12/30/13 2:50pm

As 2013 draws to a close rather than offer up a list of resolutions—less chips more gym, save money, etc.—C+M offers a list of 20 of our favorite posts, a highlight reel of the year that was. Let the mostly Queens-focused cavalcade of offal, sandwiches, mashups, secret eats and deliciousness begin.

Crazy Crab’s Yunnan special sliced pork salad.

1. Best use of Pig Face
Crazy Crab’s Yunnanese pig face salad is a spicy sour, salty, and unabashedly funky showcase for swatches of cool, slightly chewy pig skin.

2. Best Fizzy Water for Gluttons
Apart from being the preferred beverage of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin the selling point of Borjomi, a Georgian sparkling mineral water, is that it “Gets rid of unnecessaries,” or as expressed in more forthright language elsewhere on the company web site, “Borjomi also improves functioning of intestines and supports slag excretion.”

3. Flushing’s Cheapest Veggie Burger
The $1.25 cài bĭng at Super Snack, a counter just outside Golden Shopping Mall is packed with crunchy piquant mustard greens and is as fine a snack as any.

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11/20/13 10:45am
CHICKBAO

Nothing quite exceeds like excess.

Ever since I saw the ad for Subway’s Sriracha Chicken melt sandwich I’ve been strangely fascinated by it. I had every intention of covering it for this week’s Sandwich Wednesday, but couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger. That’s how I found myself in Flushing casting about for a sandwich idea and settled on trying the gua bao ($2.50), or Taiwanese pork belly sandwich from Taipei Hong, my secret Taiwanese fried chicken connection. And then it hit me. “Let me have a Number 1, spicy,” I said giving  the secret password for the off-menu fried chicken, “and a gua bao.” (more…)

10/04/13 1:39pm
BigMouthPastry

Big Mouth Pastry at Liang’s Kitchen in Flushing.

I’m proud to announce that in the interest of sharing the love and deliciousness we all crave C+M’s Photo Friday is taking reader submissions via Instagram. This week’s entry—大嘴饼 Da Zui Bing (literally ‘Big Mouth Pastry) at Liang’s Kitchen  orhumongous sesame-studded pastry shells stuffed with minced meat, spring onions and Chinese parsley”—comes from my good friend, Colin Goh, who as always proves to be a font of information about dining in downtown Flushing. To submit your delicious finds simply tag your Instagram photos with #CMSHUNGRY. And while you’re at it check me out on Instagram, joedistefanoqns.

08/27/13 10:32am
CHATIME1

Chatime food court, home to Flushing’s fiercest fried chicken rivalry.

Once upon a time not too long ago on the corner of Main Street and Maple Avenue in New York City’s most magical Chinatown there was a food court that went by the name Savor Fusion. Its overlord was a distinguished Taiwanese gent named Bobby Lee, who looked like he just stepped out of a Hong Kong gangster flick. Depending on the day’s vibe, the mustachioed Bobby was either chilling with his attractive and much younger wife, getting into a fracas with rowdy patrons, or giving out fruit to his handpicked roster of vendors who represented cooking styles from all over China. One thing was always certain though, excellent food turned out by two female chefs.

Mind and palate-blowing Sichuan fare—dan dan mian, spicy fried fish, and all manner of spicy pickles—was the specialty of  the charmingly gruff  Zhū Dà Jiě. Home-style Taiwanese chow, including  lovely salt and pepper fried chicken, was the province of the equally gruff matriarch of Taipei Hong. Sadly Savor Fusion is no more, but Zhū Dà Jiě. now has her own restaurant, which is quite excellent. Taipei Hong and its magnificent chicken were but a distant memory. I’d given up all hope of ever tasting it again. Then one day I ran into the chef on Roosevelt Avenue. I’d already eaten a substantial meal at the New World Mall, but she insisted on showing me her new joint. (more…)

08/23/13 12:01pm
oxtail

The stewed oxtail lunch special at Liang’s is spectacular.

