This Tibetan soup smells like stinky French cheese.
“Have you had it before?” the waitress at Phayul asked when I ordered the tsak sha chu rul ($3.99), or “beef and Tibet cheese soup.” The note of concern in her voice was in no small part due to this dish’s rather pungent bouquet. I nodded my assent and waited for the bowl of what smells not unlike a Tibetan tallegio to arrive. (more…)
Mohammed traveled to Queens to feast on Pakistani offal for his 25th birthday.
Hey Joe I saw you on Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern eating that Pakistani dish. My parents are from Pakistan and I haven’t had the opportunity to try tawa kata-kat. I can’t find the name of the restaurant so I can go there. Can you please provide me the name and address? I will be visiting New York this coming Saturday for my 25th birthday. Thanks. Mohammed Malik, St. Louis, Mo.
Young man, enthusiastic offal eaters like you are the future of our nation. Tawa kata-kat, the fry up of goat brains, kidneys, and heart seasoned with ginger and chili can be had at Kababish, 70-64 Broadway, Jackson Heights, (718) 565-5131. (more…)
Last winter I took Andrew Zimmern on a tour around the world from Tibet to Liberia with intermediate stops in Ecuador, Nepa, and Pakistan all, without ever leavings Queens. I had a blast and the crew were super-cool to work with. There was only one thing Andrew didn’t like, butter tea. “It’s good during winter,” I said as I sipped a cup. I believe his response was something like, “Nope, this is never good.”
There’s one dish we pretty much had the same visceral reaction to and that’s the pepper crab and shrimp combo ($20) at Maima’s Liberian Bistro. The scene of us eating it didn’t make the Queens episode of Bizarre Foods America, which aired last night. I am especially proud of my tour de force reaction to this dish’s blistering heat level at 1:00.
“My lips, my fingers, my tongue, my gums are kind of on fire,” Zimmern said. “This is the hottest thing I’ve eaten all week. You don’t want to bring people here who are afraid to eat. I can tell you that.” Amen to that brother.
Yesterday the high temperature in Monrovia, Liberia was 83. Queens was substantially hotter than West Africa, the mercury hit 97. And the heat from the pepper shrimp ($12) at Maima’s Liberian Bistro was at the same constant lip-blazing level it always is, approximately Fahrenheit 451. Maima’s is my type of place. The city’s only Liberian eatery is presided over the grandmotherly Maima. Many of the restaurant’s patrons call her mama. (more…)
Gangjong Kitchen’s Ambassador Plate has several types of momo.
PLEASE NOTE THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED
“It’s a combination of Tibetan and European, the chef at Ganjong Kitchen said as he set down a plate bearing three kinds of steamed momo, some daal, bits of grilled chicken breast, and what looked to be a homemade take on a frozen vegetable medley. There was also a side car of broth.
This cross-cultural offering from the Tibetan eatery located in Jackson (aka Himalayan Heights) was part of the Ambassador, a Jackson Heights omakase dreamed up by Jeff Orlick. The two-week old program is simultaneously simple and brilliant. Diners look for restaurants in the nabe bearing a sticker that reads, “Ambassador/Don’t Know What to Try?/Let The Chef Decide/$10/Jackson Heights,” and then simply point to the sticker placing themselves in the chef’s hands. (more…)
Back in February I had the pleasure of taking Andrew Zimmern on a whirlwind private tour of Queens’ culinary gems. Our day started in Himalayan (aka Jackson) Heights and wound up at Maima’s Liberian Bistro in Jamaica. I’m stoked to watch the Queens episode of Bizarre Foods America when it airs next month. What I’m even more excited about though is that the bizarre one went on record in Delta Sky Mag, to declare Queens “the king of the American food scene.” Not only that, Zimmern dubbed me the borough’s “de facto food critic.” (more…)
The leathery skinned mangosteen is renowned for its exquisite flavor.
The mangosteen is the Holy Grail of tropical fruit to me. For years the leathery orbs native to Southeast Asia were illegal in the United States. Several years ago I took a trip to Toronto and scored two or three. As I recall never did wind up eating them. And last year, I purchased a bag, sadly one out of five were moldy. The ones that weren’t were tasty, but not worth the exorbitant price. (more…)
Morocho’s anticuchos: one of New York City’s top Street Eats.
