Miss Li Henan Cuisine

Instagram Post 5/20/2018

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I’ve always been a fan of Henan Chinese cuisine. No, not Hunan, I love that too, but Henan food is harder to come by in our fair city and since the disappearance of Elmhurst’s Uncle Zhou, the pickings have grown even slimmer.
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Miss Li Henan Cuisine at 133-49 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, Queens, has a number of dishes I need to try, but this visit would be a quick one, a stop on one of our eat-our-way-through-Flushing jaunts, so we only had time (and belly real estate) for one dish – case in point: Handmade Cold Noodles (gan mianpi). 🍜 Dotted with bean sprouts, slivers of cucumber and a few other touches, the spicy, saucy, chewy wheat flour noodles hit the spot on a dreary, rainy day.
 
 

Lamoon – Part 3

Instagram Post 5/19/2018

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Still more deliciousness from Lamoon, 81-40 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens, and their unique spin on Northern Thai food.
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1) Tum Kanoon – crafted from shredded green jackfruit, ground pork, homemade shrimp paste, tomato, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro and scallion. Served with sticky rice (always eaten with the fingers in Thailand) and some crispy pork rinds (think chicharrones but Thai) on the side. From the Main Course section of the menu, and another winner!

2) Sai Aua – you might have seen it as Sai Oua – is classic Northern Thai ground pork sausage made with chili paste, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, cilantro, and pork ear and served up with contrasting cooling cucumber. My only complaint is that I should have ordered more! A signature dish at Lamoon.
 
 

Shanghai King

Instagram Post 5/17/2018

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Elmhurst, Queens has a mini mini food court (like three stalls or so) at 86-22 Broadway. We went to Shanghai King (first stall as you enter) and chose the Dry Pot with Sliced Fish from among a field of six and Shanghai Pork Soup Dumplings. The dry pot was tasty but could have used a lot more spice 辣 (remember to stir up the yummy juices from the bottom of the wok – that helps a bit) and since they’re pretty new, we didn’t see a DIY condiment assortment.
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The dumplings weren’t bad – very thick skins, even for soup dumplings, but a solid mouthful, especially considering there were no spoons to be found! More to try….
 
 

Express Tea Shop

Instagram Post 5/15/2018

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Jianbing (煎餅), literally fried pancake, is one of the more popular street foods in China and I’m pleased to report that it’s caught on in New York City, even outside of our five or so Chinatowns. Half the fun is watching your jianbing being made: a wooden crepe spreader is used to swirl the thin batter around a large, circular griddle; after a few seconds of cooking, an egg is added along with scallions, cilantro and various sweet and savory sauces plus other fillings, some vegetarian, some not. One important addition is the crisp cracker (baocui) placed atop the other ingredients just before flipping and folding into layers – think crisp fried wonton skins and you’ll get the idea. (Some versions use soft Chinese crullers (youtiao) but I greatly prefer the crispy texture contrast.)
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As with dumplings, the quality varies widely from purveyor to purveyor. Shown here in its authentic wax paper bag is Express Tea Shop’s version (41-28 Main St, Flushing, booth #26 in Golden Mall with a direct entrance on 41st Road) which in my opinion is one of the very best.
 
 

Ops

Instagram Post 5/14/2018

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Ops, 346 Himrod St, Brooklyn, opened about two years ago and brought their own spin on Neapolitan style pizza to Bushwick. Rather than traditionally leavened dough, they go for natural leavening based on a sourdough starter – think “wild yeast”. Lighter and fluffier than standard issue pizza dough yet still providing a serious chew, it brings a lovely, unique flavor to the fresh toppings it supports.
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1) Here’s the “Cicero”, described on the menu as “many onions” (they weren’t kidding) along with preserved tomatoes, sharp provolone, mozzarella and oregano – absolutely delicious – and
2) “Pops” with tomatoes, mozzarella, and pecorino. Instead of the guanciale that’s a regular part of that one (vegetarian night!), we swapped it out and topped the Pops with greener crops at Ops.

Menu variations seem to change frequently, but you can always go for the add-ons and customize your toppings for their ethereal dough as we did; Ops’ pizzas are sure to get a rise out of you!
 
 

Lamoon – Part 2

Instagram Post 4/27/2018

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More buzz about Lamoon, 81-40 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens, and their unique spin on Northern Thai food.
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1) Kanom Jeen Nam Ngeau. Kanom Jeen (you may have seen it as khanom chin) are the familiar rice noodles that are wallowing unseen at the bottom of this bowl; Nam Ngeau (aka nam ngiao) is the soup in which they are luxuriating. Spicy, replete with pork, pork ribs, cubes of pork blood (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it), and tomatoes, there’s a separate side dish of crisp, cool bean sprouts, scallions, and pickled veggies (it keeps the cool side cool and the hot side hot) for mixing in.

