To say I’ve missed the food bazaars held at Astoria’s Masjid al Hikmah might just be the understatement of the millennium. So I was quite stoked to attend yesterday’s comeback food bazaar. As much as I love the festive atmosphere and seeing my favorite vendors like the bakso lady, it’s the chance to unearth new dishes seldom New York City restaurants that really excites me. Yesterday’s discovery: nasi tim ayam medan, an Indonesian take on Hainanese chicken and rice.
The above sign caught my eye and I stopped to observe three young men serving up plates of the Northern Sumatran specialty. First they warmed the rice in a steamer. Once warmed the bowl was inverted on a plate, revealing some lovely soy sauce hued chicken and mushrooms with a few cloves of garlic. This was then topped with fried garlic and hot sauce.
Like any respectable Southeast Asian chicken and rice combo it came with a sidecar of soup. Sitting in a red, white, and blue camping chair as I ate it while watching little kids run around was a deeply comforting and immersive experience. The young chefs told me they plan to open a restaurant in Elmhurst. Should that come to pass that would make Queens’ Southeast Asian inflected Chinatown home to two of my favorite chicken and rice dishes, the other being Eim Khao Man Gai. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.