11/10/14 12:06pm
ROOM55-1

Slow cooked lamb with sage, shallots, and touch of pepper and prune.

I first met Vinny Accardi, the chef at the newish Room 55 in Glendale at the kickoff to Queens Restaurant Week. He had run out of food but was quick to tell me that his first restaurant “overdelivers on the food,” and suggested I come in for a tasting.

So I took him up on the offer a few weeks later. The restaurant, named for the month and day of his graduation from the Culinary Institute of America in 2000, is tucked away on an otherwise nondescript block. Everything I tasted, from the autumn harvest salad ($9) of mixed greens, beets, and candied walnuts with warm goat cheese to his casino style Little Neck clams ($11) was excellent, but my favorite dish was the one of the menu’s two pasta offerings. (more…)

11/03/14 10:51am
MANTY1

The soup dumpling’s Central Asian cousin.

Rugelach and babka are the first things many people think of when they hear the phrase “kosher bakery.” You’d be hard-pressed to find either at Rokhat Kosher Bakery, though. The baked goods—round loaves of lepeshka and flaky onion filled piyozli qatlama—here skew savory, evoking Uzbekistan more than the Lower East Side.

Samsa—meat pies filled with beef or lamb—cooked inside a tandoor are a favorite snack among the Rego Park locals. Recently the bakery added a new item, manty. I discovered the beef dumplings (8 for $10) the other week when I stopped in to thank the owner for letting me take a tour group there.

A gent was tucking into a small plate of four. Thinking that four was too few, I opted for a full order. The operative word being full. The beef and onion stuffed packages resembled gigantic soup dumplings and made for a formidable morning repast. With three pieces of lovely lokum for dessert  I was one happy glutton.

 Rokhat Kosher Bakery, 65-43 Austin Street, Rego Park, 718-897-4493

10/30/14 12:11am
luciataiwan

Two great tastes in one via Taipei and New York City.

Until very recently I was a pizza purist. Then I ate the falafel slice at Benjy’s Kosher Pizza Dairy Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Flushing. This surprisingly delicious mashup of Israeli and New York City street foods can be found on Main Street in Flushing , not the Chinese portion but the Jewish neighborhood sometimes called Kew Garden Hills. Yesterday I created a decidedly non-kosher mashup in the heart of Flushing’s Chinatown. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Taiwanese chicken parm slice. (more…)

10/13/14 11:17am
GALAXYSPARE

A satellite of golden fried porcine love.

As a self-avowed Chinese food expert, I have a confession. I’ve probably eaten more smoky American style barbecue spare ribs than sticky sweet Chinese ones. My favorite Chinese ribs these days have to be the Dongbei style Muslim lamb chop as served at Fu Run in Flushing’s magnificent Chinatown. Recently I discovered a close second, and what’s certainly my favorite Flushing pork rib. It’s another Dongbei specialty, suan xian pai gu, garlic flavor spare ribs. (more…)

09/22/14 12:10pm
AYAM3

Nasi tim ayam medan, aka chicken and rice very nice.

To say I’ve missed the food bazaars held at Astoria’s Masjid al Hikmah might just be the understatement of the millennium. So I was quite stoked to attend yesterday’s comeback food bazaar. As much as I love the festive atmosphere and seeing my favorite vendors like the bakso lady, it’s the chance to unearth new dishes seldom New York City restaurants that really excites me. Yesterday’s discovery: nasi tim ayam medan, an Indonesian take on Hainanese chicken and rice. (more…)

08/28/14 1:54pm
JAVANOODLE

Java Village’s kwetiau Jakarta.

Chow fun—broad Chinese rice flour noodles—was as much a staple of childhood trips to Chinatown with my father as it was the local takeout. He cooked it at home too, purchasing wonton skins that he cut into noodle-sized strips. I have a feeling he’d have liked the kwetiau Jakarta ($9) I tried at Java Village the other night. It eats like chow fun’s spicier Indonesian cousin. (more…)

08/25/14 11:00am
CANTONCHICKEN

This Chinese fried chicken deserves to be described as famous.

As much as I go on about a certain  secret Taiwanese fried chicken, I do have another favorite Chinese fried chicken. It comes from Canton Gourmet. A poster sized come-on for this dish first encouraged me to try it. “Famous garlic aromatic crispy chicken,” read the English name. The poster depicting an entire golden fried bird showered with fried garlic, shallots, and scallion had me at “crispy chicken.” Throw in those three not so little words “famous garlic aromatic,” and I was sold.

Whoever’s on the fry station at Canton Gourmet knows what they’re doing and does it well. The salty skin is shatteringly crisp, yet the meat remains juicy. It was a great pleasure to crunch my way—bones and all—through an entire $11.95 platter. This top flight Chinese fried chicken is entirely deserving of its lofty moniker. I resolve to eat it more often.

Canton Gourmet, 38-08 Prince St, Queens, 718-886-9288

07/28/14 2:08pm
MWELLSBEET

Beet tartare, as refreshing as a summer’s breeze.

The running joke about me and M. Wells Dinette is that if I had an editor they’d tell me not to write about the place so much. Since I don’t, here goes. Yesterday I stopped by to check out their pig roast and petanque scene in the courtyard of at MoMA PS1. Finding myself in the mood for neither, I headed into the restaurant.

“I kind of want beef tartare, but can’t justify having it since I ate my body weight in red meat last night,” I said to Aidan O’Neal. “You should try the beet tartare,” he said. I flat out refused claiming somewhat hyperbolically that it goes against everything I believe in. It sort of does since I am no fan of mock meat and veggie burgers. “Try it, I think you’ll be surprised,” the chef persisted. Eventually  I caved and ordered the $14 vegetable tartare. And I am glad I did. (more…)

07/14/14 10:30am
sichnoodles1

‘Sweet noodles’ lashed with sesame sauce and topped with garlic paste.

Cold sesame noodles are an American Chinese staple that I haven’t eaten in quite some time. It’s not that I don’t like them. It’s just that the hyper-regional, hyperauthentic hawker stands that I frequent don’t serve them. Yesterday I learned that there’s a warm Sichuan version of this dish. It goes by the moniker sweet sauce noodles. Or at least it does at Cheng Du Tian Fu, my favorite Sichuan snack stall in Flushing’s Chinatown. (more…)

07/07/14 12:27pm
TCPRAINBOW

Dorothy and the Wizard would no doubt approve.

“Let’s go for Thai,” I said to my pal Adrian the other day. “I’ve got a place over on Woodside Avenue,” he said. Never one to trust another’s taste in Thai, I countered with a better place also on Woodside. “Oh, no not that big place, that won’t do,” he said. “No not Sripraphai,” I said. And that’s how we wound up at Thailand’s Center Point where I discovered something called Over the Rainbow ($13.95).

It had been months since I’d visited Aom “Annie” Phinphatthakul’s cute little spot. And I was eager to see what new creations would be highlighted in multicolored chalk on the specials board. And then I saw it: “Over the Rainbow, diced crispy fish with Thai herbs in special spicy lime.” (more…)