My pal Rob MacKay of It’s in Queens has been raving for years about a restaurant in Richmond Hill called the Nest. It’s a Carribean-Chinese spot that’s a little further afield from Liberty Avenue’s roti shops and doubles parlors. Not only is Queens fortunate to have plenty of real deal regional Chinese we boast several hybrid varieties: Indian-Chinese, Peruvian-Chinese, and Carribean-Chinese. I’m least familiar with the last of these, and truth be told my West Indian food game is leagues behind my regional Chinese repertoire. With its deep menu of Carribean-Chinese items, including more than a dozen kinds of fried rice and plenty of West Indian fare, the Nest is a great place to learn about both. Which is exactly what I did over the course of a leisurely meal with Rob last Friday.
The feast kicked off with an order of fried shark ($10.95). “Is that really shark?” Rob asked. His pal, the owner Dave Kadarnauth, assured him that it was indeed shark. The perfectly fried morsels come with a sweet chili dipping sauce. Dave brought over a mustard-based hot sauce for us to try with the shark. Like most Carribean hot sauces it packed a punch. It’s one of four hot sauces we enjoyed that night, the third being a large bottle of a lovely reddish brew composed mainly of Scotch bonnets and vinegar. The last was a garlicky number served with the black pudding ($10). The lamb blood sausage is only available on weekends and I was quite glad it was available on our visit. Rob was not so enthused, although I give him credit for trying some. It was excellent, scented with just a hint of allspice. As I’ve learned while writing this, it’s also not so bad cold.
For some reason he did not partake of my chicken foot soup ($6). Brimming with two-and-a-half chicken’s worth of feet veggies and barley it was a bowl of lightly spiced West Indian comfort. Next time I’m going to try the cow heel soup.
Boneless jerk chicken fried rice ($12.95) was more Rob’s speed. Slightly sweet and spicy it eats like corner takeout grub via Guyana. It was even better with the house hot sauce. Next time I will delve more into the Chinese side of the menu, perhaps with the blacken massala shrimp fried rice ($15.95).
After speaking to Dave about the Guyanese dish bunghal, which he compared to the Tangra or Indian-Chinese food, I knew my entree was going to come from the menu’s West Indian section. The only remaining question was which of the five bunghals to choose from. I almost ordered the duck, but went with the bunghal goat ($14.95). And, even though Dave and I had talked about the dish I bungled the pronunciation when I ordered, forgetting that it was pronounced boon-jal. Thankfully there were no missteps in the kitchen. As if often the case in West Indian spots, the goat was lovely, the gently warming bhungal sauce was a nice change of pace from curry. I had it with a side of kerala, fry a bitter gourd commonly seen in Indian restaurants.
I’m very glad to have spread my wings beyond Flushing and finally landed at the Nest. I’ll be back again for sure.
Nest Restaurant, 125-17 101 Ave., Richmond Hill