08/26/14 10:15am
THAITHEPANANG

Photos: Kristen Baughman

I’m just about emerging from the food coma that overtook me after Saturday’s Thaithentic Food and Culture Festival. Authentic was the key word of the evening with restaurants offering everything from fiery curries to insects. One of the first dishes I tried was a panang curry with chicken from Am Thai Bistro in Brooklyn.

THAITHENPLAYGROUND

Nothing says authenticity like grasshoppers.

I had to show some hometown loyalty and soon found myself in front of Jackson Heights eatery Playground’s table face to face with dozens of fried grasshoppers. I find the crunchy critters to be delicious. The Playground crew was quick to warn me not to swallow the barbed legs. I ignored them and made sure to chew every bit of exoskeleton carefully. (more…)

06/30/14 10:13am
AREPACHOCLO

An arepa de choclo in all its cheesy, gooey glory.

One of the coolest things about Roosevelt Avenue during the World Cup is the team spirit and national pride that pervades the street. The air crackles with energy, particularly after a win. And on Saturday, Colombia won, and they won big. It was the first time that the national team made it this far, and folks in the street were partying like it too, dancing and waving flags until late into the night.  Saturday also marked a monumental win for Colombian street food. The family of The Arepa Lady, the patron saint of Colombian street food in Jackson Heights, opened the doors to their restaurant.

I like to think that this street food dream team’s opening helped buoy team spirit back home. I know it buoyed my spirits. Ever since I heard several months ago that there was going to be an Arepa Lady restaurant, I’ve been watching the space with eager anticipation.

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06/03/14 10:35am
PEDRO1

A seafood feast in the back of a Jackson Heights deli.

La Esquina Del Camaron Mexicano is one of my favorite places to eat in the summertime. It’s run out of a deli and trafficks in Mexican style shrimp and seafood cocktails made with a mysterious and delicious tomato elixir. Recently the proprietor Pedro expanded his operations to seven days a week and added a counter and small kitchen. He also added some new menu items. (more…)

04/10/14 10:28am

“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.

04/09/14 12:48pm
PAMBAZO-1

The pambazo in all its ruddy, messy glory.

“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…)

03/03/14 11:27am

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.

GOATSUKUTI

Photo: Elyse Pasquale/Foodie International

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

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03/01/14 3:08pm
LOSAR

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.

02/25/14 1:20pm
Ramen noodles get the chaat treatment.

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…)

01/22/14 3:43pm

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.

YUNNANPORKRICESOUP

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

MUTONKOTSU

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…)

01/15/14 9:53am

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.

 WF-SW-CAMOTE

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

Fried crullers wrapped in eggyfried flatbread.

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…)