09/21/16 12:47am


Violet’s house special bánh mì with grilled pork, Vietnamese ham, Vietnamese salami.

Friends and neighbors had been telling me about Violet’s Bake Shoppe in Forest Hills for months. First, there was talk of lovely egg tarts and Vietnamese iced coffee. And then, they hit me with the big guns, bánh mì. The Vietnamese sandwich is one of my all-time favorites, so I hightailed it over to Austin Street.

There I found a respectable roster of 10 Vietnamese sandwiches, including a House Special ($6.50), Baked Fish with lemongrass and turmeric ($6.95), and a Pâté Supreme ($6.50). I almost went for the Pâté Supreme, but I’m a bánh mì traditionalist, so I opted for the House Special. (more…)

05/06/14 10:49am

The bakso at Masjid Al Hikmah’s stunningly good.

I used to live in Indonesia and am craving Indonesian food. Read about the parking-lot festival and would love to know when it will be happening next. I’ve tried calling Masjid Al Hikmah several times, but have had no luck. Do you have any idea when it will be starting up? – Suzanne C., Bayside

I too am eagerly awaiting food festival season at Masjid Al Hikmah. I’m not sure when it starts up again, hopefully soon. In the meantime though some of the sisters from the masjid operate a scaled-down version of the bazaar on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that offers bakso and other treats. You might also want to take a trip to what I like to call SEA Elmhurst to check out OK Indo and Java Village. (more…)

04/30/14 10:07am

The world’s best banh mi sports tomatoes and plenty of chili paste.

I’ve been following the social media exploits of my pal Jenny Miller whose trek across Southeast Asia has included stumbling into a Cambodian prison and spying such delightful venues as Chuck Norris Dim Sum. In this guest post she recounts discovering the world’s Vietnamese sandwich in a most unlikely setting.

Hoi An, Vietnam, is not a place that screams “authenticity.” After this tiny former trading town, with its neat streets of wooden shophouses situated charmingly at the mouth of the Thu Bồn River, proved irresistible to visitors, it’s been virtually theme-park-ized in recent years, so that every single business in the center of town now caters to tourists and an admission ticket is required to see the main attractions. In case you fail to get this memo, there are loudspeaker announcements several times a day informing you of this and other rules.

Disappointed with the town itself, I figured I’d spend my two days there focused on eating—always a good backup plan in Vietnam. After hitting the main market for the local specialty, cao lao (chunky gelatinous noodles, thin-sliced fatty pork, fried wontons, and greens in a tiny bit of broth), I did a some digging and decided I’d try a banh mi shop that was recommended on several different traveler’s blogs. (more…)