“Sure I eat with my hands,” you say. “Fried chicken, burgers, tacos.” Let me clarify, do you eat South Asian food—Indian, Tibetan, Bangladeshi, Pakistani—with your hands? I’ve tried it a couple of times with Nepalese food at Dhaulaghiri kitchen. In theory and practice I understand that it’s tastier that way, but since I was raised using a knife fork to eat rice I’m self-conscious and almost always opt for utensils.
Arun Venugopal on the other hand was raised with the Desi tradition of eating with his hands and discusses it in the wonderful WNYC Micropolis video above. He makes the point that in Indian restaurants, people don’t eat with their hands, saving that secret practice for meals at home with family. Based on what I’ve seen in Queens I’d say that’s not the case among South Asians, but that’s only because they feel so at home when eating in the borough’s ethnic enclaves.
“My Dad’s attitude is, it’s just very impersonal to eat with a fork or knife or chopsticks,” Venugopal says. “One of his sayings is, ‘the hand is our God given fork.’” So here’s what I’d like to know, have you tried eating south Asian food with your hands? Did you like it, or did you find it off-putting? Do agree with Arun, is it the secret to everything tasting better? Let me know in the comments.
“I’m sorry, my friend. After tomorrow no more tortas you,” is probably one of the more depressing things I’ve heard the jovial Galdino “Tortas” Molinero, the Mexican sandwich- and soccer-obsessed genius ever say. It was back in late October when his truck’s license expired. So I was very glad to learn from my amigo Jeff Orlick that Tortas has been operating out of window adjacent to Juan Bar on Roosevelt Avenue for several months. Which brings us to the subject of today’s post, the pambazo, an off menu special that appears nowhere on the list of the Mexico City native’s roster of more than a dozen gargantuan tortas. (more…)
Today marks the third day of Losar, a lunar New Year festival that’s celebrated as much in the Himalayas themselves as it is in Himalayan (aka Jackson) Heights. In order to help you get into the spirit of the 15-day celebration of the Year of the Wood Horse, here’s a list of my favorite Tibetan and Nepalese dishes in the neighborhood.
1. Goat Sukuti at Dhaulagiri Kitchen
“Oh, we have buffalo and goat sukuti too,” Kamala Gauchan the matriarch of this shoebox-sized Nepali gem told me a few weeks ago. I almost fell out of my chair when she said the types of this traditional jerky went beyond beef. And then I tasted the goat version. I’d be lying if I said I fell out of my chair, but it is absolutely amazing. Drying the meat has concentrated the goat flavor to such a degree that it almost tastes like cheese. Served in a spicy sauce—a Nepali ragu if you will—as part of a thali it is simply lovely. 37-38 72nd St., Jackson Heights
Losar kapsi, or New Year’s cookies at Lhasa Fast Food.
Tomorrow is a very special day for the Bhutanese, Nepalese,and Tibetan residents of Himalayan (aka Jackson) Heights. It’s Losar, or Lunar New Year, so C+M wishes you Losar la tashi delek, happy Year of the Wood Horse. Last night I stopped into Lhasa Fast Food and found the staff eating what I later learned from a friend was a special nine-ingredient New Year’s soup. Had I not filled up on subpar dosa I’d have taken them up on their offer to join them for dinner. Like many area restaurants, Lhasa Fast Food will be closed on Losar itself, but if you wish score some losar kapsi, or Himalayan New Year’s cookies you should stop by today.One neighborhood mainstay that will be open tomorrow is Dhaulagiri Kitchen. Oh, and since Losar is a 15-day celebration be sure to check back Monday for a list of C+M’s favorite Himalayan dishes.
Spiced correctly, sandheko waiwai is one of the fieriest snacks around.
Welcome to the eighth installment of C+M’s ongoing series of audio guides on how to order authentically spicy food in ethnic restaurants. As a service to C+M readers Anne Noyes Saini has been compiling a series of audio guides demonstrating phrases in several relevant languages, which can be used to navigate ordering situations fraught with tricky cultural and language barriers. Today a primer from Kamala Gauchan chef and owner of Dhaulagiri Kitchen in Jackson Heights on how to make sure your Nepali fare brings enough fire to melt the Himalayas. (more…)
When I was lad there was no such thing as a “polar vortex,” we called it winter—and reveled in it. Decades of relatively mild winters have spoiled me and many other New Yorkers. As a public service to help you thaw out from Winter Storm Janus, C+M presents a bone-warming roster of some of our favorite soups in Queens from Long Island City to Flushing, and points in between.
