12/09/14 1:49pm
KULU2

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…)

11/26/14 1:03pm
Joe_Rosanna2

Rosanna Scotto and I about descend into the Golden Shopping Mall Food court.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year, first and foremost the gifts of home, health and family. Heck I even got to partake of a turducken. Certainly I am grateful for continuing to eat my way through the most delicious and diverse destination on the entire planet. And the opportunity to turn others on to the wonders of Queens via food tours.

A few weeks ago Rosanna Scotto’s people looked me up and asked if I’d take her on a tour for “Wining and Dining With Rosanna.” So I did, it’s not every day that I get to share air time with folks like Bobby Flay. We hit Flushing and Jackson Heights hard from lamb spine to tawa katakat.  You can watch the episode here. Scotto’s no Andrew Zimmern  when it comes to adventurousness, but then again who is? Hoping you have a delicious Thanksgiving.

P.S. if you’re looking for something to do on Black Friday, I highly recommend the black goat feast at Bang Ga Ne. As for me I’ll be leading a tour of America’s best Chinatown.

11/14/14 12:23am

QEDCFOODIE

Let’s face it as much I profess to  hate the F-word, I am the King of the Queens Foodies. There’s just no way around it. Here’s the thing though, Queens Foodies are different than  typical foodies, who I like to think as merely trendy eaters. We don’tcare about such food faddery as Cronuts or ramen burgers. When your borough includes everything from the Kathmandu cafes and Latin American street food vendors of Jackson Heights to the regional Chinese wonderland of Flushing’s food courts to the West Indian enclave of Richmond Hill where for lunch today some pals and I ate ourselves silly on Guyanese food and Jamaican I-tal cuisine you tend to become a tad obsessive. (more…)

10/13/14 11:17am
GALAXYSPARE

A satellite of golden fried porcine love.

As a self-avowed Chinese food expert, I have a confession. I’ve probably eaten more smoky American style barbecue spare ribs than sticky sweet Chinese ones. My favorite Chinese ribs these days have to be the Dongbei style Muslim lamb chop as served at Fu Run in Flushing’s magnificent Chinatown. Recently I discovered a close second, and what’s certainly my favorite Flushing pork rib. It’s another Dongbei specialty, suan xian pai gu, garlic flavor spare ribs. (more…)

09/15/14 12:23pm

With such a diversity of culinary cultures Queens boasts all kinds of noodles from all kinds of places. Cold, hot, spicy, even dessert they come in all shapes, sizes and flavors. Here are seven of our favorites.

BIG-TRAY

1, Da pan ji, Su Xiang Yuan
One of the most surprising things about da pan ji, the Henanese specialty known as “big tray of chicken,” is that it’s actually a big tray of poultry, potatoes, and noodles. And not just any old noodles either, they are the very same springy broad ribbons that grace the specialty of the house at this stand whose name is often translated to Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup. There’s no soup to be found in the tray though. Instead find hacked up bits of bird and chunks of potatoes atop a bed of hand-pulled noodles. The whole thing is crowned with fresh cilantro and shot through with dried chilies awash in a curry-like concoction with just a touch of star anise along with pleasant bursts of saltiness from preserved beans. The noodles are a perfect vehicle for all that sauce. Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup, No.28, New World Mall Food Court, Flushing (more…)

08/07/14 10:55am
NOODLETOWN

Great N.Y. Noodletown’s shrimp dumpling soup is a classic.

The other night I attended a panel discussion “Historic Preservation, Meet Restaurant Preservation,” where food writer and longstanding Greenwich Village resident Mimi Sheraton and Robert Sietsema, senior restaurant critic at Eater, discussed restaurant preservation in New York City. Rapacious landlords and the idea of forming a body to help restaurants as well creating a list of places that should be preserved, and just who determines who to include on said list were all discussed. When it was over the question of where to eat weighed mightily on my mind. Katz’s came up in the discussion several times, and I briefly considered it, but I ruled it out as too heavy.

