SCHENECTADY – The streets of Schenectady will be filled with the scents of soup, stew and chowder on Saturday.
It marks the return of the Schenectady Soup Stroll which is expected to be more popular than ever, with a record 34 restaurants participating as stops on the stroll. Organizers hope it’ll draw more than 5,000 people downtown.
“We’ve got a record number of participants. About eight places are new, in addition to folks that have been doing it all along. So we’re excited for a super busy day,” said Jim Salengo, the executive director of Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp.
One of the newest additions to the stroll is the SUNY Schenectady food truck, which will be serving up Tokyo-style shoyu ramen.
Chef and adjunct culinary instructor Gio Lontoc started teaching students in the mobile food service certificate program all about ramen dishes last summer, passing down what he’d learned from living and working as a chef in Japan for two years.
“My students were actually looking for something different. So I said would you guys like to try doing ramen? They were actually excited,” Lontoc said.
They served a variety of ramen dishes over the summer at Empire State Plaza.
“Surprisingly, even in that hot weather the state employees really tried it and we got great feedback,” Lontoc said.
Since then, students have also brought the food truck to community events in Schenectady, like SummerNight, Fandom Fest and the Wing Walk last fall. This will be their first Soup Stroll.
For it, they’ll make more than 85 gallons of broth, equating to around 3,500 servings. On Tuesday, Lontoc started to prepare the broth in the college’s banquet kitchen. As the Soup Stroll nears he’ll braise the bamboo shoots, make the soy sauce eggs, the fish cakes and the chashu, which is a Japanese roasted pork.
Students will serve up the soup from the truck, which will be parked behind Proctors.
The mobile food service certificate program got started in 2018 and while the pandemic put a damper on it, Lontoc hopes events like these will help to build it back up again, generating interest from prospective students and community members.
Another new name on the stroll is Stella Pasta Bar & Bistro. The Italian eatery made a name for itself in Burnt Hills, nestled into Fo’Castle Farms Country Store, before moving to the Stockade last year. It’ll be serving a Pomodoro soup with homemade Italian bread.
A few other standouts on the list are Pho Queen’s Tom yum coconut soup with chicken or tofu, Bountiful Bread’s roasted red pepper and smoked gouda and The Backstage Pub’s chorizo, corn and charred poblano chowder.
While many of the soups are savory, venues like Bittersweet Candy and Villa Italia are opting for dessert soups like chocolate peppermint.
“[There’s] a great diversity,” Salengo said.
The stroll runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and for $1, attendees get a three-ounce sample of soup. Those who try soups from at least ten different restaurants can vote for their favorites. Ballots must be submitted by 4:15 p.m. Local judges will also pick winners in separate categories.
Beyond the sheer number of restaurants, and how popular these food events have become in Schenectady over the years, Salengo said the DSIC did more advertising this year.
“We’ve really expanded the advertising this year. So we’re actually advertising in 13 counties in the greater Capital Region. So our reach for advertising is much stronger and I think, as ‘Van Gogh: [The Immersive Experience]’ has shown . . . people love traveling to Schenectady from out of the area,” Salengo said.
He also noted that it’s an income generator for businesses during a time that’s typically slow.
“You’re inviting people into downtown to come in and see how downtown has changed for the better and how walkable it is,” Salengo said. “People are very often discovering a restaurant or a business they had no idea was there. So that’s a huge benefit for awareness and doing it as a walk where people have to walk in the front door of these businesses is key because it really cements where they are, the vibe, everything about it. Hopefully, it encourages them to come back.”
To download the map with the participating restaurants visit downtownschenectady.org.
Here’s a look at the stops on the stroll:
Annabel’s Pizza Co. located in Frog Alley – General Tso’s stew
Armory Lounge NY – Armory greens and beans
The Backstage Pub – Chorizo, corn and charred poblano chowder
Bittersweet Candy – Chocolate peppermint soup
Bombers Burrito Bar – Chicken “Loco” soup
Bountiful Bread on State – Roasted red pepper and smoked gouda
Bud’s on Jay – Philly cheesesteak soup
Centre Street Pub – Buffalo Bills chicken wing chowder
Chez Nous – Chicken and sausage gumbo
Civitello’s Bakery – Pasta fagioli
Cornells in Little Italy – Sweet potato bisque
Drumming Crabs – Seafood chowder
Frog Alley Brewing Co. – Chicken and sausage gumbo
Hunter’s on Jay – Roasted garlic soup
Isopo’s Downtown Pizza – Creamy roasted red peppers with spinach
Johnny’s – Rustic Italian tortellini soup
Katie O’Byrne’s Restaurant – Bangers and mash soup
Manhattan Exchange – Chicken soba ramen
Maria’s Cafe & Catering – Split pea soup with choice of smoked pork rind topping
Mexican Radio Schenectady – Elotes corn and sweet potato chowder
MORE Perreca’s – Harvest minestrone
Nico’s Pizzeria – Chicken and rice
Pho Queen – Tom yum coconut soup with chicken or tofu
Pinhead Susan’s – Buffalo chicken soup
Simone’s Kitchen – Creamy tomato and sweet harissa
Stella Pasta Bar & Bistro – Pomodoro soup with homemade Italian bread
SUNY Schenectady County Community College Food Truck behind Proctors- Tokyo-style shoyu ramen
Take Two Cafe – Samosa soup
Tara Kitchen – Moroccan harira
The DillyBean – Nini’s Italian wedding soup
The Nest Restaurant and Bar – Smoked chicken sweet potato chowder
The Union Inn – Hearty beef barley
Villa Italia Bakery – Dessert soup
YaYa’s House of Southern Cuisine – Chicken surprise soup
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Categories: Food, Life and Arts, Life and Arts, Schenectady