07/10/18 3:33pm

Alley 41’s cumin lamb chops.                                                                   Photo: @enzoferrarifx60

Among all meats, lamb particularly the fatty ribs, might just be my very favorite. In my Rego Park stamping grounds, I’m especially keen on Uzbek style lamb rib kebabs, but as many of you know my favorite lamb ribs of all were the Muslim Lamb Chop as served by the now defunct Peng Shun Spicy Pot.

The other week my hopes were raised when my buddy Stanford and I saw a dish on the menu of Alley 41 listed as cumin roasted lamb chops. “Can you ask the waiter if it’s fried fresh?” I queried of my pal whose Chinese is way better than mine. Eventually after a phone call to his father, the question was put to the waiter in a sufficiently delicate fashion. It’s a question of crucial importance too, because the restaurant that brought the dish to Flushing, Fu Run, chooses to fry the whole thing beforehand and then reheat it, an unconscionable disservice to both the diners and the lamb itself.

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06/26/18 1:22pm

A mix of sour cherry and blood orange and a scoop of rainbow cookie at Pesso’s.

I’ve been meaning to try the Italian ices from Pesso’s for years. A recent New York Times piece  reminded me of the Bayside institution. So I added it to the itinerary of a Whitestone-Bayside food expedition that my pal Rocky and I took yesterday.

The plan was to try a few sandwiches (come back on Wednesday to read about that) and then finish with donuts from Honey Pig and ices from Pesso’s. Sadly Honey Pig was closed yesterday, so we will have to return for rainbow cookie donuts another time. (more…)

06/19/18 1:02pm

Spicy pickle ice, very very nice!

The other day after leading a food tour of downtown Flushing in the sweltering heat my mind turned to mush, well almost, it turned to a frosty treat. I was in the mood for Korean style shaved ice, or pat bing soo, but settled for a mango, coconut, and black jelly concoction at C Fruit Life, since I didn’t want to trek to the further reaches of Northern Boulevard in the heat.

It was refreshing, but after strolling Roosevelt Avenue—or La Roosie the stretch of Roosevelt lined with Mexican, Colombian and Ecuadorean shops, restaurants and street food and, at this time of year, all manner of World Cup regalia—I needed to chill out again.

My refreshment of choice? A nieves from Los Poblanos on Roosevelt Avenue. Even though eight wooden buckets done up in the colors of the Mexican flag lined the outdoor counter the only sign read, “mango.” (more…)

03/27/18 12:15pm

Canelé and kouign-amann, together at last!

Yesterday I found myself on walkabout in LIC and decided to pay Cannelle Patisserie a visit. Beautiful pastries—mille feuiles, opera, Paris-Brest, and more lined the case like gems—but ultimately I decided to forego the more sugary items in favor of two classics: a canelé and a kouign-amann.
I chose the canelé, because of its daintiness, and the kouign-amann because I’ve never seen one presented as a spiral. I started out with the canelé, which had a pleasant sponginess and a hint of vanilla, before moving on to its more formidable cousin, the kouign-amann. (more…)

10/31/17 11:14pm

The most amazing guo tie have returned to Flushing.

For the longest time my Flushing Chinatown food tours included two shatteringly crunchy specialties: the paper dosa from the Ganesh Temple Canteen and otherwordly pork and leek dumplings bound by a crisp sheet of dough from a Henanese stall in New World Mall. And then one day, the guo tie vanished much like the UFO they resembled might. It’s been so long since I’d had these  potstickers that I’ve begun to question whether I had imagined the radial pattern of dumplings beneath a lacy sheet of dough in a foodie fever dream.  (more…)

10/17/17 11:07pm

Fruity pebbles and maple bacon, together at last.

A big shoutout to my pal Lisa—my go-to source for all things Whitestone and Bayside—for hipping me to Honey Pig Donut Company, which has been open just under two months.

The other day I stopped in and decided to try the shop’s signature confection, a maple bacon donut. I really wasn’t going to get a second donut until I noticed a pink glazed number showered with day-glo specks. Even though I knew full well that they were Fruity Pebbles I somehow couldn’t process that bit of visual information and found myself asking, “What’s that?” before promptly adding one to my order. (more…)

09/26/17 10:24am

Despite appearances, this is not a cannoli.

A lifetime ago before I came to Queens, I lived in Brooklyn, in a neighborhood that realtors hopefully called Park Slope vicinity. It was a short ride from there to Bensonhurst where I would indulge my Sicilian heritage with vastedda—the ricotta and calf spleen sandwiches—at Gino’s Focacceria and pastry at Villabate. Back then, Villabate and Alba were two separate shops. These days they’ve united to form confectionery powerhouse Villabate Alba.

Recently I found myself back in the County of Kings and decided to take a walk from Together, Brooklyn’s sole Burmese restaurant, to Bensonhurst to visit Villabate Alba.

“I’ll have that chocolate-covered cannoli,” I said to the young Chinese girl at the counter pointing to a little number with a broad swath of chocolate in the center flanked by white icing and capped with pistachio. (more…)

09/12/17 1:18am

One of my favorite things to do on tours of Flushing Chinatown is to show off the live seafood on offer at J-mart. Watching the razor clams wriggle when nudged is always a hit. They’re sold live, and apparently at least at Randazzo’s on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, eaten that way.

So when my pal B.A. Van Sise and I decided to make a pilgrimage to the real Little Italy, I knew we had to try the wriggling mollusks. (more…)

09/05/17 4:46pm

Short rib soup, fried tempeh, and a refreshing longan iced tea.

Lately when people ask what my favorite food or restaurant is my answer besides, “Depends on my mood,” is Awang Kitchen. Since April the Indonesian spot has been in heavy rotation on my dining roster. Good thing Indonesian cuisine is so varied! When I first wrote about Chef Awang’s restaurant I made much about him bringing the flavors of Jakarta to Elmhurst, but the truth is the menu, particularly the specials, ranges all over Indonesia, including Sulawesi and Java.

I am slowly making my way through the wonderful, complex soups and stews that cycle through the specials board, including a grand version of soto mie jakarta, complete with a fresh spring roll filled with vermicelli and baby shrimp. What brought me there the other day though was the promise of  sate ikan hiu, or baby shark satay, a Sulawesi delicacy. Sadly they were out of it by the time I got there, so I had to opt for one of my favorite appetizers, tempeh mendoan, which transforms the otherwise odious fermented soybean product into scrumptious fritters. Crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside with just a hint of fermented tang, they’re great dipped in the sweet kecap manis. (more…)

08/15/17 12:44pm

Steamed veal pelmeni, spa food via Russia and Corona.

There are many, many Central Asian eateries in Forest Hills and Rego Park where one can procure a plate of pelmeni, the pleated Russian ravioli, but there’s none quite like Forest Hills Spa. That’s because the tiny restaurant lies within the only authentic Russkaya banya, or Russian spa, in Queens. Banya—an experience that combines a eucalyptus scented steam room, sauna, and a blistering Russian Room where the temperature hovers around 190F—is a Russian tradition. The banya is just one of many places featured in my new guidebook 111 Places in Queens That You Must Not Miss, which drops later this year.

The menu at the tiny restaurant illuminated by a skylight includes such spa-worthy items as fresh fruit juices, but on both visits I opted for the Russian ravioli. When in a Russian spa, why not eat Russian food? (more…)