11/05/15 10:39am

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…)

10/20/15 5:01pm

Despite its name, this Taiwanese specialty contains no fly heads whatsoever.

“We’re having lunch with KF Seetoh,” my good friend Colin Goh messaged me a few weeks back. “Want to come?” Given the chance to dine with the demigod of Southeast Asian hawker food, I immediately cleared my schedule and hastened to Main Street Imperial Taiwanese Specialties.

The man behind Makansutra who’s working on Bourdain Market turned out be a regular guy, albeit one who’s really, really into his food. Our little group ordered several dishes including something known in Chinese as “chive flowers with fly heads.”  (more…)

10/15/15 9:49am

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 keseri, 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…)

10/05/15 1:29pm

The meganightmarket/food hall known as Bourdain Night Market that will rise on Chelsea’s Pier 57 development in some two years is being hailed as the most exciting development in the food scene since white people, including myself and Tony B., discovered Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall. Anthony Bourdain and Stephen Werther have tapped some major talent, including hawker food expert KF Seetoh and The Street Vendor Project—the nonprofit behind the Vendy Awards—to curate a dozen stalls. I’m excited to try Singapore’s Geylang Claypot Rice and the uni tostadas from Sabina Bandar of Ensenada, Mexico.
“It will be all transparent and authentic…not sterile, but chaotic in a good way, with hawkers and vendors and places to eat,” Bourdain tells Florence Fabricant in last week’s Times. “Where in this city can you have that?” Where indeed!!?? Why Queens, of course. Without further ado here are seven spots we’d love to see find a home in Bourdain Market.


1. La Esquina del Camaron Mexico
Pedro Rodriguez is a mixologist of sorts, but instead of mescal or tequila his cocktails contain shrimp and octopus. His Mexican seafood cocktail mise en place includes olive oil, limes, onions, cilantro, avocado, and a tomato-based sauce. Doctored up with a goodly splashe of Valentina hot sauce and served with saltines, a cup of his signature creation brimming with tender octopus and shrimp is a meal in itself. Rodriguez operates out of a sparkling clean kitchen in a bodega on Roosevelt Avenue. Lately he’s branched out to include other delicacies like octopus tostadas. La Esquina Del Camaron Mexicano, 80th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights (347) 885-2946 (more…)

09/28/15 11:44am

DIY noodle soup at Flushing’s Gui Lin Mi Fen.

Sometimes it feels as if I lead so many food tours of Flushing Chinatown that I don’t do enough research, i.e. eating, of non-sharable dishes like noodle soups. Sure I have my favorites: predawn laksa at Curry Leaves, Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup’s namesake tonic, the samgyetang at Hansol Nutrition Center. Lately though I’ve been craving a brand new flavor in noodle soup, which is why I’m glad  I finally tried Gui Lin Mi Fen. (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…)

09/21/15 10:32am
Malaysian pandan mooncakes are my favorite.

Malaysian pandan mooncakes are my favorite.

“Mooncakes!!??, a Chinese friend said to me over breakfast recently. “Nobody likes them, they’re like fruitcake for Asians.” The dense cakes stamped with Chinese characters are traditionally eaten (sometimes begrudgingly) and gifted—much like fruitcake—for the Moon Festival, which falls on Sunday, September 27 this year. All sorts of mooncakes, including novelty ones for pandas and those made from Taiwanese hornet hives are prepared for the fall harvest festival, which is held on the night of the full moon between early September and early October. (more…)

09/03/15 1:21pm

Flushing Cafe Collage

Since Yelp exists, there’s really no point in making an exhaustive list of coffee and tea shops. However, there’s still room for a curated list, so I’m going to present my favorite Flushing spots for coffee, food, working, and hanging out. Unlike some other parts of Queens, the eastern end is still limited in terms of Third Wave coffee shops, but this is changing gradually.

(I’ve created a companion Foursquare list for this article. Go ahead and save it so that you can visit them all.)

Although Flushing’s eastern border is officially Parsons Boulevard, for the purposes of this article I will use the moniker as it often is, as a shorthand for Greater Flushing, encompassing Murray Hill, Auburndale, and Bayside, and will append Douglaston/Little Neck, the New York City neighborhood that abuts Long Island.

However, I’m primarily interested in the somewhat insular, heavily Korean neighborhood that runs along Northern Boulevard from Main Street to the border of Long Island (and beyond), because this is where most of the cafes are situated. The only exception is a recent Chinese-owned entrant, Presso Coffee, located in the attractive new One Fulton Square development in downtown Flushing. (more…)

08/25/15 12:15pm

Dude . . . let’s get some Taiwanese noodles.

When leading food tours of downtown Flushing, I often boast that it is America’s best Chinatown. I’m also fond of pointing out Queens has two Chinatowns: the bustling hub that radiates outward from Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue and a little sister in Elmhurst. Until now there’s been little interchange between the two. All that changed with the opening of Happy Stony Noodle a couple of weeks ago.

“OMG where is that,” more than one friend asked when I sent a photo of Elmhurst’s oddest named and newest Taiwanese eatery. My pals’ surprise can be traced to the fact that Happy Stony isn’t new at all. It’s a reboot of Happy Beef Noodle (Kuai Le Niu Rou Mian) a much-loved spot on Prince Street that closed years ago. (more…)

08/24/15 12:38pm

Just spicy enough to keep me coming back for more.

My love of spicy food is hereditary, passed on by a father who loved everything from Tabasco to Taco Bell Fire sauce. There are, however, some things that are too hot for my cast iron palate. Many fall into the category of “dare you to try” dishes or extreme hot sauces. (more…)