12/30/16 11:41pm

With 2016 coming to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was. It was a big year for me and for food in Queens, including a feature in Asahi Shimbun and the discovery of the durian pizza. In no particular order here are 16 of the best things I ate last year.

MRCRISPY

1. Best Grilled Cheese
Mr. Crispy, a grilled cheese sandwich served at Astoria Bier & Cheese answers the question, “How good can a grilled cheese be?” with a resounding “very, very good.”  The sandwich of cave aged gruyere, ham and honey mustard is coated in  mantle of white crispy cheese. This coating extends outward into a golden lacy corolla, a veritable halo of crispy cheese. It’s crunchy, sharp, and eminently craveable. I’ve haven’t been this excited about fried cheese since Joe Bastianich’s ill-fated Frico Bar. Astoria Bier & Cheese, 34-14 Broadway, Astoria, 718-545-5588

 

whitspie

2.  Most Fabulous F***in’ Clam Pizza
The salciccia e vongole pizza at Whit’s End is the best clam pie I’ve had outside of Zuppardi’s. Housemade sausage seasoned with clove, star, anise, juniper, and allspice join the Littleneck clams along with pepperoncini and shaved garlic. The combination of the fior di latte mozzarella and  Parmigianno Regianno round things out quite nicely. Whit’s End, Riis Park Beach Bazaar

 

HakkaHotChicken

3. Hottest Off-menu Indian-Chinese Chicken
Nashville may have cayenne-infused hot chicken, but here in Queens we have something I like to call hakka hot chicken. Peter Lo, Queens’ godfather of Indian-Chinese cuisine and founder of Tangra Masala, whipped up a batch for me a while back. The hacked up bits of fried bird sauced in a glaze that marries the flavors of chili, soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic call to mind Dominican style chicharron de pollo with an Indian-Chinese twist. Tangra Masala, 87-09 Grand Ave., Elmhurst, 718-803-2298

 

4. Best Breakfast Sandwich
I count myself a big fan of the classic bacon egg and cheese, but my favorite breakfast sandwich of 2017 contains no swine whatsoever. The breakfast sandwich at Roast n Co combines organic eggs, tomato jam, and Cabot white cheddar on a brioche make for one of the best egg sandwiches ever. Since Roast n co is run by Tunisians you have the option of asking for a sidecar of harissa, a lovely concoction of chili peppers, olive oil, and paprika. It’s an option you should exercise. Roast n Co, 100-12 Queens Blvd. Forest Hills, 718-263-6000

The action at Majang Dong takes place out back.

5. Most Secret Korean BBQ Garden
Korean barbecue always brings to mind happy memories of backyard barbecues. At Flushing’s Majang Dong the Korean BBQ that takes place in an actual backyard. Chef Yu and his family run what some might call a Korean BBQ speakeasy. Sure there’s a storefront and inside you’ll find a restaurant, but the real action takes place out back in the shack and garden. Say you’re there for BBQ,  and Mrs. Yu will walk you out the back door into a Korean BBQ wonderland. Pork kalbi and pork belly are both lovely, and there’s eel and octopus for seafood lovers, but one of the best meats is grilled pork intestines. With a crunchy exterior and chewy interior, the fatty rings eat like an offal lover’s version of pork cracklins. Majang Dong, 41-71 Bowne St., Flushing, 718-460-2629 (more…)

11/08/16 12:32am
tresgolpes

Strike out hunger with this Dominican breakfast.

“Oh you have to try the mangú,” my good friend Jane said of the Dominican breakfast staple made from mashed plantains. “It’s so good.” I half expected something with a viscous fufu-like texture, so I didn’t share her enthusiasm. I am happy to report that mangú is not only pleasant in texture, it’s tasty too.

At Mangu Grill, a Dominican steam table spot in College Point, the yellowish mash is the centerpiece of a classic Dominican breakfast combo known as los tres golpes, or the “three strikes.” The triple play includes fried salami, two braids of salty fried cheese, and two eggs, and is sure to vanquish your hunger. I shall henceforth think of it as the Dominican breakfast of champions.

Mangu Grill, 153 College Point Blvd., College Point,  718-321-9982

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…)

06/08/16 10:11am
brothersegg

How green was my breakfast.

Back when I was a third-tier line cook in a pub, we used to keep pea shoots in house. They were great in salads and even better to munch on in the walk-in whilst shirking my duties. I would never have thought to put the peppery shoots on a breakfast sandwich. That’s exactly what Brothers, a new concession at Rockaway Beach, has done though.

It’s tempting to think of Brothers $8 breakfast sandwich as a merely an Egg McMuffin gone green, but it’s really a locals only breakfast sandwich. Those pea shoots come from a garden on Beach 97 Street, and the spelt flour blend muffin is made by local baker Diwa.

(more…)

04/20/16 5:35pm
C+M's new favorite breakfast sandwich.

Tomato jam and white cheddar make for a tasty breakfast sandwich.

