04/04/16 11:13pm

Gimbap—a Korean after-school snack that at its most minimalist form consists of little more than American cheese, white rice, and daikon rolled up in seaweed—is not exactly anybody’s version of extreme eats. Sure there are more flavorful varieties like spicy tuna and spicy squid, both of which I find quite lovely and enjoy at Song’s Family Food in Murray Hill, Queens. To find a truly extreme kimbap, or gimbap, as it’s also spelled, I had to turn to the internet, specifically Korean cooking Youtube channel cookat TV. (more…)

01/13/16 11:09pm

Esther Choi’s grandmother taught her to love cooking and eating Korean food. She’s been in the restaurant business since she was 14. She also loves Korean food in Queens whether Geo Si Gi’s pork stew or Sik Gaek’s live octopus as you can see in the above video from our friends at Find. Eat. Drink. As chef and owner of Mokbar, a bustling noodle shop in Chelsea Market, Choi is one busy lady, so I’m grateful she took the time to answer 7 Questions.

What inspired you to open Mokbar? What does the name mean?
I felt the need to speak for Korean food. It can be more than just Korean BBQ like most Americans think. There are so many different special flavors and dishes in Korean cuisine. I wanted to show Korean flavors in a different light, which is why I decided to go with Korean ramen. The name was inspired from a term ‘mokbang’ which is a famous phenomena in Korea where people watch other people eat food. I actually thought it was hilarious and love watching it myself as well. Mok means to eat, so it made sense to me: “Eat Bar.”

What’s in your fridge at home right now?
A lot of kimchi. A lot of gochujang and doenjang. And a lot of beer. These are staples in my fridge and I feel really bad when it’s not filled with these items.  (more…)

10/21/15 11:24am

I’ve been a little off my sandwich game of late as I’ve been engaged in a rather monumental hamburger project for FoodieHub. That hasn’t stopped me from thinking about sandwiches though. Last night I discovered a beauty on Instagram, the kimchi reuben from Misery Loves Co.  in Winooski Vermont. (more…)

01/06/15 11:47am

Esther Choi’s kimchi ramen is a bowl of fiery porky goodness.

On this first real day of winter with snow falling and the remnants of a head cold I wish I was in Chelsea Market. Actually, scratch that I wish was in Mok Bar, to hell with the rest of the market and its hordes of gastrotourists. A bowl of Esther Choi’s kimchi ramen ($13) would do this body good right about now.

At times like these spicy soups are a go-to, and Choi’s doesn’t disappoint. Not only is the fiery broth packed with kimchi and springy noodles, it has a double dose of pork thanks to smoky bacon and a nice chunk of meat. (more…)

07/16/14 12:52pm

Chef Joey Campanaro’s bacon, lettuce, and kiwi sandwich.

I haven’t thought this about much about kiwis since I used to pack them for lunch. Back then they were cheap and relatively tasty, if somewhat tart. It’s been years since I’ve had one of the fuzzy fruits once known as Chinese gooseberries. Last night the good folks at Zespri Kiwifruit and Chef Joey Campanaro of Little Owl changed my mind about the fruit. For one thing a properly ripened kiwi is quite tasty, sweet and juicy with just a hint of tang.

The coolest thing I learned about the kiwifruit last night though was its culinary applications: as a meat tenderizer, in prosciutto wraps, tacos, and the BLK. That last a bacon, lettuce and kiwi sandwich that I would gladly eat for lunch daily were not most of days spent chasing down noodles, dumplings, offal and other delights in the culinary wonderland that is Queens. (more…)

01/29/14 1:24pm

Kimchi grilled cheese with a sidecar of caraway napa slaw.


Back when The Queens Kickshaw opened a couple of years ago it made a name for itself with such fancy—and frankly outlandish—grilled cheese sandwiches as gouda with black bean hummus, guava jam, and pickled jalapeños. Last week I popped in to the Astoria eatery to try one of its latest creations, a kimchi grilled cheese ($10). It’s one of the more interesting sandwiches I’ve had in a while. The combination of cheese and kimchi has reawakened my curiosity about budae jjigae, the infamous “Korean army base stewthat combines kimchi, hot dogs, and American cheese, among other things. (more…)

05/10/13 12:55pm

Uncle John’s hot links are revelatory.

Fellow Queens fresser Jeff Orlick offers his take on Smorgasburg, complete with a ginormous Flickr set. He marvels at Crazy Legs’ turkey drumstick schtick and counts himself a fan of Porchetta.

Over at the Voice my main man, Robert Sietsema makes me hungry for the 17-item Cypriot mega-mezze spread and some awesome looking octopus at Astoria’s Kopiaste.

Writing for the Times Peter Kaminsky, who’s perhaps best known to this carnivore for his book “Pig Perfect,” tells a mouthwatering tale of a beefier nature, an Argentine “Secuencia de la Vaca.”

Meat maven Nick Solares pens an ode to Osteria Morini’s 120-day-aged ribeye, which has “a profoundly funky, Gorgonzola cheese like tang thanks to the long aging, and a correspondingly buttery, tender texture.”

