Stir fried young jackfruit is symphony of flavors.
“You have to try the Northern style food at Thai Diva,” my friend Chompoo who knows a thing or too about Thai cuisine told me via Facebook a few weeks ago. And then when the Sunnyside restaurant was favorably reviewed by Eater critic Robert Sietsema another pal said,” I’ll try it if it passes the ‘Joe DiStefano’ test.” Well I’m here to say that Thai Diva passed with flying colors.
My first visit to Thai Diva was with my friend Joel who is even more obsessed with Thai food than I am. When he told his Thai friends back home in Boston that he was visiting Queens to eat at Thai Diva, they immediately began suggesting dishes. One of their recommendations was tum kanoon ($11) a heap of stir-fried young jackfruit shot through with chilies and kaffir lime leaves. It came with some pork crackling and cucumbers. I’m familiar with Indonesian preparation of the fruit wherein it’s cooked with coconut milk and aromatics to a brisket like texture. Tum kanoon is somewhat less mellow with a good amount of chili heat balanced out by the aromatic lime. Cucumbers and sticky rice help temper the fire. (more…)
Great N.Y. Noodletown’s shrimp dumpling soup is a classic.
The other night I attended a panel discussion “Historic Preservation, Meet Restaurant Preservation,” where food writer and longstanding Greenwich Village resident Mimi Sheraton and Robert Sietsema, senior restaurant critic at Eater, discussed restaurant preservation in New York City. Rapacious landlords and the idea of forming a body to help restaurants as well creating a list of places that should be preserved, and just who determines who to include on said list were all discussed. When it was over the question of where to eat weighed mightily on my mind. Katz’s came up in the discussion several times, and I briefly considered it, but I ruled it out as too heavy.
Then I started to think along the lines of restaurants and Manhattan neighborhoods that I feel should be preserved. And I headed down to Chinatown. Fish Corner Market’s long gone. Mei Lei Wah ain’t as pretty or tasty as she used to be. Yet Wo Hop, whose sweet and sour pork my dear old Mom reproduced at home, and Great N.Y. Noodletown still abide. I opted for the latter. It’s survived a couple of name changes. The menu and the room remain the same. And they’ve still got one of my favorite dishes, shrimp dumpling soup. It’s a generous bowl of thin-skinned beauties packed with shrimp and mushrooms. I like to liven things up with a few spoons of the citrusy house hot sauce.
Time and tradition seem to have done a good job of preserving stalwarts like Katz’s and my Chinatown haunts, but who knows if scrappier underdog eateries will survive. So here’s what I’d like to know what New York City restaurants, dishes, or neighborhood’s are on your preservation list? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.
Taco Bell unveiled the waffle taco—a fried waffle cradled sausage and egg—in 100 test markets today. Sadly none of these markets are in New York City. No word on the company’s plans to rollout the a pizza crepe taco pancake chili bag.
Writing for The New York Times Robert Sietsema gives a rundown of Vietnamese joints in Atlantic City, including Com Tam Ninh Kieu and its hu tieu with egg noodles and pig feet. Sign me up, Robert.
Josh Ozersky tells the tale of a trail at Jonathan Benno’s Lincoln. “I barely did any work at all, but I didn’t act like Mayor McCheese either, and tried my best not to interfere with the machinery of service,” he writes. Cutlets also makes me really hunger some stupendous sounding roast chicken. (more…)
There’s a theory put forth about food critics by a chef pal of mine. It goes something like this, “Robert Sietsema knows what he’s going to write before he even walks in the door.” As someone who considers himself a food writer and not a critic, I like to consider myself the exception to my buddy’s rule, but I know I’m not. Take the sandwich I had yesterday. I knew I was going to be in Manhattan for the afternoon and I knew I wanted something hearty, even meaty. I was thinking of a Cubano from La Taza de Oro, or something Italian. When I got to the City as we Queensites like to call it I was still undecided. So I put to the Twittersphere, specifically the maharajah of meat, Josh Ozersky. Within minutes a three word response, “Eataly. Roast Beef,” popped upon my phone. (more…)
O.G. ethnic food scribe Robert Sietsema is back in the saddle with a new column at Eater, which specializes in microneighborhoods. First up Neptune Avenue in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with Pakistani goat feet and some stupendous sounding khachapuri, from Georgian Bread.
