01/23/16 12:05pm

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.

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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…)

01/04/16 1:25pm
kulupapaya

Cloud ear fungus is said to benefit the respiratory system.

Kulu Desserts has all manner of cold treats, including sawdust pudding and some lovely durian preparations, come wintertime though I find myself craving their tong shui or traditional Chinese sweet medicinal soups. It’s not every day you can eat dessert and claim that it’s good for anything other than your mood.

One of my favorites is the papaya white fungus soup, a comforting brew of crunchy snow ear mushrooms, chunks of sweet papaya, and Chinese almonds. Papaya aids in digestion, so it’s something I like to have after a big meal. The frilly white fungus is said to benefit the respiratory system. I have a feeling I’ll be sipping a lot of this sweet soothing brew this winter.

Kulu Desserts, 37-06 Prince St, Flushing, 718-886-3302;  806 62nd St, Dyker Heights, Brooklyn,  718-680-2818; 123 West 3rd St., 212-658-0865

11/05/15 10:39am
duriancake

The Hong Kong equivalent of New York cheesecake.

I’ve been eating my way through Flushing’s New York Food Court for about a year. Yet somehow, I only just got around to trying Mango Mango yesterday. The bowl of spicy soup I’d just finished had put me in the mood for something sweet to cool down.

I wasn’t in the a mango mood though, and almost left the food court without getting dessert.  Then I saw the hand written special sign reading “mille crepe durian (slice).” There was also a mango version, but I was more intrigued by the durian. (more…)

10/15/15 9:49am
kaseri

Pineapple kesari called to mind sweet, comforting memories.

One of the things I love most about giving food tours of Queens is  the opportunity to rediscover the delicious flavors of such neighborhoods as Flushing through the eyes of my guests. Every now and then I discover something new too, like the pineapple kesari, I found at the Ganesh Temple Canteen on a recent tour.

Typically I order a gigantic paper dosa at the Canteen. The crisp megaphone-shaped crepe never fails to impress. “Is that a sweet?” I asked when I saw a hand-written sign that read “Today’s Special: Pineapple Kesari.” Even before the lady behind the counter said yes I knew I was going to order it. (more…)

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
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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…)