Peter Lo whipping up Singapore chow mein in the kitchen of Tangra Masala.
Indian-Chinese, with its fiery palate of ginger, garlic, green chilies and soy, used to be one of my favorites, but for about five years my love affair for one of the world’s original fusion cuisines was doused by waves of regional Chinese,Thai, and Uzbek food. I’ve been away from my old flame, Tangra Masala for far too long. It took a chef buddy, Jonathan Forgash, to reintroduce me to one of Queens most vibrant and delicious cuisines. And in so doing he introduced me to the man who is unquestionably the Godfather of Indian-Chinese cuisine in Queens, Chef Peter Lo. Chef Lo took the time out of his busy schedule to talk about the hallmarks of his cuisine as well as the upcoming Queens Dinner Club.
Where are you from originally and how did you learn to cook?
I’m from Calcutta. When I came to this country in 1984 I used to work part time in a restaurant. I really got fascinated seeing the way food was cooked and prepared. I liked the system. Back home my mother had an Indian-Chinese restaurant. She’s an excellent cook. Gradually I got to love cooking food, a friend used to say, “Why don’t you open a restaurant? You know you cook good food.” So that’s how I got to opened this restaurant in 2001. (more…)
My pal Rob MacKay of It’s in Queens has been raving for years about a restaurant in Richmond Hill called the Nest. It’s a Carribean-Chinese spot that’s a little further afield from Liberty Avenue’s roti shops and doubles parlors. Not only is Queens fortunate to have plenty of real deal regional Chinese we boast several hybrid varieties: Indian-Chinese, Peruvian-Chinese, and Carribean-Chinese. I’m least familiar with the last of these, and truth be told my West Indian food game is leagues behind my regional Chinese repertoire. With its deep menu of Carribean-Chinese items, including more than a dozen kinds of fried rice and plenty of West Indian fare, the Nest is a great place to learn about both. Which is exactly what I did over the course of a leisurely meal with Rob last Friday. (more…)
Chef Natasha Pogrebinsky has gone so far as to trademark the cuisine at Bear as New European, but after spending some time with her and her brother Sasha I can see whya a mutual friend characterizes it as “deeply personal.” It draws as much on her Ukrainian heritage and her Midwestern childhood as it does New york City itself. Pogrebinsky was kind enough to take time out out from her Long Island City kitchen to answer Seven Questions.
Talk to me about Chopped. What was it like? I cooked in all three rounds, I got to dessert and the judges thought my Russian cookies and tea were not sweet enough. Ironically I serve the exact same dessert at Bear and it sells out, so what do they know. But I had a lot of fun being on the show and competing and representing not only New York city, but also Queens and of course, Bear. People recognize me on the street and say, “You should’ve won.” People come from around the country to eat at Bear just because they saw me on the show.
Where did you learn to use chopsticks? Nowhere. I still struggle.
What’s your favorite way to eat bone marrow? The old school way, roasted and spread on country toast. with a side of pickled vegetables or sauerkraut.
Where do you like to eat on your days off? What are some of your favorite spots in Queens? On my one day off I like to bum on my couch mostly but if I do go out it’s for ethnic food, or something simple like really good tacos, I like El Ray on Astoria Blvd., I like to try different spots every time. But mostly I like to either cook at home or go to a friend’s house and they cook. (more…)
I suspect Lays Do Us A Flavor campaign potato chips are made with unicorn meat. For more than a month I have being scouring convenience store shelves searching in vain for the three flavor finalists: Cheesy Garlic Bread, Chicken & Waffles, and Sriracha. A few weeks ago I spied the Chicken & Waffles flavor at a convenience store, but didn’t buy them, partly because I wasn’t that hungry, but mostly because chicken and waffle chips don’t sound all that appealing. I had just about given up any hope of trying these crowd-sourced crisps, when I saw the Sriracha flavor in a Flushing convenience store. I immediately snatched up three packs for $1.50.
The first thing I noticed when I tore into them was that they seemed crunchier than normal Lays chips. The next thing I noticed was the distinctive chili and garlic flavor of Sriracha. I still prefer the chips from Lays Thailand that I tried a while back. Nevertheless I’m casting my vote for these spicy chips. I haven’t tried the other two flavors and I doubt that have chance to before this crowd-sourced potato chip campaign ends on May 4. So here’s what I’d like to know, have you tried Lays Sriracha potato chips yet? Moreover how do you feel about this most American of Asian hot sauces? And how do you pronounce it? I have grown accustomed to pronouncing it shree-RATCH-AH. Tell me in the comments or hit me on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.