The newly opened Yun Café, situated beneath Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights, Queens, serves excellent Burmese fare, including tea leaf salad (left), something of a culinary ambassador, and a less commonly known seafood salad.
They don’t call the open space above the Jackson Heights subway station Diversity Plaza for nothing folks. Upstairs there’s plenty of Tibetan, Indian, and Bangladeshi food to be had, in addition to the S & R Travel Agency, which predates the plaza itself, where one can book a passage to India. For a real gastronomic journey though, head down the subway stairs to Burma. Yes, Burma! Just past the Tibetan handicraft shop, the barbers and across from Jinme & Phuntsok of NYC, which sells lucky bamboo and candy, sits the newly opened Yun Café, surely New York City’s only Burmese restaurant located in a subway station. (more…)
As the No. 1 food fan in Queens, I was very pleased to learn tennis fans have some Queens-based dining options at this year’s U.S. Open. My favorite Vietnamese sandwich shop, Elmhurst’s JoJu is slinging classic bánh mì as well a bánh mì inspired hot dog and Helen You of Dumpling Galaxy is serving up her signature lamb with green squash dumplings and other goodies. It’s nice to see China and Vietnam represented, but Queens offers food from all over the world so here’s a globetrotting list of 7 of our favorite places from an Argentine steakouse and the borough’s only Burmese to one-of-a-kind only in Queens street foods like Peruvian doughnuts and amazing Tijuana style tacos.
1. Tijuana style Birria tacos at Beefrr-landia
Dozens of taco trucks and carts line Roosevelt Avenue as the 7 train rumbles overhead transporting tennis fans to the Open, but there’s only serving Tijuana style tacos: Beefrr-landia. The truck’s signature beef birria taco is filled with a ruddy beef stew scented with cumin, cinnamon, paprika, bay leaves, cloves, and a good dose of chilies. For a real treat get a side of consomme—a heady scarlet soup featuring more beef—and dip your taco into it. Beefrr-landia, 77-99 Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights, 347-283-2162
2. Burmese at Asian Bowl
Despite its generic name and a menu that features such American Chinese standbys as General Tso’s chicken this spot run by Kyaw Lin “John” Htin and his wife, Aye Thida, has the distinction of being the only Burmese restaurant in the World’s Borough. Among the list of 13 thoke find the famous latphat thoke, or tea leaf salad, as well as the lesser known gin thoke. The latter is a tangle of shredded cabbage, ginger, and tomato shot through with briny dried shrimp and crunchy broad beans resulting an explosion of texture and flavor. It’s great paired with the crispy beef, which has been fried with onions and chilies until it shatters. Asian Bowl, 101-11 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills, 718-275-1888
3. Chinese Breakfast at Joe’s Steam Rice Roll
This breakfast specialist whose Chinese name translates to Stone Milled Rice Roll King, is located just one subway stop away from Arthur Ashe Stadium. It’s a well-deserved moniker, owner Joe Rong and his crew make the lightest rice rolls around thanks to the fact that the grind their rice in a stone mills to create fresh batter daily. Fillings include shrimp, pork, beef and an assortment of veggies. The crown jewel at the King Joe’s though is the shrimp and egg topped with curry fish balls, soy sauce and peanut sauce. It’s even better with the complex homemade chili oil. Best of all Joe’s is open all day not just for breakfast. Joe’s Steam Rice Roll, 136-21 Roosevelt Ave., #A1, Flushing
Mohinga as served by the newly revamped Asian Bowl, the sole Burmese restaurant in Queens.
I suspect I’m not alone as a food writer in having guilty pleasures I never write about. One of my favorites is the Singapore mei fun from Asian Bowl, a takeout pan-Asian spot next to an Uzbek kebab parlor, around the corner from my house. I’m well aware that there is little or nothing Singaporean about the tangle of yellow noodles, shrimp, pork, and egg, but that doesn’t stop me from eating it at least once a week.
The other night I stopped in to get my mei fun on. The place seemed different, for one thing the lights were turned up high and there were new tables. “Are you open I asked?” of a guy who I’d never seen working the counter. “Yes, but we’re under new management,” he said after taking my order. “We are going to start serving Burmese food and sushi too.”
“If you make mohinga I’ll come every day,” I responded. “How do you know mohinga,” he said quickly grabbed my hand and kissing it in a fit of pure joy because I namechecked the fish noodle soup from his homeland. (more…)
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, justjoin 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.
“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.
PLEASE NOTE THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED
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
PLEASE NOTE THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED
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…)
Crazy Crab, a stealth Burmese restaurant masquerading as a Cajun crab boil/pan-Asian eatery might just be one of my favorite places in downtown Flushing. The crab boils themselves—get the off menu green curry sauce—make for some fun, messy eating. But it’s the Burmese specialties like tea leaf salad, ohn-no kout swei, and Yunnanese yellow tofu that get me really excited and really hungry. So when Gina Liu asked me to stop by for a taping of Eyewitness News New York’s Neighborhood Eats with Lauren Glassberg I immediately said yes. (more…)
I count myself a huge fan of the Indonesian Food Bazaars held every summer at Masjid al Hikmah in Astoria. So I was even more excited when I received an e-mail about an Indonesian Food Bazaar being held this Saturday in Forest Hills. I was unable to make last year’s event, but I’ll be there with bells on this year.
It all goes down from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the auditorium of the First Presbyterian Church of Forest Hills, 70-35 112th St., with proceeds to benefit Ranah Orphanage in Lampung, Indonesia.
I’m especially eager to try nasi goreng babat, beef tripe fried rice and tekwan, minced fishball soup from Palembang. The organizers also have other surpises in store including such exotic ingredients as torch ginger flower, keluwak nut, sator bean, and blue pea flower. There will also be Burmese food. Looks like I’ll have to bring my spare stomach to this one folks.
The flavors are so bright I can forgive the Western style greens.
PLEASE NOTE THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED
Burmese and Yunnanese food are a rarity in New York City, even in the wonderland of ethnic cuisine called Queens. The best places to enjoy Burmese cooking—a complex sometimes fiery cuisine that combines elements of Indian and Thai—is at the handful of charity food festivals held in late spring throughout Queens. It was at one of these that I found out Crazy Crab 888, a sort of stealth Burmese restaurant was opening in Flushing. It’s so named because the owners have billed it as a seafood and beer joint with all manner of maritime offerings: shrimp, clams, black mussels, blue crabs, king crab, and lobster to name just a few. This is probably a smart business move on their part, though I find it disappointing. The seafood’s on the back of the trifold paper menu, but the heart is given over to Burmese, Thai, and Yunnanese specialties. These include the Yunnan sliced pork special salad ($16.99), which I tried on a recent visit. (more…)
Young and old mingle over noodles at the Thingyan celebration.
It’s Southeast Asian Lunar New Year season in Queens kids. It seems like it was just Songkran, or Thai New Year. Yesterday it was Myanmar’s turn, so my buddy Jonathan and I attended the Thingyan festival in the cafeteria of a public school in Woodside. We stocked up on $1 food tickets; most items were between $4 and $7. Even in the most diverse borough in the universe Burmese food is a rarity, so you can be sure that we ate our fill. The festival was sponsored by Dhamman Ranti Vihara, a local Burmese Buddhist temple.
A potage of curried chicken and torn roti with spicy slaw.
Kyat thar palatar was a great way to kick off a day of eating. Think of the bowl of torn roti and chicken curry as Burmese chicken and dumplings. The bits of bread soaked up the curry quite nicely, while a slaw of cucumber, cabbage, mint, and green chili lent some brightness to the bowl. (more…)