“You finally went,” my friend Greg, one half of the dynamic duo that is Food & Footprints, commented on an Instagram post of a Peruvian picarone—a lovely sweet potato and squash donut—at the Antojitos Doña Fela cart in Jackson Heights. I’d been trying to visit the Vendy nominated Peruvian snack specialist for weeks, but until last Sunday had missed the cart, which is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. only weekends.
“Do you have chicharron con camote?” I asked Doña Fela’s daughter, about the pork belly and sweet potato sandwich that’s a common breakfast in Peru. “Let me see, we might be sold out,” she said while I hungrily eyed a bunch of pork belly and camote, or sweet potato, sizzling on a corrugated cast iron grill. “One last order,” she said. (more…)
The year that just drew to close was a year of personal challenges—coping with chemo via congee—and achievements—publishing a guidebook to Queens—all while eating my way through New York City’s most delicious and diverse borough. Herewith, are 17 from 2017.
1. Most Super Soup Dumplings
I’ve been a fan of Helen You’s dumplings since long before she became the empress of Dumpling Galaxy. My favorite at Tianjin Dumpling house in Golden Mall remains the lamb and green squash. Yang rou xiao long bao, or lamb soup dumplings, are one of the off-menu stars at Dumpling Galaxy. The little packages bursting with unctuous lamb broth are so good that they have become a staple of my Flushing Chinatown food tours. Dumpling Galaxy, 42-35 Main St., Flushing, 718-461-0808
2. Choicest Chang Fen
I cut my teeth on Cantonese steam rice rolls at Mei Lei Wah in Manhattan’s Chinatown, so this breakfast staple will always have a special place in my heart and stomach. About a year ago Joe’s Steam Rice Roll opened in downtown Flushing and I knew right away that it was somethings special. For one thing he’s grinding fresh rice as opposed to using rice flour like everybody else in New York City, which imparts a delicate flavor and texture. Turns out that Joe himself went to Guangzhou to learn his craft and brought the equipment back with him. My favorite is the shrimp and egg with green onion. Joe’s Steam Rice Roll, 136-21 Roosevelt Ave., #A1, Flushing
3. Duckiest Thai Arancini
OK fine, they’re not quite Italian rice balls, but the trio of crispy sticky rice balls served with Thailand Center Point’s larb duck with crispy rice ($13.95) do a great job of soaking up the piquant sauce. The shredded meat—mixed with roasted rice powder and shot through with herbs and just the right amount of chilies—is superb. Thailand’s Center Point, 63-19 39th Avenue, Woodside, 718-651-6888(more…)
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…)
Whether in Krakow or in Queens a donut is a pączki by any other name.
Sometimes you just really need a donut. And not just any donut, but a puffy Polish pączki. Filled with jelly or cream they’re a common pre-Lenten treat. I’d be lying if I said pączki were on my mind Friday morning as my business partner and I drove around Glendale trying to find Finback Brewery.
Beer and ticket sales were our primary concern. We needed two kegs of beer and we needed them fast, for a festival the following day. This urgency didn’t keep us from stopping in our tracks when we saw a hand-written sign that read “Bake Sale.” (more…)
I have yet to consume a Cronut, but my friend Wendy Chan did, and she was kind enough to file this dispatch from the front lines of food faddery in Soho. Take it away Wendy . . .
While grocery shopping at Stew Leonard’s this summer, I walked past the bakery where samples were passed out for a taste of their new product, a croissant donut. The bakery team there claimed this new hybrid is made from 162 layers of butter and dough, deep-fried to golden perfection. I knew this “Cro Do” was a copycat product, but I would not miss a chance to try it.
It did taste pretty good, still piping hot. I was sold. Frankly, butter makes everything taste good! Deep fried? Darn it! Irresistible! It’s retailed at $3.99 for two. I bought half a dozen to share with friends that evening. No line, no fuss.
