“Good sandwich,” my pal Rocky said between bites, “but Sandwich Therapy’s kind of a goofy name.” Those bites consisted of crunchy chicken schnitzel studded with sesame seeds; thick slabs of fried eggplant smoky and sweet; a shmear of tahini; pickled daikon and carrots; and matbucha, a spicy Moroccan tomato and pepper stew all packed between two slabs of challah.
I first encountered the Sandwich Therapy stand, which sets up on the median of 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights just outside Travers Park, about a month ago. I’d already had lunch that day and didn’t take note of the name, but I did buy some lovely Georgian Shakarlama cookies, enriched with ground walnuts and almonds and perfumed with cardamom. I forgot all about it until Rocky texted me an image of this crazy looking dreadnought of a sandwich last Friday. (He in turn had heard of the stand from fellow food nerd Dave Cook of Eating in Translation.)
And that’s how we came to be eating a fried chicken sandwich with a decidedly Israeli accent on a blustery Friday in Jackson Heights. “Maybe he’s a social worker I mused,” taking a pause before tackling the second half of this truly masterful sandwich.
“We’re going to have it every Friday,” said the Master himself Mark Blinder, who operates the stand on Friday’s from 2 to 6 and 11-3 on Saturday and Sunday with his wife, Esthi Zipori. “It’s very popular in Israel right now, they even call it the Friday sandwich.”
As for the stand’s name, it turns out that Blinder does have a Masters degree in Social Work. He’s been sidelined due to COVID, so in November he and Esthi decided to sell set up shop near their local park. They often get their bread from Variety Bakery on 80th Street and Northern Boulevard. It bears pointing out that at $12 the Friday sandwich is among the most affordable of the many modalities of gustatory therapy available in the Heights. And the tahini chocolate chip cookies I scored were pretty damn good, too. To pre-order your very own Friday sandwich e-mail Mark and Esthi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve been hearing about Legend of Taste since late last year when Jim Leff, the founder of Chowhound declared it “The Best Sichuan I’ve Ever Found in NYC.” I knew I’d eventually make it out to the restaurant, which is located rather incongruously in Whitestone, a neighborhood hardly known for regional Chinese cuisine. So when Rich Sanders of Ethnojunkie told me he was gathering a crew of a dozen like-minded eaters and writers, I immediately said yes.
I knew we were off to a good start when a dish of peanuts coated in a heady mixture of salt, sugar, ground chili pepper and Sichuan peppercorn was placed before us. It’s one of my favorite Sichuan snacks. Everything we tried was delicious, but there was one dish that stood out, Szechuan style crispy eggplant ($12.95). (more…)
I have yet to eat one, but the combination of smoked pork loin, fried eggplant, kicky pimento cheese, piquant pickled green tomatoes, fruity mincemeat, and maple cream looks absolutely heavenly. Click on over to Esquire’s Napkins Necessary for the recipe, or better yet throw on a sweater and take a stroll over to Harry & Ida’s.
Harry & Ida’s Meat & Supply Co., 189 Avenue A., 646- 864-0967
Kickshaw’s ‘Hero’ eats like veggie version of a roast pork Italian.
PLEASE NOTE THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED
Astoria’s Queens Kickshaw might be best known for its fancy pants grilled cheese sandwiches, but the other day I tried a sandwich there that was far from dainty. Listed simply as Hero ($13), I like to think of it as a vegetarian version of a Philadelphia roast pork Italian sub. This is mainly because the ingredients feature plenty of broccoli rabe and provolone in addition to fried eggplant and sauteed peppers and onions. It’s the best vegetarian Italian sandwich I’ve had in Astoria, mainly because it’s the only one I’ve had. Faint praise aside, it is a lovely gooey hot mess of a sandwich. I only wish there were some hot cherry peppers and sauteed garlic on it!
The Queens Kickshaw, 40-17 Broadway, Astoria, 718-777-0913
Now that the streets around Times Square are almost cleared of New Year’s Eve confetti and I’ve digested several plates of lucky New Year’s noodles it’s time to take a look back at 2015. It was a big year for me, including a profile in The Wall Street Journal.Queens continued to amaze with everything from octopus tacos and Thai noodles to Caribbean Chinese and the most unlikely French patisserie ever. In no particular order here are 15 of the best things I ate last year.
Tom yum haeng topped with fried pork sugar and chili.
1. Yummiest dry tom yum
The weekend noodle soup pop-up at Elmhurst’s Pata Paplean remained on point, but one of my favorites there wasn’t a soup at all. Tom yum haeng—dry tom yum noodles—consists of springy yellow noodles, fish balls and golden shards of fried pork all dressed with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chili, and cilantro. Mix it all up and dig into the best dry noodles in Thai Town.
2. Tastiest deep-fried seafood nostalgia
The cheery blue and white Bigelow’s Seafood has been around for more than 70 years. After driving by it for about that amount of time, I finally had the privilege of trying it this past spring. These wizards of the fryer turn out impeccable Ipswich clams, fried smelts, shrimp, and soft shell crabs all served in an atmosphere that time and cholesterol have forgotten. (more…)
Hunan House’s steamed eggplant is packed with homestyle flavor.
A few weeks I ago visited Hunan House with a crew of ravenous foodies. As soon as we were in the door encountered my pal Colin Goh. “Try the steamed eggplant with salted duck eggs,” he exclaimed. I couldn’t convince anybody to order the eggplant, but we did discover the amazing beef with crispy pepper. It’s a dish so good we ordered two rounds.
This past Saturday I ran into to Colin, his wife, Yen Yen, and their little girl, Kai Kai at the Lunar New Year celebration at Flushing Town Hall. When given a choice between a homestyle Korean place and Hunan House, young Kai Kai chose Hunan House. And that’s how I fell in love with xian dan huang qie zi, or steamed eggplant with salted duck egg yolk on Valentine’s Day. (more…)
Sabich, the falafel sandwich’s lesser known cousin.
PLEASE NOTE THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED
When I was in my twenties running around the East Village smoking more marijuana than I care to remember I ate more falafel than I care to remember. Had I known about the sabich, a lesser sung Israeli sandwich, I’d have added some variety to my midnight munchies. The combination of fried eggplant and hard-boiled eggs sounds odd at first, but it’s actually quite good. I’m fortunate to be able to procure one at Grill House a tiny Israeli joint that’s a 5-minute walk from my house. (more…)
The other I took my buddy George to visit my Uncle Zhou. Steven Zhou’s eponymous Henanese noodle house is a favorite place for comfort food. At Uncle Zhou’s house comfort takes one form and one form only, a bowl of long-simmered lamb bone soup with chewy hand-drawn noodles, goji berries, and wood ear mushrooms, and of course fat beribboned bits of meat. Breathing the vapors and slurping up the noodles is a panacea for everything from summer colds and winter blahs to heartaches and hangovers. (more…)