A million years ago when I worked in an office, breakfast sandwiches—two eggs, with cheese, and bacon—as served by New York City coffee carts were a favorite way to start the day. In the culinary wonderland that is Queens, there are all sorts of breakfast sandwiches from all over the world. Today, a look at a few of my favorites.
1. Chicharron con camote at Broadway Bakery
Chicharron con camote, a sandwich of crunchy, fatty pork and sweet potatoes is a typical breakfast sandwich in Peru. The combination of the orange camote and crunchy salty pork with pickled onions and Peruvian rocoto chili pepper paste is quite satisfying. Broadway Bakery, 81-15 41st Ave., Jackson Heights, 718-457-6523
2. Jiān bĭng at Oriental Express Food Court
Find the jiān bĭng,or titanic Tianjin Breakfast wrap as I like to call it at the Oriental Express Food court, a few storefronts south of Golden Shopping Mall. It consists of a thin pancake coated in egg and studded with chives wrapped around a yóutiáo, or Chinese cruller. Somehow this carb-on-carb bonanza makes an old-school NewYork City egg on a roll seem like health food. Oriental Express Food Court, 41-40 Main St., Flushing
3. Egg and cheese at The Queens Kickshaw
A fried egg seasoned with thyme, a dollop of ricotta, and a lashing of maple hot sauce is sandwiched between slices of well-buttered burnished bread. A “gruyere crisp” perched atop ups the texture and flavor ante. Sweet heat and butter merge with the eggs and ricotta, while that crunchy sheet of cheese packs an umami punch. All in all,it’s a decidedly grown-up breakfast grilled cheese. The Queens Kickshaw, 40-17 Broadway, Astoria, 718-777-0913
4. Green eggs and ham at JoJu
Take your inner child for a thoroughly modern breakfast banh mi inspired by Green Eggs and Ham, boon to beginning readers and picky eaters alike. The Seussian sandwich consists of two fried eggs and Vietnamese ham along with the standard Hanoi hoagie fixins of pickled carrot, daikon, cukes, and cilantro. Neither the ham nor the eggs are green though. The sandwich gets its verdant hue from the shop’s take on the Peruvian hot sauce, aji verde. It is one delicious and bizarre sandwich. Best not to eat it on a boat though, it’s messy enough as it is without the rocking of the waves. JoJu, 83-25 Broadway, Elmhurst, 347-808-0887
5. M. Wells Breakfast Sandwich
“The egg sandwich? We don’t have such a thing in Québéc,” Hugue Dufour once told me as he griddled half-inch thick pork patties over the flat-top at the now defunct M. Wells Diner. The patty was blanketed with smoked Vermont cheddar, then topped with fluffy scrambled eggs, pickled jalapeños, a juicy slice of heirloom tomato, and a slather of homemade mayonnaise. Sandwiched between a homemade English muffin it was a farm to table take on a fast-food favorite. The Diner may be gone, but the sandwich lives on in my memory. Best of all, it has been known to make appearances on the menu at M. Wells Dinette.
6. Chinese Breakfast Sandwich Wellington
The only true breakfast sandwich in Flushing can be found at Sun Mary Bakery. Think of it as petit dejeuner en croute. It’s a multidecker Chinese breakfast sandwich encased in puff pastry. Inside that ring of flaky goodness are five slices of white bread, alternating with ham, cheese, dried pork sung, and a slab of fried egg. It’s a filling, tasty carb bomb that goes great with a cup of coffee milk tea. Best of all at $1.75 it’s roughly half the price of a classic New York City breakfast sandwich. Sun Mary Bakery, 133-57 41st Rd., Flushing, 718-460-8800
7. Everything Bagel with Thai Pork Jerky
This is one that you’ll have to make yourself folks, but it’s easy and well worth it. Head over to Thai Thai Grocery in Elmhurst and grab a package of Thai pork jerky ($6.50). Do your best not to eat the entire stack of translucent sheets of pork—seasoned with soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, black pepper, and cinnamon—on the way home. Still have some left? Good. Now get a toasted everything bagel with butter and layer the thin ruddy sheets of Thai pork on top. Rejoice in your cross-cultural Queens breakfast sandwich.Thai Thai Grocery, 76-13 Woodside Ave., Elmhurst, 917-769-6168