Recently I had the pleasure of showing Elyse Pasquale, aka Foodie International, around what I like to call Himalayan Heights. We went to several of my favorite places, including a stop at Merit Kabob & Dumpling Palace for some dropa khatsa, or spicy beef tripe. We also visited Tawa Food. For years myself and other Chowhounds were fascinated by what was essentially a paratha and roti factory staffed by a legion of South Asian grannies. These days the small shop is even more fascinating because it tells the story of Jackson Heights, a symbiotic relationship between the relatively new Himalayan (Bhutanese, Nepali, and Tibetan) community and the long-standing Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi communities. The front of a shop that was once nicknamed “Pakistani bread ladies,” is now occupied by a family turning out some really wonderful Nepali food. I knew it was something special was going on at Tawa when I saw all the sukuti, a spicy beef jerky hanging in the window.
We sat down to enjoy a khana thali. Khana, I am told means meal. When I heard that. I couldn’t help thinking of the old Steak ’n Shake slogan, “It’s a meal.” The star of the thali platter was the sukuti which had been cooked down to a somewhat softer consistency that Elyse called “jerky candy.” The accompanying pickles and greens were also quite good. I was particularly impressed by teeny dried fish in spicy sauce.
In fact I was so impressed by the food and the kindly proprietor Goman that I’m taking Andrew Zimmern there this weekend. It’s nice to see him turning his attention to Queens, which my pal Gary rightly reminded us is “the center of the ethnic food universe with enough field work there for an army of food anthropologists.”
Tawaw Food, 37-38 72nd St., Jackson Heights, 718-457-7766