02/06/17 11:42pm
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The spiciest baby momo in Thai Town!

The name of this newish Tibetan spot in the heart of Elmhurst’s Little Bangkok pays tribute to a cool mung bean jelly that’s more commonly known as laphing in Tibet. One of the best things on the 15-item menu, however is the spicy dumpling ($5.99). The chef-owner can call them dumplings, but I prefer to think of them as mini momos. (more…)

01/03/16 12:29pm

Now that the streets around Times Square are almost cleared of New Year’s Eve confetti and I’ve digested several plates of lucky New Year’s noodles it’s time to take a look back at 2015. It was a big year for me, including a profile in The Wall Street Journal. Queens  continued to amaze with everything from octopus tacos and Thai noodles to Caribbean Chinese and the most unlikely French patisserie ever. In no particular order here are 15 of the best things I ate last year.

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Tom yum haeng topped with fried pork sugar and chili.

1. Yummiest dry tom yum
The weekend noodle soup pop-up at Elmhurst’s Pata Paplean remained on point, but one of my favorites there wasn’t a soup at all. Tom yum haeng—dry tom yum noodles—consists of springy yellow noodles, fish balls and golden shards of fried pork all dressed with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chili, and cilantro. Mix it all up and dig into the best dry noodles in Thai Town.

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2.  Tastiest deep-fried seafood nostalgia
The cheery blue and white Bigelow’s Seafood has been around for more than 70 years. After driving by it for about that amount of time, I finally had the privilege of trying it this past spring. These wizards of the fryer turn out impeccable Ipswich clams, fried smelts, shrimp, and soft shell crabs all served in an atmosphere that time and cholesterol have forgotten.  (more…)

12/14/15 11:16am
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C-momo come with onions and peppers, just like Tex-Mex fajitas.

I’ve often thought of the sizzle platter—a cast iron oval set in a wooden block—as a gimmick. Designed to make diners ooh and aah with its sputtering and hissing, it’s akin to fried ice cream or the show put on by a teppanyaki grill man. I can count the number of times I’ve ordered sizzling fajitas, precisely once. But when I heard of the sizzling C-momo at Spicy Tibet I couldn’t resist. Whether fried or chive-filled I have a weakness for the dumplings that are the hamburgers of the Himalayas. (more…)

11/01/15 10:44pm
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Chu-tse momo are packed with chives.

Lhasa Fast Food is a favorite stop on my Himalayan Heights Food Tour. Tucked away behind a cell phone store, it’s a veritable Shangrila of Tibetan cooking. Last year the hidden restaurant’s beef dumplings took home the coveted Golden Momo, the trophy awarded to the best momo in the annual Momo Crawl. Juicy and scented with Sichuan peppercorn and Chinese celery the little packages are made to order and well worth the wait. The other day I discovered a secret momo being served at this momo speakeasy: chu-tse momo. (more…)

03/11/15 10:11am
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Behold the momo burger, a Tibetan-American mashup

Momo—juicy beef dumplings seasoned with ginger,onion, and special momo masala—are the national dish of Tibet. A Tibetan loves his momo as much an American loves his hamburger perhaps even more so. In no place in NewYork City is this more true than Jackson Heights. Momo are ubiquitous at the hood’s many Tibetan and Nepalese eateries. There are three food carts and a truck selling the dumplings and even an annual Momo Crawl founded by local tour guide Jeff Orlick. So it was only a matter of time before someone invented a momo burger. That time is now, and that someone is Lobsang Choephel, the chef of Little Tibet. (more…)

12/31/14 4:41pm

As 2014 draws to a close rather than offer up a roster of resolutions—less chips more gym, save money, etc.—C+M presents a list of 14 of our favorite things, a highlight reel of the year that was. Let the mostly Queens-focused cavalcade of offal, mashups, secret eats, and overall deliciousness begin.

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The rugelssaint at Andre’s Hungarian.

1. Sweetest mashup
Part pain au chocolat, part rugelach, all decadence the chocolate croissant—aka rugelssaint—at Andre’s Hungarian Bakery was my go-to guilty breakfast this year.

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Ban Ga Ne’s got your large format goat feast needs covered.

2. Best goat meat bonanza
Not only was the three-course black goat meat feast at Ban Ga Ne one of the best Korean meals I’ve had in a long time, it was some of the best goat I’ve ever had. Plus as the proprietor pointed out, it’s um, invigorating.

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Zuppardi’s glorious fresh shucked Little Neck clam pie.

3. Best pizza
Some friends and I made a pizza pilgrimage to New Haven this fall. Everything we tried was good, but the real revelation came when we dug into the fresh clam pie at Zuppardi’s Apizza. Fragrant with Little Necks and oregano atop a crackling thin crust, it was simply astounding. (more…)

05/30/14 12:01pm
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Phayul’s fried momo are even tastier than they look.

There are many wonderful things about Phayul, the second-floor Tibetan eatery overlooking the hustle and bustle of Himalayan Heights. Chele khatsa, spicy fried beef tongue, and tsak sha chu rul, a pungent beef and cheese soup come to mind. Even though I’ve been eating at Phayul for several years I’m still discovering new things, like fried momo. (more…)

02/18/14 12:26pm
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These thick-skinned beauties are perfect on a winter’s day.

At the end of the day momos are just beef dumplings and I will never ever get as excited about them as folks from the Himalayan diaspora do. There are now more than a dozen restaurants and four food trucks in Jackson Heights that serve them. Momos are to Tibetans and Nepalese as hamburgers are to Americans—a national dish that evokes gatherings with family and friends. “What’s the big deal about a hamburger?” I imagine a Tibetan saying. “It’s just two pieces of bread with ground beef in between.”  But enough momo musing. I’m here to tell you I’ve discovered a momo that is the very essence of winter comfort food: the kothe momo. (more…)

08/20/13 12:28pm
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The Himalayan culinary diaspora has moved southward to Elmhurst.

In the days before air flight a journey from Indonesia to Tibet required a boat ride across the Bay of Bengal and a trek through Burma, Bangladesh, and Bhutan, all told a distance of some 3,000 miles. In Queens—where time and space bend in strange, delicious ways—the two countries lie just down the street from one another. Or at least they do now that Himalaya Kitchen opened its doors a few days ago.

I first noticed Himalaya Kitchen the other day on a stretch of Whitney Avenue in Elmhurst better known for serving Indonesian fried chicken than Tibetan dumplings. I was leading a trek of my own, a food tour of Southeast Asian Elmhurst and Himalayan Heights. We’d already eaten plenty, plus the plan was to have those dumplings, or momo, at one of my favorite secret spots in Himalayan Heights. So I made a mental note to return to the new spot, which represents the southernmost Tibetan eatery in Queens. (more…)

07/16/13 10:35am
The Ambassador plate from Gangjong Kitchen has several types of momo.

Gangjong Kitchen’s  Ambassador Plate has several types of momo.

“It’s a combination of Tibetan and European, the chef at Ganjong Kitchen said as he set down a plate bearing three kinds of steamed momo, some daal, bits of grilled chicken breast, and what looked to be a homemade take on a frozen vegetable medley. There was also a side car of broth.

This cross-cultural offering from the Tibetan eatery located in Jackson (aka Himalayan Heights) was part of the Ambassador, a Jackson Heights omakase dreamed up by Jeff Orlick. The two-week old program is simultaneously simple and brilliant. Diners look for restaurants in the nabe bearing a sticker that reads, “Ambassador/Don’t Know What to Try?/Let The Chef Decide/$10/Jackson Heights,” and then simply point to the sticker placing themselves in the chef’s hands. (more…)