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…)
Outside it was gray, inside Mediterranean sunshine on a plate.
I have a confession. The variety of delicious things to eat in Elmhurst, Flushing and Jackson Heights—dumplings,dosa, and Sichuan happy meals—is so amazing that I often overlook whole neighborhoods and whole cuisines. The Turkish scene in Sunnyside is a prime example of this gastronomic myopia. (Notice how I opted not to coin the word gastropia.)
The other night I was out to dinner with Max Falkowitz, the editor of Serious Eats New York—in Flushing natch—and he told me I should try the menemen, at Grill 43. “Menemen?” I asked between bites of crunchy Sichuan fish. “It’s like the Turkish version of shakshuka,” he said. “It’s really good.” I’ve never really dug the Israeli scramble that is shaksuka, but whenever someone whose taste I trust enthuses about a dish I know I’m in for a treat. And so it was with Grill 43’s menemen ($5.95).
The plate of fluffy scrambled eggs mixed with tomatoes and red peppers is as simple as it is delicious. An orange-hued liquid, the very essence of red peppers, sits at the bottom of the plate. Sopping it up with slightly salty wedges of homemade Turkish bread was the perfect antidote to what was an otherwise gray afternoon. As I was leaving the guy behind the counter said that some people like their menemen with cheese. Next time I’m going to ask him to make a Turkish egg and cheese sandwich.
Ain’t no party like a momo party, because a momo party don’t stop.
I’ve known for quite some time that this past Sunday marked the Year of the Snake for Chinese. What I didn’t know until last week was that this past Monday was Losar, or Tibetan New Year. So allow me to wish you “Losar la tashi delek.” I learned how to say “Happy New Year” in Tibetan from Tashi Chodron, founder of Himalayan Pantry at a hands-on momo making demonstration at The Rubin Museum of Art.
I also learned there are several regional types of momo. In Nepal, the dumplings are round and seasoned with Sichuan peppercorn, garlic, and ginger. Bhutan’s are tear-drop shaped and often filled with shiitake mushrooms. And, South Indian momo are crescent-shaped. And there are, of course, the Tibetan ones found all over Jackson Heights.