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…)

09/28/15 11:44am
guilin2

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…)

04/27/15 10:41am
laphingserpo

Refreshing and much easier to eat than its blockier cousin.

Lhasa Fast Food is a favorite stop on my Jackson Heights food tours. My fellow travelers are always amazed to discover a family-run Tibetan eatery tucked behind a cell phone store. The momo are excellent, too. The other day I made a discovery of my own—laphing serpo ($6)—while leading a tour of what I like to call Himalayan Heights.

“Yellow laphing,” the cook said when I gestured to a mass of what looked to be dough behind the counter. Laphing, slippery blocky cold mung bean jelly noodles, bathed in black vinegar, garlic and chilies is quite common on Tibetan menus. This was my first encounter with the yellow variety, though. (more…)

04/13/15 9:57am

“This one wants to try something really weird,” the parent of a young man on my most recent Flushing Chinatown food tour said. We had already tried fu qi fei pian, the Sichuan mélange of offal that combines tripe, tendon, and beef shin, so I knew the kid was a tough customer. He seemed satisfied by the plate of crunchy Chengdu style pig ears we shared at Golden Mall. (more…)

11/26/14 1:03pm
Joe_Rosanna2

Rosanna Scotto and I about descend into the Golden Shopping Mall Food court.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year, first and foremost the gifts of home, health and family. Heck I even got to partake of a turducken. Certainly I am grateful for continuing to eat my way through the most delicious and diverse destination on the entire planet. And the opportunity to turn others on to the wonders of Queens via food tours.

A few weeks ago Rosanna Scotto’s people looked me up and asked if I’d take her on a tour for “Wining and Dining With Rosanna.” So I did, it’s not every day that I get to share air time with folks like Bobby Flay. We hit Flushing and Jackson Heights hard from lamb spine to tawa katakat.  You can watch the episode here. Scotto’s no Andrew Zimmern  when it comes to adventurousness, but then again who is? Hoping you have a delicious Thanksgiving.

P.S. if you’re looking for something to do on Black Friday, I highly recommend the black goat feast at Bang Ga Ne. As for me I’ll be leading a tour of America’s best Chinatown.

08/18/14 12:35pm
PAETSOUP

How now kanom chin nam-ngiao?

Whenever I lead tours of Queens’ second Chinatown Elmhurst, I point out the hood’s huge Southeast Asian—Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese—presence. Lately, it’s been undergoing a Thai renaissance with newer spots like Pata Paplean, Eim Khao Man Gai, and Khao Kang joining the old guard of Ayada, Chao Thai, and Ploy Thai. Scarcely a month old Paet Rio is the newest kid on the Little Bangkok block.

Chef owner Nicky Phimpoy ran Wondee Siam in Hell’s Kitchen for some 20 years before coming to the borough that boasts the most authentic Thai food in NewYork City. Paet Rio is named for her home province, located in eastern Thailand. There’s plenty of curries, yums, and larbs on the menu. What made me sit up and take notice was the roster of 14 specialty noodle dishes, particularly something called kanom chin nam-ngiao  ($10.98). (more…)

05/20/14 10:46am
PLOYMK1

There’s a reason miang kana is number one on the chef’ specialties.

“Do you have miang kum?” I asked the chef of Ploy Thai. She was chatting outside the kitchen door chatting with her staff. I don’t usually accost chefs while the gates are still down, but I didn’t want to disappoint my friends who were joining me for a Thai food crawl in Elmhurst. My Thai is beyond limited, but I definitely  heard her say something with the word miang. I was very excited to introduce my pals to the savory flavor bomb that is miang kum—dried shrimp, tiny skin on lime wedges, chilies, peanuts, dried shredded coconut, and a sugary fish sauce spiked paste—designed to be wrapped up in a leaf and enjoyed. (more…)

02/20/14 12:13am
NOODLEBOTACTION1

Flushing’s Noodlebot and his caretakers are local celebrities.

There are more than a half dozen places in downtown Flushing’s teeming Chinatown to observe the magic of noodle-making. I love to marvel at X’ian Famous Foods hand-ripped biang biang mian, the pulling and stretching of Lanzhou Noodles into thin strands, and the long broad noodles of Su Xiang Yuan. I’ve never seen anything quite like Ultraman Spaceman Knife-Cut Noodles 奥特慢太空人刀削面 though.

This newish stall in the Flushing Mall Food Court takes its name from the 1960s Japanese sci-fi series Ultraman. According to Wikipedia, the pointy headed silver spaceman has more than 20 super powers, including Spacium Ray, Ultra Psychokinesis, and Ultra Slash. Making knife-shaved noodles is not on the list of super powers, but it’s clearly an adaption of Ultra Slash. Let’s watch our hero in action (courtesy of my pal, Colin Goh) shall we? (more…)

02/07/14 9:33am
BUNNY

What’s up, Doc?

One of things I love most about bringing food tours to Korean megamarket Assi Plaza, is browsing the meat case. In addition to lovely cuts of short rib and pork belly for tabletop grilling there’s plenty of offal, from snout to pizzle. And then there’s this, to ggi, or wild rabbit with a graphic of Bugs Bunny on the label. Many thanks to Instagrammer HUNGRY_EYE. To submit your delicious finds to Photo Friday simply tag your Instagram photos with #CMSHUNGRY. And while you’re at it, check me out on Instagram, joedistefanoqns.

01/24/14 12:49pm
FLUSHINGSNOW

Tuesday was as fine a winter’s day as any for a food tour.

What do you when duty calls and your battlefield is in the grips of a polar vortex? Well if your duty is to give food tours of America’s tastiest Chinatown, you soldier on. Which is precisely what I did Tuesday  morning when I showed a couple around Downtown Flushing. There was no way I was going to cancel on them, particularly since they’d travelled from Buffalo, a burg notorious for snowfall. To submit your delicious and/or snowy  finds to Photo Friday simply tag your Instagram photos with #CMSHUNGRY. And while you’re at it, check me out on Instagram, joedistefanoqns.