Now that the streets around Times Square are almost cleared of New Year’s Eve confetti and I’ve digested several plates of lucky New Year’s noodles it’s time to take a look back at 2015. It was a big year for me, including a profile in The Wall Street Journal.Queens continued to amaze with everything from octopus tacos and Thai noodles to Caribbean Chinese and the most unlikely French patisserie ever. In no particular order here are 15 of the best things I ate last year.
Tom yum haeng topped with fried pork sugar and chili.
1. Yummiest dry tom yum
The weekend noodle soup pop-up at Elmhurst’s Pata Paplean remained on point, but one of my favorites there wasn’t a soup at all. Tom yum haeng—dry tom yum noodles—consists of springy yellow noodles, fish balls and golden shards of fried pork all dressed with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chili, and cilantro. Mix it all up and dig into the best dry noodles in Thai Town.
2. Tastiest deep-fried seafood nostalgia
The cheery blue and white Bigelow’s Seafood has been around for more than 70 years. After driving by it for about that amount of time, I finally had the privilege of trying it this past spring. These wizards of the fryer turn out impeccable Ipswich clams, fried smelts, shrimp, and soft shell crabs all served in an atmosphere that time and cholesterol have forgotten. (more…)
Fish tacos are tricky business. The batter fried ones are OK, but to this eater they seem like little more than fish and chips gone South of the Border. I prefer my fish tacos with a batter and a hard fry like they do at Tortilleria Nixtamal, where they use skate wing. The other day though I encountered a kind of seafood taco I never tried, octopus tacos. (more…)
Taqueria Cocoyoc’s cemita de barbacoa enchilada is packed with spicy goat.
Last week I had the pleasure of appearing on Shari Bayer’s radio show “All in The Industry.” We talked about many things, including how I became a food writer and The Catskills Comes to Queens. (You can listen to the episiode here.) All that talking made me rather hungry. The Heritage Radio Network studio is located within Roberta’s, but somehow I wasn’t in the mood for Italian. So I ventured deeper into Bushwick on a taco tip from a friend. (more…)
Last week I committed a crime against good taste. Spurred on by a blizzard of panic and the promise of free grub I ate at Chipotle. As a staunch believer in the law of culinary equilibrium, I soon realized my folly and had to set matters straight by eating some real Mexican food right quick. So the very next day I jumped on the 7, intending to grab some tacos de carnitas from Tortas Neza.(more…)
A seafood feast in the back of a Jackson Heights deli.
La Esquina Del Camaron Mexicano is one of my favorite places to eat in the summertime. It’s run out of a deli and trafficks in Mexican style shrimp and seafood cocktails made with a mysterious and delicious tomato elixir. Recently the proprietor Pedro expanded his operations to seven days a week and added a counter and small kitchen. He also added some new menu items. (more…)
Psychedelic chicharrones by way of the South and Japan.
For the past two months my fellow ink- and grease-stained wretches have all been abuzz about Danny Bowien’s new spot Mission Cantina. I’m still smarting from the loss of Mission Chinese, but decided to put my sorrow aside and check out his new joint. The first thing I noticed was that it gets really crowded on a Saturday night. The second was the comforting aroma of fresh masa. I tried several of the teeny tiny tacos—my favorite was the suaderos ($6.50), beef brisket braised in lard—but the dish that really made me sit up and take notice was the chicharrones ($7).
Crackling—whether chicken, duck, or, in this case, pork—is one of my favorite snacks. Bowien’s airy sheets of blistered pork skin get a Japanese/down home spin thanks to the addition of togarishi pepper and pimento cheese. Salty, crunchy, cheesy, and spicy I could not stop eating them. On my next visit I think I’ll try the creamed masa with spicy collard greens and get some of Bowien’s psychedelic crackling to throw on top.
The Arepa Lady’s cart drew Smorgasburgesque lines.
After a week-plus on jury duty to say I was psyched for last Friday’s Viva La Comida festival is the height of understatement. The night be before I was like a child on Christmas Eve. Visions of street food—Peruvian tamales, Mexican sandwiches and tacos, Puerto Rican lechin, Tibetan dumplings, Indian chaat, Colombian arepas, Filpino BBQ, and Irish drunk food—danced in my head. The festival which took place on 82nd St. between Baxter and Roosevelt in Jackson Heights was curated by my fellow fresser, Jeff Orlick who knows a thing or two about street food in the Heights and elsewhere. (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…)
The Puma from Tortas Neza is big enough to feed your entire team.
Despite the Mets colors that I often fly I like to say that I’m more of a Queens fan than a fan of the beleaguered ball club. One thing that I’m surely a fan of is my home borough’s diverse and delicious food. So as a public service to baseball fans—native New Yorkers and tourists alike—I devote this week’s edition of The Seven to a lineup of places to eat before and after the 2013 MLB All-Star Game being held tomorrow night at Citi Field at 7:30 p.m. (more…)
One wonders what late cartoonist B. Kliban , author of “Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head,” would make of the gargantuan Torta Puma ($14) at the Tortas Neza truck in Corona. One thing’s for sure, the group I took on a food tour of the 7 line this Sunday, including stops in Little Manila and Himalayan Heights were flabbergasted by it. “How do you eat that?” a Californian who I’d promised to show real Mexican food in New York asked. We marveled as the man who likes to call himself tortas built two of these dreadnoughts. Tortas piled the components high on the telera rolls. First the lettuce, then a chorizo omelet,fried hot dogs, a fried Milanesa cutlet, several slices of ham, head cheese, and a fistful of Mexican cheese.
“You can’t leave until you’ve finished the sandwiches,” I joked. The Pumas, of course, were for someone else. There’s no way we could have eaten any of Tortas’ overstuffed creations after eating our way from one end of the 7 train to the other. We opted for someting slightly daintier: tacos de carnitas ($2.50) . Usually when I go there by myself he’s out of carnitas. I made sure to savor the nose to tail porcine taco as the 7 train rumbled overhead. By the way, the Californian loved his taco.