11/27/16 2:03pm
phayul-friedmomo

Fried beef momo, just one of many delicacies that will be offered.

With winter just around the corner, my pals and I from Queens Dinner Club have chosen a most seasonally appropriate cuisine: the hearty, spicy flavors of Tibet. And there’s no better place to enjoy them Chef Chime Tendha’s Phayul. In fact I personally love Phayul—which means fatherland in Tibetan—so much that I made sure they appeared on Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern. To score a ticket for this tasty trek please click here. (more…)

11/10/16 3:30pm

cheesecake I have a culinary confession. As a kid I was obsessed with Red Lobster. Grownup me—the adventurous eater and Andrew Zimmern acolyte—avoids fast casual chains, although the local Applebee’s where we’d smuggle in tacos and Difaras pizza—was once my watering hole. There’s one chain I’ve been curious about for some time though, The Cheesecake Factory. Chalk it up to scarcity—not love of cheesecake. So when the first Factory opened in New York City  earlier this month at Elmhurst’s Queens Center I had to check it out. Spurred on by a media frenzy started by Eater, our threesome—consisting of myself and Queens finest barbecue Pitmasters Big Lou Elrose and Robbie Richter—visited during restaurant’s opening week. “Joey, if we can’t get in we’ll go to Shake Shack,” Robbie said. I nodded, thinking to myself, “No, you’ll go to Shake Shack, I’m going to the Factory hell or high water.” (more…)

06/16/16 12:38pm
Goat sekuwa eats like a meat lover's chaat

Goat sekuwa eats like a meat lover’s chaat

Kamala Gauchan is the godmother of Himalayan cuisine in Jackson Heights. The garrulous Gauchan is the driving force behind many of the neighborhood’s Tibetan and Nepalese eateries, including Himalayan Yak, Laliguras, and Dhaulaghiri Kitchen. For about three years she held court at the latter, a shoebox of a restaurant that shared a space with a roti factory. In a setup smaller than some Manhattan studio apartments she wowed expats and food geeks alike with cooking that managed to rustic and vibrant, featuring earthy goat jerky, vibrant pickles, and of course, momos.

About a month ago she decamped to Manhattan’s Curry Hill, across the street from Kalustyan’s and just down the road from Chef Hemant Mathur’s Haldi. Yesterday I finally made the trek to Manhattan to say hello to the woman I like to consider my adopted Nepalese mother. (more…)

08/07/15 11:52am
Keizo Shimamoto's Ramen Shack, one of my Smorgasburg Queens favorites.

Keizo Shimamoto’s Ramen Shack, one of my Smorgasburg Queens favorites.

Curating Smorgasburg Queens with its melting pot of international vendors ranging from The Arepa Lady and Celebes Bakar Indonesian Grill to luxe offerings like the lobster rolls from Brine by Danny Brown has been a real hoot. What’s even more fun for me though is eating there.

One Saturday I went full on Andrew Zimmern: balut from Papa’s Kitchen for starters, papaya salad with black crab from Qi, Snowy Durian from my friends at KULU Desserts. While I’m partial to the hallacas—sweet and savory Ecuadorean tamales—from Son Foods, my favorite eating experience at Smorgasburg Queens has to be Keizo Shimamoto’s Ramen Shack.

To step behind the curtain and take a seat at Keizo’s counter is to enter another world, somewhat more serene than the rest of the market, but no less delicious. Both of the hot soups I have tried have been most excellent, but my top pick might be the seafood broth based cold noodles. So, tell me, what’s your favorite thing to eat at Smorgasburg Queens?

Smorgasburg Queens, 43-29 Crescent St., Long Island City

08/06/15 4:23pm

“Wow, you like hot oil,” more than one waiter at the Chinese joint in Levittown would say to my father when he requested a small dish of the stuff. “Hot oil make you live a long time.” Earlier this week Time published an article citing a link between eating fiery food and longevity, based on a study of about 500,000 Chinese.

Lu Qi, the author of the study writes “It appears that increasing your intake moderately, just to 1-2 or 3-5 times a week, shows very similar protective effect,” he says. “Just increase moderately. That’s maybe enough.” Based on that statement I might just live forever. With further ado, please enjoy this list of C+M’s favorite spicy foods in Queens.

