It’s been a while since we checked out the Beer Garden @ Shippan Landing, so we know that we were due for our check-in. When we arrived the day before ‘Murica’s birthday, the vibe was chill, with about 30 peeps enjoying the day with some beer, cornhole, and beer pong. Apparently this was the calm after the storm because just the night before 700 people danced and drank the night away at their Country Fest.
We walked up to the bar (it’s shaped like a C, so you can get your drink on from either side) and met with General Manager, Kiara. She took us through some of the new summer beers that they recently put on tap and, oh darn, we had the chance to taste them all: MacKenzie Black Cherry Cider, Broad Brook Hopstillo, Fire Island Sea Salt Ale, Half Full Peach, Brooklyn Summer All Day IPA, and . . . yes . . . Sip of Sunshine from Lawson’s Finest Liquids. Our favorites were the Hopstillo for the malty, fresh, and hoppy finish, the Sea Salt Ale for its smoothness and slightly salty finish, the All day IPA which was incredibly sessionable, and OF COURSE, Sip of Sunshine which is just so damn good. Buy them by the cup, or buy them by the pitcher to share (or drink for yourself, we won’t judge) for $20, or even get some by the can.
After trying the beer, we asked Kiara about the other drinks available at The Beer Garden. Turns out they have a full bar so that they can make basically any traditional cocktail that you’re looking for like a martini or margarita. She gushed about going through 5 batches of their very own Patriotic Rum Punch (Abita Strawberrry, Bacardi, Peach Schnapps, Triple Sec, Ginger Ale) during the Country Fest. She was so excited, in fact, she had to mix us up a batch to try. The Punch was tropical, fruity, just sweet enough, and oh so smooth. Like, dangerously smooth. Like you have a few of these and you’ll be in trouble kinda smooth. Yeah. But, even if beer ain’t yo thang, they’ve got a nice selection of white wines and Spiked Seltzer, one of the Beer Garden’s biggest sellers.
And, while The Beer Garden has got the drinks down, has three tables of beer pong, has two sets of cornhole, a giant Jenga set, and killer views of the water, it also has food trucks stationed out front on a regular basis. When we stopped by HAPA Food Truck was there . . . and believe us, this was no coincidence. We’ve been tracking these guys down for a while, following them before they even opened. So, we headed on over with Kiara and she introduced us to Chris Gonzalez, owner and chef, who got down and dirty on the Shark Pit food truck (in Maui), a Top 6 Rated food truck in the state of Hawaii.
So there we were, standing in front of HAPA, with the incredible burden of what to order with a menu full of Filipino-inspired dishes that all looked too damn good. Well, turns out we didn’t need to make any choices because Chris gave us the hook up with a platter of his most popular orders. Oh hell yes . . . let’s do this, OmNomivores, because you know you can’t understand or fairly judge how great a truck is until you’ve had a few of their dishes.
First up were the Philippine Chicken Adobo Tacos (2 for $9) and we dug them so bad. The chicken itself was delicate and there were bright and refreshing bites from lime, cilantro, and the freshly made salsa.
We also tried the Korean Short Rib Tacos (2 for $10) which was a bit heavier in taste, but just as good. From the first bite, a warm toastiness comes up from the sesame oil and goes through each bite. The beef, like the chicken, was cooked nicely and was very delicate. And the slaw that was served on top of the taco was fresh and cut down on the heaviness of the short rib a bit. Chris serves the tacos with a scoop of rice on the side with Furikake sprinkled on top: that’s toasted sesame, nori, and sea salt.
Both tacos were killer and definitely can kick things up a few notches if you’re sick of the same ol’ taco experience. But, it’s not all about tacos at HAPA . . . oh no. There’s the HAPA Burger ($9) which is a major standout on their menu. It’s a grassfed burger topped with Cheddar, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onion, and Chris’ very own smoked pork belly that he cuts like bacon. Perhaps one of the most exciting (and unique) things about the burger is the bun: it’s made with purple yams called Ube. You could also order a gluten-free bun for $2.50 extra or even add in the Furikake Fries for $2 more (or $5 for a side) but more on that soon. Let’s get back to that burger: the meat was incredibly moist, cooked to medium, and had so much incredible savory flavor from the pork belly and some sweetness coming from the Ube bun. We’d definitely recommend ordering this burger!
Ok, so about those Furikake Fries that you could order with the burger . . . well, we got to try those, too, and they were just how we like ’em. The shoestrings had that nice crispiness on the outside so when you bite down there’s a little *crunch*, but they were also nice and chewy on the inside. They were served up nice and hot with Furikake on top and very light drizzles of aioli. When you order the fries, make sure that you take a cup or two of the Sriracha, though, because it makes those fries even more amazing with a major hotness.
Aaaaaand, we had to finish with dessert, right? Right. Well, we had the Turon, which is a banana spring roll ($4) and is served with a sweet agave and slightly salty sauce on the side. The skin of the spring roll was crispy, while the inside had the consistency of plantains. It wasn’t too sweet at all, which was nice because it let you dip the hell out of it in the sauce.
When we go back (and yes, we will because it was THAT good), we need to try out the Crispy Brussel Sprouts Salad and the Asian Style Corn on the Cob. We were also excited to see that they recently served Tako Tacos, which is octopus. “Even the kids liked it . . . it was so popular,” said Chris. And while you’ll see a good deal of these items on the menu when you go, don’t be surprised when you see more up or changes based on what’s freshest and what’s in season.
So, when you go out looking for them, chances are you’ll see them at The Beer Garden where they’ve set up shop on a regular basis. It’s hard to do better on a summer day than this: brews and killer food truck food.
While we received this meal for free to review on our blog, we were not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are 100% truthful based on our tastebuds, preferences, and opinions, because that’s how OmNomCT rolls.