There’s a reason they call the British breakfast classic a full English. The army of breakfast meats—bangers, bacon, sausage, and blood pudding—and eggs supplemented by mushrooms, tomatoes, and fried bread is a joy to eat and behold. The best full English this Italian-American boy ever had was at an Italian-run cafe called E. Pellicci in London’s Bethnal Green. It’s been in the Pellicci family since 1900 when Elide and Primo Pellicci opened shop. And so has the recipe for Penne Pellicci—a plate of pasta and pesto—that the waiter Tony drizzled with olive oil when I visited a few years ago. It was a fine carb supplement to an already prodigious feed.
The worst full English—could have been Irish—I’ve ever had was at a place in Woodside, Queens, called Alpha Donuts at about 5 a.m. after a rough night of drinking. In Queens—the most diverse destination in the Universe—it’s possible to have a Full Filipino and even a Full Himalayan. I know this because I invented it last Sunday at Dawa’s, a Sunnyside spot that turns out a lovely brunch menu—think baked eggs with cipollini and cherry tomatoes, chilled beet soup, and a salad of buratta, peach, and prosciutto. Flip the brunch menu over to find an ethnic bill of fare that embraces the Himalayan culinary diaspora to include Bhutanese stewed pork belly, Tibetan momo dumplings, and shapaley, Tibetan meat pies. (The last restaurant that tried to fuse Western and Himalayan food was Woodside Cafe, it opened with an oddball combination of pizza, pasta puttanesca, and cuisine from Nepal’s Newari people.)
The thought to create the full Himalayan occurred to me while frantically turning from the brunch menu—whose $9.50 baked eggs caught my attention and the “Ethnic Menu,” which includes pork chilly ($9) and the Tibetan sausage known as gyuma ($7). Dawa’s terms the pork“Bhutanese style slow-cooked pork with ginger and fermented bamboo shoots.” The gyuma is aptly described as being served with a very spicy garlic chilly sauce, but there’s nary a mention of the beef blood that gives the links their blackish hue. Thankfully I knew the provenance of the gyuma and that the wobbly pork belly in fiery funky sauce would make for a perfect Full Himalayan.
“Can these all come out at once please?” I asked the waiter. It bears mentioning that with the exception of the ill-fated M. Wells Diner and dim sum I am a staunch member of the Fuck Brunch Posse. Nevertheless Dawa’s is a pleasant enough spot even in full brunch mode on a Sunday afternoon, so I settled in to wait, and wait I did. “That must be mine,” I must have thought to myself a half dozen times as I watched plates go by, until, finally it was.
As he placed the fancy pants American brunch staple of baked eggs in a cast iron pan before me the waiter uttered a variant on a phrase I hadn’t heard since I stopped frequenting Manhattan’s purportedly Mexican margarita mills: “Careful, this pan is hot.”
Dawa’s wasn’t kidding about the chili heat in the sauce accompanying the gyuma either. Packed with plenty of grain the rustic links were lovely with the baked eggs as was the wobbly pork belly, which had plenty of fire from chilies and an unabashed funkiness from the fermented bamboo shoots.
Like my first ever fusion full breakfast at E. Pellicci, the Full Himlayan included two carb options: the puffy steamed Tibetan tingmo that was served with the Bhutanese pork and a piece of sour dough toast that came with the baked egg. Of the two, I preferred the sourdough for sopping up the rich ragu of pork fat, chilies and shards of belly meat that remained in the bowl of Bhutanese pork chilly. I guess that’s what happens when an Italian-American boy encounters leftover gravy at a Tibetan-American cafe after creating a Full Himalayan.
Dawa’s, 51-18 Skillman Ave., Woodside, 718-899-8629