09/15/17 10:00am

Katakat, a favorite of Andrew Zimmern, is just one of many dishes that will be served.

Everybody knows Queens has great Indian food, but what you may not know is that we also have awesome Bangladeshi and Burmese food. These countries all border the Bay of Bengal, thus the inspiration for this month’s Queens Dinner Club feast—Destination: The Bay of Bengal. No need for a boat though, just join us at the swanky Bamboo Lounge at Kaufman Astoria Studios on Wednesday Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for this one-of-a-kind feast are $45 and may be purchased here.


08/13/14 11:44am

Wafa’s labne and zaytoon, my idea of health food.

“Why don’t you weigh 300 pounds?” It’s a question get asked all too often. “I mean with all the good stuff you eat,” the non-food-writer person continues in amazement after seeing me take down an entire order of 15 lamb dumplings and then bewail the fact that I have a dinner meeting in two hours at some temple of meat or another. The number is always 300 pounds—roughly twice my current body weight—never 275, 350, or 412. Depending on who’s asking I’ll either make a crack about ingesting tapeworms purchased on Roosevelt Avenue, roll my eyes, or both. (more…)

03/04/13 10:13am
Lobster, squid, and crab—the sour cream and onion and BBQ of Thailand.

Lobster, squid, and crab—the sour cream and onion and BBQ of Thailand.

A while back I participated in Lay’s Do Us A Flavor, a social media campaign to create bold new flavors for the most American of snacks, the potato chip. My flavors were “Banging Bánh Mì,” and “Ghostface Killah,” the former modeled after a classic Vietnamese sandwich and the latter filled with fiery goodness of the bhut jolokia, or  ghost pepper. Sadly these two creations did not make the cut. They were edged out by Cheesy Garlic Bread, Chicken & Waffles, and Sriracha.

I haven’t been able to find the Do Us A Flavor finalists out my way yet, but I found something even cooler at Thai Thai Grocery: a trio of spicy seafood-flavored chips from Lay’s Thailand. I handed over $7.50 and was soon in possession of the Hot Chili Squid, Lobster Hot Plate, and Hot and Spicy Crab flavors.


02/19/13 12:41pm
Freeze-dried durian is pretty benign.

Freeze-dried durian is pretty benign.

One of the questions I ask Flushing food tour groups—besides is it too early in the morning for tripe—is, “How do you feel about durian?” Canvassing opinions about the spiky king of fruit, which Anthony Bourdain once described as smelling “…like you’d buried somebody holding a big wheel of Stilton in his arms, then dug him up a few weeks later,” is as good a gauge of adventurousness as any.

On one tour a guy told me about how an over-ripe durian landed on his head while he was taking a nap under a tree in Southeast Asia. He was supposed to go to a wedding later that day, but was forbidden to attend because he was “unlucky,” and, no doubt, stinky.

Most truly odiferous durian varieties never make it to the United States. Usually I’ll buy my tour group a bag of freeze-dried durian at a Malaysian market. As durian goes it’s pretty benign. It’s crunchy and sweet, though it does have a somewhat funky after taste. Last Sunday though I purchased some dumplings at Golden Shopping Mall called “ice durian.” Each tiny purse was filled with a mixture of cool custard topped by some really pungent durian. I rather liked it, so much so that I’m thinking of eating some today. My tour group did not feel the same way. Here’s what I’d like to know: Do you dig durian?  Tell me in the comments or hit me on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.