Egg rolls, the deep-fried, American-Chinese classic that trigger nostalgia for just about anyone who grew up in the U.S. in the '70s or '80s, have become the latest vehicle for experimentation at some trendy NY restaurants. From cheeseburger and pastrami variations to other unexpected fillings, take a look at how the take-out mainstay is making a serious comeback.
Lumpia Shanghai egg rolls: Mission Chinese Food
With executive chef Angela Dimayuga at the helm of the innovative American-Chinese hot spot's New York location, humble take-out staples like the egg roll get seriously upgraded — japchae, vegetables, chicken thighs and pepper jelly all get stuffed into traditional egg roll wrappers, cut into bite-sized pieces and served alongside an addictive Frank’s RedHot sauce (which, as we’ve learned, is far and away a better egg roll dipping liquid than soy or Sriracha).
171 E. Broadway; 212-432-0300
Wild mushroom egg rolls: Faro
For its fall menu, a couple of the dishes at Bushwick’s trendy favorite, Faro, pull their inspiration from North Africa — a region whose flavors are certainly underrepresented in New York. The brand-new wild mushroom egg rolls utilize the subcontinent’s signature super-thin brik pastry — filling them with three kinds of mushrooms: earthy maitakes, aromatic chanterelles and nutty black trumpets. It’s a seemingly delicate dish that packs a giant flavor punch.
436 Jefferson St., Brooklyn; 718-381-8201
Crispy vegetable spring roll: Chinese Club
At the relatively new Williamsburg spot, the Chinese Club, they mash up Chinese techniques with Indian flavors to form super-flavorful hybrids, like the crispy vegetable spring roll. The hearty onion-cabbage-carrot filling is accented by a powerful jolt of red chiles, making this dish "for spice lovers only."
208 Grand St., Brooklyn; 718-487-4576
Cheeseburger egg rolls: Vynl
Trust the masterminds behind the flashy new clubstaurant, Vynl, to fuse egg rolls with cheeseburgers. Each roll comes packed with a hefty serving of seasoned ground beef and is served with a salty, creamy cheese sauce that you’re going to want to put on anything and everything.
756 9th Ave.; 212-974-2003
Pork belly and olive egg roll: Fung Tu
Olives and pork are not commonly paired up — much less an egg roll. But chef-owner Jonathan Wu finds that the brininess of olive varieties like Nicoise and Picholine perfectly balances out his cumin- and coriander-rubbed pork belly. Add in pickled Thai bird chiles, cilantro and melted leeks, and you’ve got one of the most out-there versions of an egg roll you’ll ever find — but also one of the most ingenious.
22 Orchard St.; 212-219-8785
Egg rolls: Ando
Momofuku loves to elevate classics — at its new, delivery-only restaurant, Ando, the group has taken on the Philly cheesesteak, teriyaki chicken and dan dan noodles, to name a few. The Ando egg roll doesn’t really mess with the formula for most take-out egg rolls, with a filling that includes your standard cabbage, carrots and shiitake mushrooms; but in true Momofuku fashion, it somehow ends up tasting like the best possible version of the dish you'll ever find — crispy, crunchy and craveable. Major bonus points for the restaurant’s tangy handcrafted duck sauce, made with pineapple and apricot.
Bulgogi beef spring roll: Sam’s Spring Roll
You know a dish is trending when a restaurant pops up that is entirely devoted to said food. Case in point: Sam’s Spring Roll, a fast-casual spot in the Lower East Side serving egg rolls with unexpected fillings like green curry and potatoes, or cumin chicken. The current standout is the Korean-inspired spicy bulgogi beef, whose tasty innards get marinated in a garlic-soy-sugar mixture and folded in with onions and sesame oil.
23 Essex St.; 212-777-7211
Katz’s pastrami egg roll: RedFarm
RedFarm’s pastrami egg rolls are not necessarily new — but they may be responsible for making egg rolls so trendy in recent years. The secret is the killer pastrami, which they get straight from the source: Katz’s Delicatessen, the Lower East Side icon that has been making some of the city’s best deli meats for over a century. Kudos to the restaurant for correctly assuming that the only way to make Katz’s pastrami better is to wrap it in a flaky egg roll wrapper and serve it with spicy Chinese mustard.
529 Hudson St.; 212-792-9700
Lumpiang barquillos: Maharlika
Barquillos are Filipino cuisine’s answer to the egg roll, and Maharlika’s version does not disappoint. These cigar-shaped rolls are both smaller and crispier than your average egg roll (translation: You can easily eat 10 in one sitting), and filled with sweet and spicy beef and pork, plus water chestnuts and carrots for crunch and brightness.
111 1st Ave.; 646-392-7880