw me dissecting this dinner while balancing it precariously on my knees, this is an interesting idea and might be best served as a small appetizer at an upscale restaurant that tries to serve “street food”.
In conclusion, if you enjoy blending unknown flavors and eating your dessert with your main course, enjoy! If not, maybe stick to your usual fare at Paprika, now that it is safely back on the caf card.