04/24/15 12:28am
MUSLIMLAMBCHOP1

Peng Shun’s Mongolian roast lamb ribs are astounding.

“Wow I think you renewed my faith in this dish,” a dining companion said the other day. He was talking about Muslim lamb chop a delicacy that rose to ascendancy on cumin-scented wave of glory at Fu Ran neé Fu Run about five years ago. Sadly Fu Ran’s version ain’t what it used to be. On my last few visits it was precooked, rendering what should be gloriously juicy, fatty lamb flesh rather dry and tight.

Muslim lamb chop also called lamb in Xinjiang style is a specialty of Flushing’s Dongbei restaraunts. The version that rocked our world’s can’t be had at a restaurant though. It’s served in a much more humble setting, New York Food Court. (more…)

02/10/15 2:31pm
XINJIANG1

At Lao Dong Bei, they call it lamb chop in Xinjiang style, and it’s glorious.

Muslim lamb chop is a dish I first had at one of Flushing’s first Dongbei eateries, Fu Run. Not really a chop but rather a whole slab of lamb ribs, braised and then deep fried and rolled in cumin, chili, and sesame seeds—a mixture that one food writer termed “Dongbei everything bagel spice”—the result was magnificent fatty, crunchy and luscious. And for quite some time it continued to be magnificent, so much so that I turned the crew of Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods America on to it. (more…)

11/10/14 12:06pm
ROOM55-1

Slow cooked lamb with sage, shallots, and touch of pepper and prune.

I first met Vinny Accardi, the chef at the newish Room 55 in Glendale at the kickoff to Queens Restaurant Week. He had run out of food but was quick to tell me that his first restaurant “overdelivers on the food,” and suggested I come in for a tasting.

So I took him up on the offer a few weeks later. The restaurant, named for the month and day of his graduation from the Culinary Institute of America in 2000, is tucked away on an otherwise nondescript block. Everything I tasted, from the autumn harvest salad ($9) of mixed greens, beets, and candied walnuts with warm goat cheese to his casino style Little Neck clams ($11) was excellent, but my favorite dish was the one of the menu’s two pasta offerings. (more…)

08/12/14 10:50am
BETONYLAMB2

Betony’s roasted lamb with eggplant is worth the splurge.

I was recently asked by Bon Appetit what restaurant I’d save up to splurge on. At the time I didn’t really have an answer. Then a week later I had the good pleasure of being treated to dinner at Betony. Even though I often eat at restaurants of decidedly less lofty stature, I appreciate a three-star New York Times eatery as much as the next guy. Betony is now my pick for that splurge restaurant.

Everything we had, including the fried pickles ($12), no mere bread and butter chips, but rather wax beans in airy tempura, and foie gras bonbons ($19) was top notch. Served with a couple of lines of coarsely ground black pepper the decadent bonbons rolled in cashew are an haute riff on butter crunch toffee. It was my main course, though that really blew me away. As a card carrying carnivore I was torn between the grilled short rib ($40) and the roasted lamb ($44). I went for the lamb. Paired with eggplant it’s the kind of dish that might be called lamb two ways elsewhere. Nomenclature aside, it was simply amazing. So amazing that I had to find out exactly why. (more…)

05/27/14 1:24pm

Offal—tongue, tripe, heart, even face, among other so-called off cuts—happens to be one of my favorite things to eat. As with most of my stranger culinary predilections, I blame it on my old man who always made sure to include plenty of hearts whenever he cooked up a batch of chicken soup. Thus I present a list of some of my favorite nasty bits.

FUQIFEIPIAN

Husband and wife offal slices at Golden Mall.

