04/07/15 10:11am
UNITORO

Uni and toro, together at last!

The Madison Square Park area has never been known for izakaya, the Japanese gastropubs that are haunts of salarymen, sake drinkers, and adventurous eaters alike. Izakaya NoMad is out to change all that as I learned during a press dinner recently. With  a whimsical dining room featuring a Godzilla mural, it  offers an accessible alternative that sits somewhere between the rarefied air of a Sakagura and St. Marks’ grease bespattered yakitori joints. (more…)

03/24/15 10:07am
AREPATACONE

Chorizo and chicarron give a one-two punch of porky goodness.

The crew over at Areperia Arepa Lady have been busy these past few months. In addition to enlarging the dining room they’ve added mini arepas and patacones. The latter consists of plaintains that have been mashed, flattened and fried. They’re then topped with avocado and various meats. I went for a mixta ($8.50), topped with carne asada, chicharron, and chorizo. The combination of crunchy plantain, creamy avocado, and the one-two punch of pork made for a magnificent gutbomb. “I’ve gained 20 pounds” since we opened the Arepa Lady’s son Alejandro told me as I polished off the last bite. I believe him, I  think I gained five after my patacone.

Arepa Lady, 77-02AA Roosevelt Ave.,  Jackson Heights

03/09/15 9:22am
sugarclubtoast

Kanom pang ping’s just the thing.

My pal Joel has forgotten more about Thai food and culture than I may ever know. A week ago he took a break from the wintry land of Boston to spend a day with me and some other Thai food nerds in Elmhurst eating at as many Thai spots as possible. We hit half a dozen Thai Town favorites, including Plant Love House and Paet Rio.

Joel and I started out bright and early at Sugar Club, where he was keen to breakfast on “toast soldiers” and kha-fai ron, strong coffee with sweetened condensed milk. The owner presented us with two orders of kai kra ta, the Thai equivalent of a Denny’s grand slam, two sunny side up eggs, sweet pork sausage, chopped pork loaf, and ground pork. It came with toast. And for dessert more toast, with sweetened condensed milk and pandan for dessert. All the toast we had that morning was excellent, but none of it was the aforementioned toast soldiers. (more…)

02/16/15 10:05am
HHEGGPLANT

Hunan House’s steamed eggplant is packed with homestyle flavor.

A few weeks I ago visited Hunan House with a crew of ravenous foodies. As soon as we were in the door encountered my pal Colin Goh. “Try the steamed eggplant with salted duck eggs,” he exclaimed. I couldn’t convince anybody to order the eggplant, but we did discover the amazing beef with crispy pepper. It’s a dish so good we ordered two rounds.

This past Saturday I ran into to Colin, his wife, Yen Yen, and their little girl, Kai Kai at the Lunar New Year celebration at Flushing Town Hall. When given a choice between a homestyle Korean place and Hunan House, young Kai Kai chose Hunan House. And that’s how I fell in love with xian dan huang qie zi, or steamed eggplant with salted duck egg yolk on Valentine’s Day. (more…)

02/05/15 10:40am
CHERRYDRYNOODLE

Tom yum haeng topped with fried pork sugar and chili.

I’m such a Thai boat noodle fan that I’ve take to using the tag #boatnoodlejunkie on Instagram. One of my favorite places to slurp these small bowls of amazing noodle soup is the funky bar Pata Paplean in the heart of Elmhurst’s Thai Town. Chef Cherry and her crew only serve the noodles Saturday to Monday, usually from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Pro tip follow Pata Paplean on Facebook to be sure they are open.) (more…)

02/02/15 10:56am
PEDRPESCADO

Chef Pedros’ chicharron de pescado taco rocks.

Last week I committed a crime against good taste. Spurred on by a blizzard of panic and the promise of free grub I ate at Chipotle. As a staunch believer in the law of culinary equilibrium, I soon realized my folly and had to set matters straight by eating some real Mexican food right quick. So the very next day I jumped on the 7, intending to grab some tacos de carnitas from Tortas Neza. (more…)

01/06/15 11:47am
MOKBAR

Esther Choi’s kimchi ramen is a bowl of fiery porky goodness.

On this first real day of winter with snow falling and the remnants of a head cold I wish I was in Chelsea Market. Actually, scratch that I wish was in Mok Bar, to hell with the rest of the market and its hordes of gastrotourists. A bowl of Esther Choi’s kimchi ramen ($13) would do this body good right about now.

At times like these spicy soups are a go-to, and Choi’s doesn’t disappoint. Not only is the fiery broth packed with kimchi and springy noodles, it has a double dose of pork thanks to smoky bacon and a nice chunk of meat. (more…)

12/29/14 2:09pm
HUNANBEEF

Hunan House’s stupendously good beef with crisp pepper.

Rarely does the same dish get ordered twice on one of my food tours. It’s happened precisely twice. The first time, a Filipino family and I ended a summer afternoon of eating our way along the 7 train at John Brown Smokehouse. They were so smitten by the burnt ends—crisp, fatty chunks of double smoked brisket—that upon finishing an order they immediately asked for more and also got some to go. The second time was just a few weeks ago at Hunan House in Flushing. (more…)

12/23/14 3:10pm
MESHUGALATKE

The double down of the deli world is piled high with brisket.

Among my Jewish friends and relatives I am renowned for my knowledge of Yiddish. “You’re such a Jew,” an old girlfriend once proclaimed. Heck, I even have an adopted Jewish mother. So it’s a real shonda that I’m so late to the party on what’s surely the tastiest Chanukah gutbomb in Queens, the Meshugah Latke ($11.95) at Ben’s Best Deli. It’s been available since the  Festival of Lights began, but I only got to try it on the sixth day. (more…)

12/15/14 10:12am
SWINEWAFFLE1

Nothing quite says Carolina ‘cue like spinach pie.

Much like Tyson Ho, pitmaster and proprietor of Arrogant Swine, New York City’s only Eastern North Carolina BBQ joint I am a fan of the spanakopita, or spinach pie. Or at least I am a fan of the idea of it—shattering layers of phyllo filled with a flavorful mixture of spinach and cheese—which is never attained. The ones I have are usually soggy or stale. Not so for Ho’s spinach pie ($6), which is crunchy and crispy thanks to being cooked in a waffle iron. (more…)