The classic New York City bacon egg and cheese sandwich looms large in Gotham’s culinary consciousness, so much so that Times critic Pete Wells penned an ode to it around this time last year. In Forest Hills I purchase my breakfast sandwiches from a taciturn Central Asian gent who runs the coffee cart down the street from my apartment. That is to say I did, until Roast n Co opened its doors a few days ago. The new cafe/rotisserie chicken spot serves up what is fast becoming my favorite breakfast sandwich in the hood. (more…)

02/02/16 10:01am
INASAL

Sisilog is an offal lover’s dream breakfast.                                                         Photo: Sherri Tiesi

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as good breakfast, whether kari laksa or straight up all-American eggs and bacon. Filipino breakfast though, with its catalogue of silogs takes the morning meal game to a whole new level. Silog is a portmanteau of sinagang (fried rice) and itlog (egg). Thus longsilog is sweet pork longanisa sausage and eggs and dasilog, stars dried mikfish. The latter was my favorite until I discovered sisilog, which takes the porky offal extravaganza that is sizzling sisig and turns it into breakfast.

“Breakfast Served All Day!” exclaims the menu at Woodside’s House of Inasal. Scanning the list I immediately knew I was going to order the sisilog ($15.95). After all, why settle for pork sausage and eggs when you can have a fry-up of pork belly, liver, onions, and green chilies?  (more…)

11/18/15 10:15am
REV-WH

A gutbusting Waffle House sandwich born of a hunger for IG likes.

I spend more time than most—and less than some—thinking about sandwiches and Instgram. The same can be said for my pal Rev Ciancio who was kind enough to pen this guest column inspired by that most American of establishments, The Waffle House.

The lunches at my grade school … sucked, for lack of a better word. They sucked. Our hot pizza was merely a no-name version of a square piece of Ellio’s. The meatloaf was a dense piece of hardened automobile sponge covered in a warm “gravy” that had the consistency of Slimer’s ectoplasm from Ghostbusters. Even the French Fries were terrible. They were toasted styrofoam covered in the same salt they use to clear snow covered roads in states that end in “ota.”

If you wanted a decent lunch you either had to sneak out—which wasn’t an option until you or a friend turned 16 and was blessed with a Chevy Nova that could squeeze in a six-pack of high-schoolers — or you had to bring your own. The latter was a pretty good option. Maybe you had PB&J on white bread. If you were really lucky, you got salami and mozzarella with yellow mustard on split-top wheat. (Those were great days.) Your sandwich usually came with a hand-packed Ziploc bag of Doritos, Chex Mix or some generic potato chips, and a piece fruit or carrot sticks. If your Mom/Dad/Caregiver really liked you, you were blessed with the social currency of cookies. (more…)

06/10/15 9:04am

It’s been said that the breakfast sandwich is a New York City invention. My favorite is the classic bacon egg and cheese recently extolled by Pete Wells in the Times. Alvin Cailan the chef behind Eggslut in L.A. takes a nontraditional approach for his ultimate breakfast sandwich.

“I always have Hawaiian sweet rolls, it’s like a law if you’re Filipino,” the chef says as he prepares to make his sandwich. Another Filipino favorite that makes its way into Cailan’s sandwich is Spam. “If you eat Cheetos and all that shit you might as well eat Spam too,” Cailan says. Sriracha mayo also figures in his creation.

At one point in the video Cailan whips out a gold switchblade to cut the rolls in half. I’m pretty sure you can make his sandwich with any old knife though. So what’s your favorite breakfast sandwich?

03/09/15 9:22am
sugarclubtoast

Kanom pang ping’s just the thing.

My pal Joel has forgotten more about Thai food and culture than I may ever know. A week ago he took a break from the wintry land of Boston to spend a day with me and some other Thai food nerds in Elmhurst eating at as many Thai spots as possible. We hit half a dozen Thai Town favorites, including Plant Love House and Paet Rio.

Joel and I started out bright and early at Sugar Club, where he was keen to breakfast on “toast soldiers” and kha-fai ron, strong coffee with sweetened condensed milk. The owner presented us with two orders of kai kra ta, the Thai equivalent of a Denny’s grand slam, two sunny side up eggs, sweet pork sausage, chopped pork loaf, and ground pork. It came with toast. And for dessert more toast, with sweetened condensed milk and pandan for dessert. All the toast we had that morning was excellent, but none of it was the aforementioned toast soldiers. (more…)

01/28/15 10:06am
SWEETLEAFBRUNCH1A

Sweetleaf’s breakfast sandwich.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, brunch not so much, unless you count M. Wells Dinette or dim sum. Long before I read Anthony Bourdain’s takedown of the portmanteau meal in Kitchen Confidential, I was a brunch hater. A good breakfast sandwich—the classic New York City coffee cart bacon, egg, and cheese—however, is something I get can get behind. Heck I’ve even been known to enjoy a McGriddle. Which is why, despite my aversion to the meal, I’m glad Sweetleaf launched brunch this past weekend at its Long Island City waterfront location. The coffee and cocktail bar’s short menu features one of the best egg sandwiches I’ve had in a long time. (more…)