04/21/14 12:10pm
MANOK2

This tinalong manok rocks.

 During this year’s never ending winter I’ve turned often to soup as both comfort and cure. Last week it was tingalong manok, at Manny’s Bake Shop, one of my favorite Filipino restaurants in Queens. The gingery chicken soup always manages to clear my head and lift my spirits. And Manny’s tinalong manok is quite special indeed. For one thing it’s a ginormous serving that’s best shared, or enjoyed by one food writer trying to kick a cold. (more…)

04/14/14 10:48am
RICEROLL2

Noodle Village’s rice rolls are a sweet chewy delight.

“I never get anything else there,” she said, “because my inner six-year-old makes a bee line for the rice rolls.” We were talking about Noodle Village So Good, a stall just at the bottom of the escalator in New World Mall, which traffics in congees, soups, and noodles, with a side line in xiao long bao. I told her that as a six-year old I’d eaten my fair share of shrimp and pork chang fan at Mei Lai Wah Coffee House in Manhattan’s Chinatown. I’d always thought of them as more of snacky type meal than a treat, but I could tell from the way she spoke about them Noodle Village’s rice rolls fell clearly in the treat category. (more…)

04/07/14 10:37am
PAPLEAN

Pork crackling’s the perfect garnish for a bowl of pork blood soup.

Pata Paplean is a favorite stop on my food tours of Elmhurst because it has some of the best Thai style street food I’ve had in New York. On weekend afternoons from noon to 3 p.m. the funky bar named for a gorilla in a Bangkok zoo serves up $4 bowls of noodle soup. Moo toon consists of slightly sweet amber broth with tender bits of pork, meaty mushrooms, and some greenery. Paplean’s tom yum is one of the busier bowls of tom yum I’ve ever come across in Queens. Two kinds of fish balls, ground pork, pork liver, and sliced pork fill the bowl along with two crisp sheets of fried dough. Yesterday though I was initiated into the pleasures of kuay tiew nam tok moo, or pork blood soup. (more…)

03/31/14 12:41pm
LAGMAN

Bella Roza’s beefy lagman will do you good.

The combination of the bone chilling dampness and a lingering cold have been conspiring to turn C+M into a soup blog. Last week I found myself at Bella Roza, a Rego Park pizzeria turned samsa and Uzbek bread bakery. “Do you have soup?” I asked the grandmotherly woman behind the counter who looked at me quizzically. “Lagman?” I said reaching into the fevered recesses of my brain to recall that I once heard that they serve the hand-pulled beef noodle soup. “Ah yes,” she said with a glimmer of recognition in her eye. I took a seat and dipped some crusts of bread into Bella Roza’s excellent hot sauce as I waited for my soup.   (more…)

03/27/14 10:25am
BAKSOSURABAYA

A box of bakso at OK Indo Food in Elmhurst.

OK Indo Food Store is one of my favorite ethnic grocers in Queens. What I like most about the little mom and pop shop run by Tante Santí Su and her family are the prepared foods that line the counter every weekend. The offerings range from an intense durian cheesecake to things like this box of bakso Surabaya ($7) that I found while still in the grips of the late winter/early spring cold from hell. “Everything’s already cooked, you just need to microwave it for a little bit,” Su’s son Chip said of the meatball soup as I peered at the plastic bag of broth in the plastic container. (more…)

03/18/14 10:19am
MISSIONCHICH

Psychedelic chicharrones by way of the South and Japan.

For the past two months my fellow ink- and grease-stained wretches have all been abuzz about Danny Bowien’s new spot Mission Cantina. I’m still smarting from the loss of Mission Chinese, but decided to put my sorrow aside and check out his new joint. The first thing I noticed was that it gets really crowded on a Saturday night. The second was the comforting aroma of fresh masa. I tried several of the teeny tiny tacos—my favorite was the suaderos ($6.50), beef brisket braised in lard—but the dish that really made me sit up and take notice was the chicharrones ($7).

Crackling—whether chicken, duck, or, in this case, pork—is one of my favorite snacks. Bowien’s airy sheets of blistered pork skin get a Japanese/down home spin thanks to the addition of togarishi pepper and pimento cheese. Salty, crunchy, cheesy, and spicy I could not stop eating them. On my next visit I think I’ll try the creamed masa with spicy collard greens and get some of Bowien’s psychedelic crackling to throw on top.

Mission Cantina, 172 Orchard St., 212-254-2233

03/11/14 10:15am
LIANGPI

Cold skin noodles at Xi’an Famous Foods are as spicy and refreshing as ever.

Way back in 2005, Xi’an Famous Foods had but one location, in what I like to call the 36th Chamber of the Golden Shopping Mall. It was presided over by an affable gent who went by the nom de cuisine Liang Pi, after his signature dish liang pi, cold skin noodles. Today it’s become a mini empire with five locations, upscale sister restaurant Biang, and a Brooklyn commissary.

Back in the day the most notable design elements were rickety folding stools and 100-pound bags of wheat flour arrayed like sandbags along the back wall. “My name is Liang Pi,” he would proudly say as he ladled out the dish. Many of his customers came from the same region and seemed absolutely thrilled to find  a dish from back home in Queens. Legions of hungry regional Chinese cuisine fiends were pretty thrilled too. I’d never tasted anything like cold skin noodles before: squidgy, porous blocks of wheat gluten and chewy ribbons of wheat starch, tossed with bean sprouts, cilantro, slivers of cucumber and a “secret sauce” made from sesame paste, vinegar, and chili oil, among other things. “I have it for breakfast at least three times a week,” one fan told me. (more…)

02/18/14 12:26pm
KOTHEMOMO1

These thick-skinned beauties are perfect on a winter’s day.

At the end of the day momos are just beef dumplings and I will never ever get as excited about them as folks from the Himalayan diaspora do. There are now more than a dozen restaurants and four food trucks in Jackson Heights that serve them. Momos are to Tibetans and Nepalese as hamburgers are to Americans—a national dish that evokes gatherings with family and friends. “What’s the big deal about a hamburger?” I imagine a Tibetan saying. “It’s just two pieces of bread with ground beef in between.”  But enough momo musing. I’m here to tell you I’ve discovered a momo that is the very essence of winter comfort food: the kothe momo. (more…)

02/11/14 11:03am
KHAOKRUP

DIY Thai takeout via Elmhurst.

On weekend mornings the counter at Sugar Club, a Thai grocer/video store, is lined with dozens of containers of prepared foods. Many of these come in the form of a kit to be assembled at home. Last weekend kao krup kapi ($7) caught my eye. Onions, sliced raw green beans, and Thai chilies occupied one side of the container. Slivers of unripened mango and a tangle of sliced omelet and dried shrimp filled the other quadrant. Reddish rice and a baggie of sweet pork formed the base. I could hardly wait to assemble this DIY Thai takeout. (more…)

02/10/14 10:05am
UNIKIRA

Uni and ikura, together at last.

When it comes to salmon Bricktown Bagels is probably better known for belly lox than salmon roe. That’s not the case come nighttime when the Long Island City bagelry morphs into Mu Ramen. While the soup’s the star at Joshua Smookler’s pop-up ramen-ya, many of the “treats,” listed on the menu are well deserving of the name. Chief among these is the U & I ($15), a rice bowl which features uni and ikura, or salmon roe. (more…)