Alimama Tea

Instagram Post 5/30/2018

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Ready for something unusual? Check out recently opened Alimama Tea, 89A Bayard St, Manhattan, and their unique assortment of mochi doughnuts and Asian inflected cream puffs. The donuts don’t look remarkable but they’re actually based on mochi, the sweet Japanese rice cake, and as soon as you take one chewy bite, you’ll get the picture. I chose the most straightforward in appearance in order to get to the heart of the issue, Brûlée with a crisp, burnt caramelized sugar glaze, but there are more fanciful flavors like Salted Caramel Nutella, Coconut Dark Chocolate, Cereal, Matcha, and Onyx, each topped with a harmonious glaze.

Cream puffs have a place of honor here as well and are available in yuzu, matcha, and ube (shown here, intact and hacked), light and not overpoweringly sweet.

Naturally, since it’s a tea shop, the cold brew tea list is extensive. Here’s Floral, described as butterfly pea tea, rose, and chrysanthemum with tapioca balls; both cold and hot drinks are available. There’s an emphasis on organics and health including vegan and gluten-free options, but that didn’t deter my (well-satisfied) quest for sweets!

Let’s Makan

Instagram Post 5/29/2018

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Let’s Makan (“makan” = “eat” in Malay), a newcomer to Manhattan’s Chinatown at 64A Bayard St, proves the adage that good things come in small packages. Every foodie I know is buzzing about this little snack shop’s Apam Balik, a Malaysian crêpe (available in traditional, pandan, ube, or chocolate), folded around a filling (your choice of butter, ube, Nutella, pumpkin, taro, or kaya), with toppings like peanuts, corn, toasted coconut flakes, cornflakes, or seasonal fruit. And if the decision sounds overwhelming, they have some tried and true suggestions for you like “Auntie’s Favorite”.

1) Open wide! Here’s a peek inside my pandan apam balik with kaya (a jam made from coconut, eggs, and sugar), peanuts, and corn.
2) …in progress…
3) …lined up and ready to rock.

Sweet and so delicious! Speaking with the enterprising owner, Michelle Lam, I was impressed with how passionate they are about bringing unique and authentic Malaysian flavors here; I’ll return soon to try their savory dishes too, like Pan Mee, Curry Chicken Rice, Nasi Lemak, and Flat Rice Noodle with a variety of delectable additions – more decisions! I highly recommend that you check out Let’s Makan as soon as you can; bring your appetite and don’t forget your sweet tooth!

National Humanitarian Fundraising for Myanmar Food Fair

Instagram Post 5/27/2018

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A sunny Sunday earlier this month brought the first “National Humanitarian Fundraising for Myanmar Food Fair” to Elmhurst, Queens at the St. James Episcopal Church, 84-07 Broadway. There was nary a word of English in the signage and since I’ve never studied Burmese, I was equipped only with the knowledge of many delectable Burmese dishes I’ve enjoyed in the past – so sans proper names, here’s a plate of spicy deliciousness: Clockwise from 6:00, a taste of eggplant curry; a pink fermented shrimp and red onion salad; a sample of pork curry peeking out from behind spicy dried shrimp.

I did manage to get the name of the second one: Nan Pya Dok, flat wheat noodles with curry chicken. So good!

Old Tang – Part 2

Instagram Post 5/26/2018

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I just learned that the “noodle half” (the other half is a bakery) of Old Tang formerly at 135-45 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, Queens has closed. (See previous post.) 😢 We hope they return🤞but we will never forget the delicious dishes we enjoyed like this wonderful beef noodle soup.

