05/30/13 10:36am
Pa Do Hwae Jip, a Korean sushi house, sits in suburban Auburndale.

Pa Do Hwae Jip, a Korean sushi house, sits in suburban Auburndale.

Sushi and sashimi are never a value proposition for me. I can’t afford to eat at Masa or Yasuda, but I tend to avoid budget and all you can eat sushi like the plague. That said I had the best Korean sashimi lunch the other day for a mere $13, a fraction of the price I usually pay for such a meal. It was at Pa Do Hwae Jip—Sea Wave Sushi House—in Auburndale.

A complimentary platter of red snapper sashimi, sea squirt, and sea cucumber.

A complimentary platter of sashimi including, sea squirt, and sea cucumber.

List most diners at Korean restaurants I’m fascinated by banchan, the array of complimentary dishes that accompany a meal, which sometimes land on the table before you’ve even cracked the menu. I am especially fascinated by the banchan at Pa Do.  That’s because in addition to kimchi and various veggie items it includes a generous platter of sashimi, piled with slices of raw fish, and some marine life rarely seen outside of Korean sushi spots, sea squirt and sea cucumber. I am captivated by the orange flesh of the sea squirt, which tastes of the ocean, and leaves my mouth with the slightly anesthetized sensation of having eaten cloves. The chewy black blobs of sea cucumber do not captivate me in the least, but I always make sure to eat a few as my Korean dry cleaner Paulie Sunshine says, “they are good for men.” (more…)

02/11/13 10:36am

Andrew Zimmern is crazy about the bread at  Rokhat Bakery in Rego Park.

Andrew Zimmern’s TV show “Bizarre Foods” has its season premiere tonight on The Travel Channel at 9 p.m. with a visit to Washington, D.C.  While I’m excited to see Zimmern eat a blackened snakehead sandwich in a boat on the Potomac, I’m more excited about the past several days  he’s spent eating his way around Queens. Especially yesterday, when I had the opportunity to take him on a global food crawl that started in the Himalayas and ended in Liberia.  Before I gave the bizarre one a private food tour I  caught up with him at M. Wells Dinette and asked him Seven Questions.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten thus far on this trip to New York City?
I’m just gonna go right out with the bread at Rokhat Bakery [in Rego Park]. I’m just going with the thing that I’ve been talking to the most people about. The Golden Mall? Fantastic. Fu Run? Ethereal. To stand in the kitchen [at M. Wells Dinette] and have Hugue make little tasty tidbits for me? Glorious. And on and on and on. I had dinner last night at The Dutch. Carmellini was just killing it and sending out all kinds of great things. The moment he came out to say hello the first thing I did was take out the picture of  Rokhat Bakery and say, “You have to go try this bread place.” I’m still captivated by it. What a special unique thing they have out there. Those samsa, those meat pies, the breads, the cabbage pierogi.  I’ve never tasted its equal.

What’s your favorite way to eat bone marrow?
With my fingers. I put it up to my mouth and I suck. It’s the way I was taught when I was a little kid. The very first bone marrow that I had was osso bucco at Trattoria Sostanza in Florence in 1969 with my father. I remember my first visit there.

Where did you learn how to use chopsticks?
I learned how to use chopsticks from my mother. My mother went to Mills College in the ’40s in San Francisco, her roommate was Trader Vic’s daughter. Vic Bergeron taught my mother how to cook in the original Trader Vic’s in San Francisco. Ethnic dining in America, especially in New York, was not what is now back then. In the early ’60s, yes, there was a chow mein restaurant on every corner. There were a couple of good Cantonese restaurants around and there were your various Chinatowns in the five boroughs. We actually had a home where my mother would make certain Polynesian specialties. And, we had chopsticks. So, I learned from my Mom.

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