Edible Queens Recognition

Instagram Post 11/16/2018

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What an honor to have one of my photos chosen for inclusion in Edible Queens Issue 11! And it’s even more special because I’m in the company of so many foodie luminaries, many of whom I’m privileged to call friends IRL; I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of you over something delicious in Queens! Thank you so much @EdibleQueens!
 
 

Cafe At Your Mother-in-Law

Instagram Post 11/12/2018

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It may come as a surprise to some that North Korea and Russia share a border: 11 land miles of “terrestrial border” and 12 nautical miles of “maritime border”, and during the Japanese occupation in the 1920s–30s, some Koreans escaped to Russia via this route. Subsequently, Stalin moved all Koreans in Russia to Central Asia, mostly Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan; they self-identified as Koryo-Saram and their fusion-by-necessity cuisine is the focus of this post. You may have tasted some version of the spicy shredded carrot salad (morkovcha) offered by most Uzbek restaurants but it’s khe that I’ve come to crow about and Café At Your Mother-in-Law, 3071 Brighton 4th St just off Brighton Beach Ave in Brooklyn, does a remarkable job with it. Meaty chunks of raw fish marinated in vinegar, onions and Korean red chili are the main ingredients (recipes vary) in this delectable dish; [2] a cooked beef version is also available with slightly different seasonings but equally delicious. [3] Pegodya, a steamed bun stuffed with cabbage and meat that comes with a special house sauce, makes a good accompaniment. Khe is the reason I take folks to this restaurant on my Little Odessa ethnojunkets and I’m pleased to report that it’s always a hit.

I’m also pleased to report, speaking of ethnojunkets, that now you can book a food tour with me at your convenience without waiting for the next one to be announced. During colder weather and the holiday season, I tend to do fewer scheduled ethnojunkets, but that doesn’t mean that I stop doing them! Simply click here to find out how!
 
 

Corner 28

Instagram Post 11/11/2018

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Pretty good, pretty reliable, and pretty quick (if you get there at the right time) dim sum from Corner 28, 135-24 40th Rd, Flushing because I was hungry, harried, and in a hurry. These Pan Fried Pork Buns, Jiao Zi, Fish Balls, and Bean Curd Skin Rolls stuffed with shrimp, pork, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts hit the spot. (Love the way the meat juices permeate the bun!)
 
 

Luo Zhuang Yuan

Instagram Post 11/9/2018

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As a habitual denizen of the Flushing food court scene, I am forever bringing hungry folks along on ethnojunkets to my favorite stalls. The only downside of this practice is that I invariably order the same reliable dishes so that they can sample the best of the best, but I never urge them to try something I’ve never experienced. I found myself flying solo the other day so I took advantage of the situation. Luo Zhuang Yuan is pretty much the first stall on the left (#26) as you enter the New York Food Court at 133-35 Roosevelt Ave and one of their specialties is Snail Rice Noodle. Of the eight variations they offered, I selected pork, very spicy.

The thin noodles were accompanied by roast pig, green bok choy, peanuts and tofu skin, all very familiar of course, in a broth for which I was completely unprepared. I like snails and I anticipated this tasting like, well, snails. Luosifen (螺蛳粉), a specialty of Liuzhou in Southern China, is all about the soup made from river snails and aromatics and it’s one of those love it or hate it foul-smelling flavors that affect people the same way that durian, stinky tofu, limburger, and couldn’t-these-have-been-cleaned-a-little-better intestines have a reputation for. Now I enjoy many, shall we say, “aromatic” foods and perhaps the fact that I wasn’t expecting quite this level of malodorousness brought me up short. Strangely, the questionable charm of the broth seemed only to intensify as I worked my way through the bowl.

Needless to say, I went home and hit the interwebs in search of more info. I learned that luosifen almost never contains snail meat, but that’s beside the point. On a more curious note, many of the articles and reviews that I found didn’t even mention its pungent nature. A few, however, confirmed that my initial confrontation was not atypical.

So, my friends, I do hope you’ll join me on a food tour soon and I guarantee, as always, that anything we taste will have been thoroughly vetted – and now you know why!
 
 

Daxi Sichuan – Part 5

Instagram Post 11/8/2018

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As I’ve said, Nouveau Sichuan, if you’ll permit my neologism, seems to be the craze among Chinese restaurants these days. Classic Sichuan dishes appear beef cheek by pork jowl with fanciful presentations of innovative altered-state creations on menus that would make a coffee-table book pale into insignificance. Here’s the last in a series from Daxi Sichuan, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave on the second floor of Flushing’s New World Mall, a prime exponent of the trend.

