02/07/14 9:33am

What’s up, Doc?


One of things I love most about bringing food tours to Korean megamarket Assi Plaza, is browsing the meat case. In addition to lovely cuts of short rib and pork belly for tabletop grilling there’s plenty of offal, from snout to pizzle. And then there’s this, to ggi, or wild rabbit with a graphic of Bugs Bunny on the label. Many thanks to Instagrammer HUNGRY_EYE. To submit your delicious finds to Photo Friday simply tag your Instagram photos with #CMSHUNGRY. And while you’re at it, check me out on Instagram, joedistefanoqns.

03/08/13 1:08pm
The Gastronauts chow down on a meal of many parts, including lamb testicles and beef penis.

The Gastronauts chow down on a meal of many parts, including beef penis.


Last month on the two days before Valentine’s Day I had the dubious pleasure of co-hosting a very special Chinese New Year’s dinner with the Gastronauts. Curtiss Calleo, one of the masterminds behind the club for adventurous eaters and I endured not one but two days of juvenile humor along the lines of, “Please limit yourselves to five inches per serving.” I suppose we deserved it. After all we created a menu whose dishes included lamb testicles and quick fried beef genitals, i.e. beef pizzle. I’m pretty sure that my affable Henanese uncle, Steven Zhou, was pretty amazed that we were able to gather a gang of hard-drinking weirdos to buy out his restaurant with such a menu for two consecutive nights.

Uncle Zhou’s amazing cold platter. From center: headcheese,chicken hearts, tofu skin, beef tendon,quick pickle, and beef tripe.

From center: headcheese, chicken hearts, tofu, beef tendon, pickles, and tripe.

The festivities kicked off with a platter of cold dishes. Headcheese, chicken hearts, tofu skin, beef tendon, quick pickle, and beef tripe were all artfully laid out in concentric rings. “These are the best chicken hearts I’ve ever had,” one of my tablemates exclaimed. I’d have to agree, the peppery five-spiced hearts were quite nice. Next came the lamb testicles which had been artfully cross-hatched. They had plenty of cumin and heat, though they were a tad rubbery. At least they were not too gamy. (more…)

02/22/13 10:41am
At just under $10 this six-course meal of Sichuan snacks won’t break the bank.

At just under $10 this six-course meal of Sichuan snacks won’t break the bank.


Much like downtown Flushing’s Chinatown itself the New World Mall food court is diverse and constantly evolving. One of the latest additions is a two-week-old outfit that goes by the rather unassuming English name, “Szechuan Dish.” The Chinese on its sign “Mei Sichuan” and  “Chéng Dū kǒu wèi,”  which more or less says beautiful Sichuan, Chengdu flavor, gives a much better idea of the beautiful flavorful, fiery things coming out of Stall No. 25.

Last Sunday I tried liáng bàn xīn shé, a fiery cold salad of pig tongue and heart slicked with chili oil. And yesterday I stopped by for a fēng wèi xiǎo chī tào cān, or local flavor set meal. Think of it as a six-course Sichuan Happy Meal. For $9.50 I was one happy, happy eater. It was like a greatest hits of Chengdu street food: excellent dàn dàn miàn,noodles in a fiery sauce of ground beef and preserved vegetables; Chéng Dū hóng yóu shuǐ jiǎo, pork dumplings in soy sauce enlivened with chilies and no small amount of garlic; and hǎi wèi chāo shŏu, a flavorful wonton and seafood soup. The bountiful set also includes a cold two-veggie plate and a cold two-meat plate. Last night the meats were the aforementioned pig offal and excellent diced rabbit. The vegetable plate was preserved tofu and celery and an unidentifiable yet pleasantly chewy rooty type vegetable.  If you’re into that sort of thing there is also a sweet fermented rice soup.

If you think this sounds like a whole lot of food for $9.50, you are right. It is also a whole lot of flavors: chili, garlic, salty, sweet, even a subtle smokiness from the vegetable plate. I haven’t been this excited about Sichuan food since I took Fuchsia Dunlop to the Golden Mall. It’s a game changer people.

Szechuan Dish, No. 25, New World Mall Food Court, 40-21 Main St., Flushing