1. Fu qi fei pian, Cheng Du Tian Fu
The story goes that fu qi fei pian, or husband and wife offal slices, are so named because the couple who created this classic dish back in Chengdu, Sichuan, had an especially harmonious union. While that tale may be apocryphal the union of meaty beef tongue; funky chewy ribbons of tripe; and translucent swatches of tendon bathed in chili oil and shot through with peanuts cilantro, and just enough Sichuan peppercorn to set your mouth atingle is especially delicious. My favorite place to dig into this fiery heap of beef offal is Cheng Du Tian Fu in Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall. Cheng Du Tian Fu, No. 31, Golden Shopping Mall, 41-28 Main St., Flushing (more…)

02/20/14 12:13am
NOODLEBOTACTION1

Flushing’s Noodlebot and his caretakers are local celebrities.

There are more than a half dozen places in downtown Flushing’s teeming Chinatown to observe the magic of noodle-making. I love to marvel at X’ian Famous Foods hand-ripped biang biang mian, the pulling and stretching of Lanzhou Noodles into thin strands, and the long broad noodles of Su Xiang Yuan. I’ve never seen anything quite like Ultraman Spaceman Knife-Cut Noodles 奥特慢太空人刀削面 though.

This newish stall in the Flushing Mall Food Court takes its name from the 1960s Japanese sci-fi series Ultraman. According to Wikipedia, the pointy headed silver spaceman has more than 20 super powers, including Spacium Ray, Ultra Psychokinesis, and Ultra Slash. Making knife-shaved noodles is not on the list of super powers, but it’s clearly an adaption of Ultra Slash. Let’s watch our hero in action (courtesy of my pal, Colin Goh) shall we? (more…)

01/31/14 10:51am

GOLDENCNY

Gong Xi Fa Cai! The year of the Wood Horse is upon us. To aid in your celebration of the 15-day Chinese New Year, here’s  a short list of some of my favorite dishes in what I humbly consider to be the tastiest Chinatown in America.

FURUNCORN

Fu Run’s festive looking golden corn pancake.

1. Golden Corn Pancake, Fu Run
The granddaddy of Dongbei cookery in Flushing is best known for the Muslim lanb chop, but it’s specials, like the festive looking huang jin yu mi lao, or golden corn pancake ($15.95) that keep me coming back. Despite the name it’s not stack of hoe cakes, but rather some lovely fried corn croquettes. The loosely bound kernels are interspersed with carrots and peas and laid out in a star pattern. Other standout specials include the spicy fried crabs. Fu Run, 40-09 Prince St, Flushing, 718-321-1363 (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…)

12/30/13 2:50pm

As 2013 draws to a close rather than offer up a list of resolutions—less chips more gym, save money, etc.—C+M offers a list of 20 of our favorite posts, a highlight reel of the year that was. Let the mostly Queens-focused cavalcade of offal, sandwiches, mashups, secret eats and deliciousness begin.

Crazy Crab’s Yunnan special sliced pork salad.

1. Best use of Pig Face
Crazy Crab’s Yunnanese pig face salad is a spicy sour, salty, and unabashedly funky showcase for swatches of cool, slightly chewy pig skin.

2. Best Fizzy Water for Gluttons
Apart from being the preferred beverage of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin the selling point of Borjomi, a Georgian sparkling mineral water, is that it “Gets rid of unnecessaries,” or as expressed in more forthright language elsewhere on the company web site, “Borjomi also improves functioning of intestines and supports slag excretion.”

3. Flushing’s Cheapest Veggie Burger
The $1.25 cài bĭng at Super Snack, a counter just outside Golden Shopping Mall is packed with crunchy piquant mustard greens and is as fine a snack as any.

(more…)

11/21/13 10:41am
BEAR-ASPIC

Char aspic with pomelo and lemon.

The tyranny of the tasting menu—that feeling of being held hostage by a chef’s creativity  as course after course after course comes to the table—is a phenomenon with which I have scant experience. The only tasting menu of note I’ve had is Momofuko Ko’s and while not quite tyrannical, it was vast, running to more than a dozen courses, each quite good in its own way.  Even so sensory overload sets in by course eight or nine. It’s not that I was full, but rather that I was punch drunk on the experience, much the way I feel after wandering around an art museum for too long. So when Chef Natasha Pogrebinsky of Bear invited me to try to her $85 seasonal tasting menu, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.   (more…)