Way back in July I had the distinct pleasure of filming an episode of Street Eats U.S.A. for the Travel Channel. It was so long ago I almost forgot about it. The crew and I spent three days running around in the heat and humidity filming New York City’s finest street foods. The first two days were spent in Manhattan, which has some surprisingly good street food, especially Morocho Peruvian Fusion. Naturally we spent an entire day in Queens, with stops in Corona, Elmhurst, and Flushing.
You can’t go wrong with duck for a buck.
The show airs on 3/23 at 3 p.m. EST. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was excited about being on the Travel Channel, home to Messrs. Bourdain and Zimmern. I am, however, more excited that some of Queens’ greatest street vendors—Soybean Flower Chen who sells cloud-like fresh tofu; Corner 28’s one-buck duck ladies; and Tortas Neza, Corona’s undisputed king of the Mexican sandwich—all get their turn in the spotlight. Check out a preview clip here kids.
Andrew Zimmern’s TV show “Bizarre Foods” has its season premiere tonight on The Travel Channel at 9 p.m. with a visit to Washington, D.C. While I’m excited to see Zimmern eat a blackened snakehead sandwich in a boat on the Potomac, I’m more excited about the past several days he’s spent eating his way around Queens. Especially yesterday, when I had the opportunity to take him on a global food crawl that started in the Himalayas and ended in Liberia. Before I gave the bizarre one a private food tour I caught up with him at M. Wells Dinette and asked him Seven Questions.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten thus far on this trip to New York City?
I’m just gonna go right out with the bread at Rokhat Bakery [in Rego Park]. I’m just going with the thing that I’ve been talking to the most people about. The Golden Mall? Fantastic. Fu Run? Ethereal. To stand in the kitchen [at M. Wells Dinette] and have Hugue make little tasty tidbits for me? Glorious. And on and on and on. I had dinner last night at The Dutch. Carmellini was just killing it and sending out all kinds of great things. The moment he came out to say hello the first thing I did was take out the picture of Rokhat Bakery and say, “You have to go try this bread place.” I’m still captivated by it. What a special unique thing they have out there. Those samsa, those meat pies, the breads, the cabbage pierogi. I’ve never tasted its equal.
What’s your favorite way to eat bone marrow?
With my fingers. I put it up to my mouth and I suck. It’s the way I was taught when I was a little kid. The very first bone marrow that I had was osso bucco at Trattoria Sostanza in Florence in 1969 with my father. I remember my first visit there.
Where did you learn how to use chopsticks?
I learned how to use chopsticks from my mother. My mother went to Mills College in the ’40s in San Francisco, her roommate was Trader Vic’s daughter. Vic Bergeron taught my mother how to cook in the original Trader Vic’s in San Francisco. Ethnic dining in America, especially in New York, was not what is now back then. In the early ’60s, yes, there was a chow mein restaurant on every corner. There were a couple of good Cantonese restaurants around and there were your various Chinatowns in the five boroughs. We actually had a home where my mother would make certain Polynesian specialties. And, we had chopsticks. So, I learned from my Mom.
Sukuti hanging in the window makes Tawa Food seem like a Nepali salumeria.
Recently I had the pleasure of showing Elyse Pasquale, aka Foodie International, around what I like to call Himalayan Heights. We went to several of my favorite places, including a stop at Merit Kabob & Dumpling Palace for some dropa khatsa, or spicy beef tripe. We also visited Tawa Food. For years myself and other Chowhounds were fascinated by what was essentially a paratha and roti factory staffed by a legion of South Asian grannies. These days the small shop is even more fascinating because it tells the story of Jackson Heights, a symbiotic relationship between the relatively new Himalayan (Bhutanese, Nepali, and Tibetan) community and the long-standing Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi communities. The front of a shop that was once nicknamed “Pakistani bread ladies,” is now occupied by a family turning out some really wonderful Nepali food. I knew it was something special was going on at Tawa when I saw all the sukuti, a spicy beef jerky hanging in the window.