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…)

09/24/13 9:45am
DIMSUMJURY

Dim sum at East Ocean Palace will lift your spirits if you are on jury duty.

“A food writer?” Judge Ira H. Margulis asked as I squirmed in my seat hoping not to be picked.”Well, what’s good to eat around here?” “With the exception of Dani’s House of Pizza it all stinks,” I replied. As a reward for my culinary candor both the defense attorney and the assistant district attorney deemed me fit to sit on a jury. The case was expected to take a week or less. It wound up taking 10 days.

In those 10 days I found only two things that were truly delicious. One was the dim sum at East Ocean Palace (113-09 Queens Boulevard, Forest Hills), a short walk from Queens Borough Hall. If only I’d served in Manhattan, then I could have undertaken a survey of the neighborhoods Vietnamese sandwiches, Cantonese roast meats, or eaten myself silly at Xi’an Famous Foods. Alas I was serving my time in Kew Gardens, where East Ocean Palace is the only game in town for good Chinese. The dim sum—shrimp in rice noodle, flaky pork pies, and dumplings—was quite nice, but one juror can only eat so much dim sum. (more…)

09/18/13 10:04am
boulangerieduck

Salty focacia plays nice with the duck and mozzarella.

Ever since it opened a few years ago I’ve been a fan of Francois Delano’s bakery La Boulangerie, It turns out the best baguettes in Queens as well as some killer croissants and other Viennoiserie. And with all that bread it’s inevitable that there’d be sandwiches. The croque-monsieur is quite lovely here, oozing Béchamel and topped with Gruyère. Recently Delano added a new sandwich to the menu, canard fumé, or smoked duck breast ($8). Thick slabs of the bakery’s salty focacia are layered with smoked duck breast, mozzarella, basil and tomatoes. It’s not a sandwich that will make you slap the table with epicurean glee, but it’s a pleasant change of pace in a somewhat lackluster food neighborhood. Consider it a mozzarella and tomato sandwich for French carnivores.

La Boulangerie, 109-01 72nd Rd., Forest Hills, 347-644-5606