11/06/17 5:57pm

Yum woon sen, aka magic noodles.

It takes a lot to get me to eat Thai food outside of Elmhurst, after all Queens’ second smaller Chinatown is the best place in New York City for Southeast Asian fare. And takes even more for me to trek to Brooklyn for Thai food, but I’d been curious about Chef Hong Thaimee’s new spot in Williamsburg, Thaimee at McCarren since it opened back in September. So when my pal Matt Bruck invited me in for a tasting I hurried over there.

Four subways later I found myself chatting with Chef Hong and staring down a plate of yum woon sen, or magic noodle salad. Chef Hong says the magic comes from the fact the vermicelli—dyed an eerie shade of blue thanks to butterfly pea flower—changes to purple when lime juice is mixed in tableside. I disagree. The magic is in the brightly balanced flavors: palm sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, chili, and garlic. (more…)

09/27/17 11:22am

Little Egypt’s kebab sandwich is packed with toothsome lamb.

Often when I eat lamb it’s in the context of Chinese food, whether it’s a glorious spice-encrusted Muslim lamb chop or an entire spit-roasted haunch. So I was pleased to see a good old-fashioned kebab sandwich ($6.99) on the menu at Little Egypt, a cafe/grocery in Ridgewood hard by the border of Brooklyn and Queens.

The lamb sandwich comes wrapped tight in the paper thin variety of Middle Eastern pita, itself rolled in paper and then foil, perhaps all the better to be eaten on the go.  But why not soak up the atmosphere of this diminutive spot decorated with all manner of Egyptian ephemera? (more…)

01/20/16 10:41am

Just as New York City delis have their Italian combo sandwiches–some as big as your forearm like the Bomb at Sal, Kris, and Charlie’s and some garlicky, like the Uncle Joe at Sorriso’s—New Orleans has its muffuletta. Now the Big Easy favorite has come to Sunset Park, Brooklyn, thanks to John Ratliff, of Ends Meat NYC. Ratliff’s muffuletta is lighter and greener, but no less delicious than any I’ve had in New Orleans.

The sandwich begins with the namesake Sicilian muffuletta roll from Generoso’s, a fourth-generation Italian bakery. Ratliff always uses his housemade mortadella and rotates out the other meat. On the day I visited it was cacciatorini, a black peppercorn salami. (more…)

08/05/15 10:17am
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The star of Lucy’s pho banh mi is 16-hour smoked brisket.

I’m as big a fan of banh mi as they come so this latest dispatch from Brooklyn correspondent Kristen Baughman makes me hungry. And I’m a big BBQ brisket fan too. So now I’m doubly hungry!

Let’s face it, moving sucks! 200 bucks in fees and numerous, sharp hunger pains later, I was all moved in to my new Bushwick apartment off the Myrtle-Wycoff stop. Luckily, I discovered a pho banh mi sandwich to appease my aching belly and wallet.

One of my favorite things about Bushwick is walking around the neighborhood, eating at the plethora of taquerias and exploring the 99 cent stores. But this particular day after moving boxes, I just wasn’t in the mood for a carnitas taco, I wanted something filling and delicious. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m obsessed with tacos!) (more…)

06/24/15 11:20am
At first glance it looks like a chicken burger on steroids.

At first glance it looks like a chicken burger on steroids.

As the self-proclaimed culinary king of Queens I’ve made something of a cottage industry of hating on Brooklyn, particularly the legions of kombucha-swilling beard-sporting gastrohipsters. The notable exceptions to my Kings County antipathy are old-school spots like Bamonte’s and its slightly more new-fangled neighbor, The Meat Hook. It’s taken me a good six months to visit the butcher shop’s nearby sandwich satellite. Yesterday Chef Dave and I stopped by after braving what seemed like hours of traffic. (more…)

04/01/15 10:05am
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Brisket with Swiss and gravy and pastrami at David’s.

I’ve been hearing about David’s House of Brisket for ages. The Crown Heights institution is unusual in several respects. Not only is it a Jewish deli in a neighborhood better known for jerk chicken and doubles, it has the distinction of being the only Jewish deli run by Yemeni Muslims. So when my pal Noah asked me to have lunch there with him I said yes.

“You’ve got to get the brisket with cheese and gravy,” Noah said, reminding me that even though it serves Jewish comfort food, David’s is decidedly not kosher. (more…)

03/19/15 12:02am
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Brisket hungry hordes mobbed the Irondale Center.

“Wow, kids these days really love their meat,” I quipped to a gal on line at Monday night’s Brisket King NYC. The jam packed brisket competition was held at the sprawling Irondale Center, a gigantic space that was once a Sunday school auditorium. It was a fitting setting for faithful foodies to come out and worship brisket in all its incarnations, from straight-up traditional like American BBQ and deli to the downright strange, like bulogi and nigiri . (more…)

02/03/15 11:59am
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Dip Dip, perhaps Flushing’s coolest looking hot pot spot.

This brutal winter has me craving Chinese hotpot. Do you have a favorite place? — Jane S., College Point
I’m not the biggest fan of huo gou, or fire pot as it’s known in Chinese, but I had a great experience at Dip Dip (135-21A 37th Ave, Flushing, 718-888-0711)  recently. Apart from excellent hotpot—with such add-ins as baby ginseng and well-marbled ribbons of beef and lamb—the place looks like a movie set. I half expected Lucy Liu and her henchman to come leaping out of the upper room. This weather makes me want to go back and try the medicinal black chicken pot. (more…)

12/15/14 10:12am
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Nothing quite says Carolina ‘cue like spinach pie.

Much like Tyson Ho, pitmaster and proprietor of Arrogant Swine, New York City’s only Eastern North Carolina BBQ joint I am a fan of the spanakopita, or spinach pie. Or at least I am a fan of the idea of it—shattering layers of phyllo filled with a flavorful mixture of spinach and cheese—which is never attained. The ones I have are usually soggy or stale. Not so for Ho’s spinach pie ($6), which is crunchy and crispy thanks to being cooked in a waffle iron. (more…)

12/09/14 1:49pm
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Kulu’s sawdust pudding is way better than it sounds.

There are more than a few a misconceptions about Chinese desserts floating around. There’s the completely wrong-headed notion that Chinese civilization was exposed to sugar later than its Western counterpart and therefore its desserts are simply not as good. Another perhaps less foolish notion, of which I am personally guilty, is that all Chinese desserts are either heavy and buttery like egg tarts and jindui, the fried Chinese “doughnut” filled with red bean paste.

As I’ve learned from experience with the wonderful dou hua or flower tofu from Soybean Chen, these Western misconceptions are just that. Last week Jayson Chong, owner and creator of Kulu Desserts, helped me to further dispel these lao wai misconceptions by introducing me to his more modern, lighter take on Chinese sweets. (more…)