05/11/18 10:19am

Behold: Elmhurst’s most elusive Malaysian layer cake.

A few weeks ago on the Voyages of Tim Vetter podcast I posited Instagram has replaced Chowhound, particularly when it comes to hyperlocal culinary exploration. Case in point, Little House Cafe. Had I not been seen my dear friends Food & Footprints posting about this Elmhurst bakery/cafe I’d never have known about its giant Singaporean style chicken curry bun and top-notch char kway teow. Nor would I have ever tried the elusive and epic taro pudding cake.

My friends and I first spotted the multilayer creation lined up in the pastry case and didn’t have the appetite for it because we’d just dispatched the aforementioned giant curry chicken bun along with several pieces of Malaysian brown sugar sponge cake and other goodies. When it was described as layers of coffee jelly, pudding, taro cake, and sponge cake we were all quite curious. (more…)

01/06/16 11:12am
banhmi

Kimchi fries and caramel pork from Elmhurst’s JoJu.

“I’ve never even seen banh mi in Queens,” my friend Tatsu Ikeda, declared on Instagram the other day, and put the question to me. Well Tatsu there are banh mi in Queens, if you know where to look. For a long time there were only what I like to call ham sandwiches with Vietnamese accents mostly being served at restaurants. All that changed when JoJu Modern Vietnamese Sandwiches opened a few years ago. The Elmhurst shop offers 17 varieties of banh mi from the classic (think Vietnamese ham and pate) to the modern. The Lin-Sanity sandwich, a well executed fusion tribute to Taiwanese-American basketball star that combines Taiwanese three-cup chicken with Peruvian green hot sauce, is perhaps the most modern of all. (more…)

11/18/15 10:15am
REV-WH

A gutbusting Waffle House sandwich born of a hunger for IG likes.

I spend more time than most—and less than some—thinking about sandwiches and Instgram. The same can be said for my pal Rev Ciancio who was kind enough to pen this guest column inspired by that most American of establishments, The Waffle House.

The lunches at my grade school … sucked, for lack of a better word. They sucked. Our hot pizza was merely a no-name version of a square piece of Ellio’s. The meatloaf was a dense piece of hardened automobile sponge covered in a warm “gravy” that had the consistency of Slimer’s ectoplasm from Ghostbusters. Even the French Fries were terrible. They were toasted styrofoam covered in the same salt they use to clear snow covered roads in states that end in “ota.”

If you wanted a decent lunch you either had to sneak out—which wasn’t an option until you or a friend turned 16 and was blessed with a Chevy Nova that could squeeze in a six-pack of high-schoolers — or you had to bring your own. The latter was a pretty good option. Maybe you had PB&J on white bread. If you were really lucky, you got salami and mozzarella with yellow mustard on split-top wheat. (Those were great days.) Your sandwich usually came with a hand-packed Ziploc bag of Doritos, Chex Mix or some generic potato chips, and a piece fruit or carrot sticks. If your Mom/Dad/Caregiver really liked you, you were blessed with the social currency of cookies. (more…)

03/27/15 9:57am
wellswaffle

M. Wells’ Russian Waffle is delicious and quite photogenic.

“I’ll never use Instagram,” I once said. Famous last words. These days, I use it more than ever. Most of my non food nerd friends know my phone camera eats first. When I’m out with a posse of food nerds, it becomes an Instagram shooting frenzy, and I’ve learned to accept that I just might not get that perfect shot. But what about those other times? I am by no means an expert Instagrammer or food photographer, but I have learned a bit over the few years I have been shooting food. Below are some of my favorite tips. (more…)

02/20/15 11:27am
GXFC1

Festive hong bao being sold on Main Street last week.

Gong xi fa cai!! Here at C+M’s Photo Friday we wish to extend to you warm Chinese New Year wishes for this Year of the Sheep. There’s been much confusion as to whether it is the sheep or the ram, I may just start calling it Year of the Ovine.

Queens being the most diverse place on earth,  it’s not just Chinese who celebrate the Lunar Year, but also Vietnamese, Malaysians, and as I learned the other day, Thai people of Chinese descent. Two days ago I walked in to Sugar Club in Elmhurst with a tour group and there was entire New Year’s spread laid out. Want to be featured on Photo Friday? Tag your  Instagram photos #CMSHUNGRY.

06/13/14 12:42pm
PAELLA

Spanish red prawn paella as served at Lot 10 in Hong Kong.

These days the old social media channels teem with food photos, good, bad, and ugly. I like to think that mine are good. One Instagrammer who never fails to make hungry is little_meg_siu_meg, a well-travelled and well-fed Hong kong Kong resident. This photo she snapped of grilled prawn paella at On Lot 10 in Hong Kong left me speechless. Her description of the aroma of roasted shells makes me want to eat this right now. To submit your delicious finds to Photo Friday simply tag your Instagram photos with #CMSHUNGRY.

05/23/14 10:28am
SINGAPOREBUTTERCRAB

Mellben’s butter crab looks stupendously good.

Singaporeans know how to eat. I know this firsthand because I am fortunate to be friends with Colin Goh and his wife, Yen Yen Woo, creators of Dim Sum Warriors. They live in Flushing and have turned me on to some of my favorite dishes in its Chinatown, including the soup dumplings at Flushing Mall, which have become a staple of my food tours. For the past two weeks they’ve been in Singapore on business. Apparently their business is posting photos of insanely delicious looking meals on Facebook. Like this creamy butter crab from Mellben Signature. All I can say is sign me up. 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.

04/18/14 10:45am
SHAKSHUKA

Saleya’s shakshuka is amazingly photogenic.

“Pretty sure that shakshuka always photographs like it’s already been digested,” I wrote on Facebook a while back. The less than appetizing observation came after reviewing some unflattering photos I took of the shakshuka at Grill House, my local Israeli spot. Many of my friends, food photographers and chefs among them, all agreed with my observation about the egg, tomato, and pepper concoction. (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.