1. Yunnan rice noodle soup with pork at Crazy Crab Find this lovely bowl at New York City’s only crab shack/Burmese/Yunnanese spot. Warm up with tender chunks of pork and a spicy broth enlivened by a fresh squeeze of lime. It’s a taste of Southwestern China by way of Flushing. Not a bad deal at all, for $8.99. Crazy Crab 888,40-42 College Point Blvd, Flushing 718-353-8188
2. Tonkotsu 2.0 at Mu Ramen When the sun goes down and it’s brick cold out, head to over to Bricktown Bagels, which turns into Long Island City’s only ramen-ya. Joshua Smookler’s Tonkotsu 2.0 ($15) is made from six different types of pork bones, including shanks that cook for more than 20 hours. Topped with a slick of mayu (black garlic oil) and wobbly bits of tontoro (pork jowl), the soup is rich and complex. Best of all it has plenty of marrow thanks to all those shanks. Mu Ramen, 51-06 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City, Tues-Sat 6:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m. (more…)
A million years ago when I worked in an office, breakfast sandwiches—two eggs, with cheese, and bacon—as served by New York City coffee carts were a favorite way to start the day. In the culinary wonderland that is Queens, there are all sorts of breakfast sandwiches from all over the world. Today, a look at a few of my favorites.
1. Chicharron con camote at Broadway Bakery Chicharron con camote, a sandwich of crunchy, fatty pork and sweet potatoes is a typical breakfast sandwich in Peru. The combination of the orange camote and crunchy salty pork with pickled onions and Peruvian rocoto chili pepper paste is quite satisfying. Broadway Bakery, 81-15 41st Ave., Jackson Heights, 718-457-6523
2. Jiān bĭng at Oriental Express Food Court
Find the jiān bĭng,or titanic Tianjin Breakfast wrap as I like to call it at the Oriental Express Food court, a few storefronts south of Golden Shopping Mall. It consists of a thin pancake coated in egg and studded with chives wrapped around a yóutiáo, or Chinese cruller. Somehow this carb-on-carb bonanza makes an old-school NewYork City egg on a roll seem like health food. Oriental Express Food Court, 41-40 Main St., Flushing (more…)
Almost every ethnic group residing in the multicultural culinary wonderland of Queens has its own take on tripe. From sheets of omosa floating in Vietnamese pho to fiery Sichuan fu qi fei pian to Filipino goto, I love them all. The other night I found myself in Himalayan Heights and decided to have a plate of dhopa khatsa, a spicy Tibetan preparation.
When the dude at Namaste Tashi Delek Momo Dumpling Palace, a spot that serves food from Nepal and Bhutan as well as Tibet, brought over the steaming tangle of guts flecked with red pepper I dug in with gusto. As my palate warmed and my brain thawed out, inspiration struck. “Can I have a tingmo?” I asked. When he brought over the steamed white bun, I proceeded to cut it in half and assemble the first ever Tibetan tripe sandwich in New York City. It was a nice idea, but after the first bite or two the bun gave weigh under its offal-laden freight. The pillowy tingmo ($1) made for a good textural contrast to the chewy ribbons of dhopa khatsa ($6). And the swatches of dough were great to swipe through the fiery sauce.
Namaste Tashi Delek Momo Dumpling Palace,, 37-67 74th St., Jackson Heights, 646-203-9938
This Tibetan soup smells like stinky French cheese.
“Have you had it before?” the waitress at Phayul asked when I ordered the tsak sha chu rul ($3.99), or “beef and Tibet cheese soup.” The note of concern in her voice was in no small part due to this dish’s rather pungent bouquet. I nodded my assent and waited for the bowl of what smells not unlike a Tibetan tallegio to arrive. (more…)
The sukati roll’s the very essence of Himalayan Heights.
For as long as I have been eating my way through Queens, Tawa Foods has housed a small battalion of South Asian ladies rolling out scores of paratha and roti. As Jackson Heights has morphed to become Himalayan Heights the tiny Tawa has taken on a co-tenant, the wonderful Nepalese restaurant Dhaulagiri Kitchen.
Nepali in the front and Pakistani in the back Tawa tells the story of the neighborhood. As Nepalese and Tibetans diners seeking a taste of back home tuck into exquisite thalis—mounds of rice ringed with various pickles and curries—South Indians stroll in to stock up on some of the freshest Indian bread in Queens. The space is a fusion of two cuisines that have seldom, if ever, mingled. To my mind this is a great shame. Thus was born the sukati roll.(more…)