03/07/17 3:24pm
jackfruit

Stir fried young jackfruit is symphony of flavors.

“You have to try the Northern style food at Thai Diva,” my friend Chompoo who knows a thing or too about Thai cuisine told me via Facebook a few weeks ago. And then when the Sunnyside restaurant was favorably reviewed by Eater critic Robert Sietsema another pal said,” I’ll try it if it passes the ‘Joe DiStefano’ test.” Well I’m here to say that Thai Diva passed with flying colors.

My first visit to Thai Diva was with my friend Joel who is even more obsessed with Thai food than I am. When he told his Thai friends back home in Boston that he was visiting Queens to eat at Thai Diva, they immediately began suggesting dishes. One of their recommendations was tum kanoon ($11) a heap of stir-fried young jackfruit shot through with chilies and kaffir lime leaves. It came with some pork crackling and cucumbers. I’m familiar with Indonesian preparation of the fruit wherein it’s cooked with coconut milk and aromatics to a brisket like texture. Tum kanoon is somewhat less mellow with a good amount of chili heat balanced out by the aromatic lime. Cucumbers and sticky rice help temper the fire. (more…)

11/16/16 11:39am
flyhea

Fly heads are not what you think.  Photo: Stephen Yen

When talking Taiwanese food in Queens one or two names always pop up: Taiwanese Gourmet in Elmhurst and the rather loftily named Main Street Imperial Taiwanese in Flushing. The latter lies at the southern end of Main Street away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Flushing. Thankfully it lives up to its name and executes all the classics rather well.

Main Street Imperial is a favorite among my local Taiwanese foodie friends. It’s also a go-to spot for Chef Trigg Brown of East Williamsburg’s hottest new Taiwanese spot, Win Son. as I learned while dining with him and a bunch of chefs and food nerds the other night. (more…)

09/29/16 11:17pm
PELLICCIFUSION

A fusion full English at London’s E. Pellicci.

There’s a reason they call the British breakfast classic a full English. The army of breakfast meats—bangers, bacon, sausage, and blood pudding—and eggs supplemented by mushrooms, tomatoes, and fried bread is a joy to eat and behold. The best full English this Italian-American boy ever had was at an Italian-run cafe called E. Pellicci in London’s Bethnal Green. It’s been in the Pellicci family since 1900 when Elide and Primo Pellicci opened shop. And so has the recipe for Penne Pellicci—a plate of pasta and pesto—that the waiter Tony drizzled with olive oil when I visited a few years ago. It was a fine carb supplement to an already prodigious feed. (more…)

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…)

08/18/14 12:35pm
PAETSOUP

How now kanom chin nam-ngiao?

Whenever I lead tours of Queens’ second Chinatown Elmhurst, I point out the hood’s huge Southeast Asian—Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese—presence. Lately, it’s been undergoing a Thai renaissance with newer spots like Pata Paplean, Eim Khao Man Gai, and Khao Kang joining the old guard of Ayada, Chao Thai, and Ploy Thai. Scarcely a month old Paet Rio is the newest kid on the Little Bangkok block.

Chef owner Nicky Phimpoy ran Wondee Siam in Hell’s Kitchen for some 20 years before coming to the borough that boasts the most authentic Thai food in NewYork City. Paet Rio is named for her home province, located in eastern Thailand. There’s plenty of curries, yums, and larbs on the menu. What made me sit up and take notice was the roster of 14 specialty noodle dishes, particularly something called kanom chin nam-ngiao  ($10.98). (more…)

06/16/14 12:35pm
BONJUKEXT

Bonjuk serves one thing and one thing only, Korean rice porridge.

The real K-town in New York City is in Queens, stretching for about five miles from Northern Boulevard and Union Street in Flushing all the way out to Manhasset. This vast K-tropolis is lined with dozens of BBQ restaurants, kimbap joints, large Korean supermarkets, fried chicken spots, a store that sells Korean stone beds, and even a Korean-run Third Wave espresso bar. There are so many places it would take an entire lifetime to document them all. Today C+M’s K-tropolis takes a look at Bonjuk, a Korean porridge specialist. (more…)

01/20/14 10:02am
TLAYUDA1

Way better than Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza.

I’ve passed Cienega Grocery & Deli dozens and dozens of times in my perambulations through Corona. I’ve always meant to stop in this Mexican grocer/restaurant. The other day the stars aligned in such a way that I poked my head in and learned that this humble deli specializes in the seldom-seen cuisine of Oaxaca, in the country’s Southwest. “Que es tlayuda?” read a hand lettered menu board. “Tortilla gigante de maiz orginaria de Oaxaca,” it continued, listing several options, including al pastor and chorizo.

I don’t if I was more excited to read Oaxaca or tortilla gigante. “Do you have chivo?” I asked. Once I got through the formalities and told them I knew what chivo was, I asked for a tlayuda topped with goat and eagerly awaited the arrival of the mystery antojito.

(more…)

12/05/13 10:57am
VZW Food Crawl - Tour Group

The Verizon Food crawl ended at one of my favorite spots , M. Wells Dinette.

When it comes to technology, I’m what you might call a late adopter. As for food, I am quite the opposite, living to discover new cuisines and flavors. So when Verizon contacted  me to help organize and participate in a Queens food crawl on November 23 I was quite excited. Not only would I get to spend a day eating in Queens and pregame for Thanksgiving, I might learn a thing or two about technology.

Our day started at the new Verizon store in Astoria where we were each outfitted with a smart phone. Once I’d managed to set up my e-mail and social media accounts on the snazzy new LG G2, I immediately started testing out the camera. Soon we were using the Uber app to callup a car and take us to our first destination. (more…)

12/02/13 9:58am
MU-EXT

Bagelry by day, ramen-ya by night.

I live to discover the delicious in unexpected corners of Queens, whether it’s a Tibetan restaurant in the back of a cell phone store or a Malaysian joint in Flushing with a graveyard shift specializing in kari laksa. So when I heard about Mu Ramen, Joshua Smookler’s nighttime popup inside of a Long Island City bagel store, I was especially intrigued.

MUINTERIOR

The scene inside Mu Ramen on Saturday night.

So I set out for Bricktown Bagel & Café on a night that was indeed quite brick. Joining me on the frigid Saturday after Thanksgiving was my pal William who knows a thing or two about Japanese food. The first thing that surprised me was that Mu’s chef, Joshua Smookler, was Asian. What’s not so surprising about the Korean-American chef with the decidedly non-Korean name is that he has a monomaniacal fascination with ramen. (more…)

11/21/13 10:41am
BEAR-ASPIC

Char aspic with pomelo and lemon.

The tyranny of the tasting menu—that feeling of being held hostage by a chef’s creativity  as course after course after course comes to the table—is a phenomenon with which I have scant experience. The only tasting menu of note I’ve had is Momofuko Ko’s and while not quite tyrannical, it was vast, running to more than a dozen courses, each quite good in its own way.  Even so sensory overload sets in by course eight or nine. It’s not that I was full, but rather that I was punch drunk on the experience, much the way I feel after wandering around an art museum for too long. So when Chef Natasha Pogrebinsky of Bear invited me to try to her $85 seasonal tasting menu, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.   (more…)