I couldn't tell much from the picture on the menu, but I can't say the Torta Cubana looked threatening. How much trouble, really, could a guy get himself into by ordering a simple Cuban sandwich from Taqueria Los Ocampo in the Midtown Global Market?
I soon realized that I had taken on meal that might have caused a man twice my worth and waistline to struggle. Instead of the expected shredded pork, ham and pickles, I received a Jabba the Hutt sized sandwich filled with beef milanesa (breaded, fried meat), two kinds of sausage, egg, ham and chicken.
Needless to say the sandwich proved to be a little too schizophrenic for its own good, but that doesn't mean it wasn't enjoyable. This deluge of proteins threw off the balance of the sandwich, but you could tell that they would have proven excellent on their own - especially the shredded chicken. Another issue was the bread was too soft and dried out, but there really isn't an ideal platform to take on such a feast.
The sandwich wasn't just a pile of meat, though. A thick slice of fresh quesilo cheese proved cooling and helped to diffuse all of the salt from the sausage. The avocado and sautéed jalapeños provided a needed spark of freshness and heat while the mayo, lettuce and tomato made a valiant effort to foil the formidable proteins. These are the elements that often make-or-break a good torta, and I think Los Ocampo is right on par with some of the best in this portion of the equation.
Sandwich Rating: Tasty. There's no way you could ever balance out a sandwich with so many proteins, but the premium toppings certainly kept the sandwich interesting and diverse - one of the reasons I like tortas in the first place. I'll eat at Los Ocampo again (and again) but will likely stick to their tacos and awesome combos.
Epic Sandwich copyright 2009 by Teddy Hobbins