My favorite culinary Vikings over at First We Feast take a look at U.S. chefs’ ramen creations, including some that”stretch the definition of ramen a little too far.” Delicious as it sounds I’d put the Pozolemen from Chi-town’s at Oiistar in that category.

Sandwich Surprise ponders whether lettuce wraps can be considered sandwiches, and answers with a delicious-sounding yes: bulgogi lettuce wraps with kimchi chips and fried rice. Best of all, as always there is a recipe.

Looking for a more ambitious, and historical recipe to try? Stop by The Morgan  Library and Museum to check out a 15-century cooking scroll written in Middle English.

05/10/13 10:12am

As I’ve written before Northern Boulevard is New York City’s real Koreatown, vast and overwhelming with tons of restaurants. I can barely keep track of them, which is why I’m glad my pal Peter Cucè hipped me to Geo Si Gi, and agreed to do this guest post. I’ve been meaning to try it for years. Until I dined there with him and some friends I never realized the image on the sign was a caveman; I always thought it was a fish. Peter Cucè is a food-obsessed coffee lover who chronicles New York City cafe culture via a variety of internet outlets. He is an OG Chowhound who truly lives (and travels) to eat. Peter has eaten his way through nearly every cuisine available locally and beyond and is now systematically working his way through regional Chinese and Korean food in Flushing and Sunset Park and cataloging his efforts via Instagram. Take it away Peter . . .

Geo Si Gi's sign features acartoon caveman chasing a wild boar.

Geo Si Gi’s sign features a cartoon caveman chasing a wild boar.

Geo Si Gi is one of around 10 restaurants along a strip of Northern Boulevard in a neighborhood sometimes called Murray Hill but also referred to as East Flushing or just plain old Flushing. Collectively these restaurants are the northern beachhead of Murray Hill’s Mokja Golmak or Eater’s Alley, Korean vernacular for an area that has a lot of restaurants with different specialties.


The specialty of the house is pork bone casserole.

I’ve been gradually working my way through these establishments and finally convened a party to visit Geo Si Gi, whose specialty is gamjatang, a pork bone casserole offered in five variations including dried cabbage, kimchi, curry, and seafood. Unless you go at lunchtime, gamjatang requires a group, because as is often the case at Korean restaurants, the casserole dishes are huge and built for sharing, starting at $29.95 for the most basic version for two people and topping out at $57.95 for the seafood gamjatang for four. (more…)

Joe McPherson knows a thing or two about kimchi.

Joe McPherson knows a thing or two about kimchi.

Joe McPherson, founder of Korean food site ZenKimchi has forgotten more about Korean food and culture than I will probably ever know. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the immense K-town that is Northern Boulevard. Korean Joe, as I have taken to calling him, was kind enough to answer this week’s edition of Seven Questions.

Are there any foods from the States that you miss in Korea?
These days it’s getting progressively better. I do miss good Mexican, American Chinese food, Cajun, good beer, and affordable whiskey. But if I was back in America, I’d miss makgeolli [Korean rice wine] and Korean country-style foods.

Name three things that are always in your refrigerator.
Kimchi, gochujang, peeled garlic

What’s your favorite way to eat bone marrow?
When I’m able to get it, on toast. (more…)

01/09/13 1:31pm

When it comes to Vietnamese sandwiches, more is more. The number of times I’ve order a báhn mì pâté chả can be counted on the fingers of one hand. With its selection of Vietnamese cold cuts and schmear of  pork liver pâté it’s all too often little more than a Hanoi ham sandwich. The special with crumbly crunchy, roast pork as served at a certain Manhattan jewelry store is my go-to báhn mì. This over-the-top báhn mì philosophy is taken to the nth degree at JoJu Modern Vietnamese Sandwiches, my favorite báhn mì spot in Queens. The menu boasts such creations as the Lin-Sanity ($5.50) packed with Taiwanese three cup chicken dressed with a spicy green sauce rarely seen outside of Peruvian roast chicken joints.

JoJu kimchi fries are an exercise in excess.

JoJu’s kimchi fries are an exercise in excess.

About a month ago JoJu added French fries to the menu. True to over-the-top form these include kimchi fries and a báhn mì version ($4), both available loaded with a fried egg for an extra $1.25. The fries themselves are double-fried to a shatteringly crisp crunch to stand up to all those toppings. The loaded Vietnamese sandwich version is as the kids say, ridonkulous.  Freighted with pickled carrots and daikon; lashed with spicy mayo, spicy green sauce, báhn mì sauce, and crowned with a fried egg it’s the Elmhurst equivalent of a Rochester garbage plate. I was going to order the kimchi version on the same visit, but was absolutely stuffed.

The JoJu Classic gussied up with kimchi fries.

The JoJu Classic gussied up with kimchi fries.

On a return visit I had the loaded kimchi fries. Feeling somewhat hungrier than the last time I also ordered the JoJu Classic ($4.25),which by this joint’s standard’s is pretty minimalist. Nevertheless the Hanoi ham sandwich was downright tasty. It was even better when crammed with some kimchi fries. Like I said when it comes to Vietnamese sandwiches, more is more.

JoJu, 83-25 Broadway, Elmhurst, 347-808-0887