09/19/16 11:53pm

You Garden’s new dumpling comes with a straw.

Soup dumplings—and instructions on how to eat them—are always a highlight of my Flushing Chinatown food tours. One of the stranger techniques I’ve witnessed is people who forego a spoon and hold the dumpling aloft, nipping a hole in the side. It’s not a method I’d recommend. One tool I never thought I’d see used in dispatching xiao long bao is a straw. Lately though a larger style dumpling has begun to appear, first in Shanghai, and now in Queens, thanks to Shanghai You Garden. (more…)

09/12/16 10:16am

Duck charcuterie by way of Chengdu and downtown Flushing.

As a keen watcher and eater of all that goes on in downtown Flushing’s Chinatown, I’ve seen a many a hawker stall come and go. This seems especially true of Sichuan outfits. Thankfully there’s one constant in this shifting ma la sea: Cheng Du Tian Fu or Chengdu Heaven, as it’s often so aptly rendered in English. (more…)

08/21/16 10:19pm

Spring rolls in your beef noodle soup because why not!

For at least a year my go-to order at Elmhurst’s Asian Taste 86 has been a steaming hot bowl of soto ayam, a bracing yellow chicken soup topped with garlic powder and extra sambal. On a recent visit I broke out of my Indonesian chicken soup habit to try something different: soto mie. (more…)

08/18/16 7:02pm
Marani's mighty meat and mushroom khachapuri.

Marani’s mighty meat and mushroom khachapuri.

Few things are as decadent as the adjaruli khachapuri served at Marani, a glatt kosher Georgian restaurant that’s a mere five-minute walk from C+M headquarters. The eye-shaped bread is filled with a lake of molten cheese and egg. Stir it up and dig in. “Khachapuri not pizza,” read the restaurant’s square takeout boxes. Despite the pizza comparison, you won’t find any sausage versions in Marani’s basement khachapuri parlor. That’s because it’s a strictly dairy kitchen. (more…)

08/05/16 9:16am

Piping hot lamb lies underneath a flaky crust.

Almost every culture has a meat pie be it Cornish pasty, Jamaican beef patty, Tibetan shapaley, or Uzbek samsa. In my stamping grounds of Rego Park, there are many places from bakeries to restaurants to get the piping hot Uzbek meat pies typically filled with beef or my favorite lamb.

Cheburechnaya may be named for the its namesake chebureki, floppy pies filled with meat or veggies, but the real star of the menu’s “dough products” section is the “samcy with ribs” ($2.25). The rib in question is a fatty lamb rib, the bone jutting out of one corner of the flaky triangular patty.

The golden brown samcy comes to the table piping hot, so best to bite a hole in the side and bask in the vapors of lamb fat and spices. Then pour in a bit of the piquant tomato sauce and indulge in the best Uzbek lamb Wellington around.

Cheburechnaya, 92-09 63rd Dr.Rego Park, 718-897-9080

07/26/16 7:51am

Sky Cafe’s crab noodles feature the cutest fish balls ever.

There’s nothing quite as comforting as a bowl of chicken noodle soup. Here in Queens, we’re fortunate to have many varieties from mellow matzo ball to fiery pozole rojo. One of my favorite approaches to the dish is what I like to call the deconstructed Indonesian chicken noodle soup as served at Elmhurst’s Sky Cafe.

Mie komplit is a two-bowl affair. One vessel contains a light chicken broth, while the other holds egg noodles mixed with chicken and mushrooms and some greenery. Sip them separately or add one to the other, the choice is yours. (more…)

07/11/16 8:07am

Auttharos’ strawberry and salted egg salad.

At first glance Auttharos, the brand spanking new Thai spot that replaced Zabb Elee in Jackson Heights looks much like its predecessor. After all the menu’s appetizers include Esan sausage and the joint keeps much the same late night hours as the once Michelin-starred Zabb.

Things start to get interesting in Auttharos’ roster of papaya salads. There are more than a dozen permutations of som tam, from the fairly farang friendly—dried shrimp and peanuts—to the funkier and fishier —pickled crab and pickled fish. The really interesting stuff appears at the  end of the list: cucumber salad with boiled egg; long bean salad with pickled fish; corn salad with salted egg, and strawberry salad with salted egg. Let’s let that last one sink in: strawberry salad with salted egg!! (more…)

06/16/16 12:38pm
Goat sekuwa eats like a meat lover's chaat

Goat sekuwa eats like a meat lover’s chaat

Kamala Gauchan is the godmother of Himalayan cuisine in Jackson Heights. The garrulous Gauchan is the driving force behind many of the neighborhood’s Tibetan and Nepalese eateries, including Himalayan Yak, Laliguras, and Dhaulaghiri Kitchen. For about three years she held court at the latter, a shoebox of a restaurant that shared a space with a roti factory. In a setup smaller than some Manhattan studio apartments she wowed expats and food geeks alike with cooking that managed to rustic and vibrant, featuring earthy goat jerky, vibrant pickles, and of course, momos.

About a month ago she decamped to Manhattan’s Curry Hill, across the street from Kalustyan’s and just down the road from Chef Hemant Mathur’s Haldi. Yesterday I finally made the trek to Manhattan to say hello to the woman I like to consider my adopted Nepalese mother. (more…)

05/09/16 11:47am

Indonesian comfort food returns to Elmhurst.

Java Village, an Indonesian steam table joint in Elmhurst, was once a staple of my Southeast Asian food tour. Typically a tour would start with an order of kwetiau Jakarta, a stir fry of Indonesian broad noodles with beef tripe and tendon. Chef Dewi also served one of my favorite comfort foods bubur ayam, congee with fried chicken and a salted egg. Then one day about five months ago Chef Dewi and Java Village vanished.

Last Monday I stopped by Indo Java Grocery to inquire after Dewi’s whereabouts. I was ecstatic to learn that she cooks there every Tuesday. The next day I returned expecting to find a selection of prepared foods for take home. Instead Dewi directed me to a tiny table in the back of the shop.  It was laid out with a purple tablecloth that read “Happy Birthday!”  (more…)

04/19/16 10:16am

Tutti Matti brings Calabria and Sicily together via the magic of pasta.

Growing up in an Italian-American household the product of Sicilian and Calabrian heritage, I didn’t learn much proper Italian. My language lessons were limited to staizitt’ and the like. Thus it’s not surprising that when I first heard of the maccheroncini dello stretto at Long Island City’s Tutti Matti, I assumed the name meant “little macaroni of the street.” This assumption was aided by a spicy seafood flavor that called to mind spaghetti alla puttanesca. After all it doesn’t get more street than the whore’s pasta. (more…)