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…)
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
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
“It’s kind of like a banh mi,” the waitress said of the roast lamb sandwich at M. Wells Dinette. As I scanned the menu my eyes darted between the lamb sandwich ($12) and the spaghetti sandwich ($12). Lamb and Vietnamese sandwiches sit pretty high in my culinary pantheon, but ultimately I went with the spaghetti sandwich. It bears pointing out this kooky sandwich predates, that other noodle-based mashup, the ramen burger. (more…)
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, brunch not so much, unless you count M. Wells Dinette or dim sum. Long before I read Anthony Bourdain’s takedown of the portmanteau meal in Kitchen Confidential, I was a brunch hater. A good breakfast sandwich—the classic New York City coffee cart bacon, egg, and cheese—however, is something I get can get behind. Heck I’ve even been known to enjoy a McGriddle. Which is why, despite my aversion to the meal, I’m glad Sweetleaf launched brunch this past weekend at its Long Island City waterfront location. The coffee and cocktail bar’s short menu features one of the best egg sandwiches I’ve had in a long time. (more…)
Leave it to John Brown Smokehouse, the only Queens BBQ joint that serves kimchi to come up with a low and slow take on the Mexican torta. Like most tortas, the chupacabra ($12) is a monster. Queso fresco, tostones, pickled jalapeños, and pulled pork are piled high upon a brioche and lashed with ghost pepper barbecue sauce. (more…)
For seven years French pastry fans have made the pilgrimage to Cannelle Patisserie. There, in the Paris of East Elmhurst, situated in an otherwise unremarkable strip mall, they found cases lined with flaky croissants, praline cream-filled Paris-Brest, and other specialties of owner Jean-Claude Perennou’s native Brittany. Now Perennou has opened a second shop in the heart of Long Island City, practically a macaron’s throw from the East River waterfront. (more…)