Two years ago I celebrated my 50th birthday with a weeklong trip to Mexico City. I stayed in the very chill neighborhood of Colonia Roma Norte on Tehuantepec. I ate and documented as many tacos, tortas, and other specialties as I could, took a couple of food tours and even ran into Rick Bayless. But there’s one experience I didn’t document, maybe because I wanted to stay in the moment, or maybe because it caught me so off guard.
On my last night in Colonia Roma Norte I took a walk down to the other end of Tehuantepec to check out the street food by the Metro. There were several stands with tacos, tortas, and some sort of soup, but none of them called to me. By this time I’d eaten tacos pastor de arrachera con queso at Taqueria Dos Parados where I ran into Bayless and enjoyed stellar seafood at Contramar, so perhaps my standards were higher than they would have been at the beginning of the trip, but I like to think that the food gods were guiding me toward a more special experience.
As I walked down Tehuantepec back to the apartment I noticed five EMTs jumping out of an ambulance and running toward a small shop. Wondering what was going on I ambled over and realized that rather than a medical emergency it was a street food pit stop. (more…)
The question I get asked most about my Queens food tours—besides “How do you stay so skinny?”—is “Do you give tours of Astoria?” I’m always somewhat ashamed to say. “No, just Flushing, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and the entire 7 line.” Sometimes even the Culinary King of Queens needs to turn to an expert, or experts, and such is the case with Astoria. And the experts in question are my good friends Greg and Jumi at Food & Footprints, who did a video a while back that covered Greek Astoria and just dropped another one of an awesome late night tour of the Middle Eastern offerings along Steinway Street. Oh, and in case you are wondering this dynamic dining duo also leads food tours.
Early last month I had the distinct honor of being filmed for a profile on Great Big Story for my expertise on Queens’ diverse and delcious food scene. “When this came up in my Youtube feed, I was like this better be Joe,” more than one person remarked to me on social media when the video dropped last Thursday.
I’m very grateful that Soybean Chen Flower Shop,Pata Paplean, and Lhasa Fast Food were featured in the video, but you’ll notice that there are lot of shots of me eating with no further description. All my Queens people know the spots, but here’s a breakdown for those unfamiliar with New York City’s most delicious borough. At the 16-second mark, you’ll see Joe’s Steam Rice Roll, which makes exquisite Cantonese chang feng. If you haven’t been you should go, right now. Why are you still reading this? Get on the 7 train! (more…)
Despite the somewhat generic name Sushma Thukral’s New Asian Food Products tucked away on Cherry Avenue just of Kissena Boulevard, has a specialty, Indian food, specifically roti and such vegetarian snacks as savory samosas packed with potatoes and herbs and crunchy fresh fried pakora as well as sweets, chai, and other snacks.
Over the course of my two decades of exploring downtown Flushing, I’ve probably stopped in two or three times, but now thanks to Sixty First Productions and the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce I’ll be stopping by more often and have even added it to my food tour itinerary. (more…)
As if living in New York City isn’t tough enough, now we’ve been hit by a shortage of Cheetos and other Frito-Lay snacks in bodegas. I like a good corn chip now and then, but the crunchy Cheeto is my go-to Frito-Lay snack. Thankfully the shortage hasn’t hit Queens, but if you’ve been affected and simply must have your crunchy Cheetos, you might want to watch this instructional video from pastry chef Claire Saffitz, senior food editor at Bon Appetit.(more…)
“Wow, you look very healthy,” my friend Helen You told me the other day when I brought a tour group to her restaurant, Dumpling Galaxy for lamb soup dumplings. “It’s like you lived two lives in one,” she said when I told her about my recent recovery from colorectal cancer. You’s words made me tear up a bit as did the premiere episode of Last Stop on The 7, which details her own story of living two lives in one. The video, which was produced by the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce and Sixty First Productions, features absolutely mesmerizing shots of You’s flour coated hands rolling out wrappers and folding them to create pork and chive dumplings.
Living in Queens, arguably the most diverse food destination in the world has made me conversant, if not expert, in global cuisines ranging from Thai and Indonesian to Mexican and Peruvian, to name a very few.
Even though I’m an intrepid explorer of Chinese hawker stands, Central American street food carts, and West Indian roti spots there’s one place that still baffles me, NetCost Market, or as I like to call it “Nyet Cost.” The gigantic Russian supermarket, which offers everything from caviar and charcuterie to fermented mare’s milk and kvass is around the corner from my house, yet I hardly ever shop there. (more…)
Gimbap—a Korean after-school snack that at its most minimalist form consists of little more than American cheese, white rice, and daikon rolled up in seaweed—is not exactly anybody’s version of extreme eats. Sure there are more flavorful varieties like spicy tuna and spicy squid, both of which I find quite lovely and enjoy at Song’s Family Food in Murray Hill, Queens. To find a truly extreme kimbap, or gimbap, as it’s also spelled, I had to turn to the internet, specifically Korean cooking Youtube channel cookat TV.(more…)
John Wang grew up going to Taiwanese night markets—festive gatherings filled with people and plenty of street food—and last spring in a tribute to those memories created New York City’s first-ever night market, The Queens International Night Market.
Truth be told when Wang told me about it back in January I didn’t think he was going to pull it off, but by April he’d managed to bring what was at first a heavily Asian lineup to the New York Hall of Science parking lot. The market has a new home in Jamaica and is more international than ever with everything from Japanese takoyaki and Caribbean shark sandwiches to Peking duck baos and Romanian chimney cake, all of it delicious and diverse just like its home borough. (more…)
As diverse as the foodways of Queens are, there’s one cuisine that’s lacking, Sri Lankan. To experience Sri Lankan cuisine in New York City you need to travel to the motherland, Staten Island, specifically, Tompkinsville, which is home to 5,000 Sri Lankan’s, including Vijayakuman “Viji” Devadas. (more…)