Phayul’s momo took home the prize after a three-way tiebreaker.
Forget the James Beard Awards. When it comes to recognition in the culinary arts I’m all about the Golden Momo. Yesterday was the Second Annual Momo Crawl in Jackson (aka Himalayan) Heights. The object of the event organized by Jeff Orlick was to find the best momo of the 20 places in the hood. I am still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that there are 20 places offering the beef dumpling beloved by Tibetans and Nepalese, I thought there were a dozen at most. I was unable to attend the crawl as I was giving a food tour of Elmhurst, but judging from the activity on the Twitter machine, the rain did not keep folks away.
One of Phayul’s momo maestros with the coveted trophy.
Late yesterday evening I learned that Phayul took first prize after a three-way tie-breaker with Ganjong Kitchen and Lhasa Fast Food. I was pleased to hear this as Phayul is one of my favorite Tibetan spots, so much so that I took Andrew Zimmern there. So I jumped on the 7 train to get a glimpse of the coveted Golden Momo and help my friends at Phayul celebrate.
The Dalai Lama flanked by a basketball trophy and the Golden Momo.
When I got to Phayul it was crowded—not with the 80 momo crawlers that had roamed the streets earlier in the afternoon—but with the usual mix of Tibetan families and young people all eating momo. I shared a table with a couple who each had an order of momo ($5). They were amazed both by the Golden Momo, and the fact that I was thoroughly enjoying their national dish. As I slurped a complimentary bowl of beef stock, the Nepalese gent next to me asked if the restaurant was given the award last year. “No, earlier this afternoon,” I replied. “It’s one of my favorite place for Tibetan food.” Oh and if Phayul isn’t your favorite momo place, don’t worry there are 19 other joints to choose from.
Phayul, 37-65 74th St, Jackson Heights, 718-424-1869
Indonesian Food Bazaar Saturday, May 18th, 2013 12:00–3:00 p.m. First Presbyterian Church of Forest Hills 70-35 112th Street, Forest Hills If you’re as big a fan of the Indonesian food festivals held at Astoria’s Masjid Al Hikmah as I am you won’t to miss this event. A group of self-professed Indonesian foodies from Forest Hills is hosting this shindig,which will feature martabak, gado-gado, satay and many other Indonesian specialties. Proceeds benefit Roslin Orphanage in Kupang, Indonesia. I will probably not be able to make it as I’m doing a food tour that day, but I am glad to know that there are Indonesian foodies in Forest Hills!
Smorgasburg Saturday 11 a.m.-6p.m. East River Park, the waterfront at N 7th St.
As much as I love to hate on Brooklyn and its legions of gastronerds I have to admit to a soft spot for Smorgasburg. And now have even more reason to like it, my pal Noah Arenstein’s Scharf & Zoyer and its wacky New School take on Old School deli. Did somebody say kugel double down?
Second Annual Momo Crawl, Sunday, May 19, 1:30 p.m. Meeting place: Jackson Heights Plaza, 37th Rd between 74th Street and Broadway
Local business booster and fresser extraordinaire Jeff Orlick takes to the streets and dumpling parlors of Himalayan Heights for the Second Annual Momo crawl, celebrating the dumplings beloved of Tibetans and Nepalese and their makers who “who have the courage not to open up a Subway.” Meet at the designated spot where you can purchase a momo map for “two bills of any denomination.” Momo eaters will be organized into teams of eight, and a spiffy trophy will be awarded to the winner after all the teams’ votes are tallied.
Thai Rock Reopens, Monday, May 20 375 Beach 92nd Street, Rockaway Beach I haven’t been able to bring myself to go to Rockaway Beach since Hurricane Sandy. That said I am very glad to know that Thai Rock reopens Monday. I’m gonna do my darnedest to stop by. You should too. Here’s a statement from the owners.
We miss you. We miss working. We miss the normal commotion, you know, the things we normally complain about, and although we are not fully ready to serve you as we once did, we are opening our doors Monday and will continue to work day-by-day improving everything we can and always strive to provide the best food, drinks, music, water sports and other diversions.
Our goal is to make your experience at Thai Rock like being on vacation and now more than ever, we will do all we can to bring our customers much needed joy, good times and great food.
One lesson I learned since being in the restaurant business is “good enough is good enough”. I admire the people who instinctively know this, but for me, it’s a hard learned lesson that still requires more work. Like the cliché about Rome, I now so much more appreciate the importance of the journey and that the “goal” is merely a milestone along the way and not a destination.