James Boo is also on the khachapuri trail, with a 1 Minute Meal video for Serious Eats New York about the tasty cheese-enriched bread, as baked by Shorena Dalakishvili, who says that in Georgia, “Everywhere, everybody have khachapuri.” No word on whether everybody weighs 300 pounds.
And SENY’s J. Kenji López-Alt has a stunning report on the “Holy Grail of New York Sushi,” including hotaru ika, baby firefly squid smeared with kani miso, a paste made from the guts of cooked crabs. J.K. writes: “This one is no joke—you have to like intense ocean aromas to get past its take-no-prisoners approach to flavor.” Sounds great J.K., I’m all about intense ocean aroma and flavor. (more…)
Ligaya Mishan of the Times weighs in on Salt & Fat in Sunnyside whose pork belly buns are capable of “evoking not so much a Big Mac as your best childhood memory of it.” Mishan’s takeaway: “. . . not every dish is hellbent on living up to the restaurant’s name.”
Over at The Atlantic Michael Moss writes about a food that is hell-bent on the use of salt, fat, and sugar: the potato chip. Apart from an incisive analysis of why chips are so addictive, or craveable as snack industry gurus like to say there’s this revelation: ”chip companies spend a lot of effort creating a perfectly noisy, crunchy chip.”
The Village Voice offers a hit list of the city’s 10 best French fries, including Mile End’s wonderful looking smoked-meat poutine fries. Sadly the only entry for Queens is Huajio fried potatoes at Little Pepper.While the Sichuan-accented fries are quite good, surely Joju’s ultracrunchy bizarre banh mi fries deserve a spot.
And Tejal Rao makes me incredibly hungry for the pristine flavors and jewel-box presentation of Japanese vegan cusine as served at Kajitsu in Midtown.
O.G. ethnic food enthusiast Robert Sietsema files a dispatch headlined, “Shanghai Newcomer Full House Brings Back Soup Dumplings.” I’m sure the xiao long bao at this Bowery spot are quite good, but here in Queens soup dumplings never left.
Over at Esquire’s Eat Like a Man John Mariani writes about his bromance with the Bronx hood, Belmont where one can score fresh mozzarella that’s still warm and slurp clams on the sidewalk. Sign me up, John.
Max Falkowitz endures the wrath of a surly paesan working the counter at Little Italy’s Parisi Bakery and orders a dreadnought of a sandwich: a potato and egg on an 18-inch loaf of lard bread. Now why didn’t I think of that.
Almost every genre of music from jazz and blues to rock and roll and rap has songs about food. There are songs about sweets, paeans to poultry and there are even raps extolling food critics along with bush meat and bánh mì. Here are a few of my favorite gastronomical ditties, with food pairings.
1. Pass the Peas, The JB’s
Just like Bobby, I like soul food “because it makes me happy.” Pair this funky jam by James Brown’s band with a plate of stewed pig ears, collards and sausage and rice from RCL Enterprises. RCL Enterprises, 141-22 Rockaway Blvd., Rochdale, (718) 529-3576
2. Brunch, Action Bronson
Sure the video for this tune by Flushing’s finest chef turned rapper is a grisly tale of romantic betrayal and murder, but hey it’s got a great blues hook and food too. Pair it with an offal-themed brunch from M. Wells Dinette.M. Wells Dinette, 22-25 Jackson Ave., Long Island City, 718-786-1800
3. Taco And A Pork Chop, Ray Brown, John Clayton, Christian McBride.
Beyond the call and response, “Taco And a Pork Chop,” there are no lyrics to this swinging bass virtuoso showcase. Pair it with the truly spectacular pork carnitas taco from Tortas Neza. Tortas Neza, 111-03 Roosevelt Ave, Corona