12/05/13 10:57am
VZW Food Crawl - Tour Group

The Verizon Food crawl ended at one of my favorite spots , M. Wells Dinette.

When it comes to technology, I’m what you might call a late adopter. As for food, I am quite the opposite, living to discover new cuisines and flavors. So when Verizon contacted  me to help organize and participate in a Queens food crawl on November 23 I was quite excited. Not only would I get to spend a day eating in Queens and pregame for Thanksgiving, I might learn a thing or two about technology.

Our day started at the new Verizon store in Astoria where we were each outfitted with a smart phone. Once I’d managed to set up my e-mail and social media accounts on the snazzy new LG G2, I immediately started testing out the camera. Soon we were using the Uber app to callup a car and take us to our first destination. (more…)

03/08/13 1:08pm
The Gastronauts chow down on a meal of many parts, including lamb testicles and beef penis.

The Gastronauts chow down on a meal of many parts, including beef penis.

Last month on the two days before Valentine’s Day I had the dubious pleasure of co-hosting a very special Chinese New Year’s dinner with the Gastronauts. Curtiss Calleo, one of the masterminds behind the club for adventurous eaters and I endured not one but two days of juvenile humor along the lines of, “Please limit yourselves to five inches per serving.” I suppose we deserved it. After all we created a menu whose dishes included lamb testicles and quick fried beef genitals, i.e. beef pizzle. I’m pretty sure that my affable Henanese uncle, Steven Zhou, was pretty amazed that we were able to gather a gang of hard-drinking weirdos to buy out his restaurant with such a menu for two consecutive nights.

Uncle Zhou’s amazing cold platter. From center: headcheese,chicken hearts, tofu skin, beef tendon,quick pickle, and beef tripe.

From center: headcheese, chicken hearts, tofu, beef tendon, pickles, and tripe.

The festivities kicked off with a platter of cold dishes. Headcheese, chicken hearts, tofu skin, beef tendon, quick pickle, and beef tripe were all artfully laid out in concentric rings. “These are the best chicken hearts I’ve ever had,” one of my tablemates exclaimed. I’d have to agree, the peppery five-spiced hearts were quite nice. Next came the lamb testicles which had been artfully cross-hatched. They had plenty of cumin and heat, though they were a tad rubbery. At least they were not too gamy. (more…)

02/08/13 12:04am
You know Chinese New Year's almost here when they start selling red panties outside Golden Mall.

Chinese New Year’s nigh. They’re selling red panties outside Golden Mall.

This Sunday is the beginning of the 15-day Chinese New Year celebration. To kick off the Year of the Snake The Gastronauts and C+M are hosting a very special banquet at Uncle Zhou’s. As a way to reward the burgeoning C+M community I’m giving away two seats to the February 12 dinner at 7:30.

What’s on the evening’s very special menu you ask? The fête kicks off with a cold platter of beef tendon, chicken heart, beef tripe, tofu skin, quick pickle, and headcheese. Then in true Gastronaut fashion, there will be lamb testicles, quick fried beef genitals, red and white carrot with pig tripe, spicy rabbit, and pig kidney.  As a friend of mine likes to say, it’ll be a meal of many parts.

To win the dinner for two, write a haiku that references Uncle Zhou, offal, and whatever else you find apt. The writer of the winning poem wins two seats at the banquet table. Please be sure to place responses in the comment section of this post. The contest ends Monday at 12:00 p.m. That gives you a whole snowy weekend to find something poetic to say about beef penis.

01/29/13 12:03pm
Your Uncle Zhou knows what's good for you.

Your Uncle Zhou knows what’s good for you.

In Gotham’s  Golden Age of regional Chinese food  there are several spots where one can get Henanese lamb noodle soup, including Manhattan’s Chinatown, Flushing, and Elmhurst. (For all I know it’s probably available in Brooklyn’s Chinatown too.) One of my favorites bowls can be found at Uncle Zhou Restaurant. The affable proprietor—your uncle and mine—Steven Zhou is always quick to proudly say, “Different than Flushing, right?”

One difference is the rich lambiness of the soup itself. The milky white broth is essentially a lamb stock made from bones that have been boiled for a long,long time. (If memory serves, and it often doesn’t, Uncle Zhou said it’s two days with fresh bones each day.) The hand-pulled noodle version ($5.75) also has strips of seaweed, and tofu skin that act as noodles. Lately I have been getting the more restrained knife shaved noodle version. Strips of dough are whittled from a huge block into the boiling water. The result  is a pleasantly chewy noodle with prominent ridge running down the center. There is little more to this soup than chunks of lamb both fatty and lean, cilantro, and bok choy. And plenty of those chewy noodles. With a dollop of hot sauce and a splash of black vinegar it’s like Henanese hot and sour soup.

A visit to the restaurant’s web site revealed this gem of restaurant marketing prose:  “Our menu is available for your salivating needs here.” Words to live by.

Uncle Zhou Restaurant, 83-29 Broadway Elmhurst , 718-393-0888