Friends, we have been on a journey together and individually that we did not ask for, that we were not prepared for, for which we sacrificed and lost much, and, to this day, our governmental support net is still not properly supportive. Together we are challenged as a community, to rebuild, to be strong and united, and to help one another. Individually, we each have a responsibility to keep our families healthy, to keep ourselves vital and to strengthen our resolve for the future because that is the promise. The future is the goal. The future is where the journey takes us and it’s each and every one of our responsibilities to protect, promote, nurture and encourage a positive and health future. This is our strength. This is our wealth.
So, Thai Rock is not what it was, but it’s better than it’s been and we will keep on making it better and now it is good enough to open. Please come by and visit, our menu will be extremely limited to start, and we will only have the outdoor deck open, but it sure will be great to see you again. Hugs are permitted.
About a week ago I had the honor of appearing on Travel Channel’s Street Eats: U.S.A. for a segment on street foods in New York City. For those who didn’t get to see it and for those who crave more curbside cuisine I’ve devoted this week’s edition of The Seven to street food. Here then in no particular order are seven of my current street food faves. Some appeared on the show, and some some didn’t. Have a favorite street food you think I left out? Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.
1. Pedro El Cevichero I first encountered Pedro’s sidewalk ceviche outside a market in Elmhurst. His Mexican ceviche mise en place includes olive oil, limes, onions, cilantro, and a tomato-based sauce. South of the Border ceviche is called coctele, as in shrimp cocktail. It’s more of a cold seafood soup than the Peruvian version. Pedro makes it right before your very eyes. It’s like watching a seafood mixologist as you listen to the 7 train rumble by overhead. Shrimp cocteles are available in three sizes ($8, $10, $12). The excellent mixto, shrimp and octopus is ($6, $8, $10). Find Pedro at Roosevelt Ave. and 80th St. from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
2. Baul Daada Jaal Muri Shop This is not so much a shop as a streetside Bangladeshi chaat vendor. As the name implies there’s only one specialty here, jaal muri. Three bucks gets you an order of Baul Daada’sspicy puffed rice. It’s a sensory overload of a snack consisting of puffed rice, kala chana (black chickpeas) chopped tomatoes, cilantro, green chili paste, red onions, crunchy dried soybeans, cilantro, spicy fried noodles, and squirts and shakes from the various and sundry bottles, including some sinus-clearing mustard oil. Find Daada on 73 St. near 37 Ave. from late afternoon to around 10 p.m. weather permitting. (more…)
Golden Shopping Mall’s Tianjin Dumpling House offers 10 kinds.
Last summer I compiled a list of the Top 7 Dumplings in Queens. The delicious little secret is that it was really, really hard to limit such a list to just seven dumplings. In fact I could devote a whole blog to dumplings in Queens. So today’s edition of Twofer Tuesday is dedicated to two of my latest dumpling discoveries from Queens’ two Chinatowns, Flushing and Elmhurst.
These steamed lamb dumplings made for a perfect Easter snack.
Tianjin Dumpling House is a relatively new outfit on the lower level of Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall. Among the 10 varieties of dumplings find yáng ròu shuǐ jiǎo, or lamb dumplings with green squash($5for 12). Create your own dipping sauce by combining soy, black vinegar, and chili oil.
Jaal muri, a Bangaldeshi chaat makes for a great late-night snack.
What are you your favorite late-night eateries in Jackson Heights?-Harry H.
It depends what kind of eats you’re craving. If it’s street food the taco vendors right outside the 74 Roosevelt terminal on Roosevelt Avenue are pretty good. Not far from them are two carts specializing in momo, or Tibetan beef dumplings. For a truly unique street food experience hit up Baul Daada Jal Muri shop on 73 St. near 37 Ave. Despite the name it’s not a shop, it’s streetside Bangladeshi chaat operation run by one Baul Daada. Three bucks gets you an order of his specialty, jal muri, or spicy puffed rice. It’s a sensory overload of a snack consisting of puffed rice, kala chana (black chickpeas) chopped tomatoes, cilantro, green chili paste, red onions, crunchy dried soybeans, cilantro, spicy fried noodles, and squirts and shakes from the various and sundry bottles, including some sinus-clearing mustard oil. (more…)
At just under $10 this six-course meal of Sichuan snacks won’t break the bank.
Much like downtown Flushing’s Chinatown itself the New World Mall food court is diverse and constantly evolving. One of the latest additions is a two-week-old outfit that goes by the rather unassuming English name, “Szechuan Dish.” The Chinese on its sign “Mei Sichuan” and “Chéng Dū kǒu wèi,” which more or less says beautiful Sichuan, Chengdu flavor, gives a much better idea of the beautiful flavorful, fiery things coming out of Stall No. 25.
