04/06/15 9:52am
SRIRACHACUPCAKE

“Sriracha chocolate cake!!??”

“Sriracha chocolate cake?” I muttered quizzically as I browsed the cupcake selection at Silk Cakes. “It’s a Southeast Asian . . .” the gal behind the counter stopped mid-sentence as I interrupted to tell her that I had indeed heard of the ubiquitous “rooster sauce.” My surprise stemmed from seeing the hot sauce namechecked at an upscale bakery instead of a pho joint or hipster sandwich shop. (more…)

01/30/15 10:22am

Up until last night I’d little or no idea which teams were competing in Super Bowl XLIX. I had a vague sense some outift from New England was involved. As C+M readers are no doubt aware football is far less important to me than food, especially the amazing array of crunchy, sweet, salty snacks from all over the world to be found in Queens. I like conventional junk food—chips, pretzels, and cheezy poofs—as much as the next glutton, but why stop there? So as a public service to sports fans everywhere I devote this edition of The Seven to Super Bowl snacks that showcase some of the best—and strangest junk food—Queens has to offer.

KannikoDisp

Crunchy Japanese crabs are a great drinking snack!

1. Kanikko
Like many Japanese drinking snacks kanikko combines salty, fishy and sweet flavors along with crunchiness. The difference is that kanikko are actually teeny weeny crabs coated in sesame seeds. Find them at most Japanese grocery stores. Family Mart, 29-15, Broadway, Astoria, (718) 956-7925; Sakura Ya, 73-05 Austin St, Forest Hills, 718-268-7220

THAITARO

Festive tangles of Thai taro.

2. Thai taro crunch
Not only are these tangles of fried taro sweet and crunchy, they’re fun to look at. Noi Sila owner of Thai Thai Grocery imports them from her homeland along with all sorts of other ingredients and goodies. While you’re there pick up some awesome Thai beef jerky to gnaw on while watching the game. Thai Thai Grocery, 76-13 Woodside Ave., Elmhurst, 917-769-6168 (more…)

01/27/15 12:09pm
CHI-EXTERIOR

Nothing quite says disaster preparedness like a visit to Chipotle.

Winter storm Juno nee Snowmageddon/Blizzard of 2015 sparked all sorts of irrational behavior in New York City. Declaration of martial law, oops I mean subway closure and a driving ban; a hipstervore kale crisis; even a Craigslist bonanza of potential blizzard booty calls. Over in Brooklyn some poor soul jumped out a third-story window with barely a foot of snow on the ground to break his fall. Here in Queens, I got in on the snowmageddon madness by visiting Chipotle Mexican Grill. (more…)

09/02/14 12:10pm
RUGELSSAINT

It’s no mere pain au chocolat.

At first glance it looks like an especially robust chocolate croissant. This burnished breakfast treat is no mere pain au chocolat though. For one thing, it’s not French at all. I found this glorious $3 beauty at Andre’s Hungarian Bakery a couple of weeks ago. The Forest Hills establishment is better known for apple strudel and rugelach than French breakfast items. I have never waited on line for a Cronut, and don’t plan to anytime soon. The chocolate croissant—or rugelssaint as I’ve taken to calling it— is worth waiting on line for though. Not that there’s ever a line at Andre’s. (more…)

08/13/14 11:44am
labne

Wafa’s labne and zaytoon, my idea of health food.

“Why don’t you weigh 300 pounds?” It’s a question get asked all too often. “I mean with all the good stuff you eat,” the non-food-writer person continues in amazement after seeing me take down an entire order of 15 lamb dumplings and then bewail the fact that I have a dinner meeting in two hours at some temple of meat or another. The number is always 300 pounds—roughly twice my current body weight—never 275, 350, or 412. Depending on who’s asking I’ll either make a crack about ingesting tapeworms purchased on Roosevelt Avenue, roll my eyes, or both. (more…)

06/20/14 10:32am
KATSUNO2

Katsuno’s carpaccio made me rethink salmon.

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ordered salmon at a sushi bar. At least one of those times was a monstrous Philadelphia roll. Novelty rolls are common at Japanese restaurants in Queens, but not at Katsuno. Yuka Seo and her husband Chef Seo pride themselves on authenticity at their Forest Hills sushi haven. (more…)

05/16/14 10:23am
8792823342_7ff65bee61

Serving up some satay at last year’s festival

I count myself a huge fan of the Indonesian Food Bazaars held every summer at Masjid al Hikmah in Astoria. So I was even more excited when I received an e-mail about an Indonesian Food Bazaar being held this Saturday in Forest Hills. I was unable to make last year’s event, but I’ll be there with bells on this year.

It all goes down from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the auditorium of the First Presbyterian Church of Forest Hills, 70-35 112th St., with proceeds to benefit Ranah Orphanage in Lampung, Indonesia.

I’m especially eager to try nasi goreng babat, beef tripe fried rice and tekwan, minced fishball soup from Palembang. The organizers also have other surpises in store including such exotic ingredients as torch ginger flower, keluwak nut, sator bean, and blue pea flower. There will also be Burmese food. Looks like I’ll have to bring my spare stomach to this one folks.

12/04/13 11:10am
WAFA-CAULI

Wafa’s cauliflower sandwich is a Lebanese delight.

For the longest time the scope of my Middle Eastern vegetable sandwich knowledge was limited to the mighty falafel. After all what’s not to like? Pita stuffed with the crunchy, fried, cheap, and flavorful orbs got me through  many misspent East Village nights in my twenties. The falafel at Wafa’s is excellent, and even better with the fiery hot sauce made by her son, Youssef, and the addition of crunchy pickled turnips. The last time I visited the Lebanese spot in Forest Hills I decided to broaden my horizons with what family matriarch and chef Wafa Chaimi describes as “something different”: a fried cauliflower sandwich ($6). (more…)

11/18/13 12:21pm
KNISHPIEROGIE

Knish Nosh’s perogies are pure Eastern European comfort food.

Sixty-year-old Knish Nosh is best known for its namesake old school New York City snack. The Forest Hills shop sells seven varieties of hand-rolled potato knishes, including sweet potato, broccoli, and mushroom. As much as I love the knishes, come late fall I like to snack on one of Knish Nosh’s lesser known, but heartier potato products: perogies. The hefty packages smothered in caramelized onions taste like they were cooked up on the stove of an Eastern European grandmother. That grandmother would be Romanian-born Ana Vasilescu, who prepares spinach and potato varieties ($2.50) as well as ones packed with brisket ($2.50). I prefer potato, but when especially hungry I get brisket. I have yet to try the spinach version, but I am sure it’s only a matter of time before my adopted Romanian grandmother tells me to eat my vegetables.

Knish Nosh, 100-30 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills, 718-897-5554

11/11/13 10:03am
WAFAKIBBE

Lamb tartare is a Thanksgiving favorite for Wafa’s family.

I suppose there are some people who are disgusted by the very idea of eating raw meat. I am not one of them. Beef tartare is of my favorite things to eat. Once I even had horse tartare, which was quite good. I am especially fond of other cultures raw meat dishes and relish Korean yuk hwe and Thai num tuk. So when I heard Wafa’s was making a Lebanese lamb tartare I knew I had to try it. (more…)