05/04/16 5:27pm
Way better than the tuna salad of my childhood.

Way better than the tuna salad of my childhood.

I can’t recall ever writing a Sandwich Wednesday column about a tuna salad sandwich. Heck I can’t even recall eating one in the past decade. Served on white bread with bits of crunchy celery and onion it was a lunch box staple growing up. Now I’ve found one that’s so good I’ve eaten it twice in the past two weeks. Roast n Co can call it the Mediterranean Tuna Sandwich, but after talking with the chef, I now know it’s a Tunisian tuna salad sandwich.

Served on a baguette the mixture of tuna, hardboiled eggs, salty black olives, tomatoes, greens, and spicy harissa it eats like a salad Nicoise sandwich. It makes for a lovely light lunch or a great post-workout repast.

“It’s a common snack in the market in Tunisia,” the chef said. Seeing me in my gym clothes he had at first offered me a Bulldozer smoothie made with peanut butter, banana, and milk. I’m glad I declined and took my tastebuds to Tunisia instead.

Roast n Co, 100-12 Queens Blvd. Forest Hills, 718-263-6000 

04/19/16 10:16am
mattimach

Tutti Matti brings Calabria and Sicily together via the magic of pasta.

Growing up in an Italian-American household the product of Sicilian and Calabrian heritage, I didn’t learn much proper Italian. My language lessons were limited to staizitt’ and the like. Thus it’s not surprising that when I first heard of the maccheroncini dello stretto at Long Island City’s Tutti Matti, I assumed the name meant “little macaroni of the street.” This assumption was aided by a spicy seafood flavor that called to mind spaghetti alla puttanesca. After all it doesn’t get more street than the whore’s pasta. (more…)

04/07/15 10:11am
UNITORO

Uni and toro, together at last!

The Madison Square Park area has never been known for izakaya, the Japanese gastropubs that are haunts of salarymen, sake drinkers, and adventurous eaters alike. Izakaya NoMad is out to change all that as I learned during a press dinner recently. With  a whimsical dining room featuring a Godzilla mural, it  offers an accessible alternative that sits somewhere between the rarefied air of a Sakagura and St. Marks’ grease bespattered yakitori joints. (more…)

02/10/14 10:05am
UNIKIRA

Uni and ikura, together at last.

When it comes to salmon Bricktown Bagels is probably better known for belly lox than salmon roe. That’s not the case come nighttime when the Long Island City bagelry morphs into Mu Ramen. While the soup’s the star at Joshua Smookler’s pop-up ramen-ya, many of the “treats,” listed on the menu are well deserving of the name. Chief among these is the U & I ($15), a rice bowl which features uni and ikura, or salmon roe. (more…)

10/29/13 12:22pm
BUNKERMEAT

Bo kho, beef braised in Coffeed beer with Brooklyn Grange baby carrots.

On a dark, drizzly winter’s night I took the bus to a bleak stretch of Metropolitan Avenue in Ridgewood to meet my friend Max Falkowitz for dinner at Bún-ker then a new Vietnamese spot in a neighborhood better known for junkyards than Southeast Asian fare. I got lost, really lost, cursing in the freezing rain lost.

“Man, I don’t know where this damn place is!”, I bellowed to Max. “Look, just start without me.” Eventually I made it to the funky little dining room. At the time I found the food to be good, but not great. I am of course fully aware that perhaps my opinion was skewed by my blowing a gasket in an attempt to find the joint. (more…)

09/05/13 10:36am
PAPAS3

Clockwise from top: crab, crispy pata, ukoy, longanisa, and tuna belly.

Americans traditionally mark Labor Day weekend with one last summer backyard barbecue with friends and loved ones. I too celebrated with friends, in traditional Queens fashion. That is to say by embracing the traditions of another culture, specifically Filipino. On Saturday my friends Kaori and Stella joined me for a traditional salu-salo sa bilao fiesta at Papa’s Kitchen in Woodside. Salu-salo bilao loosely translates to a gathering over a bilao,or banana leaf-lined basket overflowing with goodies. It’s an informal affair where all the food is eaten with one’s hands.

Chef Miguel prepared quite a spread. One tray held crab; crispy pata, a whole foreleg of pig fried to a shattering crunchiness; the shrimp and veggie fritters known as ukoy; longganisang hamonado, a lovely sweet pork sausage; tuna belly; and Papa’s signature spicy dynamite spring rolls. Everything was quite tasty,but we all agreed the salty, fatty tuna belly was spectacular. Stella, who is Filipina, schooled me in the proper way to eat with my hands. On the few occasions when I’ve eaten South Asian food with my hands I’ve felt self conscious most likely because the food is usually very saucy. At Papa’s I felt especially relaxed, and not just because we had the place to ourselves.   (more…)

07/10/13 12:58pm
Soft shell crab amid a sea of pickles and greenery.

Soft shell crab amid a sea of pickles and greenery.

Now that I’ve made my first visit of the year to Rockaway Beach I can’t seem to get enough. As eager as I am for the waves I’ve even more stoked to support the neighborhood’s vendors and restaurants. That’s why this week’s Sandwich Wednesday is devoted to a dynamic duo of seafood sandwiches that can be found on the boardwalk.

First up, the soft shell crab po boy ($9) from Motorboat and the Big Banana. My favorite way to eat soft shell crabs is salt baked as they are prepared at Great N.Y. Noodletown in Manhattan’s Chinatown, but when I saw the soft shell crab po  boy on Motorboat’s menu I was game to try it. And I am glad I did. A meaty specimen rises like a dorsal fin from waves of pickled onions and a sea of greenery. It’s a crunchy, messy, and thoroughly satisfying sandwich. With a bag of Zapp’s potato chips ($2), it’s as fine a pre-tanning lunch as any. (more…)