11/30/15 9:47am
RussianRamen

Bear’s Russian ramen sings with the flavors of Siberia.

When cold and flu season hit, chicken soup’s the order of the day. There’s a reason they call chicken soup Jewish penicillin. Lucky for me there are two places just a matzo ball’s throw from my house to get to an excellent bowl. In Queens every culture has its own version of chicken soup: Indonesian soto ayam hued yellow with turmeric and spiked with fiery sambal and  lime, Korean samgyetang enriched with ginseng and garlic, and Filipino tinalong manok singing with ginger are just a few of my favorites. Now thanks to Natasha Pogrebinsky’s Bear I can add Mother Russia to the list of cold busters. (more…)

10/30/15 12:20am
gianna3

Gemmeli were a childhood favorite for Mamma Gianna Cerbone of Manducatis Rustica.

This year marks the 100th birthday of Ronzoni, the venerable pasta maker that was started by one Emanuele Ronzoni in 1915. To celebrate its centennial the company chose a chef from each New York City’s borough to be the face of Ronzoni. When I received an e-mail stating that Chef Gianna ‘Mamma Gianna’ Cerbone of Manducatis Rustica was named the Ronzoni chef for Queens, I couldn’t help but smile, her restaurant is one of my favorite Italian spots, and, just like Ronzoni, she got her start in Long Island City, Queens.  (more…)

10/12/15 10:09am

resoboxramenButter makes everything better, including miso ramen.

“Oh, wow you guys have food now!?” I said to Takashi Ikezawa owner of Resobox a Japanese cafe, gallery, and cultural center in Long Island City, as I glanced at the ramen roster. I was glad to see Resobox, which offers classes in everything from flower arranging and Samurai sword to manga drawing for kids, finally serving ramen, itself an integral part of Japanese culture. I grabbed my coffee and made a mental note to return for some ramen. (more…)

09/02/15 12:01pm
ramenburger

The Austin Ramen Cho features brisket, bacon, cheese, and kimchi.

When I was growing up the closest thing to an extreme sandwich was something called a Dagwood. It was septuple-decker and was only eaten in comic strips by an absurdly thin man. To be sure there were Philly cheesesteaks around, I just never ate one. Today there are all kinds of extreme sandwiches, including the Puma from Tortas Neza, which is bigger than your head and contains a chorizo omelet among other things. The Puma is the Dagwood of Mexican sandwiches. It’s a sandwich fueled by the twin engines of Mexican pride and team spirit for football club Los Pumas de la UNAM. It is also at its heart an American sandwich, embracing Mexican foodways and turning them up several dozen notches. (more…)

08/13/15 5:04pm
Crescent Grill's duka spice duck features a puck of pistachio crusted offal.

Crescent Grill’s duka spice duck features a puck of pistachio crusted offal.

With so many restaurants and cuisines in Queens to try, it’s sometimes hard to keep track. Take Crescent Grill for example. It had over a year since I dined at the farm to table restaurant in Long Island City. So a few weeks ago I returned for a quiet late night dinner with a friend. I seem to recall lots of cheflike touches—the use of gelees and whatnot—from my last visit. This time around there were no gelees or foams just straightforward confident cooking as evidenced in my entree, the Duka spiced duck ($30). (more…)

08/07/15 11:52am
Keizo Shimamoto's Ramen Shack, one of my Smorgasburg Queens favorites.

Keizo Shimamoto’s Ramen Shack, one of my Smorgasburg Queens favorites.

Curating Smorgasburg Queens with its melting pot of international vendors ranging from The Arepa Lady and Celebes Bakar Indonesian Grill to luxe offerings like the lobster rolls from Brine by Danny Brown has been a real hoot. What’s even more fun for me though is eating there.

One Saturday I went full on Andrew Zimmern: balut from Papa’s Kitchen for starters, papaya salad with black crab from Qi, Snowy Durian from my friends at KULU Desserts. While I’m partial to the hallacas—sweet and savory Ecuadorean tamales—from Son Foods, my favorite eating experience at Smorgasburg Queens has to be Keizo Shimamoto’s Ramen Shack.

To step behind the curtain and take a seat at Keizo’s counter is to enter another world, somewhat more serene than the rest of the market, but no less delicious. Both of the hot soups I have tried have been most excellent, but my top pick might be the seafood broth based cold noodles. So, tell me, what’s your favorite thing to eat at Smorgasburg Queens?

Smorgasburg Queens, 43-29 Crescent St., Long Island City

07/22/15 10:07am
Surely the best head cheese slider in Queens.

Surely the best head cheese slider in Queens.

The amount of times I’ve wandered into Astoria’s Muncan Food Corp. to ogle all the various cuts of burnished charcuterie without purchasing anything numbers in the hundreds. OK fine, sometimes I grab a bag of jumeri, warm nuggets of crackling made from hog jowls. So I was very pleased to learn that there’s a new sandwich in town that takes many of the old world Romanian butcher’s fine products and places them on a bun. (more…)

05/06/15 10:59am
CHUTAMADRE

A taste of Ecuador on a bun via Long Island City.

There’s plenty of pork—succulent hornado Ecuatoriano with crackling skin and deep fried fritada—to be had at the constellation of vendors orbiting the Junction Boulevard stop on the 7 train. There’s one thing missing from the bustling Little Ecuador though, a pork sandwich. Sanduches de chacho hornado are a street food tradition in Ecuador, but until a little while ago they haven’t been seen much in Queens. All that changed a few weeks ago when Chuta Madre, an Ecuadorian Sanducheria, made its debut at LIC Flea. (more…)

04/29/15 11:07am
johnbrownsandwich

The Mack Daddy of barbecue sandwiches!

I’m such a fan of low and slow American barbecue, particularly the deckle or luscious top cut of the brisket, that years ago I acquired a BBQ moniker: Joey Deckle. One of my favorite preparations is Kansas City style burnt ends, crusty sweet and spicy nuggets of twice smoked brisket. My go-to spot for this luscious meat candy is John Brown Smokehouse in Long Island City. (more…)

04/09/15 12:22pm
EDCOTTON1

Sotto 13’s Ed Cotton and friend.

The first time I met Ed Cotton, executive chef of Sotto 13, he showed me how to make a turducken, a rather involved process that clearly demonstrated the second-generation chef’s love of all things charcuterie. In addition to being an expert charcuterer, pizza man, and pasta maker Cotton’s an L.I.C. guy and I am happy to announce that he will be cooking at The Catskills Comes to Queens. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy sked to answer 7 Questions Ed!

How did you become a chef?
I became a chef because of my father. I found what he did for a living very fascinating. I must have been five or so. It was interesting seeing cooks chop, cut and prepare things. That looked so fun to me.

What’s your favorite thing about being at the helm of Sotto 13?
One of my favorite things about being at the helm is that we have such a small kitchen and staff, so it’s very easy to talk to my staff. I can show them stuff and talk to them whenever because there’s nowhere to hide.

So let me get this straight. You’re making rabbit mortadella hot dogs for The Catskills Comes to Queens? How in the world did you come up with that idea?
Yes, I’m going to call them morty dogs. I love making all charcuterie, sausages, terrines, and all that stuff. We currently make rabbit mortadella for one of our wood-fired pizzas, so I wanted to take it in another direction. So that’s when I decided to make a rabbit mortadella hot dog. The garnishes won’t be as traditional as a normal dog but it will complement it for sure. (more…)