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07/17/17 8:49am

Gorgeous gai yang studded with herbs and spices.

“I guess Queens is still the only place to go,” read a lament about the state of Thai food in Brooklyn. To put a finer point on, it Elmhurst, is the place to go. And, to narrow it down even further, Hug Esan, is the place,  at least so it’s been for the past 11 days for me and a rather large chunk of the local Thai community.

I’d been watching the space—carved out of the first floor of an apartment building—for months. The name might sound like a character from a Thai version of Starsky and Hutch, but Hug means “love” in Thailand’s Esan dialect.  (more…)

07/13/17 1:46pm

My new favorite summertime ceviche features quinoa and Peruvian potatoes.

Lately I’ve been having a streak of bad ceviche luck. Not the really bad kind that involves shivering,  sweating, and praying for death, but rather the kind where the fish is either chewy or has clearly been cooked using heat and and then bathed with lime juice afterwards. So that’s why I decided to pay a visit to La Cevicheria, which never disappoints, plus it has the added bonus of being just steps away from the beach in Rockaway. (more…)

07/11/17 10:10am

Bandeng presto, a milk fish that’s seen hours in a pressure cooker before deep frying.

I’ve been a fan of the food and chef at Awang Kitchen ever since local Indonesian food aficionado and ace instagrammer @dan.bukit pulled my coat to it a few months ago. It’s no surprise that such a talent would be found in Elmhurst, which is hands-down the best place for Southeast Asian cuisine in New York City. When the boys at Queens Dinner Club and I learned that Chef Awang served liwetan, a festive meal served on a banana leaf rarely seen outside Indonesia, we knew it was going to be the second dinner at our new home, the swanky Bamboo Lounge at Kaufman Astoria Studios. We’re proud to present Awang Comes to Astoria on July 30 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for this one-of-a-kind feast are $45 and may be purchased here.

Succulent roast duck with roasted green chili sambal.

Bandeng presto, a specialty from Southeast java, that involves marinating a milkfish in yeast, shallots, and garlic and then letting it luxuriate in a pressure cooker before a nice hard deep fry is one of many dishes that Chef Awang will be preparing. As with most of his dishes, it comes with a homemade sambal.  Bebek goreng sambel ijo, a succulent fried duck with roast green chili sambal will also be served as will rujak juhi, which combines shredded dried squid with noodles peanut sauce, potatoes, and cucumbers. Check out the full menu here.  

As part of the evening’s festivities, Chef Peter Zaharatos of Sugar Cube will be creating bespoke desserts designed to complement Chef Awang’s menu. We’ll see you there!

07/03/17 9:27am

How now shui jian bao?

I’ve been eating at Flushing’s Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup (a/k/a Su Xiang Yuan) for at least a decade and almost always get the namesake dish. The Henanese delicacy is a bowl of milky white broth teeming with tender bits of lamb and chewy hand-pulled wheat noodles. Lately I’ve been branching out and trying other things, most recently something that goes by the English name lightly fried Chinese bread ($5).

“They look kind of like zeppole,” my dining companion said. I wasn’t so sure of that, but was pretty sure they’d be a great accompaniment to a bowl of soup. Much to our mutual delight we found out we’d ordered not fried bread, but shui jian bao, or pan fried buns. (more…)

06/21/17 11:26pm

Hendu’s pork shoulder sandwich in all its glory.

I have been meaning to try Hendu’s Sandwich Shop—Bill Henderson’s ode to bread, meat and gravy—for at least six months. The other day I was walking by Dutch Kills and who should I see in the window, but Hendu himself.

I took it as a sign, a sign to order sandwich. I was torn between the roast beef with gravy and horseradish ($12) and the beer braised pork shoulder with fennel and apple ($13). I decided to get the pork and I’m glad I did. It’s the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten in a cocktail bar, and not just because it’s the only one.

Like many good things it comes wrapped in butcher paper. Open it up to find a dreadnought of a sandwich. Hendu hails from the Bronx and so does his bread, A&M Bakery to be specific. The seeded Neapolitan bastone is slathered garlic thyme butter and with filled with suculent pork shoulder that’s been braised in Guinness. A trifecta of apple, fennel, and lime zest do a great job of brightening things was did the baby arugula. The secret to this sandwich? “Veal stock, that’s my gravy,” Hendu said.

