Fall is the best eating season of the year–for much of it you still have tomatoes and fresh basil and greens, but you also have all the winter squash and cranberry beans for those soups and braises you’ve been craving since mid-August. Earlier each year the flavors of fall start showing up on grocery shelves and menus. Pumpkins? Yep. Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Of course. Candy corn? Duh! Winter squash-stuffed ravioli? Indeed.
But forget all that stuff. We like to get scared in late October. And that means we like to eat scary food. Here are our favorites in Brooklyn (and across the city). Scarier even than the amount of sugar in your standard-issue PSL.
Claw-on fried chicken at Hail Mary
Yes, the chicken is delicious (that’s the silver lining) but if you don’t jump out of your seat or at least catch your breath when you see this bird coming toward you, well, you’re stronger than we are.
Read all about Hail Mary’s fried chicken (it may be the best in Brooklyn).
Candy corn bagels at The Bagel Store
The Bagel Store, inventor of the much-Instagramed Rainbow Bagel, makes a delicious bagel. Their everything bagel is well, everything a bagel should be. The bacon-egg-and-cheese bagel (no, it’s not a sandwich, it’s all in the bagel) is ridiculous. The French toast bagel? Insanely good. Candy corn, though? As Annaliese Griffin, card-carrying candy corn loather and Brooklyn Based editor-in-chief put it, “This sugar coma on a plate is a bridge too far for me.”
Raindrop Cake at Smorgasburg
Fellow Brooklyn Based writer Meredith Craig de Pietro deemed the Raindrop Cake “pretty freaky,” and we agree. While it’s made from just water and agar (algae gelatin), the crescent moon shaped “cake” looks like a large, jiggly, gelatinous eyeball and it dissolves into water literally the second it hits your tongue. So, so strange!
Smorgasburg just ended for the season but you can get the Raindrop Cake at Round K on the Lower East Side and likely other places soon. Follow on Instagram @raindropcake.
Dirty water dogs
You know how pipes run through buildings and under the city, connecting toilets and water sources to more and more pipes? That’s what I think of every time I see a tubular hot dog floating in water at the cart of a New York City street vendor. What’s in that thing that looks like a pipe? Does the water permeate the tube with what is surely a fetid stench?
And the ultimate question: Why aren’t they grilled on a griddle like chicken and halal meat? Why would anyone want a boiled hot dog? I don’t understand. :/
Chapulines (grasshopper) tacos at Toloache
If eating bugs freaks you out, you better come around soon because in the future they are predicted to be the optimal source of proteins for humans. In fact, crickets have the same amount of protein as pork, according to a recent study. Indeed, entomophagy–the practice of eating insects — is far from unusual in parts of South America, Southeast Asia and Central Africa.
All that said, it’s okay to squeal “EWWWWW!” when they are headed toward your mouth, open only halfway. But just try it, for Halloween’s sake?
Testicargot at Takashi
This all-beef restaurant is a Japanese-style yakinuki, where meats are delivered to your table raw and ready to be grilled. You can opt for conventional cuts like ribeye, but when cow balls are available, well… You’re curious, right?
Takashi serves the balls, as you might guess from the menu name, in the style of escargot. The garlic butter is enhanced with shiso, the Asian herb also known as perilla.
Balut at Jeepney or Maharlika
Balut, the popular Filipino street food, looks scarier than it is. What is it? Oh, just a fertilized duck embryo, complete with teeny bones. But what makes balut scary really comes down to the vessel–you eat it right out of its shell!
Live octopus at Sik Gaek
The ultimate foodie experience can be found out in Queens–take the trek and order the sannakji, a stew with one main ingredient sure to startle and excite. The live octopus comes to the table still thrashing and is cut into pieces tableside.
Annaliese Griffin, the anti-candy corn activist from earlier, says she “would not do the live octopus stew again.”
“The server brought the octo over and it definitely struggled against going in the pot,” she said. “And then, it sort of slowly struggles and then capitulates, cooking. … It felt weirdly callous and creepy, especially when I started reading about how smart octopi are, and I am saying this as both a lobster serial killer and someone who has eaten fermented skate wing with her Korean brother-in-law.”
But if you’re super grossed out consider this: do you eat oysters on the half shell? They may not be thrashing around, but they’re alive too…