I’m proud to announce that in the interest of sharing the love and deliciousness we all crave C+M’s Photo Friday will be taking reader submissions via Instagram. This week’s entry—níu wěi fàn or oxtail and rice—comes from my good friend Colin Goh, who as always proves to be a font of information about dining in downtown Flushing. Colin found this bountiful plate of sumptuous stewed oxtail, firm tofu, cabbage, and a hard-boiled egg, all topped with a generous sprinkle of minced pork at Liang’s Kichen. At $8.95 it is one of the best and tasty deals in downtown Flushing. And as Colin points out it’s not every day that one literally the name of one’s web site embodied in a plate of Taiwanese comfort food. By the way Liang’s  is one of those places that Colin and I have both passed by hundreds of times. Located in the basement of a hotel, it turns out some of the tastiest Taiwanese food I’ve had in downtown Flushing. To submit your delicious finds simply tag your Instagram photos with #CMSHUNGRY. And while you’re at it check me out on Instagram, joedistefanoqns.

Liang’s Kitchen 133-51 39th Ave., Flushing, 347-506-0115

08/08/13 10:58am
Fang Gourmet Tea lies at the back of a mall on Roosevelt Avenue.

Fang Gourmet Tea lies at the back of a mall on Roosevelt Avenue.

For as long as I can remember tea has always been an accompaniment to Chinese food. First at various suburban restaurants it was bags of Swee-Touch-Nee orange pekoe. Later as I began to enjoy yum-cha at dim sum houses in Queens and elsewhere, the tea was decidedly better. I never gave all that much thought to the nuances of tea though until I went to a tea tasting at Yumcha Yoga with tea expert Theresa Wong from Fang Gourmet Tea.

That day Wong poured pu-er tea. The most striking thing about my first tea ceremony was the method in which Wong prepared the tea. First she warmed the teapot discarding the first batch of leaves. Then she brewed the tea. Everything was done in a measured almost meditative manner. I honestly don’t remember exactly what the brew tasted like, but I know I liked it and recall it was a relaxing experience that left me wanting to learn more about tea. (more…)

06/17/13 12:45pm
Hungry hordes gathered to eat and shop.

Hungry hordes gathered to eat and shop.

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.

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…)

06/07/13 12:33pm
Despite the name the newly opened Hot Spot specializes in shaved ice.

Despite the name the newly opened Hot Spot specializes in shaved ice.

Come summertime one of my favorite ways to chill out is shaved ice, whether of the Dominican or Taiwanese variety. So I was pleased when Hot Spot, a new Taiwanese shaved iced stand opened on Main Street a few days ago. It’s affiliated with the late Ice Fire Land, hence the name. Situated in front of an apothecary, it’s the only grab-and-go shaved stand in Flushing’s Chinatown. (more…)

05/08/13 10:50am
This bowl of shaved ice holds a warm, chewy surprise.

This bowl of shaved ice holds a warm, chewy surprise.

Along with the cold Korean soup naeng-myun, Taiwanese shaved ice is one of my favorite ways to cool off when humidity starts to make me overheat. Ice Fire Land, a hotpot shaved ice hybrid owned by Timothy Chuang, used to be my favorite place to get a bowl of this refreshing sweet treat. Chuang has changed the name of his restaurant to Taipei 101, for Taiwan’s gleaming office tower. Hotpot’s been replaced by an ambitious menu of Taiwanese fare, but the shaved is still there on a separate menu.

I was glad to know that I could still get shaved ice when I walked in yesterday. “Pudding, pineapple,condensed milk,” I said pausing to ask Mr. Chuang, which of the many balls tapioca, taro,or yam were the chewy ones. “They’re all chewy,” he said, so I settled on yam. (more…)

02/14/13 9:30am
Mào dòu, edamame's more flavorful Taiwanese cousin.

Mào dòu, edamame’s more flavorful Taiwanese cousin.

If you’ve ever spent much time in an izakaya then you’re familiar with edamame. At its most basic the popular Japanese drinking snack consists of nutty tasting immature soybean pods briefly boiled in salt water. They’re fun to eat—just squeeze the fuzzy pod and pop out the smooth beans—and much better for you than pretzels.

Once I was enjoying a bowl in a certain Midtown izakaya and they had a incredible shrimp flavor. Boiling the beans with shrimp shells is a nice touch, but the most interesting treatment of edamame I’ve had was a Taiwanese version known as mào dòu. Tossed with sesame oil, cracked pepper, garlic, and just a hint of star anise they are absolutely wonderful. Best of all, mào dòu is easy to make at home just boil the beans briefly, shock them in cold water, and toss with your mào dòu fixins.

Those mào dòu fixins need not be limited to the ones I’ve mentioned either. Come to think of it a má là version with palate tingling Sichuan peppercorn and fiery dried chilies would be quite nice.