10/30/18 11:30am

It’s not a Pop-Tart, but it makes a great breakfast.

Sun Mary Bakery lies across the street from Golden Shopping Mall and the Q-58 bus, which takes me from my home in Rego Park to America’s greatest Chinatown in downtown Flushing. On food tour days, I pregame there with a pineapple bun, so named for the sugary crust’s similar appearance to the tropical fruit.

In a lot of ways Sun Mary is a typical New York City Chinese bakery. The shelves are lined with buns filled with pork floss, and come fall there’s plenty of mooncake, but it also has a small sideline in Taiwanese treats, notably feng li su, or pineapple cake. Unlike its Chinese cousin, the golden brown buttery treat does contain fruit. Sun Mary sells the tiny pastries in little golden boxes, making them a perfect parting gift for food tour guests. Sometimes, they even have one with salted egg yolk.

“No more,” the lady behind the counter told me about a month ago when I asked for feng li su, indicating that they wouldn’t be back until next fall. Two weeks ago I noticed a flat pastry sitting in the spot on the counter normally reserved for the pineapple cake. Turns out it is gigantic version of the Taiwanese treat. Since I have no idea how long it will be around, I have taken to eating one after every Flushing tour.

Sun Mary Bakery, 133-57 41st Rd, Flushing, 718-460-8800

09/28/18 10:39am

Photo: Takaski

With fall finally here, the days growing shorter, and Halloween just around the corner my thoughts and appetite turn to Japanese Cranberry Almond KitKat. Or at least they do now that I found them at H Mart in Manhattan’s K-Town.

Japan’s obsession with KitKat is legendary.  My personal obsession with the Japanese version of one of my favorite American chocolate bars  almost approaches that level. I’ve tried the green tea, wasabi, and Japanese pumpkin varieties and I’m always on the lookout for new flavors. So when I saw the package emblazoned with a bowl of cranberries and almonds I immediately grabbed two. Unsure as to how they would taste, I was drawn in by the blond wood and green-leaved cranberry stems. (more…)

09/04/18 4:33pm

King Benfareremo says, “We do not mix,” but peanut butter and chocolate belong together.

Since we are apparently in the Dog Days of September, I decided it was as good a Tuesday as any to splash around in the fountain at the Unisphere and then pay a visit to the Lemon Ice King of Corona.

Lemon may be the King’s claim to fame, but I opted for something less traditional, some might even say sacrilegious, a super cup of peanut butter. It’s not the peanut butter itself that was blasphemous, but rather the fact that I also ordered a small chocolate, with the intent of breaking the King’s edict against mixing flavors.

The culinary King of Queens doesn’t need to abide by the two foot high sign that reads, “WE DO NOT MIX,” I thought smugly to myself.

“Enjoy, boss,” the dude behind the counter said as he handed me both. I wonder if he knew that I was going to slink away to Spaghetti Park to commit a cardinal sin and concoct an ungodly Italian ice speedball?

The King’s spumoni is a much better combo.

Once there I ate a bit of the peanut butter ice which is as good as everyone says it is, with bits of peanut and and peanut butter flavored chips, and a bit of the chocolate. The chocolate couldn’t stand up to the peanut butter. That didn’t stop me from plopping the small chocolate ice atop the jumbo peanut butter one and digging in. The combo was good, but not great, largely because the peanut butter ice is so much better than the chocolate one.

“Should have got a spumoni, I mused to myself. That combination of pistachio, chocolate, and almond mixed by the King’s minions is one that works just fine. Which goes to show you that even culinary royalty needs to follow the rules sometimes.

The Lemon Ice King Of Corona, 52-02 108th St., Corona, (718) 699-5133

07/20/18 12:34pm

When it comes to Taiwanese cuisine I hardly ever think of bread or buns unless it is in the context of gua bao, the pork belly bun topped with sweetened crushed peanuts and pickled greens that’s as popular a street food, in Taipei as it in Flushing. And I almost never think of sweet buns, but all that changed at Elmhurst’s Happy Stony Noodle last night when I tried a Taiwanese specialty called zhá yín sī jüǎn, or deep-fried silver thread roll, that I honestly can’t stop thinking about. (more…)

05/11/18 10:19am

Behold: Elmhurst’s most elusive Malaysian layer cake.

A few weeks ago on the Voyages of Tim Vetter podcast I posited Instagram has replaced Chowhound, particularly when it comes to hyperlocal culinary exploration. Case in point, Little House Cafe. Had I not been seen my dear friends Food & Footprints posting about this Elmhurst bakery/cafe I’d never have known about its giant Singaporean style chicken curry bun and top-notch char kway teow. Nor would I have ever tried the elusive and epic taro pudding cake.