Then I started to think along the lines of restaurants and Manhattan neighborhoods that I feel should be preserved. And I headed down to Chinatown. Fish Corner Market’s long gone. Mei Lei Wah ain’t as pretty or tasty as she used to be. Yet Wo Hop, whose sweet and sour pork my dear old Mom reproduced at home, and Great N.Y. Noodletown still abide. I opted for the latter. It’s survived a couple of name changes. The menu and the room remain the same. And they’ve still got one of my favorite dishes, shrimp dumpling soup. It’s a generous bowl of thin-skinned beauties packed with shrimp and mushrooms. I like to liven things up with a few spoons of the citrusy house hot sauce.

Time and tradition seem to have done a good job of preserving stalwarts like Katz’s and my Chinatown haunts, but who knows if scrappier underdog eateries will survive.  So here’s what I’d like to know what New York City restaurants, dishes, or neighborhood’s are on your preservation list?  Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.

08/04/14 10:12am
Decoy1

Decoy’s duck comes with shots of duck consommé.

“What happened to the duck?” my mother would say when the platter with meat and skin—mostly skin—and the accompanying pancakes was brought out. “It must have flown by.”

Moments before the entire carcass had been wheeled through the dining room on a trolley with great ceremony. This included striking a gong. Sometimes I like to think that the gong was my father’s idea, but I know it was the restaurant’s way of saying that the dish, even with its apparent bait and switch, was something special to be served with fanfare.

At the suburban Chinese restaurant in Levittown we frequented during my boyhood the delicacy had to be ordered several days in advance. As an adult I’ve had few stellar experiences with Peking duck.  Much as I love the $1 “Peking duck” bun window in Flushing, the fowl secret is that, tasty as it is, it’s not really Peking duck. I am happy to report though that the Peking duck dinner I had recently at Decoy, the newish offshoot of Eddie Schoenfeld and Joe Ng’s wildly popular Redfarm, was spectacular. (more…)

07/22/14 12:57pm
RICECRACKLING2

Is that chicken crackling atop my rice rolls? Why yes, yes it is.

I can trace both a passion for Chinese food and a tendency toward dietary excess to my old man, who was of the more is more school of cooking and eating. Oh Craig Claiborne’s recipe calls for a teaspoon of preserved black beans? I’ll put three it’ll be better, right? Wrong! Which brings me to the subject of today’s post, a calorific, cholesterol-laden little number I call hung jiang chang fen ji pi, or mixed sauce rice rolls with crispy chicken skin. (more…)

07/14/14 10:30am
sichnoodles1

‘Sweet noodles’ lashed with sesame sauce and topped with garlic paste.

Cold sesame noodles are an American Chinese staple that I haven’t eaten in quite some time. It’s not that I don’t like them. It’s just that the hyper-regional, hyperauthentic hawker stands that I frequent don’t serve them. Yesterday I learned that there’s a warm Sichuan version of this dish. It goes by the moniker sweet sauce noodles. Or at least it does at Cheng Du Tian Fu, my favorite Sichuan snack stall in Flushing’s Chinatown. (more…)

05/27/14 1:24pm

Offal—tongue, tripe, heart, even face, among other so-called off cuts—happens to be one of my favorite things to eat. As with most of my stranger culinary predilections, I blame it on my old man who always made sure to include plenty of hearts whenever he cooked up a batch of chicken soup. Thus I present a list of some of my favorite nasty bits.

FUQIFEIPIAN

Husband and wife offal slices at Golden Mall.

1. Fu qi fei pian, Cheng Du Tian Fu
The story goes that fu qi fei pian, or husband and wife offal slices, are so named because the couple who created this classic dish back in Chengdu, Sichuan, had an especially harmonious union. While that tale may be apocryphal the union of meaty beef tongue; funky chewy ribbons of tripe; and translucent swatches of tendon bathed in chili oil and shot through with peanuts cilantro, and just enough Sichuan peppercorn to set your mouth atingle is especially delicious. My favorite place to dig into this fiery heap of beef offal is Cheng Du Tian Fu in Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall. Cheng Du Tian Fu, No. 31, Golden Shopping Mall, 41-28 Main St., Flushing (more…)