Wed Sep 17 2008
Photograph: Jeff Gurwin
We tend to eschew fried foods on buffet tables on principle. In our experience, such preparations must be eaten straight from the fryer, lest they’ll turn soggy and limp. Yet lately, we can’t get past the fried green tomatoes ($6.50/lb) at Mangez Express (71–73 West Broadway between Murray and Warren Sts, 212-385-0008), the takeout annex of the popular Southeast Asian lunch spot Mangez Avec Moi. These tomatoes stay crispy and fresh-tasting because they’re prepared in small batches; no more than 20 of the large golden coins are available at any given time, and the supply is refreshed regularly during the lunchtime crush. The thick slices of green tomatoes are dipped in flour, egg and finally panko (Japanese bread crumbs) that’s seasoned with salt, rosemary, dried parsley and a hint of hot pepper, more for color than heat. They’re then served with a house-made sweet-and-sour dipping sauce, the only hat tip to the eatery’s Asian roots. We usually skip the sauce, the better to enjoy the satisfying crunch and tart yet jammy interior that is the unripe tomatoes’ redemption.