My friend Cherry—the bundle of wacky energy that is the creative force behind Elmhurst’s best Thai boat noodles—has been saying I should stop by her joint Pata Cafe when she’s there cooking on Tuesdays. I’ve been there before, but since the cafe, part after school hangout with French fries and part Thai hawker food, was just given a Michelin Bib Gourmand, I figured a return visit was in order.
When I arrived, she reminded me of a special chicken dish, gai tod hat yai, that she had started making according to the recipe of Sunisa Nitmai who runs the kitchen at Pata Cafe. Named for the Southern city of Hat Yai where it first became popular, it is indeed quite special, crunchy and flavorful thanks to a marinade that includes coriander, coconut milk, cumin, and black pepper among other things. It’s served with a sweet chili sauce and nam jim jaew, a spicy funky mix of fish sauce and chili bolstered by roasted rice powder. It needs neither.
“The trick is you have fry them and make sure it’s crispy and not overcooked,” Cherry says, making it out to be far easier to make than it is.
Pata Cafe, 56-14 Van Horn St., Elmhurst, (347) 469-7142
When it comes to fried chicken sandwiches I’m easy. I’ve wolfed down everything from a sad hot mess at Wendy’s to a spectacular lunch only dazzler at Joseph Leonard in the West Village. So I’m quite glad that I ducked out of the deluge yesterday and into Urbanspace Vanderbilt because it gave me the opportunity to try the latest creation from Delaney Chicken, the Ranchwich.
As it turns out I wasn’t the only one who decided to duck out of the downpour. Hundreds of stranded commuters waylaid by a suspension of trains from Grand Central crowded the food hall, but that didn’t deter me from making a bee line for Delaney Chicken. I’d tried his classic sandwich a couple of years ago and was wowed by its juiciness and the nice hit of cayenne in the batter.
When I first visited the Facebook page of Awang Kitchen, the newest Indonesian spot in the Southeast Asian-inflected Chinatown of Elmhurst, it displayed a vast menu, which has seen been edited down to a more manageable size. While the food was delicious, when I visited on opening weekend, the kitchen was moving at a glacial pace. Thankfully the kinks have been ironed out and Awang is fast becoming my favorite Indonesian spot in the neighborhood.
I’m a big fan of Indonesian fried chicken, so when I spied ayam goreng kalasan, a variety marinated with coconut water, I had to try it. It was some mighty fine bird and came with a sidecar of sambal terasi, a fiery red pepper concoction made with terasi, or fermented shrimp paste. It’s one of several sambals that the Jakartan chef-owner Siliwang “Awang” Nln makes in house. (more…)
The spicy fried chicken sandwich from The Rooster’s Crow in Macy’s Herald Square.
A department store is the last place New Yorkers would expect to find a winning fried chicken sandwich. After all we Iive in a city of Fukus,Chick-fil-A’s, and Shake Shacks—each of which offer exemplary fried chicken sandwiches. So I was very surprised to learn that the basement of Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square is home to a delicious spicy fried chicken sandwich ($7.95) from a counter called The Rooster’s Crow.
It’s part of a concept called Chef St. NYC, which is supposed to mimic the city’s food truck scene. In addition to fried chicken, it offers Italian, Tutto Buono; hamburgers, Rollies; and ramen, Tabo Noodles. I’ve never thought of ramen as street food and prefer to think of Chef St. as a mini food hall. But back to that sandwich, it’s certainly the best spicy fried chicken I’ve ever eaten in department store. It’s easily in my top five fried chicken sandwiches in New York City. For an extra kick ask the dude behind the counter to hook you up with some scorcher hot sauce.
The Rooster’s Crow, Chef St. NYC. Macy’s 151 W. 34 St., New York, NY
Because nothing says Korean food like Canadian ham.
Back when I first moved to Queens there was a pizzeria in downtown Flushing called T.J.’s that sold a Korean-influenced slice. Apart from a generous serving of tangy, peppery kimchi it was a classic New York City slice. And T.J.’s itself was a classic New York City pizza parlor.
A few weeks ago some friends and I tried out Pizza Maru, in the vast K-tropolis of Northern Boulevard. If T.J.’s was a classic New York joint then Pizza Maru is classic Korean fast-casual spot. It’s Pizza Hut as envisioned by Korean businessmen, complete with four types of stuffed crusts and more than a dozen pies, including honey gorgonzola and Chicago style. (more…)
Wendy’s new chicken sandwich looks way better than it tastes.
I’m a sucker for ad campaigns touting the latest fast-food gimmick be it McGriddles or Dorito’s Loco Tacos. Upon seeing the commercial—usually while climbing a virtual mountain at the gym—I can’t wait to try the latest and greatest mass market meal. And that’s how I came to eat two fast-food fried chicken sandwiches yesterday. The first was Wendy’s Jalapeño Fresco Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Ever since seeing the commercial I’ve wanted to try it, so much so that I had it for breakfast.
Unfortunately the soggy lukewarm chicken breast, topped with diced jalapeños, and an evil yellow slurry that called to mind the cheez on movie theater nachos was disappointing as were the ghost pepper fries. Sure everything was spicy, but the execution was just terrible. I don’t blame Wendy’s though, I blame my unrealistic expectations of fast food. If anything I thank Wendy’s for the experience. It spurred me to try the second sandwich, the original chicken sandwich from Delaney Fried Chicken.(more…)
I’d cross the road for Tangra Masala’s Hakka hot chicken.
Hot chicken, a cayenne-infused Nashville specialty, has been having a bit of a moment lately in New York City and at large. Heck there’s a even a version being served at KFC. I’ve yet to try the red-tinged Tennessee take on fried chicken, but here in Queens I had the pleasure of discovering something I’ve dubbed Hakka hot chicken. I found it at Tangra Masala an Elmhurst joint specializing in fiery Indian-Chinese cuisine. The dish of hacked up bits of fried bird sauced in a glaze that marries the flavors of chili, soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic is not to be confused with the Indian-Chinese classic, chili chicken. (more…)
Taiwanese Gourmet is one of a handful of Chinese restaurants in Elmhurst that for one reason or another I have not explored. I’ve passed by it for years on my way to Elmhurst’s Thai Town and have seen it go through two name changes, but until just the other week I’d never dined there. (Believe it or not, even this intrepid omnivore has his hangups and blind spots.) But I’m here to tell you that I have seen the light, and it shines forth from Taiwanese Gourmet’s yen su ji , or salted crispy chicken ($8.95). (more…)
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…)
KFC’S Double Down in all its cheesy, chicken glory.
Let me let you in on a dirty little secret. Sometimes the search to find a sandwich to write about every Wednesday isn’t easy. Sometimes I’m driven to desperate measures. And that’s how I came to try the KFC Double Down, the fast-food chain’s frankensandwich of two fried chicken breasts in lieu of a bun with bacon, cheese, and mystery sauce in between.
Desperation to find a sandwich to write about aside, what really spurred me to try it was the three-foot picture of the sandwich outside an Astoria KFC that bore the come-on “Back for a limited time.” Once inside I couldn’t find the 610-calorie behemoth on the menu board. As I stood there confused, I was reminded of many marijuana-fueled high-school nights where I stood slack-jawed for a seeming eternity in front of a fast-food menu. (more…)