My daughter ,Veronica, had already introduced me to the original Cronut, created by Dominique Ansel, but it didn’t impress me. But then, it was frozen overnight, as a thoughtful gift of love, (well, she had to get up early to stand in line for it) so it was not a fair verdict. (more…)
With all the time I spend in Flushing it’s hard to believe that it’s taken me this long to patronize Paris Baguette. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that it was the Korean bakery’s Cronut knockoff that finally lured me across the threshold.
“You can’t take pictures here,” said a beret wearing young man dressed in a striped shirt more commonly seen on French mimes. “Discover the dessert that’s taking over Manhattan,” read a sign above the croissant-doughnut hybrids. “Decadent and yummy,” it continued. I don’t often succumb to the lures of food faddery, but Cronut curiosity got the best of me. There is no way in hell I am waiting on line at 5 a.m. outside of Dominique Ansel for any pastry, no matter how hyperbolically delicious. So I considered getting one of Paris Baguette’s Croissant Donuts ($3.50) to be the next best thing. It was indeed “decadent and yummy,” topped with lemon zest and filled with a vanilla cream. (more…)
As a habitué of Japanese eateries I am familiar with the word age, meaning fried, as in kara age, or fried chicken. For about a year I’ve been meaning to try the age ice ($2.99) from Japadog, the Japanese hot dog shop on Saint Marks Place. Thankfully it is not the same thing as the fried ice cream one finds at certain South of the Border restaurant chains. It is instead “ice cream with fried buns,” which resemble hot dog rolls in their shape and size. Three scoops of your choice vanilla, green tea, strawberry or black sesame are cradled in the bread. You could call it a cold dog, but that’s not entirely accurate, so age ice it is.
“Think of it like a donut,” the kid behind the counter said as he made my age ice kurogoma, black sesame ice cream sandwich. After the requisite photo frenzy I dug in. The bun’s glaze had some texture to it thanks to a crunchy coating of sugar. The combination of the cool ice cream and the warm fluffy donut was simply delightful. It was way better than the donut sandwich I had last week. Fueled by a sugar rush I envisioned a warm pretzel bun cradling a savory meat-based frozen confection. Do you feel me OddFellows?
Sandwiches so large, so ungainly, so messy that I have to remove my watch are among my favorites. In all the time I’ve been writing about sandwiches I’ve rarely, if ever, had thought, “I am glad that sandwich was so small.” Sadly that very thought crossed my mind this morning. It occurred moments after my last bite of the Dunkin’ Donuts Glazed Breakfast Sandwich.
Ever since I read about this purported breakfast treat breathlessly described on the Dunkin’ Donuts web site as “pure deliciousness,” I’ve wanted to try it. Two days after its launch on National Donut Day I popped into my local Dunkin’ at around 9 p.m. to ask if they had the sandwich. “Yes, we have it,” the clerk said excitedly, “but we don’t have the donuts.” (more…)
Just some of the dozen donuts on offer at at Zoom.
PLEASE NOTE THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED
The bite-size donuts above come in a dozen flavors: cappuccino, coconut, M&M, cheese, green tea, and almond to name a few. Despite appearances the tiny treats come neither from a bake sale nor from a hipster pastry chef. Zoom Mini Donuts are the brainchild of Chef Dewi of Java Village, one of my favorite Indonesian restaurants. Her steam table joint at the northern end of Queens’ second smaller Chinatown in Elmhurst has tons of great grub, including bubur ayam, a kicked up fried chicken congee that makes for a great breakfast. Java Village has always had a staggering array of desserts, including several cakes hued with the day-glo green of pandan. It was Dewi’s lineup of cakes, and yes donuts, including the cheese covered kue donat, that made me realize there’s so much more to Indonesian sweets than just shaved ice.
A few months ago Dewi added the Zoom Mini Donut window, which also sells coffee and tea, to the front of her shop. The dessert counter inside the restaurant no longer has the larger donuts. Some would see that as a loss, but I think it’s more fun to try several donuts rather than make the calorific commitment to one huge one. Like those cakes each Lilliputian treat is also made with pandan lending the innards a greenish hue and a subtle aroma and flavor. Think of Zoom as Javanese Java and donut pop-up. It’s only a matter of time before the cops show up for coffee and donuts.