My friends and I first spotted the multilayer creation lined up in the pastry case and didn’t have the appetite for it because we’d just dispatched the aforementioned giant curry chicken bun along with several pieces of Malaysian brown sugar sponge cake and other goodies. When it was described as layers of coffee jelly, pudding, taro cake, and sponge cake we were all quite curious. (more…)

04/15/18 11:20pm


My usual routine for Songkhran, or Thai New Year, involves a visit to Elmhurst’s home of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Buddha Thai Thavorn Vanaram to partake of the food and festivities. Unlike in years past the weather was quite chilly, making for less than optimal conditions for a holiday that involves plenty of water splashing.

So instead of visiting the Emerald Buddha to ring in the year 2561, I partook of some Thai rubies. Not actual rubies mind you, but rather the Thai dessert called thabthim krub, which translates to crunchy rubies. I’d just polished off three bowls of boat noodle soup at Pata Paplean, when my dear friend Cherry, the cook and ringleader of the weekend noodle popup, dropped a half quart container on my table with the gruff affection she reserves for those she truly cares about. I poured the contents of the container—rubies, emeralds, jackfruit, young coconut, and coconut milk stained red from sala syrup—into a bowl.

The sweet, cold dessert soup was quite refreshing after a few rounds of of spicy noodles. The red and green jewels consist of bits of crunchy water chestnuts encased in tapioca. Even though it was freezing outside it warmed my heart and soul to eat this dessert made by one of the older ladies in the Thai community. Best of all its available every weekend, although I did feel especially blessed to be eating on the day of the neighborhood’s Songkhran celebration. Here’s to a healthy and prosperous 2561.

Pata Paplean, 76-21 Woodside Ave., Elmhurst, 718-651-2076 

 

04/13/18 10:48am

Qing tuan, piping hot, each filled with a savory-sweet surprise.

As anyone who talks to me about xiao long bao for more than five minutes knows, my favorite soup dumplings in downtown Flushing can be had at Shanghai specialist Diverse Dim Sum in the New York Food Court. The skin is so thin as to be translucent, and the balance of savory pork and crab broth is perfect, making the little packages a staple on my Flushing Chinatown food tours.

Last week I had a guest with a gluten allergy. I knew the rest of her party would enjoy the soup dumplings, but also wanted to give the gluten-free guest a taste of Shanghai. And that’s where the trio of multihued spheres—purple, green, and yellow—come in. I first noticed them around Easter time and suspected they were a seasonal specialty. Normally I don’t chance trying new things on a food tour, but after learning they were made from rice and various sweet-savory fillings I made an exception. (more…)

11/17/17 4:29pm

Best Thai dessert hamburger ever!

Khao Nom, the sweeter little sister of wildly popular Thai steam table specialist Khao Kang opened about a month ago with the promise of old school Thai desserts and a short menu of savory items, my favorite being the sticky sweet and spicy chan noodles with prawns. Until recently though, none of the desserts has knocked my socks off. Sure they were good, but nothing revelatory. Dessert epiphany finally dawned the other week when I spied a tiny cake with a golden top and a spongy bottom sandwiching a layer of creamy spheres. (more…)

09/23/17 12:55pm

The King’s bubble gum ice in all its shocking pink glory!

For more than 60 years The Lemon Ice King of Corona has held court on the corner of 52nd Avenue and Corona Avenue supplying frozen treats to Mets fans, neighborhood children, and even the local FDNY company. In an effort to squeeze out the very last bits of summer, I’ve found myself stopping by there rather often. And, since it’s going to be almost 90 tomorrow, I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you. Lemon’s the classic, but I also like orange/vanilla swirl, vanilla chocolate chip, and a newer addition, spumoni.

I’ve been branching out with the fruit flavors like the lovely cantaloupe, but the other day I tried a decidedly non-fruit flavor: bubble gum. Perched atop the medium-sized paper squeeze cop was a rosette of bubblegum pink ice flecked with yellow and green bits. (more…)

03/15/17 10:52am
MAPLECANDY

Hugue Dufour making maple ‘taffy.’

By my calendar there are only five days left until the start of spring. Winter’s reasserted itself in what some New Yorkers, myself included, deem a rather weak blizzard. Nevertheless there’s plenty of snow on the ground, which means two things: one, tromping around the park, something I’ve been doing for years; and two, making homemade maple taffy/snowcones, something I tried for the first time this past Sunday. (more…)