09/03/15 1:21pm

Flushing Cafe Collage

Since Yelp exists, there’s really no point in making an exhaustive list of coffee and tea shops. However, there’s still room for a curated list, so I’m going to present my favorite Flushing spots for coffee, food, working, and hanging out. Unlike some other parts of Queens, the eastern end is still limited in terms of Third Wave coffee shops, but this is changing gradually.

(I’ve created a companion Foursquare list for this article. Go ahead and save it so that you can visit them all.)

Although Flushing’s eastern border is officially Parsons Boulevard, for the purposes of this article I will use the moniker as it often is, as a shorthand for Greater Flushing, encompassing Murray Hill, Auburndale, and Bayside, and will append Douglaston/Little Neck, the New York City neighborhood that abuts Long Island.

However, I’m primarily interested in the somewhat insular, heavily Korean neighborhood that runs along Northern Boulevard from Main Street to the border of Long Island (and beyond), because this is where most of the cafes are situated. The only exception is a recent Chinese-owned entrant, Presso Coffee, located in the attractive new One Fulton Square development in downtown Flushing. (more…)

03/16/15 12:01pm
SFYT

Yellowtail tartare, so much more than the sum of its multicultural parts.

Four years ago when Danny Yi opened Salt & Fat it was pretty groundbreaking. After all, the only small plates Sunnyside had ever seen were the mezze from the local Turkish joint. Each meal began with a paper bag filled with bacon fat fried popcorn, a treat that evoked the restaurant’s name, and ended with a shot of probiotic Yakult yogurt drink, a beverage more commonly seen in Korean restaurants. It’s a touch that evokes Yi’s Korean heritage. In between there was an oxtail terrine that called to mind a meat brownie, shaved foie gras with bacon brittle, and a pork trotter transformed into a crispy panko breaded croquette crowned with a slow-cooked egg. (more…)

03/10/15 10:17am

People who are familiar with festival-style Indonesian food in New York City have probably visited the outdoor food bazaar held in the rear parking lot of Astoria’s Masjid Al-Hikmah, which usually begins with the first warm weather in April and runs through October, or possibly one of the one-off events such as 2013’s Forest Hills Indonesian Food Bazaar. Longtime Masjid Al Hikmah attendees were dismayed last year when the mosque didn’t manage to put together an event until September 21st and then tacked on two more in quick succession, October 12th and October 26th. I attended them all, of course.

Event Organizer Fefe Anggono

Event Organizer Fefe Anggono

The innaugural edition of the City Blessing Church Indonesian Food Bazaar, which is being planned as an (at minimum) monthly event, took place on the last Saturday in February, 2015 in Woodside, Queens. The organizer, Fefe Anggono, owned and managed a restaurant in Long Island for seven years and started this event as a way to not only bring attention to the church and its rental space, but also to provide an outlet for vendors left out in the cold by the mosque’s inconsistent event-holding policies. (more…)

12/08/14 12:34pm
SPACASTLE2

Eel hot stone bibimbap at Spa Castle.

Spa Castle, a five-story jjimjilbang, or Korean spa, in College Point is one of my favorite places in Queens. The Castle features several saunas of varying temperature, including my two favorites: the mud-walled Loess Soil room, which is a whopping 190 degrees and Iceland, whose frigid interior resembles an undefrosted walk-in freezer. There is of course spa food—grilled salmon, asparagus, fruit, even lasagna—to be had on the same floor as Sauna Valley. I never eat it. That’s because there is a decent Korean cafeteria of sorts on the top floor. And when in Rome, or College Point . . . (more…)

09/04/14 2:03am
PPP2A

Photos: Wendy Wong

Pata Paplean is my favorite Thai bar in Elmhurst, but I never drink there. I eat there as often as possible. On weekend afternoons the funky joint named for a 900-pound gorilla serves the best street food style Thai noodle soups in Queens’ Little Bangkok. So when Cherry and Chompoothe gals behind the pork blood enriched kuay tiew nam tok moo—asked if I wanted to collaborate on a popup series with them, I immediately said yes. UPDATE: Tickets are now on sale here for the Oct. 18 Pata Paplean Popup!! (more…)

07/11/14 9:49am
ODDFELLOWS

Cornbread with salted caramel syrup and burnt sugar.