Sing along with photo #2:
🎼 Should old acquaintance be forgot,
🎵 and never brought to mind?
🎵 We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
🎵 for Old Tang’s Sign! 🎶

Old Tang

Instagram Post 5/25/2018

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There’s about enough room for four people (three if they’ve already eaten) in the tiny but wonderful Old Tang at 135-45 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, Queens. Each time I ventured in, there were new menu items to try; fortunately, it’s a short list so it will be relatively easy to accomplish my customary goal of tasting everything that’s available!
1) This is Dry Sauce Noodles as it appears when handed to you.
2) Like many dishes at Old Tang, it is assembled from perfectly prepared thick, chewy, translucent noodles plus a tiny bit of each of the seasonings ready to be portioned out by an expert hand. Lots of familiar additions, but it was the tahini-like sesame sauce that set it apart.
3) Not a pretty picture perhaps, but oh, so delicious! When all the ingredients are thoroughly combined, it’s practically impossible to tease out individual flavors, but in this case the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And their adjoining bakery has some pretty fine treats for a finishing touch; photos in a future post!

Little House – Taro Cake

Instagram Post 5/24/2018

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A place of many delicious wonders, I am compelled to return to Little House Café, 90-19 Corona Ave in Elmhurst, Queens as soon as possible. It’s an Asian fusion counter service venue with a few tables and remarkable food; in addition to having the best Curry Mee with Young Tao Fu I’ve ever tasted, the sweets and desserts were a cut above as well. One of the most dramatic was this layered taro cake: gelatin, custard, taro, cake. Each layer brought something unique to the party: sweet, creamy, textured, fluffy. Remarkably, I was able to polish off the whole thing in one sitting because it wasn’t too sweet.

Yeah, that must’ve been why. 🐷

…and the cutaway stepped view.

Diverse Dim Sum

Instagram Post 5/23/2018

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Whenever I take folks on an ethnojunket through Flushing’s astounding array of mind-boggling and tummy-filling food courts, I never fail to bring them to Diverse Dim Sum at 133-35 Roosevelt Ave, Booth 12. This New York Food Court mainstay has developed a well-deserved reputation for their excellent Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings), but don’t let that fact dissuade you from trying some of their other delights. Case in point are the Fried Seafood Rice Cakes. Crispy outside, meltingly soft inside, these treats are not to be overlooked; you may have seen something similar elsewhere, but Diverse Dim Sum’s rendition easily outstrips the competition because of the inclusion of just the right amount of tiny shrimp to enhance the flavor and bring it to snacking perfection. So simple, yet so powerful.

(Followed by the obligatory XLB shot!)

He Ji Noodle

Instagram Post 5/22/2018

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So many dishes looked tempting at He Ji Noodle House, stall #25 in the New York Food Court at 133-35 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, but when the prominently placed first item [Lamb Stewed Noodles] in the first section of the menu [Signature Stewed Noodles] looks so good, you just know ya gotta. (Not to mention the huge glowing sign grabbing your attention just daring you to taste anything else!)
With a soup base that was richer than I was anticipating, this bowl of delicious noodles (two kinds) with plenty of lamb, wood ears, greens and other tasty bits (bean curd skin, dried lily buds) was the ideal invitation to come back and try more!

Dominique Ansel Kitchen – Kouign Amann

Instagram Post 5/21/2018

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Dominique Ansel’s novel spin on his recipe for kouign-amann (“queen-ah-mahn”, easier to say than it is to spell), is the Brown Sugar even-easier-to-say DKA (the initials of “Dominque’s Kouign-Amann”). Native to the French 🇫🇷 region of Brittany, in the Breton language kouign = cake and amann = butter and it is as impossibly rich as it is challenging to make well. It’s a cousin to the croissant 🥐 – puffy, layered, buttery, and most important, sporting a sweet, crackly exterior of caramelized sugar. It’s the contrast between that crisp crust and the pillowy, yielding interior that makes it fit for a queen, if you will.

Photo 2:
As if to gild an already perfect lily, this adaptation delivers a chewy, gooey sweetness bomb at its heart.

Photo 3:
Kouign-amann can appear in two forms, that of a large cake to be sliced into individual servings, and this version, with a ring formed base – sometimes a muffin tin or cupcake pan is used – that barely supports the fluffy cloud above. This rendition is gets its color and deep flavor from the untraditional addition of brown sugar to the dough. Not to be consumed hastily, I suggest that you do what I did: relax with a cup of your favorite coffee, and focus on each gossamer bite.

Dominique Ansel Kitchen is located at 137 Seventh Avenue South, New York, NY 10014