PLANTLOVESUMMER

1. Kuai tiao Summer, Plant Love House
I may no longer order my food Thai spicy. , but the bowl of Kuai tiao that goes by the name Summer ($12.95) at Plant Love House, remains the most incendiary Thai noodle soup I have ever slurped. “Summer. The heat is real. Dare you to try,” reads a menu insert with a picture of this blazingly hot take on tom yum. A gigantic prawn lolls in the red broth along with a hard-boiled egg, bacon, and a home-made sweet pork patty. The latter is a good counterpoint to the spicy broth which has an undertone of lime, chili, and garlic. There’s a nice smokiness from the bacon, but above all there’s the unmistakable flamethrower heat that comes from plenty of red chilies. Plant Love House, 86-08 Whitney Ave., Elmhurst, 718-565-2010

Ramen noodles get the chaat treatment.

2. Sandheko wai wai, Dhaulaghiri Kitchen
Whenever I try to characterize Nepali food, I find myself saying, “It’s like Indian food but spicier and different.” Sandheko Wai Wai ($3.50), a Nepalese chaat made from crushed ramen noodles fits both descriptors. The noodles are mixed with onions, raw garlic, tomatoes, red pepper, and plenty of green chilies, among other things. Crunchy and spicy it will have you mopping your brow. Dhaulagiri Kitchen, 37-38 72nd St., Jackson Heights (more…)

03/30/15 11:07am
MACTEA

For when that Tibetan po cha craving hits.

I love having guests on my food tours try po cha—the salty Tibetan butter tea—served throughout Himalayan (aka Jackson) Heights. I like the stuff particularly on a cold winter—or spring—day. Not everyone’s a fan, though. Andrew Zimmern hated butter tea when I introduced him to it. (more…)

02/23/15 11:32am
BLOODPUDDING

Ornella’s sanguinaccio is bloody marvelous.

When it comes to offal I’m one of the least squeamish people around, gladly gobbling everything from Southern fried chitterlings to Chinese lamb face salad. Friends often call me the Andrew Zimmern of Queens. That’s high praise, but there are some things even I can’t abide, like the coppery tasting blocks of blood often found in Chinese soups. A can get behind a savory morcilla enriched with rice and spice and I like a good British black pudding. And then there’s sanguinaccio. (more…)

11/26/14 1:03pm
Joe_Rosanna2

Rosanna Scotto and I about descend into the Golden Shopping Mall Food court.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year, first and foremost the gifts of home, health and family. Heck I even got to partake of a turducken. Certainly I am grateful for continuing to eat my way through the most delicious and diverse destination on the entire planet. And the opportunity to turn others on to the wonders of Queens via food tours.

A few weeks ago Rosanna Scotto’s people looked me up and asked if I’d take her on a tour for “Wining and Dining With Rosanna.” So I did, it’s not every day that I get to share air time with folks like Bobby Flay. We hit Flushing and Jackson Heights hard from lamb spine to tawa katakat.  You can watch the episode here. Scotto’s no Andrew Zimmern  when it comes to adventurousness, but then again who is? Hoping you have a delicious Thanksgiving.

P.S. if you’re looking for something to do on Black Friday, I highly recommend the black goat feast at Bang Ga Ne. As for me I’ll be leading a tour of America’s best Chinatown.

09/24/14 9:48am
Veal-Tongue-Slider2

Move over White Castle, veal tongue sliders are where it’s at!

Veal tongue, whether stir fried in spicy Tibetan chele katsa or sliced paper thin as a deli sandwich is a wonderful thing. Creamy rich tongue and heart are probably my two favorite types of beef offal. So when Andrew Zimmern, a man who has forgotten more than I shall ever hope to know about entrails posted a recipe for veal tongue sliders on his web site I had to check it out. (more…)

11/25/13 10:21am
PHAYULSOUP

This Tibetan soup smells like stinky French cheese.

“Have you had it before?” the waitress at Phayul asked when I ordered the tsak sha chu rul ($3.99), or “beef and Tibet cheese soup.”  The note of concern in her voice was in no small part due to this dish’s rather pungent bouquet. I nodded my assent and waited for the bowl of what smells not unlike a Tibetan tallegio to arrive. (more…)