RCL calls it a sandwich, but it’s more of a platter.
Chef Bruce has been gone about four years now. I still have a jar of cayenne he gave me two years before he died. It’s as potent as the memory of the first time I dug into a gigantic bowl of graveyard shift curry laksa at Curry Leaves with him. The chef turned taxi driver introduced me to what I like to joke is downtown Flushing’s longest running popup, since an entirely different crew runs the late night noodle operation. We’d often text each other in the wee hours with the simple query: “Curry Leaves?”
He introduced me to many places in Queens including the soul food specialist Rockaway Fish House/RCL Enterprises in Jamaica. Despite the name and the excellent reputation for fried fish, we ordered from the well-stocked steam table. I don’t remember what he had, but I do recall my plate: pig ears in gravy with collards and macaroni and cheese. (more…)
It’s that time of year again when more than 50 of Queens’ best restaurants, makers of sweet treats, and brewers of fine libations converge upon the New York Hall of Science for the annual Queens Taste. The gala tasting, which takes place Tuesday night, May 7 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., features an international roster of cuisine from all over the borough. Astoria and India will be represented by Kurry Qulture while Flushing and Taiwan will be take part as OK Canaan serves up that country’s treats. Old school confections will be provided by Jamaica’s very own Schmidt’s Candy and pub grub will be served up Neir’s Tavern of Woodhaven, a watering hole that dates back to the 1800s.
I’m honored to be a sponsor of this year’s event and want to give you dear reader the chance to win a pair of tickets. Here’s the deal: write a haiku in the comments about why you love food in Queens. The best one wins. Contest ends Monday, May 6 at noon.
Sybil’s dainty Guyanese beef and chicken patties are a perfect snack.
The other week I found my self hungry but not hungry wandering Hillside Avenue. I’d spent the morning showing a consulting client the best pastries and baked goods Queens has to offer and wanted a snack but not a full meal. For a moment I thought about Spicy Lanka. I love their food, but couldn’t justify paying for a meal when I’d just eaten half my weight in croissants and other goodies. And then Sybil’s Bakery came into view on the corner of Hillside and 160th Street. (more…)
Manny’s Bake Shop, a Filipino restaurant and bakery, is in Flushing but it lies far from my Chinatown stomping grounds. And it’s pretty far afield from Woodside’s Little Manila. I came across it while on my way to volunteer at Queens General Hospital as I do every Thursday morning. Occasionally I duck in for a buttered pandesal and a coffee. Then one day I noticed the menu’s five-item “Native Breakfast” section. “I’ll be back,” I said to the gal behind the counter grabbing my coffee and buttered roll. (more…)
Last winter I took Andrew Zimmern on a tour around the world from Tibet to Liberia with intermediate stops in Ecuador, Nepa, and Pakistan all, without ever leavings Queens. I had a blast and the crew were super-cool to work with. There was only one thing Andrew didn’t like, butter tea. “It’s good during winter,” I said as I sipped a cup. I believe his response was something like, “Nope, this is never good.”
There’s one dish we pretty much had the same visceral reaction to and that’s the pepper crab and shrimp combo ($20) at Maima’s Liberian Bistro. The scene of us eating it didn’t make the Queens episode of Bizarre Foods America, which aired last night. I am especially proud of my tour de force reaction to this dish’s blistering heat level at 1:00.
“My lips, my fingers, my tongue, my gums are kind of on fire,” Zimmern said. “This is the hottest thing I’ve eaten all week. You don’t want to bring people here who are afraid to eat. I can tell you that.” Amen to that brother.
Yesterday the high temperature in Monrovia, Liberia was 83. Queens was substantially hotter than West Africa, the mercury hit 97. And the heat from the pepper shrimp ($12) at Maima’s Liberian Bistro was at the same constant lip-blazing level it always is, approximately Fahrenheit 451. Maima’s is my type of place. The city’s only Liberian eatery is presided over the grandmotherly Maima. Many of the restaurant’s patrons call her mama. (more…)