09/24/15 8:18am

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most festive times for Hindus in and around Flushing. During the nine-day birthday party for the elephant-headed god, Šri Mahã Vallabha Ganapati Devasthãnam (aka the Ganesh Temple) on Bowne Street is a hive of activity. Ganesh Chaturthi always concludes with the Grand Ratha Yatrã, a parade through the streets of Flushing.

This year the parade was held on Sunday, Sept. 20, but I wasn’t able to make it. I did however have the good fortune to hang out with James Boo of 1 Minute Meal Films a few days before  while he filmed modaka archana, the making and offering of the sweet modaka. The coconut-filled treat is renowned as Ganesh’s favorite food, so much that one of his many names is modakapriya. (more…)

06/05/15 12:01pm
HIKMAH1

This grilled fish is one of the best things at the Indonesian Food Bazaar.

The Food Bazaar at Astoria’s Masjid Al Hikmah is perhaps my favorite of the many homegrown food festivals that take place throughout Queens. Several times each spring and summer more than a dozen vendors selling soups, satay, and other Indonesian goodies set up in the mosque’s parking lot. The next one is this Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (more…)

06/02/15 10:45am
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Sugar Club’s i tim ka ti is only served during festivals.

As regular readers of this blog know, Sugar Club, with its vast selection of Thai junk food, desserts, and prepared foods is one of my favorite Elmhurst haunts. On the last Sunday of the month the shop has been holding a market and festival. Somehow I’ve missed the last two festivals, but I’m glad I stopped by this Sunday. (more…)

05/28/15 9:04am
plantlovepot

Dig it. Plant Love’s signature ice cream comes served in a flower pot.

There was time when what most excited me about Thai food was incendiary spice levels. I still love a good spicy Thai dish, but what gets me going these days are noodles and Thai desserts. Yes, there are Thai places in New York City where the pinnacle of dessert is fried ice cream. Thankfully Elmhurst’s Little Bangkok is not such a place. In fact it’s home to two of my favorite places for Thai dessert, Plant Love House and the aptly named Sugar Club. (more…)

04/20/15 10:35am
sugarclubmango

Photo: Sutthaya Chalassathien

“Have you tried mango sticky rice?” the kid who makes my Thai coffee at Sugar Club asked one Saturday afternoon. “Yeah sure,” I thought to myself as I sipped my coffee. “It’s just mango and warm sticky rice with condensed milk.”

He seemed inordinately excited about it though, so one day a few weeks later, after having some noodles at Pata Paplean and paying my respects to the Emerald Buddha at Wat Buddha Thai Thavorn Vanaram, I returned to try Sugar Club’s take on the classic Thai dessert. When it landed on the table I immediately saw why my young friend was so jazzed about. With its cloud of whipped cream atop homemade mango ice cream and fresh cubes of mango all surmounting pale green sticky rice, Sugar Club’s creation is part Thai dessert, part sundae. (more…)

02/23/15 11:32am
BLOODPUDDING

Ornella’s sanguinaccio is bloody marvelous.

When it comes to offal I’m one of the least squeamish people around, gladly gobbling everything from Southern fried chitterlings to Chinese lamb face salad. Friends often call me the Andrew Zimmern of Queens. That’s high praise, but there are some things even I can’t abide, like the coppery tasting blocks of blood often found in Chinese soups. A can get behind a savory morcilla enriched with rice and spice and I like a good British black pudding. And then there’s sanguinaccio. (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…)

09/08/14 11:46am
HALO2

Flan and ube ice cream make it extra special.

My love of Filipino breakfast—garlic fried rice, eggs, a buttery toasted pan de sal, and any of several proteins, including dried milkfish—is no secret to readers of this blog. I am especially fond of getting my log on at Manny’s Bake Shop. That’s because the good ladies at Manny’s serve the most important meal of the day with a slice of cake for dessert. One day it might be purple ube cake and the next it might be an exquisite slice of brazo de Mercedes.

About a month ago I noticed a sign on the door advertising halo halo, the psychedelic Filipino snow cone. I couldn’t possibly have the mixture of shaved ice, young coconut, jackfruit, palm fruit, and ruby and emerald cubes of gelatin for breakfast. Or could I? (more…)

08/11/14 11:38am
BASI

Ba si from a hawker stand, a Flushing Chinatown first.

“Everybody thinks it’s fried chicken,” the girl behind the counter said with a laugh, when I pointed at the rows of clamshell containers filled with golden brown morsels and said ba si. Coated with a sticky glaze and studded with sesame seeds one could see why it might get mistaken for a hyper-regional take on General Tso’s.

Ba si—fried apple, taro, or sweet potato glazed in syrup—is something I’d never seen at a hawker stand. At Flushing’s many Dongbei restaraunts it comes to the table still hot with a bowl of cool water. Dip a chunk into the water and the glaze hardens, forming strings of spun sugar. Think of it as Manchurian molecular gastronomy. (more…)

05/28/14 11:05am
BASA-1

The ba si on the package looked kind of promising.

Ba si, deep-fried candied bits of fruit or tuber—apple, sweet potato, or taro—are a favorite end to meals in Flushing’s many Dongbei restaurants. The golden brown chunks are encased in a sticky molten coating that hardens when dipped in the accompanying bowl of ice water, sending forth filaments of pulled sugar. So when I saw the above package of honey sweet potato in the freezer case at J Mart, I was overcome by the prospect of having this wonderful dish at home, via microwave no less. (more…)