Cafe Dushanbe – Part 1

Instagram Post 8/19/2018

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Named for the capital of Tajikistan, Café Dushanbe brings its yogurty cuisine to Brooklyn and does so admirably.

[1] One of the most impressive dishes we experienced (so much so that one of our group requested an additional order of it to go) was Kurotob, the pride of Tajikistan’s gastronomy. It starts with a base of fatir, flaky, layered flatbread which is then invigorated with qatiq, a delicious homemade yogurt, along with sautéed onion, red onion, tomato, cucumber, herbs and a toss of spicy green pepper on the side for those who desire a little kick. Mix well for maximum enjoyment. Tajikistan’s answer to Italy’s panzanella, perhaps?
[2] Straight-ahead qatiq along with two breads – the fatir and puffy kulcha – plus a ramekin of flavorful herb butter. If your only encounter with yogurt has been in the dairy aisle of your local supermart, you need to try this posthaste.
[3] Non-toki, a concave behemoth with a nod to matzoh.

The Kurutob alone was worth the trip to 1788 Sheepshead Bay Road, but there’s even more to recommend Café Dushanbe. Stay tuned….
 
 

Q Town Asian Cuisine – Part 2

Instagram Post 8/18/2018

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A few more dishes from our group dinner at Q Town Asian Cuisine, 82-87 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens. In no special order:

[1] Crispy Fried Shrimp. They did a great job with this one. Tempted to try their crispy fried oyster or cuttlefish next time.
[2] Cuttlefish and Squid with Yellow Chives. I understand that this dish is subtle, but even with that, it was lacking in flavor. Fresh ingredients though.
[3] Homemade Tofu Pot – Pork and Oyster. Delicious, but I wish there had been a little more pork or oysters in evidence. In fairness, that observation may be attributable to the fact that we were a convivial group of 14 and it’s truly difficult to portion out dishes like this one equitably, but their flavors made their presence felt. Or tasted, perhaps!

Lots more to come from Q Town Asian Cuisine.
 
 

Q Town Asian Cuisine – Part 1

Instagram Post 8/17/2018

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There’s another new kid on the block in Elmhurst, Queens: Q Town Asian Cuisine at 82-87 Broadway. They specialize in Taiwanese cuisine, but their extensive menu (some 300 options) tiptoes into mainland cuisines as well. At the outset, I should report that we were a party of 14 with somewhat divergent tastes so our ordering attempted to cater to a cross section of palates. A few dishes we tried, in no special order…

[1] Beef Tripe with Hot Pepper Sauce. I know this dish as fuqi feipian (aka husband and wife lung pieces, although there’s really no lung in it). This Sichuan dish consists of spicy beef tripe with one other cut, usually tendon, but this seemed more like beef shin to me. Q Town Asian Cuisine did an excellent version of it.
[2] Oyster Pancake. A classic Taiwanese appetizer.
[3] Fly Heads. Another example of Taiwanese home cooking, this dish calls for garlic chives, bits of pork, and fermented black beans (the ingredient that looks like flies’ heads). On the downside, this version would have benefited from a slightly heavier hand with the pork; on the upside, for all the many times I’ve enjoyed this dish, I’ve never had a version that was quite this spicy. I don’t know about its authenticity, but I certainly liked that aspect of it.

Lots more to come from Q Town Asian Cuisine.
 
 

Yu Tea

Instagram Post 8/17/2018

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For all the times I’ve visited their neighbor, Pata Market, I had never made it into Yu Tea at 81-18 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens until now. Without hesitation, I went directly to the Cheese Fruit Tea Smoothie section of the menu and selected Cheesy Doubleberry (strawberry and blueberry). The three layers you see here are meant to be well stirred, but of course I had to sample each individually: the bottom was sweet and a little syrupy, the middle represented what the final mixture would taste like without the final fillip from the top layer which is where the salty, cream cheesy magic happens. If you’ve ever had cheesecake flavor ice cream, imagine a strawberry/blueberry combo of those; now liquefy it, thin it out, sprinkle in a bit of salt, and mix well. This popular admixture of cheesy-salty-fruity-juicy can be found in malls around your favorite Chinatowns, and yes, it totally works!
 
