CURRYWURST – THE GERMAN STREET FOOD IN NEW YORK.
New York City has one of the largest varieties of street foods available at the turn of every corner, so its no wonder currywurst has also made it to town. Currywurst, the beloved German staple, is a combination of bratwurst sausage and a tomato-based curry sauce, usually served with a roll or crisp french-fries. And, it is the perfect companion to a Sunday beer – a Deutsch beer, of course.
The dish is so popular in Germany that an estimated 800 million orders are served there each year, according to the Currywurst Museum in Berlin. A number of German cities have competed to claim bragging rights over the dish’s origin. Although research has shown that Berlin lays claim to the dish’s invention, debate still endures regarding which city’s wurst, is best.
Andre Wechsler’s German beer bar on First Avenue and East Seventh Street brings his own version of currywurst to the East Village – pleasing New Yorkers and expats alike. Wechsler’s – established in early 2009 – serves its currywurst with a grilled and cut-up bratwurst covered in a tomato-based curry sauce that starts of fruity, but ends with a spicy finish. The small pub also offers a good variety of German beers and other menu options, mostly seasonal, from Deutschland’s different regions.
Though the sauce is a secret recipe, Wechsler confirms that it contains, “Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, apple sauce, curry powder, and a certain magical ingredient that keeps the sauce tasting light and thick, at the very same time.” The bratwurst, which is grilled to perfection, absorbs the sauce with its curry kick, making each bite better than the next. Frites coated with mayonnaise help swipe the plate clean.
Wechsler, 39, moved from Hamm, Germany to New York seven years ago for a job in private equity, but got out before the market dropped. “I wanted my own life back,” he says about the move out of finance and into the food industry. Wechsler says he is a happier man.
Wechsler attributes his pub’s success to finding “a niche which wasn’t being catered to in New York.” He also wants the pub to be a fun and intimate place to hang out with friends. With seating for 18, (two tables and some bar stools in the back) Wechsler’s gets almost uncomfortably packed at times.
Erum Naqvi, 29, a bartender at Wechsler’s, recommends the Kölschs beer, which is “sort of light, crisp, and refreshing – so it’s great for summer.” And goes great with currywurst. Naqvi says that her boss “was very meticulous about having everything be as authentic as possible.” His wife, Sho-Joung Wechsler, attests that this was especially true when it came to the sausage selection. The Wechslers taste-tested butchers samples for months. After a while Sho-Joung says, laughing, “I didn’t want to look at another sausage.” For the sauce too, they tested many different recipes, eventually holding a contest to choose a winner from the final six. They invited German friends from the consulate and after votes were tabulated, the result was the winning sauce served at Wechsler’s today. After Wechsler’s was picked up by a German blog, many expats came flowing in for a taste from home.
Oliver Lunt, 32, originally from Hamburg, lives in Brooklyn, but comes to the East Village nearly once a week to get his currywurst fill. Nursing a Radeberger, one of Wechsler’s staple draft beers, Lunt attributes the tastiness of Wechsler’s currywurst to their special curry sauce. “It’s excellent,” he says. Lunt’s is there with his Brooklyn friends, – Henning Guertler, 25, from Essen and Adrian Lopez, 27, from Frankfurt – who like to add mayonnaise to their currywurst and crispy fries.
Each fall, Wechsler’s celebrates traditional Oktoberfest by shipping in authentic Oktoberfest beers from Munich. Wechsler plans on having more themed events in the future. Right now the pub puts on “Road Trip.” Every month, for a long weekend, Wechsler’s “travels” around the 16 different states of Germany by bringing their local street food and beer, accompanied by each city’s music, to the pub.
At the end of the day – celebration, or no celebration – Wechsler’s is a place to sit down with an ice-cold beer in one hand and a dripping, pungent currywurst dish in the other. Lunt says it best: “You will have a hard time finding a currywurst which is as good as here, in Germany.” Can’t argue with that.
It’s Oktoberfest now, so go get your currywurst and beers-served-steins on!
Wechsler’s is located at 120 First Avenue in between E. Seventh Street and St. Marks. They are open Monday -Thursday from noon-1AM, Friday & Saturday from noon-2AM, and Sunday from noon-12am.
Wechsler’s has six beers on-tap, three darks, three lights, and three of which are seasonally rotated throughout the year. Wechsler’s also offers a selection of 15 different bottled beers. All beers range from $3-$8. Their currywurst and fries are $6 as are a selection of five other sausages. They also offer a selection of sides, which can serve as vegetarian options, for $2-$3.
Wechsler’s is CASH ONLY. Find them at: www.currywurstnyc.com