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
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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
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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…)

12/16/14 2:00am
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‘Egg pan’ at the newly expanded Sugar Club.

I am not sure whether brunch is eaten in Thailand. I prefer to think it’s not. For the purpose of this dispatch though, I had a lovely two-part brunch in Elmhurst’s ever expanding Thai town. Stop number one was the newly renovated Sugar Club. In addition to seating and room for an entire table laden with prepared foods and desserts, the expansion includes a café area, which serves up desserts and a savory breakfast called egg pan ($5), or kai kra ta in Thai. (more…)

11/12/14 9:38am
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A Peruvian breakfast sandwich in a Rego Park diner.

An old school diner is the last place one would expect to find such Peruvian specialties as papa la Huancaina, sliced potatoes in a cheese sauce spiked with aji amarillo, and cau cau, a tripe stew. In Queens though, such cultural cross pollination is becoming more and more common. Take the Rego Park Café, where a separate menu called La Mistura Peruana went into effect over the summer.

I’ve been meaning to try out the diner’s 12-item “Peruvian mixture” for months. I had my hungry heart set on the chicharron con camote sandwich ($6.95), a typical Peruvian breakfast of pork and sweet potatoes. They were out of it the day I stopped in, so instead I slurped augadito de pollo ($4.50) a verdant chicken and rice soup that gets its color from handfuls of cilantro. (more…)

10/24/14 10:03am
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Steak and eggs steps away from Flushing’s Chinatown.

I’ve passed by it hundreds of times on the bus ride to downtown Flushing from my home base of Rego Park. “Kane’s Flushing Diner,” reads a sign looming over the brick building, which clearly predates the neighborhood’s Chinatown. “We Love Our High Class Customers,” is painted on the pavement.

Yet another sign announces, “WORLD FAMOUS STEAK & 3 EGGS $8.99.”  I’m always quick to proclaim the regional Chinese culinary wonderland of Flushing as America’s best Chinatown. It’s certainly world famous for noodles, dumplings, and Dongbei cuisine, but Flushing’s not exactly known as a destination for old-school diners.

(more…)

10/15/14 2:22pm
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Best logo stamped fast-food breakfast sandwich ever.

“Do you eat fast food?” the physician’s assistant asked me yesterday during my annual checkup. For a moment I wondered whether cumin lamb skewers consumed on Queens street corners qualified and decided they did not fit the fast-food bill.

“About two or three times a year,” I responded. Most of those times are on road trips and the idea of the food—be it a Big Mac, Whopper, or Taco Bell Burrito Supreme—always far exceeds the end product. It’s as if I’m trying to capture some mystical childhood fast food experience. I’m convinced that if Hardee’s, which I recall as having magnificent char-grilled flavor, still existed in New York City I would be a happy man.  Call it chasing the fast food dragon. (more…)

10/07/14 9:47am
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Breakfast of champions at Chez Charles in Harlem.

Nobody ever accused me of writing a blog about health food. Thus the subject of today’s Twofer Tuesday, Charles’ Country Pan  Fried Chicken in Harlem. Now I’m not going to get into the debate about who makes the best Southern fried chicken in New York City, but let’s just say that Mr. Charles Gabriel’s is the best I’ve ever had for breakfast.

When you’ve journeyed all the way up to Chez Charles, it’s best to go for broke. So my buddy and I did, ordering that soul food power duo, fried chicken andf pigs feet.  The crunchy juicy chicken lashed with hot sauce and unctuous pigs feet were just part of our complete breakfast that morning.  And heck, those collards almost  made it a healthy one. Almost.

Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken, 2839 Frederick Douglass Blvd., Harlem, 212-281-1800

09/17/14 10:17am
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Best French breakfast sandwich ever!

Yes, I know it’s a dessert and not a technically a sandwich, but some people would consider a Paris-Brest ($3.50) from Cannelle Patisserie a breakfast sandwich. And, I am one of those people. Named for one of the oldest cycling events, the Paris-Brest-Paris, it’s an exercise in carbo loading and a sure sugar rush.

Two airy discs of choux pastry studded with almonds encase a generous shmear of praline cream. The walk to Cannelle from the 74 St. subway is long enough that you can almost delude yourself into thinking you’ve burned off the sweet, nutty treat on the way there and back.

Cannelle Patisserie, 75-59 31st Ave., East Elmhurst, 718-565-6200

09/08/14 11:46am
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Flan and ube ice cream make it extra special.

My love of Filipino breakfast—garlic fried rice, eggs, a buttery toasted pan de sal, and any of several proteins, including dried milkfish—is no secret to readers of this blog. I am especially fond of getting my log on at Manny’s Bake Shop. That’s because the good ladies at Manny’s serve the most important meal of the day with a slice of cake for dessert. One day it might be purple ube cake and the next it might be an exquisite slice of brazo de Mercedes.

About a month ago I noticed a sign on the door advertising halo halo, the psychedelic Filipino snow cone. I couldn’t possibly have the mixture of shaved ice, young coconut, jackfruit, palm fruit, and ruby and emerald cubes of gelatin for breakfast. Or could I? (more…)