Cold skin noodles at Xi’an Famous Foods are as spicy and refreshing as ever.
Way back in 2005, Xi’an Famous Foods had but one location, in what I like to call the 36th Chamber of the Golden Shopping Mall. It was presided over by an affable gent who went by the nom de cuisine Liang Pi, after his signature dish liang pi, cold skin noodles. Today it’s become a mini empire with five locations, upscale sister restaurant Biang, and a Brooklyn commissary.
Back in the day the most notable design elements were rickety folding stools and 100-pound bags of wheat flour arrayed like sandbags along the back wall. “My name is Liang Pi,” he would proudly say as he ladled out the dish. Many of his customers came from the same region and seemed absolutely thrilled to find a dish from back home in Queens. Legions of hungry regional Chinese cuisine fiends were pretty thrilled too. I’d never tasted anything like cold skin noodles before: squidgy, porous blocks of wheat gluten and chewy ribbons of wheat starch, tossed with bean sprouts, cilantro, slivers of cucumber and a “secret sauce” made from sesame paste, vinegar, and chili oil, among other things. “I have it for breakfast at least three times a week,” one fan told me. (more…)
Norwegian skrei cod as prepared by the crew at Bo’s.
When I first heard of skrei I thought it rhymed with drei, and couldn’t stop saying “eins, zwei, drei,” over and over again. Once I got that out of my system I paid a visit to Todd Mitgang’s restaurant Bo’s to try this prized Norwegian cod. I learned two things: 1) It is pronounced “skree” and 2) It is absolutely delicious: pristine, white and flaky. Mitgang and executive chef Alex Priani first tried skrei at a tasting held by the Norwegian Seafood Council at the French Culinary Institute. Rather than avail themselves of an array of ingredients the two chefs prepared the fish with little more than olive oil and sea salt to let its flavor shine through. (more…)
As most C+M readers know I don’t often dine out in Manhattan’s Theater District, but when my pal Chef Dave, said he could set me up with a tasting at Gaby, I figured why not. Chef Sylvain Harribey laid out a lovely four-course meal. It included a wonderful rack of lamb, but my favorite by far was the declination de foie gras, mainly because it included a DIY foie gras sandwich. (more…)
A Thai Japanese fusion dessert of a sort found in Woodside.
Allow me to preface this post by saying I like Sriprapaphai. Thing is I liked it better when it was one storefront wide. Back when the décor consisted of fluorescent lights and a single television, there was a sense of discovery. Don’t get me wrong I’m glad they’re successful and the food’s still pretty good. Most important though there are still new discoveries to be made at Sriprapaphai. You can find them at the front counter. Things like nan kai, super-crunchy fried chicken skin seasoned with salt and garlic, and Tokyo Roll ($4). I was pretty excited when I found the latter the other week. Spotting a Japanese snack in a Thai eatery is the type of thing that makes me glad to live in Queens. (more…)
Today marks the third day of Losar, a lunar New Year festival that’s celebrated as much in the Himalayas themselves as it is in Himalayan (aka Jackson) Heights. In order to help you get into the spirit of the 15-day celebration of the Year of the Wood Horse, here’s a list of my favorite Tibetan and Nepalese dishes in the neighborhood.
1. Goat Sukuti at Dhaulagiri Kitchen
“Oh, we have buffalo and goat sukuti too,” Kamala Gauchan the matriarch of this shoebox-sized Nepali gem told me a few weeks ago. I almost fell out of my chair when she said the types of this traditional jerky went beyond beef. And then I tasted the goat version. I’d be lying if I said I fell out of my chair, but it is absolutely amazing. Drying the meat has concentrated the goat flavor to such a degree that it almost tastes like cheese. Served in a spicy sauce—a Nepali ragu if you will—as part of a thali it is simply lovely. 37-38 72nd St., Jackson Heights
Losar kapsi, or New Year’s cookies at Lhasa Fast Food.
Tomorrow is a very special day for the Bhutanese, Nepalese,and Tibetan residents of Himalayan (aka Jackson) Heights. It’s Losar, or Lunar New Year, so C+M wishes you Losar la tashi delek, happy Year of the Wood Horse. Last night I stopped into Lhasa Fast Food and found the staff eating what I later learned from a friend was a special nine-ingredient New Year’s soup. Had I not filled up on subpar dosa I’d have taken them up on their offer to join them for dinner. Like many area restaurants, Lhasa Fast Food will be closed on Losar itself, but if you wish score some losar kapsi, or Himalayan New Year’s cookies you should stop by today.One neighborhood mainstay that will be open tomorrow is Dhaulagiri Kitchen. Oh, and since Losar is a 15-day celebration be sure to check back Monday for a list of C+M’s favorite Himalayan dishes.
Surely these are New York City’s only Uzbek-Italian samosas.
Eating a beef or lamb samsa just plucked off the wall of a blazing tandoor oven is one of the pleasures of living down the road from Rokhat Kosher Bakery. The use of the tandoor has always made me suspect a link between Indian foodways and those of Uzbekistan. The other day my suspicion was confirmed—well, sort of—by the discovery of a most unusual samosa.
The package reads “Bon Appetito Samosa.” Despite the name these sugar-dusted treats from the No Regrets Bakery aren’t Italian. Nor are they Indian, or filled with potato. The light and buttery little pastries contain just a touch of sweetened walnut. Rokhat’s owner seemed as puzzled by them as I am. “At first, I thought they were Italian,” he told me.
To submit your delicious finds to Photo Friday simply tag your Instagram photos with #CMSHUNGRY. And while you’re at it, check me out on Instagram, joedistefanoqns.
Sabich, the falafel sandwich’s lesser known cousin.
When I was in my twenties running around the East Village smoking more marijuana than I care to remember I ate more falafel than I care to remember. Had I known about the sabich, a lesser sung Israeli sandwich, I’d have added some variety to my midnight munchies. The combination of fried eggplant and hard-boiled eggs sounds odd at first, but it’s actually quite good. I’m fortunate to be able to procure one at Grill House a tiny Israeli joint that’s a 5-minute walk from my house. (more…)
Spiced correctly, sandheko waiwai is one of the fieriest snacks around.
Welcome to the eighth installment of C+M’s ongoing series of audio guides on how to order authentically spicy food in ethnic restaurants. As a service to C+M readers Anne Noyes Saini has been compiling a series of audio guides demonstrating phrases in several relevant languages, which can be used to navigate ordering situations fraught with tricky cultural and language barriers. Today a primer from Kamala Gauchan chef and owner of Dhaulagiri Kitchen in Jackson Heights on how to make sure your Nepali fare brings enough fire to melt the Himalayas. (more…)
China’s Hunan province is renowned for its fiery cuisine, so much so that’s there’s even a classic folk song “La Mei Zi,” or “spicy girl,”from the region. A savvy C+M reader tipped me off to this rousing video by superstar Chinese soprano Song Zuying. Much as I enjoy hearing her sing the title refrain I am even more amused by the proliferation of hot peppers and the reckless abandon with which they are handled. There’s enough chili peppers in this video to keep the Sriracha plant in business for a year.