2) Fried Rice Nam Prik Noom. We ordered this one with chicken but only because we were already committed to consuming a pigful of pork. Delicious to be sure, but the addition of their homemade nam prik noom (roasted green chili paste) pitched it over the top. When you visit Lamoon, make sure you try this amazing smoky, spicy condiment. (I wonder if I can get a portion of it to go; it’s that good.)
 
 

Lamoon

Instagram Post 4/24/2018

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Northern Thai food is staking a claim in NYC and Lamoon at 81-40 Broadway in Elmhurst is the latest leader in the Chiang Mai charge. The word “lamoon” carries the connotations of delicate, mild, tender, or taking care, and there’s no doubt that they pamper their guests with flavorful dishes prepared with tender loving care, but they’re not shy about presenting authentically spicy food to which the words delicate or mild would never apply. Try powerful, intense, exhilarating, or just plain amazing.
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Two from the appetizer section: Kung Pare, Crispy Baby Shrimp Cloud. Crispy indeed and especially tasty dipped in the accompanying sweet sauce – I’d say you’ll be on Cloud 9 with this one, but I give it a 10 for sure.

Khao Kun Jin – Jasmine Rice and Ground Pork Marinated in Pork Blood. Don’t let the pork blood put you off; it provides color and a depth of flavor that makes this one something special. Once again, don’t neglect the sauce (this one is different) – it uplifts the dish and will do the same for your spirits!

If Otto is there, let him be your guide; he’s extremely helpful. And stay tuned for more favorites from Lamoon.
 
 

Sweets Bakery

Instagram Post 4/9/2018

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It Came From Chinatown!

No, that’s not the title of some 1950s monster chiller horror B-movie. Given its provenance and appearance one might assume that this is a Chinese egg custard tart. Appearances notwithstanding, this Dan Tat doppelganger is actually a Cheese Tart, designated as such by Sweets Bakery at 125 Walker St, Manhattan. Denser and a bit grainier than custard and not tasting particularly cheesy, it was nonetheless a satisfying sweet snack, conquered on the run by (photo 2) the Attack of a Colossal Chomp!

#iSaidChompNotChump
 
 

Mama Fina’s House of Filipino Sisig

Instagram Post 4/5/2018

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To paraphrase Clara Peller, “Where’s the squid?” I mean, I liked the dish – after all, anything that’s that crispy and crunchy gets extra stars in my book – but it was difficult to tease out much squiddy flavor lurking within. We considered sending our Pusit Sisig back for one of the five other varieties they offer, sort of a squid pro quo if you will, but we were assured that our order was right and that’s how they did it there. My theory is that they use deep fried squid tentacles (yum) and chop them so fine as to be beyond recognition. So it was tasty, just not what we were anticipating. A side of garlic rice could have used more garlic, but that’s true of almost anything. We also got an order of Laing, taro leaves cooked in coconut milk with shrimp, which I liked but my dining buddy thought was too sweet.

So went our brief adventure at Mama Fina’s House of Filipino Sisig, 167 Avenue A, Manhattan. Being a major booster and fan of 🇵🇭 Filipino food, I wanted to love it; perhaps I was misled by my expectations, perhaps it’s a slightly different style of Filipino cooking than I’m accustomed to. And if I were walking past, yes, I’d give it another chance.

#clarapeller #goAheadLookHerUp #iCanWait #iKnowImDatingMyself
 
 

Rosario’s Pizza

Instagram Post 4/4/2018

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Some years ago, in an animated conversation with Arthur Schwartz, illustrious author of “New York City Food” and former WOR radio talk show host, I asked whose pizza he liked best in Manhattan. I fully expected him to name any one of a number of highly hyped pizzerias with which I was already overly familiar. Without missing a beat, he replied, “Rosario’s on the Lower East Side.” I fell silent. I had never heard of it. The next day, I hightailed it to 173 Orchard St to taste for myself. The pizza (a slice of sausage and a slice of white, please) was a standout and absolutely delicious. It was no-gimmick Ur-pizza at its finest, a little like the pizza I grew up with: not puffy Neapolitan, not Chicago deep dish or Detroit style or St. Louis style, just the embodiment of archetypal, old school New York Style Pizza – and the real deal as far as I’m concerned. Maybe it’s just me, but is this New York City’s best kept secret, arguably the best pizza in Manhattan? See for yourself – and for best results, make sure your 🍕 is 🔥.