Do they know they’re standing in the epicenter of ethnic food?
I am more street food connoisseur than street art aficionado. That didn’t keep me from jumping on the Banksy bandwagon though. No, I was not fortunate enough to purchase a $60 “spray art” canvas in Central Park. When I read on Monday that the British street artist had put up a piece in Queens as part of his monthlong New York City residency I hastened to a block of 69th Street in Woodside’s Little Manila not far from the rumbling 7 train. I couldn’t help but wonder whether the crowd of camera toting street art fans had any idea they were standing at the epicenter of ethnic food in New York City.
“What we do in life echoes in eternity,” it read in Banksy’s signature stenciled script. Well, almost, that last word was cheekily in the process of being obliterated by an old-timey looking character. (That’s a quote from the film Gladiator, by the way.) Having partaken of some culture in the form of art—and Instagrammed, Tweeted and Facebooked it—I took off in search of food culture.
Dim sum at East Ocean Palace will lift your spirits if you are on jury duty.
“A food writer?” Judge Ira H. Margulis asked as I squirmed in my seat hoping not to be picked.”Well, what’s good to eat around here?” “With the exception of Dani’s House of Pizza it all stinks,” I replied. As a reward for my culinary candor both the defense attorney and the assistant district attorney deemed me fit to sit on a jury. The case was expected to take a week or less. It wound up taking 10 days.
In those 10 days I found only two things that were truly delicious. One was the dim sum at East Ocean Palace (113-09 Queens Boulevard, Forest Hills), a short walk from Queens Borough Hall. If only I’d served in Manhattan, then I could have undertaken a survey of the neighborhoods Vietnamese sandwiches, Cantonese roast meats, or eaten myself silly at Xi’an Famous Foods. Alas I was serving my time in Kew Gardens, where East Ocean Palace is the only game in town for good Chinese. The dim sum—shrimp in rice noodle, flaky pork pies, and dumplings—was quite nice, but one juror can only eat so much dim sum. (more…)
Taco Bell unveiled the waffle taco—a fried waffle cradled sausage and egg—in 100 test markets today. Sadly none of these markets are in New York City. No word on the company’s plans to rollout the a pizza crepe taco pancake chili bag.
Writing for The New York Times Robert Sietsema gives a rundown of Vietnamese joints in Atlantic City, including Com Tam Ninh Kieu and its hu tieu with egg noodles and pig feet. Sign me up, Robert.
Josh Ozersky tells the tale of a trail at Jonathan Benno’s Lincoln. “I barely did any work at all, but I didn’t act like Mayor McCheese either, and tried my best not to interfere with the machinery of service,” he writes. Cutlets also makes me really hunger some stupendous sounding roast chicken. (more…)
Saveur’s James Oseland declares Flushing’s Mamak House “Probably the best Malaysian food in the States right now . . . especially the shrimp curry with fresh turmeric leaves”
The funny folk over at NPR’s Sandwich Monday take on Chicago’s knockoff Cronut from West Town Bakery. Quoth Peter, “Who wanted this in the first place? Who bought a croissant and said, ‘Dammit, this needs frosting’” (more…)
When it comes to food Queens has Brooklyn beat. After all, the diversity and quality of the grub in Queens is simply mind-blowing. Plus, we have M. Wells Dinette. And as of this past weekend Queens is giving Smorgasburg a run for its money with the newly opened LIC Flea & Food. Here’s a look at some of the market’s food offerings.
Alobar’s big dog topped with ginger pulled pork and carrot slaw.
On Saturday morning I was actually at Smorgasburg performing a Thai chicken skin mitzvah for my friends over at Scharf & Zoyer. They also turned me on to a sandwich and I sampled some wonderful couscous from NYSHUK. And then, I had some ice cream from nearby Oddfellows. So, by the time I got to Long Island City the old food tank was pretty full. Good as it looked there was no way I would have been able to take down Alobar’s Big Dog ($12) a frankfurter topped with ginger pulled pork and carrot slaw. (more…)
An old school slice in the midst of New York City’s most dynamic Chinatown.
Unlike Manhattan Chinatown, which borders Little Italy, downtown Flushing has little or no Italian food. There is precisely one Italian restaurant, Lucia Pizza. It sits across from New World Mall, and has been there since well before that mall was a Caldor. Its opening also predates New York current pizza Napoletana craze.
The draw here is unreconstructed old-school New York City pizza, by the pie,or more often the slice. Hand over $2.25, grab a perch at the counter and dig into a taste of days gone by. The Sicilian slice is pretty good too. I once asked the counterman here why he didn’t have kimchi pizza, like T.J.’s a spot that has since closed. He looked at me like I was nuts.
With 18 pies on offer there’s something for every type of pizza lover at Astoria’s month-old Tufino Pizzeria Napoletana. The thing that impressed me the most at a recent dinner at Stephen Menna’s new spot though wasn’t the pizza, good as it was. It was the calzone fritto ($12), a gigantic creation that had been deep fried before getting a blast in Tufino’s wood-burning Stefano Ferrara oven.
It’s like the love-child of lasagna and zeppole.
The blistered golden brown calzone is filled with rich fresh ricotta, fior de latte mozzarella, and prosciutto cotto all livened up with a good dose of black pepper. It eats like the illegimate love child of zeppole and lasagna, proving that everything is better fried.It’s just one of several dolcetti fritti, or fried treats on the menu here. Word on the street is that Tufino plans to add more. I can hardly wait.
The line for Hot Doug’s, snakes around the corner.
For a long while my thoughts on the Chicago food scene were limited to deep-dish pizza, the SNL sketch about the Billy Goat Tavern, steakhouses, and gussied up hot dogs. When I became more of a gourmand these ideas were supplanted by a strong desire to sample Grant Achatz’s modernist culinary wizardry. In the spring of 2011 I took a weeklong trip to the Windy City with the aim of trying as much of the city’s food as possible. My traveling companion Chef Bruce had chosen quite an itinerary, including everything from Jimmy Bannos’ Cajun spot, Heaven on Seven and his newer joint, The Purple Pig, to a Thai banquet. As much as I wanted to try Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza, my staunch eating buddy forbade it. We did however both agree that we should try to snag same-day cancellations for M. Achatz’s restaurant Next, which had just made its debut with a menu devoted to Paris in 1906. Unfortunately we did not get a seating. For almost a year afterward I continued to receive text alerts on my phone. It was torture to receive alerts about the restaurant’s second iteration, a tribute to Thai cuisine.
Hot Doug’s foie gras and truffle topped duck sausage.
To this day the only traditional Chicago style hot dog I’ve eaten—dragged through the garden with sport peppers, tomatoes, and onions among other things—has been at the original location of the Shake Shack in New York City. Chef Bruce and I were after wieners of a somewhat loftier pedigree, haute dogs. Our first stop Hot Doug’s, offers dozens of decidedly gourmet dogs. I had been reading about Doug’s foie gras topped number for years. The snappy foie gras and Sauternes duck sausage was lashed with truffle sauce and gilded with five slices of rich and creamy foie gras mousse. Stupendously delicious, and a bargain at $10. Lately they have been offering turducken sausage ($8), with pumpkin cream and cranberry-infused Brillat Savarin cheese. I am planning my next trip already.
Dragged through the garden, Asian style at Belly Shack.
Our next stop was Belly Shack, Bill Kim’s Asian street food spot in the hip hood of Wicker Park. There we had the Belly Dog ($9), an Asian spin on the classic Chicago dog. The tubesteak was slathered with chili sauce and curry mayo and topped with papaya salad, crunchy noodles,and fried shallots. With toppings like these who needs sport peppers?