Now that King Frost has officially made his presence known with the arrival of winter storm Jonas, it is officially soup season. Sure I’ve had plenty of bowls over the course of the past two months. But now it’s on, time to bring in the big guns. So here are seven of my favorites spanning a variety of styles—from sweet medicinal Chinese concoctions to savory noodle soups and spicy sinus clearers—and regions, including Southeast Asia and Latin America. Best of all you can find all of them without leaving the world’s borough, Queens.
1. Pozole rojo, Taqueria Coatzingo
This Jackson Heights cantina is known for its tacos, but the specials are the real stars. That’s where I discovered pozole rojo, the spicier cousin of the Mexican pork and hominy soup. As the name implies, the broth is red—very, very red—thanks to loads of chilies. Pozole rojo employs chicken rather than pork as a base. Served with the standard pozole fixings of diced onion, cilantro, and lime as well as shakers of oregano and red pepper, I like it think of it as Mexican penicillin. Add a few squeezes of lime along with a handful of onion and the other seasonings for one of the most head-clearing soups to be found on Roosevelt Avenue. Sour, spicy, and packed with fresh herbs, hominy, and chicken it’s sure to cure what ails you. Best of all it’s always on the specials menu! Taqueria Coatzingo, 76-05 Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights, 718-424-1977(more…)
C-momo come with onions and peppers, just like Tex-Mex fajitas.
I’ve often thought of the sizzle platter—a cast iron oval set in a wooden block—as a gimmick. Designed to make diners ooh and aah with its sputtering and hissing, it’s akin to fried ice cream or the show put on by a teppanyaki grill man. I can count the number of times I’ve ordered sizzling fajitas, precisely once. But when I heard of the sizzling C-momo at Spicy Tibet I couldn’t resist. Whether fried or chive-filled I have a weakness for the dumplings that are the hamburgers of the Himalayas. (more…)
My pal Rob MacKay of It’s in Queens has been raving for years about a restaurant in Richmond Hill called the Nest. It’s a Carribean-Chinese spot that’s a little further afield from Liberty Avenue’s roti shops and doubles parlors. Not only is Queens fortunate to have plenty of real deal regional Chinese we boast several hybrid varieties: Indian-Chinese, Peruvian-Chinese, and Carribean-Chinese. I’m least familiar with the last of these, and truth be told my West Indian food game is leagues behind my regional Chinese repertoire. With its deep menu of Carribean-Chinese items, including more than a dozen kinds of fried rice and plenty of West Indian fare, the Nest is a great place to learn about both. Which is exactly what I did over the course of a leisurely meal with Rob last Friday. (more…)
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.
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…)
“Mooncakes!!??, a Chinese friend said to me over breakfast recently. “Nobody likes them, they’re like fruitcake for Asians.” The dense cakes stamped with Chinese characters are traditionally eaten (sometimes begrudgingly) and gifted—much like fruitcake—for the Moon Festival, which falls on Sunday, September 27 this year. All sorts of mooncakes, including novelty ones for pandas and those made from Taiwanese hornet hives are prepared for the fall harvest festival, which is held on the night of the full moon between early September and early October. (more…)
Crunchy, spicy, and salty baby squid from Shanghai 33.
As an Italian-American, I cut my teeth on fried calamari. Whether made at home by my old man or at the Long Island outpost of Vincent’s Clam Bar, it was almost always eaten with a marinara sauce spiked with copious amounts of red pepper. The other day I tried a Chinese twist on fried squid at Shanghai 33 that was simply amazing. (more…)
Truly good Chinese sandwiches are few in and far between in Queens. While the yang rou jiao mou—a spicy cumin lamb sandwich from Xi’an Foods—remains a long-time favorite, the house special pork chop from The Crispy Pancake is my current Chinese sandwich crush. A deep fried pork cutlet topped with lettuce and crowned with a runny fried egg is stacked between two shatteringly crisp pancakes, forming one of the craziest, most delicious Chinese sandwiches in downtown Flushing. (more…)
Peng Shun’s Mongolian roast lamb ribs are astounding.
“Wow I think you renewed my faith in this dish,” a dining companion said the other day. He was talking about Muslim lamb chop a delicacy that rose to ascendancy on cumin-scented wave of glory at Fu Ran neé Fu Run about five years ago. Sadly Fu Ran’s version ain’t what it used to be. On my last few visits it was precooked, rendering what should be gloriously juicy, fatty lamb flesh rather dry and tight.
Muslim lamb chop also called lamb in Xinjiang style is a specialty of Flushing’s Dongbei restaraunts. The version that rocked our world’s can’t be had at a restaurant though. It’s served in a much more humble setting, New York Food Court.(more…)
There are so many dumplings in the bustling and delicious Chinatown of downtown Flushing that keeping track of them all would be a lifelong task. A task for which I am ill-equipped. Perhaps that xiao long bao obsessive guy whose exhaustive soup dumpling survey is making its way around the interwebs will come to Queens one day, calipers and scale in hand. Until he does I will muddle along as best as I can. That being said, let’s talk about two of my favorite new dumplings. (more…)
“This one wants to try something really weird,” the parent of a young man on my most recent Flushing Chinatown food tour said. We had already tried fu qi fei pian, the Sichuan mélange of offal that combines tripe, tendon, and beef shin, so I knew the kid was a tough customer. He seemed satisfied by the plate of crunchy Chengdu style pig ears we shared at Golden Mall. (more…)