12/30/16 11:41pm

With 2016 coming to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was. It was a big year for me and for food in Queens, including a feature in Asahi Shimbun and the discovery of the durian pizza. In no particular order here are 16 of the best things I ate last year.

MRCRISPY

1. Best Grilled Cheese
Mr. Crispy, a grilled cheese sandwich served at Astoria Bier & Cheese answers the question, “How good can a grilled cheese be?” with a resounding “very, very good.”  The sandwich of cave aged gruyere, ham and honey mustard is coated in  mantle of white crispy cheese. This coating extends outward into a golden lacy corolla, a veritable halo of crispy cheese. It’s crunchy, sharp, and eminently craveable. I’ve haven’t been this excited about fried cheese since Joe Bastianich’s ill-fated Frico Bar. Astoria Bier & Cheese, 34-14 Broadway, Astoria, 718-545-5588

 

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2.  Most Fabulous F***in’ Clam Pizza
The salciccia e vongole pizza at Whit’s End is the best clam pie I’ve had outside of Zuppardi’s. Housemade sausage seasoned with clove, star, anise, juniper, and allspice join the Littleneck clams along with pepperoncini and shaved garlic. The combination of the fior di latte mozzarella and  Parmigianno Regianno round things out quite nicely. Whit’s End, Riis Park Beach Bazaar

 

HakkaHotChicken

3. Hottest Off-menu Indian-Chinese Chicken
Nashville may have cayenne-infused hot chicken, but here in Queens we have something I like to call hakka hot chicken. Peter Lo, Queens’ godfather of Indian-Chinese cuisine and founder of Tangra Masala, whipped up a batch for me a while back. The hacked up bits of fried bird sauced in a glaze that marries the flavors of chili, soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic call to mind Dominican style chicharron de pollo with an Indian-Chinese twist. Tangra Masala, 87-09 Grand Ave., Elmhurst, 718-803-2298

 

4. Best Breakfast Sandwich
I count myself a big fan of the classic bacon egg and cheese, but my favorite breakfast sandwich of 2017 contains no swine whatsoever. The breakfast sandwich at Roast n Co combines organic eggs, tomato jam, and Cabot white cheddar on a brioche make for one of the best egg sandwiches ever. Since Roast n co is run by Tunisians you have the option of asking for a sidecar of harissa, a lovely concoction of chili peppers, olive oil, and paprika. It’s an option you should exercise. Roast n Co, 100-12 Queens Blvd. Forest Hills, 718-263-6000

The action at Majang Dong takes place out back.

5. Most Secret Korean BBQ Garden
Korean barbecue always brings to mind happy memories of backyard barbecues. At Flushing’s Majang Dong the Korean BBQ that takes place in an actual backyard. Chef Yu and his family run what some might call a Korean BBQ speakeasy. Sure there’s a storefront and inside you’ll find a restaurant, but the real action takes place out back in the shack and garden. Say you’re there for BBQ,  and Mrs. Yu will walk you out the back door into a Korean BBQ wonderland. Pork kalbi and pork belly are both lovely, and there’s eel and octopus for seafood lovers, but one of the best meats is grilled pork intestines. With a crunchy exterior and chewy interior, the fatty rings eat like an offal lover’s version of pork cracklins. Majang Dong, 41-71 Bowne St., Flushing, 718-460-2629 (more…)

01/12/16 10:46am
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Surf and turf Rockaway style: The wood-fired clam and sausage pie at Whit’s End.

I’m not much of a beach in the wintertime kind of guy. But when I found out that Whit’s End Rockaway was still open in the winter, I knew I’d be taking that long bus ride down Woodhaven Boulevard, not for surf and sun, but for top-notch wood-fired pizza and other goodies served up with a healthy dose of attitude.

Whitney Aycock is a chef who gives a fuck. A fuck about food from dishes like pig tenderloin with baked tomato and mortadella toast to the wood-fired “Fuckin Good Burger,” to the dozen pizzas. In fact as my buddy and I bellied up to the bar he was giving a fuck to somebody who entered his establishment reeking of weed. Once the fellow was properly chastised Aycock turned his attention to my buddy and me. (more…)

05/19/15 9:08am
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A selection of golden fried seafood from Bigelow’s.

I must have driven past the cheery blue and white Bigelow’s Seafood on Long Beach Road thousands of times in my life. It was a favorite of my father’s, but for some reason we never ate there when I was growing up. Some 30 years after first laying eyes on the cheery blue and white building, I finally got the chance to dine at the 76-year-old institution and try their infamous Ipswich clams, among other things. (more…)

12/31/14 4:41pm

As 2014 draws to a close rather than offer up a roster of resolutions—less chips more gym, save money, etc.—C+M presents a list of 14 of our favorite things, a highlight reel of the year that was. Let the mostly Queens-focused cavalcade of offal, mashups, secret eats, and overall deliciousness begin.

RUGELSSAINT

The rugelssaint at Andre’s Hungarian.

1. Sweetest mashup
Part pain au chocolat, part rugelach, all decadence the chocolate croissant—aka rugelssaint—at Andre’s Hungarian Bakery was my go-to guilty breakfast this year.

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Ban Ga Ne’s got your large format goat feast needs covered.

2. Best goat meat bonanza
Not only was the three-course black goat meat feast at Ban Ga Ne one of the best Korean meals I’ve had in a long time, it was some of the best goat I’ve ever had. Plus as the proprietor pointed out, it’s um, invigorating.

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Zuppardi’s glorious fresh shucked Little Neck clam pie.

3. Best pizza
Some friends and I made a pizza pilgrimage to New Haven this fall. Everything we tried was good, but the real revelation came when we dug into the fresh clam pie at Zuppardi’s Apizza. Fragrant with Little Necks and oregano atop a crackling thin crust, it was simply astounding. (more…)

11/24/14 11:39am
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A large pie—half bacon, half bacon and clam—from Frank Pepe.

The running joke among certain food writers is that I’ve forsaken my Italian-American heritage to sup on various and sundry heavily spiced offal platters at basement hawker centers in Queens. To some extent that’s true, but I always welcome the chance to explore my roots, which is why I was particularly psyched to go on a New Haven pizza expedition with three fellow food writers—Jeff Orlick, Dave Cook, and Rich Sanders—last month.

My last journey to the cradle of New England pizza was 10 years ago with Adam Kuban, founder of the pizza blog Slice now turned pizzaiolo in his own right. It was high time for a revisit. We rendezvoused at 9:15 a.m. in Long Island City and piled into Jeff’s car to make the trip. There had been talk of visiting Louis Lunch and even Connecticut lobster rolls, but we all decided that at least in this case, discretion was the better of gluttony. The day’s mission was to be solely devoted to pizza. (more…)

10/01/13 10:28am
TOFU-1962A

1962 Tofu has its roots in South Korea.

The real K-town in New York City is in Queens, stretching for about five miles from Northern Boulevard and Union Street in Flushing all the way out to Manhasset . This vast K-tropolis is lined with dozens of BBQ restaurants, kimbap joints, large Korean supermarkets, fried chicken spots,  a store that sells Korean stone beds, and even a Korean-run Third Wave espresso bar. There are so many places it would take an entire lifetime to document them all. So it is with some trepidation that I announce a new feature on C+M: K-tropolis. Today, a look at 1962 Tofu a Korean soft tofu chain that opened its first U.S. branch over the summer. (more…)