[1] Tibet Style Lamb with Brown Sugar Rice Cake. First question: I count eight chops in compass point configuration but only two rice cakes. Those rice cakes were tasty – but were they intended as merely a flavorsome garnish? (Upon review, the menu depicted more.) The lamb was good as well, but the undergirding of spicy potatoes, peppers and onions was excellent.

[2] And finally, Stir Fried Cabbage and Bean Vermicelli. Gimmick-free, sans over-the-top-staging; simple, homespun and delicious. And maybe that’s the method in their madness at Daxi Sichuan; they aim to cover both sides of the culinary divide with some dishes that focus on eye-catching presentation and others that sustain us with mouth-watering comfort food. After all, they did just net a 2019 Michelin Bib Gourmand award.
 
 

Happy Diwali!

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Dear Friends,

I can no longer keep this to myself. I am an addict, hooked on mithai. What’s that? You don’t know about mithai? Mithai are Indian sweets and since Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, is upon us, I can think of no better time than now to tell you my tale. So gather round your diyas and check out my post “Indian Sweets 101: Meeting Mithai” right here on ethnojunkie.com!
 
 

Karam – Chicken Shawarma

Instagram Post 11/6/2018

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The Arabic word shawarma has its roots in the Turkish word çevirme, turning, which describes the pirouetting conically-stacked slabs of marinated chicken as they inch past the searing glow of the vertical rotisserie. Karam, at 8519 4th Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, offers two variations on the popular street food: beef & lamb and chicken, and prepares one of the very best in this Middle Eastern neighborhood (which probably should have earned the moniker Little Levant, but didn’t).

Shown here is chicken shawarma; packed with deftly-seasoned succulent meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and dressed with a yogurt based sauce, it was one of the finest delicacies we enjoyed that day.
 
 

Bombay To Goa

Instagram Post 11/5/2018

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On a quest for Goan food, we made the trip to Jersey City (because mass transit doesn’t go to India) where we enjoyed a bite at Bombay To Goa, 785 Newark Ave.

A pair of entrees from the “Carnivore’s Delights” section of the menu:

[1] Mutton Sukkha. The word mutton generally implies goat in India and when you see sukka (or a similar spelling) on the menu, it refers to a dish that’s not swimming in gravy (the word सूखा means dry in Hindi): tender baby goat, in a thick, spicy, meaty reduction.

[2] Xaccuti de Galinha. Xacutti (or a similar spelling) is your cue that this is a coconut based curry. Galinha (chicken) harks back to the time that Goa was a Portuguese province. The coconut is roasted and enhanced with poppy seeds and dried red chilies. Piquant and flavorful, it was perfect with our order of [3] Goan Pulao.
 
 

Chutney’s – Part 2 (Guntur Idli)

Instagram Post 11/4/2018

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Today’s Instagram post from ethnojunkie.com:

Another delight from Chutney’s, an exclusively vegetarian Indian restaurant at 827 Newark Avenue, Jersey City where everything we ordered was tiptop. These are Guntur Idli. Idli are steamed, puffy, lightly fermented rice flour (sometimes blended with ground ural dal) breads popular for breakfast in India; Guntur, a city in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, is the leading producer and exporter of Indian chilies. And indeed, lurking within these airy bites was a splotch of chili masala, not overwhelming but sufficient to elevate the idli from its customary supporting player status. On the side there’s sambar, a lentil soup usually incorporating tamarind, used for dipping, spooning, and general slathering.

More to come from Chutney’s….
 
 

Daxi Sichuan – Part 4

Instagram Post 11/4/2018

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Another pair of dishes from Daxi Sichuan, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave on the second floor of Flushing’s New World Mall. Daxi wants to be known for its “modern interpretation of classic dishes” and our experience was certainly characterized by their attention to panache.

[1] House Special Rice & Cured Meat Country Style. The outsized, lavish menu enticed us with a larger than life depiction of this charming presentation of rice brimming with cured meat and other tempting tids and bits. Although the cast iron pot arrived as pictured, the rice was less lavishly embellished than we had anticipated. Still, the dish was certainly good if a bit overhyped. If it had arrived on a standard serving plate, I would have been just as happy.

[2] Sautéed Pork Chengdu Style. Chinese bacon with spicy green pepper and garlic; simply produced and tasty. They do well when they’re not trying too hard to impress with stylishness.