The Verizon Food crawl ended at one of my favorite spots , M. Wells Dinette.
When it comes to technology, I’m what you might call a late adopter. As for food, I am quite the opposite, living to discover new cuisines and flavors. So when Verizon contacted me to help organize and participate in a Queens food crawl on November 23 I was quite excited. Not only would I get to spend a day eating in Queens and pregame for Thanksgiving, I might learn a thing or two about technology.
Our day started at the new Verizon store in Astoria where we were each outfitted with a smart phone. Once I’d managed to set up my e-mail and social media accounts on the snazzy new LG G2, I immediately started testing out the camera. Soon we were using the Uber app to callup a car and take us to our first destination. (more…)
Chef Natasha Pogrebinsky has gone so far as to trademark the cuisine at Bear as New European, but after spending some time with her and her brother Sasha I can see whya a mutual friend characterizes it as “deeply personal.” It draws as much on her Ukrainian heritage and her Midwestern childhood as it does New york City itself. Pogrebinsky was kind enough to take time out out from her Long Island City kitchen to answer Seven Questions.
Talk to me about Chopped. What was it like? I cooked in all three rounds, I got to dessert and the judges thought my Russian cookies and tea were not sweet enough. Ironically I serve the exact same dessert at Bear and it sells out, so what do they know. But I had a lot of fun being on the show and competing and representing not only New York city, but also Queens and of course, Bear. People recognize me on the street and say, “You should’ve won.” People come from around the country to eat at Bear just because they saw me on the show.
Where did you learn to use chopsticks? Nowhere. I still struggle.
What’s your favorite way to eat bone marrow? The old school way, roasted and spread on country toast. with a side of pickled vegetables or sauerkraut.
Where do you like to eat on your days off? What are some of your favorite spots in Queens? On my one day off I like to bum on my couch mostly but if I do go out it’s for ethnic food, or something simple like really good tacos, I like El Ray on Astoria Blvd., I like to try different spots every time. But mostly I like to either cook at home or go to a friend’s house and they cook. (more…)
Fuchsia Dunlop’s account of wrangling with passel of stag pizzle in the latest Lucky Peach is alternately harrowing and humorous. It’s been five years since I took the acclaimed British cook and Chinese food expert to explore Flushing’s Golden Mall, so I thought I’d put my aside my castration anxiety aside and drop the author of Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking; Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China, a line. Dunlop who is currently eating her way through Beijing was kind enough to answer Seven Questions. By the way if you want to get really hungry follow her adventures on Instagram.
Are there any misconceptions about Chinese food you’d like to dispel? I’ve spent my entire food-writing career trying to dispel various misconceptions about Chinese food—most of all that it’s unhealthy! Of course if one were to eat deep-fried egg rolls and sweet-and-sour pork all the time it wouldn’t be a very healthy diet, but most Chinese home cooking is about rice or other grains with plenty of vegetables and a little meat, fish or poultry. I’ve always been impressed by Chinese knowledge of how to eat for health and happiness (and it’s sad to see how many younger people are now following in the unhealthy food footsteps of the West).
The other misconception is that ‘Chinese food’ is a single cuisine. China is a vast country with an incredible wealth of local and regional culinary traditions. (more…)
Ever wonder what goes on at night inside the neon squiggle festooned former diner that is Flushing’s Lake Pavilion? Well, wonder no more. The Cantonese banquet hall is the subject of a two-star review in this weeks’ New York Times. Gotta give Pete Wells props for trying goose webs and screw clam, which is not a clam, but rather an organ extracted from a sea cucumber.
In case you’ve got a forequarter of beef lying around that you’d like to turn into pastrami this video might come in handy.
I’ve always been fascinated with Rocco’s Calamari in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Now Eating in Translation helps me understand why. Rocco is Calabrese, just like my dear old Ma. (more…)
“Everybody loves that King Kong,” Pap the owner of Pata Paplean said by way of explaining his funky little lounge is named after Pata, a Bangkok department store whose rooftop zoo houses Thailand’s only gorilla. Tempting as it might sound it wasn’t this joint’s tom yum cocktail that lured me inside. It was a sign promising bowls of Thai street noodles for $4 a pop.
Moo toon is a mellow bowl of amber broth with tender bits of pork, meaty mushrooms, and some greenery. It’s available with a choice of noodles: rice, broad, or egg. I went with broad noodles, and doctored up the bowl with some dried red pepper powder. It was a perfect Saturday afternoon snack. (more…)
Mohammed traveled to Queens to feast on Pakistani offal for his 25th birthday.
