National Dumpling Day – Part 1

So I intended to do a post for National Dumpling Day, September 26, consisting of a few of my favorites from past posts, sort of like a “Dumplings I Have Known and Loved” kind of thing. But perusing what I have in my files disclosed almost a hundred candidates!

So here’s Part 1 of National Dumpling WEEK!

Stay tuned for more because…

Everybody Loves Dumplings!
 
 

Oh K-Dog

You know about K-pop, right? This is K-dog. “Oh K-Dog” to be precise, and it seems like there are dozens of outposts across the country (this one can be found at Queens Crossing Food Court, 136-17 39th Ave in Flushing) and from what I see, it’s a thing.

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In their own marketspeak, “Korean rice hotdogs have become a craze in Korea, quickly becoming one of the most popular street foods. Unlike a typical hot dog, we specialize in using a stick to deep fry our signature item until it crisps golden brown.”


So instead of a bun for a dog carrier, it’s battered, yielding a soft, bready interior and a crispy exterior. Not into hot dogs? Me neither, but you can swap in a cylindrical Korean rice cake or a log of mozzarella for the dog. To gild the lily, you can add diced potato or sweet potato to embellish the delicacy.

I opted for a sweet version: mozz inside, sweet potato chunks outside. I was asked if I wanted sugar or cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top. “Half and half?” I ventured, dodging the decision, and I was rewarded with an unexpectedly tasty treat.

And only then did the real fun begin. Off to the side, there’s a variety of condiments with which to experiment including ketchup, honey mustard, sweet chili, gochu hot sauce, garlic sauce, and cheese mustard among others. Cheese mustard? It tasted of neither cheese nor mustard but it turned out to be the perfect complement to my order.

But wait there’s more! For the final act, you can sprinkle on your choice of toppings like honey butter, parmesan cheese, onion sprinkle, snowing seasoning, and coconut.


When flying solo, I am physically incapable of positioning a camera, holding a chunk of food and doing an Instagram cheese pull, but hopefully you get the idea. At the counter, there’s a mesmerizing video loop of a young woman handily demonstrating those skills. Dinner and a show.

I wanted to dismiss this as an exercise in silliness, but I got hooked on it – as did some guests on my Flushing ethnojunket.

And I haven’t even tried their other specialty, Egg Toast, and its variations. Next time.
 
 

Yin Ji Chang Fen – 2022

Getting out and about again and spending a lot of time in Manhattan’s Chinatown of late so I revisited Yin Ji Chang Fen, the rice noodle roll chain from Guangzhou, China, located at 91 Bayard Street.

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Dining outdoors this time (because COVID), I decided to test the waters with something plain and something fancy, so here’s Peanut Sauce Rice Noodle Roll for guests who join me on my Chinatown food tour that want to stay within their comfort zone…


…and Pork Kidney with Chives Rice Noodle Roll – because that’s the way I roll! 🙄 (Eye roll – see what I did there?)

And speaking of my Chinatown Manhattan ethnojunket, there’s one boarding on Wednesday, September 21. (What an amazing coincidence!) Get the details here!
 
 

Café Metro

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According to the interwebs, fungee is the national dish of Antigua and Barbuda; according to ethnojunkie, fungee is delicious. It’s simplicity itself; think polenta with an Antiguan accent: there’s a hit of heat and a textural slide due to the addition of okra. Here, it’s keeping company with okra pods and eggplant that’s been enhanced by okra (did I mention okra?) and saltfish. No complaints. No stick-to-the-ribs jokes either. Just really good eats.

On the side is ducana, a dumpling made from grated sweet potatoes, grated coconut, cinnamon and sugar and IMHO, it’s a real treat; wish I had access to it more often.


The fish cake appetizer was comped and perfect; I could have eaten a sack of those.


The inner workings.

This indulgence came from Café Metro, 477 Cedar Lane in Teaneck, NJ.

As Antiguan Chef Bernadine says, “Eat till you belly full!” I have no problem with that!
 
 

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival – 2022

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A visit to any Chinatown bakery this time of year will reveal a spectacular assemblage of mooncakes (月餅, yue bing) in a seemingly infinite variety of shapes, sizes, ornamentation, and fillings, all begging to be enjoyed in observance of the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated this year on September 10. Here are two pandan mooncakes, one with preserved egg yolk and a mini version without, from Chinatown’s Fay Da Bakery.


And here’s one of my favorites, Five Mix Nut Moon Cake, from Golden Fung Wong Bakery at 41 Mott St – one of the stops on my Manhattan Chinatown ethnojunket, of course!

Since 2022 is the Year of the Tiger, known for his bravery and adventurousness but also for his impulsive unpredictability, I decided to purchase an assortment of these delicacies even if I was unable to identify every single one of them in the bakeries in order to compare them and ultimately share them, virtually, with you.

For a deep dive into the holiday and these delicious treats, you can get the skinny – er, poor choice of words there – in my Chinese Mooncakes Demystified page detailing their similarities and differences in an attempt to shed some light (moonlight, of course) on their intricacies.

中秋节快乐!
 
 

Chuseok – 2022

Chuseok (추석) or Hangawi (literally “autumn evening”) is a major mid-autumn festival in Korea celebrated this year from September 9th though the 12th; because it’s a harvest festival, it’s sometimes referred to as “Korean Thanksgiving”. Needless to say there are traditional foods and even traditional table settings.

I wish I could say that these photos are part of that tradition, but they are, nevertheless, quintessentially Korean dishes from my local Korean deli. Here’s a rundown:

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Korean grilled mackerel, sweet and spicy pickled daikon, and seasoned cucumbers (fish sauce, sesame oil, sugar and garlic).


Five banchan (Korean side dishes). In the center there’s spicy baby radish kimchi: the leaves and stems are topped by slices of the root which was about four inches long before I got to it. Then clockwise from the top: red, crunchy radish (not as spicy as it looks), green seaweed (a little slippery), savory marinated black beans, and jwipo: seasoned, pressed, and dried filefish jerky that’s sold as a street snack – chewy, a little spicy, a little sweet.


Marinated soy sauce eggs leading the parade of assorted Korean pancakes (모듬전, mo deum jeon), followed by pollock filet, kimchi (napa cabbage, radish, carrot), surimi, scallion, and seafood mix (squid, cuttlefish, clam, shrimp, mussel).

Happy Chuseok!
 
 

La Mira Gelateria

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New kid on the block in Flushing with an assortment of flavors calculated to please everyone.

Opening Day, about three weeks ago, featured Oolong Peach, Green Tea, Sesame Seaweed, Lychee Rose, Purple Yam & Taro, Dragon Fruit, Hazelnut, Pistachio, Mango, White Chocolate, Chocolate, and Vanilla. All were delicious.

Oh wait – was I supposed to take a pic before I started eating? Dang!

Here’s my cup of Pistachio and Purple Yam & Taro – which was fuller when served. 😉

La Mira Gelateria is located at 133-35 Roosevelt Avenue in Queens.