09/15/17 10:00am

Katakat, a favorite of Andrew Zimmern, is just one of many dishes that will be served.

Everybody knows Queens has great Indian food, but what you may not know is that we also have awesome Bangladeshi and Burmese food. These countries all border the Bay of Bengal, thus the inspiration for this month’s Queens Dinner Club feast—Destination: The Bay of Bengal. No need for a boat though, just join us at the swanky Bamboo Lounge at Kaufman Astoria Studios on Wednesday Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for this one-of-a-kind feast are $45 and may be purchased here.

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10/05/15 1:29pm

The meganightmarket/food hall known as Bourdain Night Market that will rise on Chelsea’s Pier 57 development in some two years is being hailed as the most exciting development in the food scene since white people, including myself and Tony B., discovered Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall. Anthony Bourdain and Stephen Werther have tapped some major talent, including hawker food expert KF Seetoh and The Street Vendor Project—the nonprofit behind the Vendy Awards—to curate a dozen stalls. I’m excited to try Singapore’s Geylang Claypot Rice and the uni tostadas from Sabina Bandar of Ensenada, Mexico.
“It will be all transparent and authentic…not sterile, but chaotic in a good way, with hawkers and vendors and places to eat,” Bourdain tells Florence Fabricant in last week’s Times. “Where in this city can you have that?” Where indeed!!?? Why Queens, of course. Without further ado here are seven spots we’d love to see find a home in Bourdain Market.

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1. La Esquina del Camaron Mexico
Pedro Rodriguez is a mixologist of sorts, but instead of mescal or tequila his cocktails contain shrimp and octopus. His Mexican seafood cocktail mise en place includes olive oil, limes, onions, cilantro, avocado, and a tomato-based sauce. Doctored up with a goodly splashe of Valentina hot sauce and served with saltines, a cup of his signature creation brimming with tender octopus and shrimp is a meal in itself. Rodriguez operates out of a sparkling clean kitchen in a bodega on Roosevelt Avenue. Lately he’s branched out to include other delicacies like octopus tostadas. La Esquina Del Camaron Mexicano, 80th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights (347) 885-2946 (more…)

06/17/13 9:57am

Condiments are the spice of life, and every food culture has its own particular favorites.

Many of these—Mexican salsa verde, Indian mango chutney, Korean chili paste (aka, gochujang)—have found a place in American kitchens. But others are still hovering in the wings, awaiting their big mealtime breakthrough.

These (as yet) lesser-known condiments from throughout the world are a few of my favorites.

http://www.simplecomfortfood.com/2011/08/10/ajvar/

Photo: Simple Comfort Food/Dax Phillips.

1. Ajvar (pronounced “EE-vaar”)
This mash of sweet roasted red peppers, earthy roasted eggplant, garlic, and varying amounts of spicy chilies is eaten throughout the Balkan countries. It can be served as a dip, eaten with meats or fish, tossed with pasta, or simply smeared on sandwiches. In Astoria and other New York neighborhoods with large Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian communities, mass-produced ajvars are easy to find in any grocery store—or try making it at home.

Guasacaca. Serious Eats/Joshua Bousel.

Photo: Serious Eats/Joshua Bousel.

2. Guasacaca
There are many different ways to make Venezuela’s creamier, tangier cousin to Mexican guacamole. The simplest version blends avocado with ample onion, garlic, and cilantro, as well as mild chilies, oil, and vinegar. In Venezuela guasacaca is eaten with meats—like a relish. But if you manage to procure some from a Venezuelan restaurant here in New York (my go-to is Arepas Café in Astoria), you can’t go wrong smearing this addictive sauce on pretty much anything. (more…)

04/04/13 4:22pm

About a week ago I had the honor of appearing on Travel Channel’s Street Eats: U.S.A. for a segment on street foods in New York City. For those who didn’t get to see it and for those who crave more curbside cuisine I’ve devoted this week’s edition of The Seven to street food. Here then in no particular order are seven of my current street food faves. Some appeared on the show, and some some didn’t. Have a favorite street food you think I left out? Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.

ELMHURST-CEVICHE1

1. Pedro El Cevichero
I first encountered Pedro’s sidewalk ceviche outside a market in Elmhurst. His Mexican ceviche mise en place includes olive oil, limes, onions, cilantro, and a tomato-based sauce. South of the Border ceviche is called coctele, as in shrimp cocktail. It’s more of a cold seafood soup than the Peruvian version. Pedro makes it right before your very eyes. It’s like watching a seafood mixologist as you listen to the 7 train rumble by overhead. Shrimp cocteles are available in three sizes ($8, $10, $12). The excellent mixto, shrimp and octopus is ($6, $8, $10). Find Pedro at Roosevelt Ave. and 80th St. from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

CHAAT

2. Baul Daada Jaal Muri Shop
This is not so much a shop as a streetside Bangladeshi chaat vendor. As the name implies there’s only one specialty here, jaal muri. Three bucks gets you an order of Baul Daada’s spicy puffed rice. It’s a sensory overload of a snack consisting of puffed rice, kala chana (black chickpeas) chopped tomatoes, cilantro, green chili paste, red onions, crunchy dried soybeans, cilantro, spicy fried noodles, and squirts and shakes from the various and sundry bottles, including some sinus-clearing mustard oil. Find Daada on 73 St. near 37 Ave. from late afternoon to around 10 p.m. weather permitting. (more…)

03/21/13 12:20pm
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Jaal muri, a Bangaldeshi chaat makes for a great late-night snack.

What are you your favorite late-night eateries in Jackson Heights?-Harry H.

It depends what kind of eats you’re craving. If it’s street food the taco vendors right outside the 74 Roosevelt terminal on Roosevelt Avenue are pretty good. Not far from them are two carts specializing in momo, or Tibetan beef dumplings. For a truly unique street food experience hit up Baul Daada Jal Muri shop on 73 St. near 37 Ave. Despite the name it’s not a shop, it’s streetside Bangladeshi chaat operation run by one Baul Daada. Three bucks gets you an order of his specialty, jal muri, or spicy puffed rice. It’s a sensory overload of a snack consisting of puffed rice, kala chana (black chickpeas) chopped tomatoes, cilantro, green chili paste, red onions, crunchy dried soybeans, cilantro, spicy fried noodles, and squirts and shakes from the various and sundry bottles, including some sinus-clearing mustard oil. (more…)

02/01/13 10:06am
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Merit Farms in its more old-school incarnation.

I’ve always wondered what was the story behind Merit Farms. For a long time the Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and Indian restaurant with a Tibetan, Nepali, and Bhutanese counter in the back had a super old school blue and white sign. I could never quite reconcile this 1960s style signage with the food being served inside. The disconnect was on the order of walking into B&H Dairy in the East Village to find dan dan noodles.

A while back the name of this grand Himalayan-South Asian wonderland changed to Merit Kabob and Dumpling Palace. Still I wondered about that name. One day a guest on one of my food tours told me Merit Farms was an old school Queens grocery chain. A Google search reveals that there was an outlet in Forest Hills that sold that classic old school Jewish immigrant snack, the knish. I find it pretty cool that what was once Merit Farms in Jackson Heights stills serves immigrant snacks, albeit Tibetan momos and South Asian kababs.

Merit Farms, 37-67 74th St., Jackson Heights, 718-396-5827