Hendu’s Sandwich Shop, Dutch Kills, 27-24 Jackson Ave,m Long Island City, NY 11101

06/15/17 11:38pm

As any one who’s talked to me for than five minutes about food in Queens knows, I’m a firm believer that the best Thai food in New York City can be had in Elmhurst. In fact I love the Little Bangkok that runs along Broadway between Whitney and Woodside Avenues so much that it’s the star of one of my food tours. So this month the boys at Queens Dinner Club and I are offering Big Taste of Little Bangkok, on June 22 at 7:30 p.m. at our new home in Kaufmann Astoria Studios. Tickets are $40 and may be purchased here.

The evening’s menu will include some of our favorite dishes from local hot spots Dek Sen, Eim Khao Mun Gai, Pata Paplean and Sugar Club. Dek Sen will be preparing tom yam, the classic Thai papaya salad, and moo ping Brooklyn, savory pork skewers. In case you’re wondering the name comes not from an affinity with the County of Kings, but rather the niece of one of the owners who’s named Brooklyn. As is traditional, both will be served with plenty of sticky rice.   (more…)

06/14/17 12:42am

“Wow, you look very healthy,” my friend Helen You told me the other day when I brought a tour group to her restaurant, Dumpling Galaxy for lamb soup dumplings. “It’s like you lived two lives in one,” she said when I told her about my recent recovery from colorectal cancer. You’s words made me tear up a bit as did the premiere episode of Last Stop on The 7, which details her own story of living two lives in one. The video, which was produced by the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce and Sixty First Productions, features absolutely mesmerizing shots of You’s flour coated hands rolling out wrappers and folding them to create pork and chive dumplings.

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06/07/17 8:18am

A popular Tunisian street food has come to Queens.

I’m a big fan of what I like to call the Tunisian tuna sandwich at Roast n Co. Essentially it’s a salad nicoise sandwich kicked up with a bit of spicy harissa spread. Back in Tunisia it’s a common street food, as are the spicy little lamb sausages known as merguez. Recently the Forest Hills cafe started running a merguez sandwich ($9.95) as a special.

Several ruddy little lamb sausages are packed into a crusty baguette along with greens, cherry tomatoes, olives, cucumber, onions, and of course harissa. It comes with a choice of salad or French fries. I always get the fries, since a) they’re excellent, and b) there’s already a salad in the sandwich. (more…)

06/01/17 4:56pm

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a fan of noodles— whether the fusilli with red sauce and chow fun that I cut my  teeth on—or the tallarin verde of Peru and various culture’s takes on cold noodles that can be had in Queens. This edition of The Seven is devoted to my favorite Asian noodles in Queens, at least as of summer 2017.

1. Tom thuk, Lhasa Fast Food
Anthony Bourdain recently paid a visit to this Jackson Heights momo shop tucked away behind a cell phone store. While the big man tried the hand-torn noodle soup known as thenthuk he did not get to experience its colder, spicier cousin tomthuk. Listed in the menu’s Noodle Zone as beef cold noodle ($6) there’s no forewarning of the twin heat engines of chili and mustard oil. The tangle of chewy noodles interspersed with shredded carrots, cabbages, and bits of ground beef packs enough heat to melt snowy Mount Kailash which looms above the counter. Lhasa Fast Food, 37-50 74th Street, Jackson Heights

 

2.  Yum Dek Sen, Dek Sen
There are many Thai noodle dishes, from funky bowls of blood-enriched soup to those that resemble pork ragu, but Dek Sen is the first restaurant where I’ve seen noodles used in a yum, Thailand’s spicy savory version of the more prosaic Western salad. Yum Dek Sen ($11.95) takes Mama instant noodles and mixes them with squid, shrimp,  minced pork, and two types of fish balls. Served warm the whole lot is dressed in a chili lime sauce. You might be tempted to order it spicy, but medium is more than adequate.  Dek Sen, 86-08 Whitney Ave, Elmhurst, 718-205-5181 (more…)

05/23/17 9:28am

It’s almost as much fun to watch one being made as it is to eat one!

At first it looks like an egg sandwich, and it is in a way, but instead of American cheese or Cheddar, the omelet cradles a juicy ground beef patty. The Malaysian specialty is called a Ramly burger. The first time I had one was a decade ago at a Ramadan Bazaar held by the Ladies’ Association of the Permanent Mission of Malaysia in New York. For a while Zak Pelaccio’s Fatty Crab was serving up Ramly inspired Fatty Sliders. The juicy pork and beef numbers seasoned with Malaysian spices were quite tasty, but they lacked the eggy envelope and thus Ramlyness.  (more…)