10/03/17 1:15pm

Speck, truffle, and ricotta team up for this gourmet pie.

Lately I’ve been getting in touch with my Italian heritage through food, which is how I wound up at Levante, Long Island City’s newest pizzeria last night. Actually, that’s not exactly true my barber Kirk Riley told me about it while I was in the chair yesterday evening. “Gonna go wherever the wind takes you?” he quipped when I told him I had no plans for the night.

And that’s how I wound up standing on Jackson Avenue perusing the menu of this Napoletana newcomer, which opened late last month, and is named for the East Wind. After mulling over the roster of more than a dozen pies, I settled on the LIC ($21), topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, speck, fresh ricotta, and truffle pate. (more…)

07/17/17 8:49am

Gorgeous gai yang studded with herbs and spices.

“I guess Queens is still the only place to go,” read a lament about the state of Thai food in Brooklyn. To put a finer point on, it Elmhurst, is the place to go. And, to narrow it down even further, Hug Esan, is the place,  at least so it’s been for the past 11 days for me and a rather large chunk of the local Thai community.

I’d been watching the space—carved out of the first floor of an apartment building—for months. The name might sound like a character from a Thai version of Starsky and Hutch, but Hug means “love” in Thailand’s Esan dialect.  (more…)

01/23/17 5:02pm
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From Guangzhou to Flushing, steamed rice roll with egg.

A couple of weeks ago my friend Jane sent me a video of Guangzhou rice rolls being made. “I wish we had these here,” she wrote via Facebook message.

Within a day or two she sent me another message, apparently these rolled rice noodles had to come Flushing thanks to an outfit called Joe’s Steam Rice Roll. So we decided to check it out.

The joint’s Chinese name, “Shi Mo Chang Feng Wang,” as Jane was so kind to inform me translates to “Stone Milled Rice Roll King.” Sure enough right in the window was a stone mill used to grind rice into a slurry and the king himself, whose name it turns out is actually Joe. (more…)

08/25/15 12:15pm
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Dude . . . let’s get some Taiwanese noodles.

When leading food tours of downtown Flushing, I often boast that it is America’s best Chinatown. I’m also fond of pointing out Queens has two Chinatowns: the bustling hub that radiates outward from Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue and a little sister in Elmhurst. Until now there’s been little interchange between the two. All that changed with the opening of Happy Stony Noodle a couple of weeks ago.

“OMG where is that,” more than one friend asked when I sent a photo of Elmhurst’s oddest named and newest Taiwanese eatery. My pals’ surprise can be traced to the fact that Happy Stony isn’t new at all. It’s a reboot of Happy Beef Noodle (Kuai Le Niu Rou Mian) a much-loved spot on Prince Street that closed years ago. (more…)

12/05/14 10:39am
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Spectacular Sichuan street food can be had at No. 25.

“It’s the same thing as New World Mall Food Court,” a local restaurant owner said of downtown Flushing’s latest entrant in the Queens Chinatown food court game. Indeed the first thing one sees when entering the month-old New York Food Court is Tokyo Express, a fake Japanese chicken teriyaki joint that looks suspiciously like the one in New World Mall. And, yes just like at New World Mall Food Court, there’s yet another branch of Lanzhou Hand Pull Noodles as well as several spicy stir fry by the pound places, including the ridiculously named Incredibowl. Nonetheless I’ve been able to ferret out some good stuff. Let’s start with Szechuan Taste, No. 25, which lies just beyond the jivey Japanese. (more…)

12/02/14 4:56pm
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At the new Deli Manjoo Korean sweets are selling like hot cakes.

“Is there a Korean donut place like that one in Eater,” my doughnut obsessed pal asked via text message the other day. “Not sure,” I responded, but there are at least two places that sell piping hot Korean sweets. Deli Manjoo, the newest, opened in the bustling J-Mart supermarket a few days ago and is doing a brisk business. (more…)

12/01/14 1:10am
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Plant Love House’s yum num tok.

It’s a good time to eat Thai in Queens. Arguably this has been true since Sripraphai Tipmanee opened her namesake restaurant in Woodside some 25 years ago. Of late though, Woodside and Elmhurst have blossomed into a Little Bangkok, with the emergence of spots like Khao Kang, Paet Rio, and Eim Khao Man Gai. The latest entrant into this arena of deliciousness is Plant Love House.  Judging by the logo of a street cart, this is back home hawker fare. This oddly named restaurant run by Peak Manadsanan and her family opened a week or two ago with an abbreviated menu in a space that had housed a Tibetan restaurant. Before that it was a Chinese noodle and dumpling house, so you could say that things have sort of come full circle. (more…)

10/27/14 11:46am
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Breakfast of champions via L.I.C. and Brittany.

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…)

09/18/14 10:35am

smooklerJoshua Smookler the man behind Pete Wells’ favorite ramen has been a busy man of late. In between the birth of his daughter and the run-up to Mu Ramen,which is set to open mid to late October, he was kind enough answer Seven Questions.

Will you be unveiling any new ramen?
Yes, we will have four types of ramen that will be seasonal. Three of the ramens will always be on the menu; Mu Ramen, Spicy Miso, and the Tonkotsu 2.0. I have not decided which four we will open with but we will always have five ramens on the menu and one rotating on a weekly basis.

What types of ramen could they be? It could be anything from Tsukemen, Foie, Duck, Pata Negra, Parmesan, Seafood, Shoyu, Yuzu, Paitan, Kimchi…basically these ramens I have mentioned I have already made.

They are all very delicious, but I want to keep it fresh. So we will see which are popular and which are not. It really depends on the guests, how I feel, and what inspires me. (more…)

06/30/14 10:13am
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An arepa de choclo in all its cheesy, gooey glory.

One of the coolest things about Roosevelt Avenue during the World Cup is the team spirit and national pride that pervades the street. The air crackles with energy, particularly after a win. And on Saturday, Colombia won, and they won big. It was the first time that the national team made it this far, and folks in the street were partying like it too, dancing and waving flags until late into the night.  Saturday also marked a monumental win for Colombian street food. The family of The Arepa Lady, the patron saint of Colombian street food in Jackson Heights, opened the doors to their restaurant.

I like to think that this street food dream team’s opening helped buoy team spirit back home. I know it buoyed my spirits. Ever since I heard several months ago that there was going to be an Arepa Lady restaurant, I’ve been watching the space with eager anticipation.

(more…)