07/17/13 11:09am

There’s a theory put forth about food critics by a chef pal of mine. It goes something like this, “Robert Sietsema knows what he’s going to write before he even walks in the door.”  As someone who considers himself a food writer and not a critic, I like to consider myself the exception to my buddy’s rule, but I know I’m not. Take the sandwich I had yesterday. I knew I was going to be in Manhattan for the afternoon and I knew I wanted something hearty, even meaty. I was thinking of a Cubano from La Taza de Oro, or something Italian. When I got to the City as we Queensites like to call it I was still undecided. So I put to the Twittersphere, specifically the maharajah of meat, Josh Ozersky. Within minutes a three word response, “Eataly. Roast Beef,” popped upon my phone. (more…)

07/03/13 11:55am
AGE-ICE

A Japanese spin on the ice cream sandwich.

As a habitué of Japanese eateries  I am familiar with the word age, meaning fried, as in kara age, or fried chicken. For about a year I’ve been meaning to try the age ice ($2.99) from Japadog, the Japanese hot dog shop on Saint Marks Place. Thankfully it is not the same thing as the fried ice cream one finds at certain South of the Border restaurant chains. It is instead “ice cream with fried buns,” which resemble hot dog rolls in their shape and size. Three scoops of your choice vanilla, green tea, strawberry or black sesame are cradled in the bread. You could call it a cold dog, but that’s not entirely accurate, so age ice it is.

“Think of it like a donut,” the kid behind the counter said as he made my age ice kurogoma, black sesame ice cream sandwich. After the requisite photo frenzy I dug in. The bun’s glaze had some texture to it thanks to a crunchy coating of sugar. The combination of the cool ice cream and the warm fluffy donut was simply delightful. It was way better than the donut sandwich I had last week. Fueled by a sugar rush I envisioned a warm pretzel bun cradling a savory meat-based frozen confection. Do you feel me OddFellows?

Japadog,  30 St. Marks Place, 646-476-2324

06/12/13 10:41am
A sumptuous whole hog Bar-B-Q sandwich from Ed Mitchell.

A sumptuous whole hog Bar-B-Q sandwich from Ed Mitchell.

The 11th Big Apple Barbecue Block Party filled Madison Square Park with smoke, meat,and revelry this past weekend as pitmasters from all over the country gathered to show us Yankees how it’s done. Back when I first started attending the annual smokefest Danny Meyer spoke at a panel and said something to the effect of  “One day barbecue will be a dining option. The same way people say,  ‘Let’s go eat Chinese, or Mexican, or Italian.’”  This carnivore is proud to say that day is most certainly here. After all there are four barbecue joints in Queens alone. (more…)

01/29/13 12:03pm
Your Uncle Zhou knows what's good for you.

Your Uncle Zhou knows what’s good for you.

In Gotham’s  Golden Age of regional Chinese food  there are several spots where one can get Henanese lamb noodle soup, including Manhattan’s Chinatown, Flushing, and Elmhurst. (For all I know it’s probably available in Brooklyn’s Chinatown too.) One of my favorites bowls can be found at Uncle Zhou Restaurant. The affable proprietor—your uncle and mine—Steven Zhou is always quick to proudly say, “Different than Flushing, right?”

One difference is the rich lambiness of the soup itself. The milky white broth is essentially a lamb stock made from bones that have been boiled for a long,long time. (If memory serves, and it often doesn’t, Uncle Zhou said it’s two days with fresh bones each day.) The hand-pulled noodle version ($5.75) also has strips of seaweed, and tofu skin that act as noodles. Lately I have been getting the more restrained knife shaved noodle version. Strips of dough are whittled from a huge block into the boiling water. The result  is a pleasantly chewy noodle with prominent ridge running down the center. There is little more to this soup than chunks of lamb both fatty and lean, cilantro, and bok choy. And plenty of those chewy noodles. With a dollop of hot sauce and a splash of black vinegar it’s like Henanese hot and sour soup.

A visit to the restaurant’s web site revealed this gem of restaurant marketing prose:  “Our menu is available for your salivating needs here.” Words to live by.

Uncle Zhou Restaurant, 83-29 Broadway Elmhurst , 718-393-0888