Hey Joe I saw you on Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern eating that Pakistani dish. My parents are from Pakistan and I haven’t had the opportunity to try tawa kata-kat. I can’t find the name of the restaurant so I can go there. Can you please provide me the name and address? I will be visiting New York this coming Saturday for my 25th birthday. Thanks. Mohammed Malik, St. Louis, Mo.
Young man, enthusiastic offal eaters like you are the future of our nation. Tawa kata-kat, the fry up of goat brains, kidneys, and heart seasoned with ginger and chili can be had at Kababish, 70-64 Broadway, Jackson Heights, (718) 565-5131. (more…)
Beef tongue and matzo ball soup, good for what ails you.
Feed a cold, starve a fever, or so the old saying goes. But what if you’re down with a bit of both? Well then the cure as any good Jewish mother knows is surely to eat something. Enter Ben’s Best, my local old-school Jewish deli. Whenever I have a cold I stop in for a bowl of Jewish penicillin, aka matzo ball soup ($6.75). Chicken soup helps with the cold part. As for the feeding yesterday I opted for a beef tongue sandwich. ($14.95). (more…)
The flavors are so bright I can forgive the Western style greens.
Burmese and Yunnanese food are a rarity in New York City, even in the wonderland of ethnic cuisine called Queens. The best places to enjoy Burmese cooking—a complex sometimes fiery cuisine that combines elements of Indian and Thai—is at the handful of charity food festivals held in late spring throughout Queens. It was at one of these that I found out Crazy Crab 888, a sort of stealth Burmese restaurant was opening in Flushing. It’s so named because the owners have billed it as a seafood and beer joint with all manner of maritime offerings: shrimp, clams, black mussels, blue crabs, king crab, and lobster to name just a few. This is probably a smart business move on their part, though I find it disappointing. The seafood’s on the back of the trifold paper menu, but the heart is given over to Burmese, Thai, and Yunnanese specialties. These include the Yunnan sliced pork special salad ($16.99), which I tried on a recent visit. (more…)
Wonder what the Marx Bros. would have made of this duck offal soup.
About a month ago I was showing a tour group around Flushing’s New World Mall Food Court. As we approached No. 28—one of the few spots in the food court whose sign is only in Chinese—the new tenant, a strangely familiar looking woman behind the counter greeted me enthusiastically. No matter how hard tried I couldn’t place her.
On my next visit it dawned on me. The mystery woman was the wife of the owner of Golden Shopping Mall’s Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup, one of my go-to spots in the rag-tag collection of miniature restaurants. In addition to the wonderful hand-pulled lamb noodle soup there are several other items on the pictorial menu at this new outpost, including a largely forgettable knockoff of Xi’an Famous Foods lamb burger. And then there’s something that the menu lists as “old duck soup fans” ($6.50),which sounds like a club for elderly fans of the Marx Bros.
The offal rich soup’s Chinese name, lao ya feng shi tang,does indeed contain the words for old duick, “lao ya.” I can’t tell whether they came from an old duck or not, but the soup’s nasty bits—gizzard, bits of stomach, and blood cakes—were pleasant enough. Golden pillows of fried tofu, bok choy, and slippery glass noodles round out the bowl. Like the lamb noodle soup, it takes well to a dollop of chili paste. The proprietors of this new stall have set up a flat screen monitor. Instead of Chico, Groucho, and Harpo it plays a loop of Anthony Bourdain’s visit to Golden Shopping Mall.
Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup, No.28, New World Mall Food Court, Flushing
Arzu’s lamb ribs and sweetbreads are both excellent.
There are more than a half dozen Uzbek kebab houses within walking distance of C+M’s Rego Park headquarters. All of these kosher spots serve various meats—lamb, beef, chicken, and odd bits like lamb fat—grilled on flat, swordlike skewers. I am not sure what serving meat on swords says about this culture, but I do know that it is darn tasty.
One of the best of these often social club like eateries is Café Arzu. It’s practically a samsa’s throw away from my apartment. A shish-kebab of lamb ribs—really riblets—runs $4.25. Sprinkle on a bit of vinegar and some ground hot pepper and set to gnawing away. That vinegar and the raw onion serve to cut the lamb’s rich fat. Veal khorovak ($5), is one of the cheapest and tastiest preparations of sweetbreads I’ve ever come across. At times Arzu has a heavy social club vibe. Blend in BYOing a bottle of vodka and drinking a pot of green tea. Or just set to ordering and eating meat with utter abandon.