Last Saturday was sweltering. It was even hotter if you were waiting on line to view Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby,” at the soon to be demolished Domino Sugar Factory. As we left the domain of the massive sugar sphinx-mammy I tasted  a few grains of what I presumed to be some ancient turbinado sugar that was laying on a girder. Back outside in the heat I pondered whether that was a good idea, and my crew and I decided to chill out with something sweet and cool at the nearby OddFellows Ice Cream Co. (more…)

06/11/14 9:27am
RDEXTERIOR

Photo: Kelli Anderson/Russ & Daughters

I’ve always been a big fan of Russ & Daughters the antediluvian appetizing shop that is one of the last vestiges of New York City’s Jewish Lower East Side. So I was particularly excited when the Russ & Daughters Cafe opened. I haven’t had a chance to fress there yet. My good friend Noah Arenstein beat me to the schmaltz and was kind enough to file this dispatch. Take it away Noah . . .

Entering the new Russ & Daughters Cafe, I can’t help but feel a dizzy gratification by the fact that one of the most anticipated openings of 2014 in New York City is a full-service restaurant from a 100-year-old purveyor of the type of smoked fish most easily associated with my grandparents’ generation. (more…)

02/06/14 10:42am

EcuadoreanChocolate

At first glance the brownish slabs in the basket looked like pottery. “It’s chocolate,” the dude behind the counter at Los Paisanos told me. Chocolate for drinking that is. Mexican hot chocolate is one of my favorite treats in the dead of winter. The tablet like slabs of chocolate at Los Paisanos are organic Ecuadorean and will run you $10 a pound. Five bucks bought a nice-sized piece that should keep me well-supplied with hot chocolate in the next few weeks. As I found last night it is unsweetened. I am still perfecting my hot chocolate technique. Last night I melted the chocolate in a cup of milk in saucepan while stirring. Next time I’m going to try melting the chocolate a bit and then adding the milk. I’ve a feeling it will result in a smoother texture. I might even invest in one of those little cappuccino frothers. Viva el chocolate!

Los Paisanos, 79-16 Roosevelt Ave, Jackson Heights,718-898-4141

01/14/14 11:19am
CHICKENTABAK

Marani’s chicken tabaka, crunchy and garlicky as all getout.

The running joke about the Uzbek kebab places in Rego Park is that they’re all pretty much the same restaurant. Sure some might have slightly surlier service than others or make a specialty of chebureks, , but they’re all basically about grilled meat—beefchicken, and lamb–on flat swordlike skewers.  So I was intrigued when I heard about Marani,  a relatively new Georgian joint.

Ever since I read about the decadent adajaruli khachapuri being served at Brooklyn Bread House in Sheepshead Bay and at Oda House in the East Village, Georgian food has been a feverish blip on my radar. So I was especially excited to learn of a restaurant right in my neighborhood that served the mythical cheese and egg bread. (more…)

11/04/13 9:43am
BIG-TRAY

A potage of poultry and potatoes sits atop a bed of hand-pulled noodles.

Dà pán jī—or “big tray of chicken” is a Henanese dish I’ve been meaning to try for some time.  I’d forgotten all about dà pán jī until I started seeing it at the New World Mall Food Court, notably at the purple curvilinear stand Stew where it goes by the rather ungainly yet specific English name “chicken potato noodle.” For an additional four bucks one can procure beef, lamb, or fish potato noodle.  As I snapped a photo of the Chinese language sign for the dish, which shows Stew’s chef giving a thumbs up and some characters that likely translate to “Best big tray of chicken in the free world,” my friend from the neighboring Stall No. 28 waved me over. (more…)