02/03/15 11:59am

Dip Dip, perhaps Flushing’s coolest looking hot pot spot.


This brutal winter has me craving Chinese hotpot. Do you have a favorite place? — Jane S., College Point
I’m not the biggest fan of huo gou, or fire pot as it’s known in Chinese, but I had a great experience at Dip Dip (135-21A 37th Ave, Flushing, 718-888-0711)  recently. Apart from excellent hotpot—with such add-ins as baby ginseng and well-marbled ribbons of beef and lamb—the place looks like a movie set. I half expected Lucy Liu and her henchman to come leaping out of the upper room. This weather makes me want to go back and try the medicinal black chicken pot. (more…)

05/06/14 10:49am

The bakso at Masjid Al Hikmah’s stunningly good.

I used to live in Indonesia and am craving Indonesian food. Read about the parking-lot festival and would love to know when it will be happening next. I’ve tried calling Masjid Al Hikmah several times, but have had no luck. Do you have any idea when it will be starting up? – Suzanne C., Bayside

I too am eagerly awaiting food festival season at Masjid Al Hikmah. I’m not sure when it starts up again, hopefully soon. In the meantime though some of the sisters from the masjid operate a scaled-down version of the bazaar on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that offers bakso and other treats. You might also want to take a trip to what I like to call SEA Elmhurst to check out OK Indo and Java Village. (more…)

10/25/13 11:11am
The stewed oxtail lunch special at Liang’s.

The stewed oxtail lunch special at Liang’s.

Can you give me a recommendation for a place in Queens to eat oxtails?
Paul Z., Bayside,N.Y.

There are many good West Indian places to eat oxtails in Queens, but I suggest that you go Chinese. The stewed oxtail over rice special at Liang’s Kitchen (133-51 39th Ave., Flushing, 347-506-0115) is quite lovely. For a spicier approach I highly recommend the oxtail and hand ripped noodles at Biang! (41-10 Main St., Flushing,  718-888-7713.)

Whenever I go to the Golden Shopping Mall I find myself very overwhelmed by all the sights, sounds,and aromas. What’s the best thing to eat there?
Baffled in Brooklyn

You are not alone, the first time I went there I left without ordering a thing because I was completely overwhelmed. (more…)

05/15/13 1:55pm
The Thai red ant egg salad at Playground is actaully quite lovely.

Playground’s red ant egg salad.                        Photo: Dan Kim/Gastronauts

Dear C+M,
Lately I have been hearing a lot about eating insects. Everything from how they’re packed with protein and B vitamins to how the Nordic Alchemists at Noma are turning them into gourmet delights. I’d like to give bugs a try, but I am just a little bit squeamish. Can you reccomend an entry level  insect eating experience in Queens?N. Tomofage, Bayside

N., I’m so glad you asked! I’ve been waiting to tell the world about Playground Thai Bistro in Woodside. They have some truly lovely insect dishes on the menu, plus they’ve got karaoke. (Frankly I prefer eating bugs to singing karaoke.) At a recent Gastronauts dinner I tried a lovely red ant egg salad. The ant eggs themselves pop, sort of like a thinner, antier salmon roe. They’re dressed with roasted rice, lime juice, and chili powder, among other things. Delightful! The fried grasshoppers with black pepper sauce are quite nice too. For God’s sake whatever you do don’t get the silkworms if you see them on the menu. They taste like a musty attic and are most decidedly not an an entry level insect eating experience!

Playground, 71-30 Roosevelt Ave., Woodside, 718-779-7912

03/21/13 12:20pm

Jaal muri, a Bangaldeshi chaat makes for a great late-night snack.


What are you your favorite late-night eateries in Jackson Heights?-Harry H.

It depends what kind of eats you’re craving. If it’s street food the taco vendors right outside the 74 Roosevelt terminal on Roosevelt Avenue are pretty good. Not far from them are two carts specializing in momo, or Tibetan beef dumplings. For a truly unique street food experience hit up Baul Daada Jal Muri shop on 73 St. near 37 Ave. Despite the name it’s not a shop, it’s streetside Bangladeshi chaat operation run by one Baul Daada. Three bucks gets you an order of his specialty, jal muri, or spicy puffed rice. It’s a sensory overload of a snack consisting of puffed rice, kala chana (black chickpeas) chopped tomatoes, cilantro, green chili paste, red onions, crunchy dried soybeans, cilantro, spicy fried noodles, and squirts and shakes from the various and sundry bottles, including some sinus-clearing mustard oil. (more…)

02/01/13 12:20pm

Welcome to Ask C+M, a weekly column where I’ll answer readers questions regarding food in Queens and beyond. Have a question you’d like to ask? E-mail jdistefanony68c(at) yahoo.com. Our first question comes from Alex.

First of all, I love your blog, so many amazing options. I tried a few places you wrote about in the last week and they’ve been incredible. I recently moved to Astoria from California and I’m trying to find some interesting food in Astoria and Jackson Heights. I’ve done a fair amount of exploring and found some great things but I’m curious as to what your top recommendations in those two areas are, preferably things that are maybe off the beaten path. Alex


A school of perfectly fried fish from Astoria Seafood.

A school of perfectly fried fish from Astoria Seafood.

Hi Alex,
So glad that youlike the blog and that you have been exploring the culinary paradise that is Queens. In Astoria I like Cevabdzinica Sarajevo (37-18 34th Ave.) for Bosnian food, including bureks and pljeskavica, a comically huge Bosnia burger, Down on Ditmars there’s Hinomaru (33-18 Ditmars Blvd.), a great Japanese ramen joint. The signature “NewYork style” ramen  has a rich porky broth and features a fireball, an orb of ground pork mixed with several types of hot peppers. Astoria Seafood (Astoria Seafood, 37-10 33rd St.) is an excellent fish market/restaurant located away from most of the other Greek spots. (more…)