“Wow, you look very healthy,” my friend Helen You told me the other day when I brought a tour group to her restaurant, Dumpling Galaxy for lamb soup dumplings. “It’s like you lived two lives in one,” she said when I told her about my recent recovery from colorectal cancer. You’s words made me tear up a bit as did the premiere episode of Last Stop on The 7, which details her own story of living two lives in one. The video, which was produced by the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce and Sixty First Productions, features absolutely mesmerizing shots of You’s flour coated hands rolling out wrappers and folding them to create pork and chive dumplings.
Living in Queens, arguably the most diverse food destination in the world has made me conversant, if not expert, in global cuisines ranging from Thai and Indonesian to Mexican and Peruvian, to name a very few.
Even though I’m an intrepid explorer of Chinese hawker stands, Central American street food carts, and West Indian roti spots there’s one place that still baffles me, NetCost Market, or as I like to call it “Nyet Cost.” The gigantic Russian supermarket, which offers everything from caviar and charcuterie to fermented mare’s milk and kvass is around the corner from my house, yet I hardly ever shop there. (more…)
Gimbap—a Korean after-school snack that at its most minimalist form consists of little more than American cheese, white rice, and daikon rolled up in seaweed—is not exactly anybody’s version of extreme eats. Sure there are more flavorful varieties like spicy tuna and spicy squid, both of which I find quite lovely and enjoy at Song’s Family Food in Murray Hill, Queens. To find a truly extreme kimbap, or gimbap, as it’s also spelled, I had to turn to the internet, specifically Korean cooking Youtube channel cookat TV.(more…)
John Wang grew up going to Taiwanese night markets—festive gatherings filled with people and plenty of street food—and last spring in a tribute to those memories created New York City’s first-ever night market, The Queens International Night Market.
Truth be told when Wang told me about it back in January I didn’t think he was going to pull it off, but by April he’d managed to bring what was at first a heavily Asian lineup to the New York Hall of Science parking lot. The market has a new home in Jamaica and is more international than ever with everything from Japanese takoyaki and Caribbean shark sandwiches to Peking duck baos and Romanian chimney cake, all of it delicious and diverse just like its home borough. (more…)
As diverse as the foodways of Queens are, there’s one cuisine that’s lacking, Sri Lankan. To experience Sri Lankan cuisine in New York City you need to travel to the motherland, Staten Island, specifically, Tompkinsville, which is home to 5,000 Sri Lankan’s, including Vijayakuman “Viji” Devadas. (more…)
Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most festive times for Hindus in and around Flushing. During the nine-day birthday party for the elephant-headed god, Šri Mahã Vallabha Ganapati Devasthãnam (aka the Ganesh Temple) on Bowne Street is a hive of activity. Ganesh Chaturthi always concludes with the Grand Ratha Yatrã, a parade through the streets of Flushing.
This year the parade was held on Sunday, Sept. 20, but I wasn’t able to make it. I did however have the good fortune to hang out with James Boo of 1 Minute Meal Films a few days before while he filmed modaka archana, the making and offering of the sweet modaka.The coconut-filled treat is renowned as Ganesh’s favorite food, so much that one of his many names is modakapriya.(more…)
As many of you may know Queens has been getting its fair share of media attention lately, with everyone jumping on the Lonely Planet #1 destination bandwagon and, of course, with the U.S. Open in town. Pizza maven Adam Kuban alerted me to what is my favorite bit of recent Queens media glory. It’s a U.S. Open commercial that features two Queens icons: old school slice joint John’s in Elmhurst and The Unisphere, along with plenty of tennis.
The spot makes a comparison between “New York style tennis” and New York style pizza. The pizza at John’s is as fine an example of old school New York City pizza as any. It’s a slice of glory with a crispy crust that comes from placing a perforated disk betwixt pie and pan. The best thing about John’s though might be its circa 1969 dining room complete with counter seating. I do believe I shall eat a slice or three tomorrow. John’s Pizzeria, 85-02 Grand Ave., Elmhurst, 718-457-7561
Friends and fans alike know I have a real soft spot for 4 a.m. Malaysian kari laksa as served by the good folks at Curry Leaves in Flushing. Recently I tried the asam laksa—a spicy sour soup enriched with fish—at Pulau Pinang. It’s a palate-jolting, head-clearing wonder of a bowl.
It’s taken me a summer cold and about 15 years to finally develop a taste for asam laksa. Now I’ve a jones to visit Malaysia and try some regional variations of the spicy noodle soup. I blame the above video from SAYS Malaysia and Air Asia. In it a diverse group of Malaysians taste an equally diverse group of laksas and attempt to identify their origins. (more…)
I was a fan of Elmhurst’s Sugar Club since long before its recent relaunch. Back when it was a video store with a prepared food counter it was a source for everything from miang kana to Lays Thai potato chips and still is. These days I enjoy a breakfast plate that I like to call the Thai grand slam along with one of the more decadent takes on sticky rice around. (more…)
“Live from killer Queens” so begins BOOMBAP! Episode 2 of a new Korean cooking showl from Woodside, Queens-based rapper Lyricks. The show takes its name from the 90s rap style with the “Dorito crunch snare” and is also a play on bap, the Korean word for rice.
Lyricks, aka Rick Lee, eschews measurements and teaches cooking in the way I imagine his parents and grandmother taught him. “I’m not trying to disrespect the ones doing it scientifically, the obes that went to school, the ones that this is their life,” he says in Episode 0. ” Much respect, I’m trying to work to your level.”
This approach combined with his MC persona makes for fun and mouthwatering watching. “It’s serious when I bring in the Kumon lamp,” he says before beginning to make braised mackerel stew for his girlfriend.
“Ladies, at my age it doesn’t matter if you’re cute. The question is, ‘Do you mince?’” Lyricks says managing to combine knife skills and relationship advice. The Korean-American rapper says that since he’s almost 30 he made his stew a little less spicy. “If you’re younger than me and your soup doesn’t look redder than this I’m a slap you.” I’m looking forward to a gamjatang tutorial.