Lhasa Fast Food is a favorite stop on my Jackson Heights food tours. My fellow travelers are always amazed to discover a family-run Tibetan eatery tucked behind a cell phone store. The momo are excellent, too. The other day I made a discovery of my own—laphing serpo ($6)—while leading a tour of what I like to call Himalayan Heights.
“Yellow laphing,” the cook said when I gestured to a mass of what looked to be dough behind the counter. Laphing, slippery blocky cold mung bean jelly noodles, bathed in black vinegar, garlic and chilies is quite common on Tibetan menus. This was my first encounter with the yellow variety, though.
The noodles were quite yellow indeed and had a pleasant chew calling to mind an especially eggy, al dente pasta. The only wheat in the dish though was spongy blocks of gluten keeping company on top with green onion. Like their much harder to eat whiter cousin, these noodles are also made from beans, in this case yellow split peas.
Laphing serpo was the best thing I ate on that day’s tour. Refreshing, garlicky, and sharp with the flavors of vinegar and chili, and suffused with a sense of discovery. Despite laphing serpo’s newness I couldn’t help thinking I’d had it somewhere before. And then it hit me, laphing serpo is the Tibetan equivalent of the cold skin noodles that put Xi’an Famous Foods on the map. The culinary and cultural tapestry of Queens never ceases to amaze.
Lhasa Fast Food, 37-50 74th St., Jackson Heights, 718-205-2237