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…)

12/11/14 2:27pm
DANNYSTEAK

This porterhouse will satisfy any carnivore’s cravings.

And to think I almost missed out on one of the greatest steak experiences in Queens. It all happened like this. I’d been leading an epic Flushing Chinatown food tour all day. By the time 5 p.m. rolled around the last thing on my mind was more food, and then I remembered a couple of friends had invited me to check out Danny’s Steak House in College Point. So, as am I often called upon to do, I reached down and prevailed, and I am glad I did. The warm room in what was once a German restaurant with Sinatra playing in the background proved to be a perfect antidote to the Chinatown’s hustle and bustle. And the steak, perfectly pink with a nice crust was pretty darn good too. I even managed to find some room for a bite or too of cheesecake from neighboring La Cheesecake. It was lighter than air, which a was damn good thing considering how much food I had put away that day!

Danny’s Steak House & Oyster Bar13-46 127th St., College Point, 718-961-1688

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