 

Indonesian Independence Day Celebration

Instagram Post 8/16/2018

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Indonesian Independence Day is August 17 and you can catch the local celebration (Bazaar Kemerdekaan) Saturday the 18th on Whitney Avenue near Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens (11am-5pm). There’ll be fun and entertaining cultural activities and, of course, an assortment of delicious authentic food. I’ve posted numerous photos of Indonesian dishes lately, but not many desserts, and the cuisine has plenty of them to satisfy your sweet tooth. Three of my favorites from Masjid al-Hikmah’s approximately monthly bazaar (48-01 31st Ave, next scheduled event to be announced) are…

[1] Martabak Manis. The pancake has a radically different texture than savory martabak (see my 8/11 post), more like a soft crumpet, actually. It’s folded around chocolate, peanuts, grated fresh cheese, coconut and sweetened condensed milk.
[2] Kue Singkong. These dense cassava cakes can be found steamed or baked in fanciful shapes and sizes. This one, sprinkled with coconut, obviates the need to decide between plain and chocolate.
[3] Wajik. This kue (bite-sized sweet snack) is made from glutinous sticky rice, palm sugar and coconut milk; it’s usually diamond-shaped (wajik is the Indonesian word that describes a diamond or rhombus shape). So good!
 
 

Sing Kee – Pan Fried Flounder

Instagram Post 8/16/2018

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Our Cantonese banquet at Sing Kee Seafood Restaurant, 42 Bowery in Manhattan’s Chinatown, included a show! With surgical precision, our server performed a spinectomy on this appetizing Pan Fried Flounder:

No scalpels, just spoons for the incision…
…the procedure in progress…
…resection successful…
…and close!
 
 

Awang Kitchen – Part 3

Instagram Post 8/15/2018

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Just one more (for the time being 😉) from Awang Kitchen, the top-notch Indonesian restaurant at 84-05 Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst.

[1] Ketoprak. A vegetarian dish featuring tofu, vegetables and rice vermicelli served in peanut sauce with kerupuk (deep fried chips) on the side.
[2] Fried Cow’s Tongue in Green Chili Sauce. Exactly what it says. And don’t be squeamish – it’s spicy, delicious, and tastes better than it looks!
[3] Mie Goreng Tek-Tek. Sautéed noodles are in the spotlight here; tek-tek is the onomatopoeic word for the sound the wok chan (spatula) makes as the chef taps it against the wok while preparing this dish!
[4] Grilled Pompano, done to a turn – totally turnt and excellent!
 
 

Grill 21

Instagram Post 8/14/2018

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If you guessed that I can never get my fill of Filipino food, you’d be right. This time, it was dinner for two at Grill 21, 346 East 21st St in Manhattan.

[1] Fried Golden Pompano with tomato and scallions
[2] Lechon Kawali – pork belly that’s crispy on top and meltingly tender beneath, served with a liver sauce (that doesn’t taste like liver!)
[3] Bicol Express – chunks of pork belly and green chili pepper sautéed in coconut milk kicked up with shrimp paste, onion and garlic

Masarap!
 
 

Awang Kitchen – Part 2

Instagram Post 8/14/2018

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More delicious Indonesian cuisine from Awang Kitchen, 84-05 Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst, Queens. This sampling includes…

[1] Bakso Cobek. Bakso are meatballs made from finely ground (pulverized, actually) beef accompanied here by tomatoes, tempe, and tofu; cobek is the stoneware in which it’s served.
[2] Ayam Goreng Kalasan. Coconut (kalasan) fried (goreng) chicken (ayam). Crispy and delicious.
[3] Nasi Goreng Ikan Asin. Salty (asin) fish (ikan) fried rice (nasi goring) with a fried egg on top (of course) and kerupuk (deep fried chips) on the side.
[4] Pempek Kulit. Fishcake (pempek) made with the addition of mackerel skin (kulit) served with kuah cuka, a sweet and sour vinegar sauce. Chewy goodness!

Stay tuned for more from Awang Kitchen….
 
 

Pata Market – Sakoo PakMor

Instagram Post 8/13/2018

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Many years ago I used to frequent a Thai restaurant that offered the street food Sakoo Sai Moo (you might see it as saku) as an appetizer. (Sakoo = tapioca – think sago, sai = stuffed, and moo = pork.) So we have a chewy tapioca starch-based steamed dumpling stuffed with deliciously seasoned pork and peanuts and meant to be consumed wrapped in a lettuce leaf with fresh Thai bird peppers. I was heartbroken when they went out of business and have since been on the lookout for these favorites at Thai prepared food places. Unfortunately, I usually find a sweet version stuffed with peanuts but no pork. Until now. Pata Market at 81-16 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens and their comprehensive grab-n-go spread came to the rescue with a container labeled Sakoo PakMor that contained four peanut dumplings plus two more filled with pork. Yes!