05/16/16 11:59am
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Forgot it’s a Thai dessert? Let the caramelized shallots remind you!

Until very recently I’ve felt I could take or leave taro. The taro cakes found at Chinatown dim sum houses are good, but I’m not exactly crazy for them. I prefer the latke-like shrimp fritters encrusted in shredded taro. It took a Thai dessert preparation—morkhang puekto make me really crave the starchy tuber.

I found the toasted taro custard at Khao Kang, an Elmhurst steam table specialist, with a sideline in desserts. Like so many of my favorite Thai snacks, the dense eggy morkhang puek blurs the Western disctinctions of sweet and savory. In case there was any doubt that this is a Thai dessert, caramelized shallots sit atop the burnished brown surface.

The distinctly Thai combination of salt, egg, and coconut milk is lovely. The whole affair tastes like a Southeast Asian version of flan. It almost makes me want to sneak in a bottle of fish sauce to a Cuban restaurant. Almost.

Khao Kang,  76-20 Woodside Ave, Elmhurst, 718-806-1807

01/30/15 10:22am

Up until last night I’d little or no idea which teams were competing in Super Bowl XLIX. I had a vague sense some outift from New England was involved. As C+M readers are no doubt aware football is far less important to me than food, especially the amazing array of crunchy, sweet, salty snacks from all over the world to be found in Queens. I like conventional junk food—chips, pretzels, and cheezy poofs—as much as the next glutton, but why stop there? So as a public service to sports fans everywhere I devote this edition of The Seven to Super Bowl snacks that showcase some of the best—and strangest junk food—Queens has to offer.

KannikoDisp

Crunchy Japanese crabs are a great drinking snack!

1. Kanikko
Like many Japanese drinking snacks kanikko combines salty, fishy and sweet flavors along with crunchiness. The difference is that kanikko are actually teeny weeny crabs coated in sesame seeds. Find them at most Japanese grocery stores. Family Mart, 29-15, Broadway, Astoria, (718) 956-7925; Sakura Ya, 73-05 Austin St, Forest Hills, 718-268-7220

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Festive tangles of Thai taro.

2. Thai taro crunch
Not only are these tangles of fried taro sweet and crunchy, they’re fun to look at. Noi Sila owner of Thai Thai Grocery imports them from her homeland along with all sorts of other ingredients and goodies. While you’re there pick up some awesome Thai beef jerky to gnaw on while watching the game. Thai Thai Grocery, 76-13 Woodside Ave., Elmhurst, 917-769-6168 (more…)

12/31/14 4:41pm

As 2014 draws to a close rather than offer up a roster of resolutions—less chips more gym, save money, etc.—C+M presents a list of 14 of our favorite things, a highlight reel of the year that was. Let the mostly Queens-focused cavalcade of offal, mashups, secret eats, and overall deliciousness begin.

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The rugelssaint at Andre’s Hungarian.

1. Sweetest mashup
Part pain au chocolat, part rugelach, all decadence the chocolate croissant—aka rugelssaint—at Andre’s Hungarian Bakery was my go-to guilty breakfast this year.

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Ban Ga Ne’s got your large format goat feast needs covered.

2. Best goat meat bonanza
Not only was the three-course black goat meat feast at Ban Ga Ne one of the best Korean meals I’ve had in a long time, it was some of the best goat I’ve ever had. Plus as the proprietor pointed out, it’s um, invigorating.

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Zuppardi’s glorious fresh shucked Little Neck clam pie.

3. Best pizza
Some friends and I made a pizza pilgrimage to New Haven this fall. Everything we tried was good, but the real revelation came when we dug into the fresh clam pie at Zuppardi’s Apizza. Fragrant with Little Necks and oregano atop a crackling thin crust, it was simply astounding. (more…)

12/16/14 2:00am
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‘Egg pan’ at the newly expanded Sugar Club.

I am not sure whether brunch is eaten in Thailand. I prefer to think it’s not. For the purpose of this dispatch though, I had a lovely two-part brunch in Elmhurst’s ever expanding Thai town. Stop number one was the newly renovated Sugar Club. In addition to seating and room for an entire table laden with prepared foods and desserts, the expansion includes a café area, which serves up desserts and a savory breakfast called egg pan ($5), or kai kra ta in Thai. (more…)

12/01/14 1:10am
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Plant Love House’s yum num tok.

It’s a good time to eat Thai in Queens. Arguably this has been true since Sripraphai Tipmanee opened her namesake restaurant in Woodside some 25 years ago. Of late though, Woodside and Elmhurst have blossomed into a Little Bangkok, with the emergence of spots like Khao Kang, Paet Rio, and Eim Khao Man Gai. The latest entrant into this arena of deliciousness is Plant Love House.  Judging by the logo of a street cart, this is back home hawker fare. This oddly named restaurant run by Peak Manadsanan and her family opened a week or two ago with an abbreviated menu in a space that had housed a Tibetan restaurant. Before that it was a Chinese noodle and dumpling house, so you could say that things have sort of come full circle. (more…)

08/05/14 10:44am
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Khao Kang has the best Thai steam table grub around.

Thais and non-Thais, foodies, chefs, and local shop owners alike have been encouraging me to try Khao Kang for months. The steam table joint opened this winter on a stretch of Woodside Avenue I like to call Little Bangkok. It took me half a year to finally try it, but I am ever so glad I did.

At first glance it looks like a Chinese rice-and-three spot, but it’s actually far superior. It recalls the good old days of Sripraphai, before the restaurant skyrocketed to popularity, taking up two storefronts. Selections change daily according to the chef’s whim, but they are always fragrant, delicious, and often quite hot. There are a few regulars like a wonderful stewed pork belly and something I like to call the Thai surf and turf, which is available only on weekends. (more…)