Bella Roza’s plof is real stick to your ribs fare.
Unless you count the crusty caramelized part, which adheres to the bottom of cooking vessel and is prized by Puerto Ricans and Koreans alike, plain white rice holds little appeal. Chinese takeout fried rice is much tastier. It’s been years—OK maybe six months—since I’ve eaten it. That’s because in Queens there so many other rice dishes from all over the world from biryani to bibimbap. Today, a look at two less common ones. (more…)
The Verizon Food crawl ended at one of my favorite spots , M. Wells Dinette.
When it comes to technology, I’m what you might call a late adopter. As for food, I am quite the opposite, living to discover new cuisines and flavors. So when Verizon contacted me to help organize and participate in a Queens food crawl on November 23 I was quite excited. Not only would I get to spend a day eating in Queens and pregame for Thanksgiving, I might learn a thing or two about technology.
Our day started at the new Verizon store in Astoria where we were each outfitted with a smart phone. Once I’d managed to set up my e-mail and social media accounts on the snazzy new LG G2, I immediately started testing out the camera. Soon we were using the Uber app to callup a car and take us to our first destination. (more…)
Wafa’s cauliflower sandwich is a Lebanese delight.
For the longest time the scope of my Middle Eastern vegetable sandwich knowledge was limited to the mighty falafel. After all what’s not to like? Pita stuffed with the crunchy, fried, cheap, and flavorful orbs got me through many misspent East Village nights in my twenties. The falafel at Wafa’s is excellent, and even better with the fiery hot sauce made by her son, Youssef, and the addition of crunchy pickled turnips. The last time I visited the Lebanese spot in Forest Hills I decided to broaden my horizons with what family matriarch and chef Wafa Chaimi describes as “something different”: a fried cauliflower sandwich ($6). (more…)
I live to discover the delicious in unexpected corners of Queens, whether it’s a Tibetan restaurant in the back of a cell phone store or a Malaysian joint in Flushing with a graveyard shift specializing in kari laksa. So when I heard about Mu Ramen, Joshua Smookler’s nighttime popup inside of a Long Island City bagel store, I was especially intrigued.
The scene inside Mu Ramen on Saturday night.
So I set out for Bricktown Bagel & Café on a night that was indeed quite brick. Joining me on the frigid Saturday after Thanksgiving was my pal William who knows a thing or two about Japanese food. The first thing that surprised me was that Mu’s chef, Joshua Smookler, was Asian. What’s not so surprising about the Korean-American chef with the decidedly non-Korean name is that he has a monomaniacal fascination with ramen. (more…)
If you’re anything at all like me you overindulged at yesterday’s Thanksgiving festivities and want nothing at all to do with turkey. Which brings me to the subject of this installment of Photo Friday: the stack of pork chops at M. Wells Steakhouse. It should be noted that even though this latest venture from M. Dufour is a grown-up spot where chef sports whites and a kerchief around his neck lending him the air of Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, there are wacky touches like a bone-in burger and this stack of blade thin chops. Piled high and oozing anchovy butter it’s a carnivorous homage to that diner favorite, flapjacks. Now, if you will excuse me, I’m off to the gym work off yesterday’s turkey.
This Tibetan soup smells like stinky French cheese.
“Have you had it before?” the waitress at Phayul asked when I ordered the tsak sha chu rul ($3.99), or “beef and Tibet cheese soup.” The note of concern in her voice was in no small part due to this dish’s rather pungent bouquet. I nodded my assent and waited for the bowl of what smells not unlike a Tibetan tallegio to arrive. (more…)
The tyranny of the tasting menu—that feeling of being held hostage by a chef’s creativity as course after course after course comes to the table—is a phenomenon with which I have scant experience. The only tasting menu of note I’ve had is Momofuko Ko’s and while not quite tyrannical, it was vast, running to more than a dozen courses, each quite good in its own way. Even so sensory overload sets in by course eight or nine. It’s not that I was full, but rather that I was punch drunk on the experience, much the way I feel after wandering around an art museum for too long. So when Chef Natasha Pogrebinsky of Bear invited me to try to her $85 seasonal tasting menu, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. (more…)
Ever since I saw the ad for Subway’s Sriracha Chicken melt sandwich I’ve been strangely fascinated by it. I had every intention of covering it for this week’s Sandwich Wednesday, but couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger. That’s how I found myself in Flushing casting about for a sandwich idea and settled on trying the gua bao ($2.50), or Taiwanese pork belly sandwich from Taipei Hong, my secret Taiwanese fried chicken connection. And then it hit me. “Let me have a Number 1, spicy,” I said giving the secret password for the off-menu fried chicken, “and a gua bao.” (more…)
Knish Nosh’s perogies are pure Eastern European comfort food.
Sixty-year-old Knish Nosh is best known for its namesake old school New York City snack. The Forest Hills shop sells seven varieties of hand-rolled potato knishes, including sweet potato, broccoli, and mushroom. As much as I love the knishes, come late fall I like to snack on one of Knish Nosh’s lesser known, but heartier potato products: perogies. The hefty packages smothered in caramelized onions taste like they were cooked up on the stove of an Eastern European grandmother. That grandmother would be Romanian-born Ana Vasilescu, who prepares spinach and potato varieties ($2.50) as well as ones packed with brisket ($2.50). I prefer potato, but when especially hungry I get brisket. I have yet to try the spinach version, but I am sure it’s only a matter of time before my adopted Romanian grandmother tells me to eat my vegetables.
Knish Nosh, 100-30 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills, 718-897-5554
Chef Natasha Pogrebinsky has gone so far as to trademark the cuisine at Bear as New European, but after spending some time with her and her brother Sasha I can see whya a mutual friend characterizes it as “deeply personal.” It draws as much on her Ukrainian heritage and her Midwestern childhood as it does New york City itself. Pogrebinsky was kind enough to take time out out from her Long Island City kitchen to answer Seven Questions.
Talk to me about Chopped. What was it like? I cooked in all three rounds, I got to dessert and the judges thought my Russian cookies and tea were not sweet enough. Ironically I serve the exact same dessert at Bear and it sells out, so what do they know. But I had a lot of fun being on the show and competing and representing not only New York city, but also Queens and of course, Bear. People recognize me on the street and say, “You should’ve won.” People come from around the country to eat at Bear just because they saw me on the show.
Where did you learn to use chopsticks? Nowhere. I still struggle.
What’s your favorite way to eat bone marrow? The old school way, roasted and spread on country toast. with a side of pickled vegetables or sauerkraut.
Where do you like to eat on your days off? What are some of your favorite spots in Queens? On my one day off I like to bum on my couch mostly but if I do go out it’s for ethnic food, or something simple like really good tacos, I like El Ray on Astoria Blvd., I like to try different spots every time. But mostly I like to either cook at home or go to a friend’s house and they cook. (more…)