08/26/17 1:21pm

It has been a very auspicious summer for Šri Mahã Vallabha Ganapati Devasthãnam, or the Ganesh Temple of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, as it’s more commonly known. For one thing the temple on the outskirts of downtown Flushing celebrated its 40th birthday on July 4. And Sri Ganesh Chaturthi Nava-Dina Mahotsavam, a nine-day celebration of the elephant-headed deva’s birthday concludes this Sunday with a parade known as the Grand Ratha Yatra.

The festivities kick off at the temple at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow. Come a bit early and check out the arcade that has been decorated with images of Lord Ganesh and his favorite sweet ladoo, in such flavors as sesame, peanut, and dried fruit. (more…)

08/14/17 12:03pm

As a friend likes to point out, summer—with its steamy humidity and lazy beach days—is far from over. With that in mind here are seven of my favorite international frozen treats from Indonesian and Thai shaved ices and South American slushies to old-school American ice cream for you to enjoy

1. Pitaya nieves, Los Poblanos Grocery
Nieves, literally snows, are a wonderful frozen Mexican treat. With flavors like lip-puckering tamarind; refreshing melon; and jamaica, or tart hibisicus flowers, it’s easy to think of them as a frozen version of the auguas frescas that many vendors lining Roosevelt Avenue sell. There are many nieves sellers on La Roosie, but thankfully my peeps at Food & Footprints turned me on to one the best, Los Poblanos Grocery. On my first visit I had a jamaica, scarlet and refreshing and on my second, I had pitaya, better known as prickly pear. The tart red snow was shot through with crunchy seeds making it even more fun to eat.  Los Poblanos Grocery, 92-19 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights

2. Naem kaeng sai, Teacup Cafe
When I was a kid I was always jealous of one of my cousins who had the Snoopy Sno Cone machine. We never played with it, no doubt because the novelty had worn off. I trace my fascination with shaved ice to that unrequited desire for frozen confections. Now that I’m all grown up, there’s no better way for me to fulfill that childhood wish than Thai shaved ice or naem kang sai. As served at Teacup Cafe, it has enough sugar and toppings for a kid’s birthday party.

First choose your syrup—red or green—and then pick from eleven toppings. The red syrup, an artificial take on the sala fruit is floral and ultrasweet as is the green, which resembles cream soda. Toppings include taro, black grass jelly, pudding, corn, mixed fruit, coconut, palm seeds, red beans, toddy palm seeds, jackfruit, and popping bubbles. Three toppings will run you $4, but for the princely sum of $5.50 you can get all of the toppings. The result is an arctic explosion of colors, textures, and flavors. Teacup Cafe, 76-23 Woodside Ave., Elmhurst, Phone: (718) 426-2222 (more…)

06/01/17 4:56pm

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a fan of noodles— whether the fusilli with red sauce and chow fun that I cut my  teeth on—or the tallarin verde of Peru and various culture’s takes on cold noodles that can be had in Queens. This edition of The Seven is devoted to my favorite Asian noodles in Queens, at least as of summer 2017.

1. Tom thuk, Lhasa Fast Food
Anthony Bourdain recently paid a visit to this Jackson Heights momo shop tucked away behind a cell phone store. While the big man tried the hand-torn noodle soup known as thenthuk he did not get to experience its colder, spicier cousin tomthuk. Listed in the menu’s Noodle Zone as beef cold noodle ($6) there’s no forewarning of the twin heat engines of chili and mustard oil. The tangle of chewy noodles interspersed with shredded carrots, cabbages, and bits of ground beef packs enough heat to melt snowy Mount Kailash which looms above the counter. Lhasa Fast Food, 37-50 74th Street, Jackson Heights

 

2.  Yum Dek Sen, Dek Sen
There are many Thai noodle dishes, from funky bowls of blood-enriched soup to those that resemble pork ragu, but Dek Sen is the first restaurant where I’ve seen noodles used in a yum, Thailand’s spicy savory version of the more prosaic Western salad. Yum Dek Sen ($11.95) takes Mama instant noodles and mixes them with squid, shrimp,  minced pork, and two types of fish balls. Served warm the whole lot is dressed in a chili lime sauce. You might be tempted to order it spicy, but medium is more than adequate.  Dek Sen, 86-08 Whitney Ave, Elmhurst, 718-205-5181 (more…)

05/17/17 9:49am

Call it mini mofongo if you must.

I want to like mofongo I really do, but all too often the mashup of plantains and fried pork is drier than a Brit’s sense of humor. Sometimes I do like it, but it’s always a real gut buster. All of which leaves me quite glad to have tried Ecuadorean miniature mofongo the other day. Of course in Quito and on Roosevelt Avenue they don’t call it “miniature mofongo” but rather “bolon mixto.” (more…)

04/04/17 11:53pm
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Jhol momo come in a nutty sesame sauce perfumed with ginger and garlic.