Last Sunday I tried liáng bàn xīn shé, a fiery cold salad of pig tongue and heart slicked with chili oil. And yesterday I stopped by for a fēng wèi xiǎo chī tào cān, or local flavor set meal. Think of it as a six-course Sichuan Happy Meal. For $9.50 I was one happy, happy eater. It was like a greatest hits of Chengdu street food: excellent dàn dàn miàn,noodles in a fiery sauce of ground beef and preserved vegetables; Chéng Dū hóng yóu shuǐ jiǎo, pork dumplings in soy sauce enlivened with chilies and no small amount of garlic; and hǎi wèi chāo shŏu, a flavorful wonton and seafood soup. The bountiful set also includes a cold two-veggie plate and a cold two-meat plate. Last night the meats were the aforementioned pig offal and excellent diced rabbit. The vegetable plate was preserved tofu and celery and an unidentifiable yet pleasantly chewy rooty type vegetable. If you’re into that sort of thing there is also a sweet fermented rice soup.
If you think this sounds like a whole lot of food for $9.50, you are right. It is also a whole lot of flavors: chili, garlic, salty, sweet, even a subtle smokiness from the vegetable plate. I haven’t been this excited about Sichuan food since I took Fuchsia Dunlop to the Golden Mall. It’s a game changer people.
Szechuan Dish, No. 25, New World Mall Food Court, 40-21 Main St., Flushing
Ain’t no party like a momo party, because a momo party don’t stop.
I’ve known for quite some time that this past Sunday marked the Year of the Snake for Chinese. What I didn’t know until last week was that this past Monday was Losar, or Tibetan New Year. So allow me to wish you “Losar la tashi delek.” I learned how to say “Happy New Year” in Tibetan from Tashi Chodron, founder of Himalayan Pantry at a hands-on momo making demonstration at The Rubin Museum of Art.
I also learned there are several regional types of momo. In Nepal, the dumplings are round and seasoned with Sichuan peppercorn, garlic, and ginger. Bhutan’s are tear-drop shaped and often filled with shiitake mushrooms. And, South Indian momo are crescent-shaped. And there are, of course, the Tibetan ones found all over Jackson Heights.
This carb on carb number was pretty good, but it’s not my favorite.
Despite my ever-present Mets cap, I am by no means a sports fan. This is why I chose to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday by eating dim sum in Flushing with two old friends.
By the time we got there, Grand Restaurant (New World Mall, 40-21 Main St., 3rd Floor) was packed. I like Grand because there’s something for everyone: a good half dozen types of dumplings, various steamed buns, large plates ranging from fried whitebait and sauteed baby octopus to roast pork, several preparations of chicken feet, and many desserty type items. And I almost always find something new there, like the sticky rice bun pictured above. Sadly they did not have one of my favorite items: a giant seafood dumpling in a bowl of soup that one adds red vinegar and ginger to
With Chinese New Year fast approaching here’s what I’m curious to know. What are your favorite items to eat when you go out for dim sum? Tell me in the comments or hit me on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.
Even on a snowy night people line up for momo at A&G Himalayan Fresh Food.
Momo—the beef dumplings beloved of Tibetans—are everywhere in Himalayan Heights. So popular are the crimped top little packages that I have taken to calling the neighborhood’s Tibetan restaurants momo parlors. For more than five years there has been a lone food cart stationed underneath an Indian jewelry store where momos were steamed day and night. In that time halal food carts and trucks have proliferated along 73rd St., but for the longest time there was just that one momo cart.
During the first snowstorm of winter I discovered that another cart, A&G Himalayan Fresh Food, had set up shop right across the street from what had been the hood’s first and only momo cart. It’s run by two brothers Amchu and Gyatso who hail from Amdo in Central Tibet. In addition to momo the brothers also sell a traditional flat bread called baklep. A small one, slightly larger than an English muffin goes for a $1, while the dinner plate-sized version will set you back $8. I am told baklep is typically eaten with tea. Why there is a photo on the side of the cart of a container of Philadelphia Cream Cheese beside the bread remains a mystery.
I’ve always wondered what was the story behind Merit Farms. For a long time the Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and Indian restaurant with a Tibetan, Nepali, and Bhutanese counter in the back had a super old school blue and white sign. I could never quite reconcile this 1960s style signage with the food being served inside. The disconnect was on the order of walking into B&H Dairy in the East Village to find dan dan noodles.
A while back the name of this grand Himalayan-South Asian wonderland changed to Merit Kabob and Dumpling Palace. Still I wondered about that name. One day a guest on one of my food tours told me Merit Farms was an old school Queens grocery chain. A Google search reveals that there was an outlet in Forest Hills that sold that classic old school Jewish immigrant snack, the knish. I find it pretty cool that what was once Merit Farms in Jackson Heights stills serves immigrant snacks, albeit Tibetan momos and South Asian kababs.