08/24/15 12:38pm
yupduk

Just spicy enough to keep me coming back for more.

My love of spicy food is hereditary, passed on by a father who loved everything from Tabasco to Taco Bell Fire sauce. There are, however, some things that are too hot for my cast iron palate. Many fall into the category of “dare you to try” dishes or extreme hot sauces. (more…)

08/17/15 1:10pm
La Cevicheria's got the best mixto in Rockaway Beach.

La Cevicheria’s got the best mixto in Rockaway Beach.

Few things are more refreshing and delicious on a hot summer day than a good Peruvian ceviche. Fresh fish marinated/cooked with plenty of lime served showered with red onions and with the traditional accompaniments of camote (sweet potato), cancha (toasted corn kernels), and mote (hominy corn) makes for a fine summer meal. Until last week my go-to was ceviche pescado, with ceviche mixto a distant second. Thanks to Rockaway Beach’s La Cevichería, I have a newfound respect—and craving—for ceviche mixto. (more…)

08/13/15 5:04pm
Crescent Grill's duka spice duck features a puck of pistachio crusted offal.

Crescent Grill’s duka spice duck features a puck of pistachio crusted offal.

With so many restaurants and cuisines in Queens to try, it’s sometimes hard to keep track. Take Crescent Grill for example. It had over a year since I dined at the farm to table restaurant in Long Island City. So a few weeks ago I returned for a quiet late night dinner with a friend. I seem to recall lots of cheflike touches—the use of gelees and whatnot—from my last visit. This time around there were no gelees or foams just straightforward confident cooking as evidenced in my entree, the Duka spiced duck ($30). (more…)

08/11/15 1:53pm
tomato)pie

Frank Pepe’s tomato pie’s a slice of summer.

The other night I found myself in New Haven on a road trip as one sometimes does. Out-of-town guests were being entertained and the question of where to eat arose. “America’s first hamburger or pizza?” came the question. As the resident food expert the tie breaking vote was put to me. “Let’s go to Frank Pepe’s for pizza,” I responded. (more…)

07/27/15 10:24am
guizhoulf2

A cool bowl of Gui Zhou liang fen–sour, spicy, slippery–just the thing for the dog days.

There was a time and place when cold noodles meant one thing—and one thing only—sesame noodles. The time: circa 1976. The place: any number of strip mall Chinese joints in Nassau County. These days, here in Queens, the cold noodle choices are far more diverse from Korean naeng myun and Tibetan laphing serpo to Sichuan cold noodles and liang pi.  The latest entry into Queens’ polyglot noodle pantheon is Gui Zhou liang fen. (more…)

07/19/15 10:38pm
OCTOTACO

La Esquina Del Camaron’s octopus taco.

Fish tacos are tricky business. The batter fried ones are OK, but to this eater they seem like little more than fish and chips gone South of the Border. I prefer my fish tacos with a batter and a hard fry like they do at Tortilleria Nixtamal, where they use skate wing. The other day though I encountered a kind of seafood taco I never tried, octopus tacos. (more…)

06/15/15 10:54am
Zhi zi liang fen, slippery cool, and garlicky as all getout.

Zhi zi liang fen, slippery cool, and garlicky as all getout.

“What’s your favorite noodle dish?,” is a question I’m asked all too often. As a food nerd I have about a dozen favorites encompassing Thai, Uzbek, and Chinese. One of my top Chinese noodles these days is the ma la liang mian or cold noodles—humming with ma la flavor of tingling Sichuan peppercorns combined with red chilies—from Szechuan Taste.

It’s so good that it’s taken me a year to start ordering the stall’s other cold noodle specialties like zhi zi liang fen, or gardenia bean jelly ($3.75). Despite the English name, there are no flowers in it whatsoever. Just Like its bone-white cousin liang fen, this sunnier version is made with mung beans. (more…)

06/08/15 9:42am
Crunchy, spicy, and salty baby squid from Shanghai 33.

Crunchy, spicy, and salty baby squid from Shanghai 33.

As an Italian-American, I cut my teeth on fried calamari. Whether made at home by my old man or at the Long Island outpost of Vincent’s Clam Bar, it was almost always eaten with a marinara sauce spiked with copious amounts of red pepper. The other day I tried a Chinese twist on fried squid at Shanghai 33 that was simply amazing. (more…)

05/13/15 12:50pm
quesadila

El Salvador’s version of the quesadilla is not what you think.

As one of the only Salvadoran spots in the largely Asian stronghold of Flushing, El Ranchito De Daisy is quite an anomaly. The pupusas are good but the quesadilla Savadoreno ($3) is really quite remarkable.

“What’s that I asked?” spying the golden brown ovoids lining the counter. “Quesadilla,” came the response. “Quesadilla!!? Quesadilla de que?” I asked in my best bad Spanish. “De arroz,” the gent behind the counter replied. (more…)

05/11/15 10:15am
PLANTLOVESUMMER

Sure to be this summer’s spiciest bowl of kuai tiao.

Long before I ever slurped the kuai tiao that have taken Queens by storm in places like Pye Boat Noodle, Pata Paplean, and Plant Love House I took great pride in ordering my food Thai spicy. Whether larb, curry, or som tum the resulting chili pepper overkill from uttering those two words invariably left my lips burning and nose running. These days I rarely ever utter the words “Thai spicy.” The bowl of noodles that goes by the name Summer ($12.95) currently being served at Plant Love House is far more incendiary than any dish I ever consumed during my Thai spicy days. (more…)