I’ve had my eye on Momos Bros, a snazzy new food truck located a block or so north of Roosevelt Avenue on 74th Street for about a week now. It sports a groovy anthropomorphic dumpling situated in the center of a rising sun motif above a skyline. I’ve stopped by twice without eating, mainly because I was full. On the first visit I was quite pleased to learn that the bros running the truck aren’t some white dudes named Chad and Brad. On the second visit I’d just come from having a bowl of soup at Lhasa Fast Food, which is located across the street, so I thought I would try a Tibetan meat pie, or shapaley, but they were out.

momobros

There’s a new momo truck in town!

The third time, as they say, is the charm. Tonight I stopped by with an appetite and tried a type of momo I’ve never had in Himalayan Heights, New York City’s epicenter of momodom. Jhol momo ($6) are a specialty in Nepal where the bros—actual blood brothers—Basang and Chema Sherpa hail from. Right now they’re offering chicken and beef. I went for the beef.

The steamed crescent-shaped dumplings are anointed with a sesame-based broth that tastes like a spicier, South Asian version of tahini. With the addition of a bit of hot sauce, it made for a most satisfying late dinner on a cool spring night.

Momo Bros., outside Citibank 37-57 74th St., Jackson Heights, 347- 944-9480

12/05/16 11:11pm

As someone who’s constantly devouring the delicious diversity that is Queens it’s possible to become spoiled by choices, even jaded. Luckily for me leading food tours affords an opportunity to turn others on to the culinary delights of Queens. My passion for the borough and its food is rekindled by seeing it from somebody else’s perspective. Which is precisely what happened when I led ace travel blogger Jon Barr on a whirlwind food tour of Jackson aka Himalayan Heights last week.

“It smelled so good the second I stepped off that train and walked down the stairs,” Barr exclaimed as we strolled over to the aptly name Diversity Plaza for our first stop, some Indian chaat. No tour of the hidden gems of Jackson Heights is complete without a visit to Lhasa Fast Food where we feasted upon momo and cold skin sushi.

All told we visited four countries and two continents in under 10 minutes, plus I got to use my Telemundo announcer’s voice. Be sure to check out Jon’s Youtube channel here and click here for my info on my Queens food tours.

12/05/16 10:56am
sushi

A mandala of deliciousness!

Slippery chewy cold noodles coated in a chili-spiked sauce have been a favorite since I slurped my first sesame-slicked strand. Here in Queens the cold noodle game gets way deeper than sesame noodles, Sichuan noodles, or even near ubiquitous cold skin noodles from Xi’an Famous Foods. That depth is best measured by something I like to call Tibetan style cold skin noodle sushi. I discovered it at Lhasa Fast Food, a Himalayan hot spot hidden behind a cell phone store. (more…)

11/27/16 2:03pm
phayul-friedmomo

Fried beef momo, just one of many delicacies that will be offered.

With winter just around the corner, my pals and I from Queens Dinner Club have chosen a most seasonally appropriate cuisine: the hearty, spicy flavors of Tibet. And there’s no better place to enjoy them Chef Chime Tendha’s Phayul. In fact I personally love Phayul—which means fatherland in Tibetan—so much that I made sure they appeared on Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern. To score a ticket for this tasty trek please click here. (more…)

10/24/16 11:25pm

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As I like to say, “Delicious mysteries of cuisine and culture lie around every corner in Jackson Heights, one of the most diverse pockets in the most diverse locations around.”  One could liken my 20-year exploration of the neighborhood’s cuisine and culture starting with Jackson Diner and leading to the present day Himalayan-South Asian diaspora to a scavenger hunt of sorts. All of which got me to thinking, this would be a great neighborhood for a scavenger hunt. So I’ve teamed with my good friends at The Gastronauts and professional game designers Interactive Escapes to transform the hood into The Jackson Heights Hangover: A Gastronauts Scavenger Hunt.

I can’t tell you all the details—heck even I’m on a need-to know-basis—but I can tell that the research for it enabled me to see and taste Jackson Heights in a new way, which is no easy feat. So if you’re ready for an afternoon that will tantalize your taste buds, challenge your intellect, and give you a unique perspective  on Jackson Heights, all while leading your squad to victory then join us on November 5 for what’s sure to be the tastiest most culturally enriching hangover you’ve ever had. Tickets may be purchased here.

07/11/16 8:07am
strawberrythai

Auttharos’ strawberry and salted egg salad.

At first glance Auttharos, the brand spanking new Thai spot that replaced Zabb Elee in Jackson Heights looks much like its predecessor. After all the menu’s appetizers include Esan sausage and the joint keeps much the same late night hours as the once Michelin-starred Zabb.

Things start to get interesting in Auttharos’ roster of papaya salads. There are more than a dozen permutations of som tam, from the fairly farang friendly—dried shrimp and peanuts—to the funkier and fishier —pickled crab and pickled fish. The really interesting stuff appears at the  end of the list: cucumber salad with boiled egg; long bean salad with pickled fish; corn salad with salted egg, and strawberry salad with salted egg. Let’s let that last one sink in: strawberry salad with salted egg!! (more…)