Sing Kee – Beef Short Ribs in a Pumpkin

Instagram Post 7/19/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

It’s described as a “Top Pick” on the menu at Sing Kee, 42 Bowery in Manhattan’s Chinatown, so we obligingly picked it as one of our Cantonese banquet choices. Beef Short Ribs in a Pumpkin was a study in tenderness, both the meat and the squash, lounging in a mild curry gravy. The presentation was appealing as well: sliced into wedges, it fell open, looking like chunky flower petals encircling a beefy nucleus.

(🤔 “Short Ribs in a Pumpkin.” You could Sing it in the Key of “Three Coins in the Fountain.” 😉)
 
 

Seamore’s

Instagram Post 7/18/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

A birthday celebration with friends found us at Seamore’s in Manhattan where it’s all about seafood from fish tacos and sandwiches to “The Reel Deal”, the popular option we all went for. Here’s how it works: Select your fish from the rotating list of “Daily Landings” – whatever is fresh from a field of over two dozen; decide on your sauce (with choices like charred scallion, lemongrass ají, and miso brown butter); and choose three sides. Here’s tilefish with red curry sauce accompanied by mac & cheese, creamy farro, and the unusual and tasty yellow beets with ricotta salata: they pay as much attention to their side dishes as they do to their fish. (And yes, you can get a burger there, but really…why?)

The second photo shows a platter of Curry Mussels in coconut milk with charred bread for essential dipping.

Seamore’s is located in Chelsea at 161 8th Ave and currently boasts five additional locations in the city.

(Not quite so “ethnic” this time, I know, but tasty nonetheless! 😉)
 
 

Khao Nom – Desserts

Instagram Post 7/17/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

Khao Nom has been the prime destination for Thai desserts since it opened in October 2017. Located at 76-20 Woodside Ave, Elmhurst, just around the corner from its sister Khao Kang the amazing Thai steamtable restaurant, they offer an impressive array of sweets and not-so-sweets that are certain to tempt you, particularly after a fiery Thai meal at either venue.

The Pandan Tart Cake was crowned with merengue and was as delicious as it was beautiful. Incidentally, pandan (screwpine in English and green in color) is one of those magical flavors that has a knack for combining synergistically with other ingredients and is a welcome addition to many Southeast Asian desserts. (For example, pandan and coconut love each other just as chocolate and nuts do.)

Egg Yolk Cake, aka Foy Thong Cake (foy = thread; thong = gold), features the popular sweetened egg yolk strands that figure into many Thai desserts. The tower was anchored with pandan cake and whipped cream.
 
 

Lagman House – Part 1

Instagram Post 7/16/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)


The recently opened Lagman House at 2612 East 14th Street in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, is New York’s first restaurant to feature Dungan cuisine. “Dungan” refers not to a geographical region but rather a Muslim ethnic group that settled in western China in “the Stans” bordering Russia. The language is an offshoot of Mandarin Chinese and is spelled in Cyrillic; if you can speak “menu Chinese” and read a little Russian, you’ve got it knocked, but it’s all there in English as well.

This was our first visit of many to come for sure; it’s one of those restaurants that compels me to eat my way through the menu, item by item. So here’s the first contact report:

Beshbarmak – often referred to as the national dish of Kyrgyzstan: thick, hand rolled dough cooked in broth and topped with meat. The menu indicated that it could be ordered with either lamb (which would have been my choice) or beef but we were told that since there wasn’t enough call for lamb, they no longer offered it. If necessary, I will single-handedly bring in enough lamb-lovers so that it will take its rightful place on the table! In the meantime, this is absolutely a must-do dish when you come – even with beef, shown here.

Dungan Style Salad – carrot and radish in a tangy dressing. Our extremely helpful waiter told us we could just eat it straight or mix it in with the noodle dishes for a little extra kick. We did both.

Classic Lagman – Hand pulled noodles topped with fried beef and onions. Note the Chinese linguistic influence: lo mein -> lagman. Delicious. Insiders’ tip: when the menu describes something as “fried”, it means stir-fried, not deep fried. Also, they brought out the noodles pre-cut since they might prove unmanageably long if they hadn’t. On my next visit, I’m considering requesting uncut noodles; I’m betting we can deal with them or at least have fun trying! (Just a thought for you Instagram noodle lifters 😉!)

Dapan Ji – handmade noodles topped with “fried” chicken, potatoes, and spicy pepper. Ever had Chinese “Big Tray Chicken”, dapanji? There’s that language connection again. I think these noodles were a bit thinner than those in the beshbarmak and shaped more like the flat noodles you’re familiar with.

And we didn’t even begin to crack the menu. More to come!
 
 

La Roja de Todos

Instagram Post 7/15/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

Our light lunch in Corona, Queens at La Roja de Todos, 108-02 Northern Blvd, consisted of Ceviche de Pescado and a pair of empanadas.

[1] Chilean 🇨🇱 style empanadas are baked and, as you can gather from the photo, are made from a soft, doughy pouch that swaddles the fillings. Our Empanada de Pino, in traditional Chilean fashion, featured beef, onions, raisins and black olives, and was enhanced by pebre, their housemade hot sauce; the Empanada de Marisco (not shown) was its mixed seafood sibling, redolent of the sea.

[2] The fish 🐟 used in the ceviche de pescado came from the flounder/fluke school – I would have preferred one with a little more character: not bad, but it didn’t quite set the hook. 🎣
 
 

Champion Bakery – Carrot Cake

Instagram Post 7/14/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

Since 1977, Champion Bakery has been known for fresh baked Jamaican cakes, pastries, patties, and breads with names like Alligator Bread, Duck Bread, Mongoose Bread, Pinch Bread and Hardo Bread. This Carrot Cake cuts like a pie, crumbles like a cookie, and eats like a cake, but that crispy edge is the real prize. So good that I barely had enough left to bring home to top with Great Nut ice cream!

Champion Bakery is located at 3978 White Plains Road near East 225th Street, Bronx.
 
 

Lahi – Bicol Express

Instagram Post 7/13/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

Here’s Lahi’s version of another Filipino classic, and one of my favorites, Bicol Express. Crispy pork belly stewed in coconut milk infused with shrimp paste and laden with green chilies. Named for the Bicol Express, a passenger train that ran from Manila to the Bicol region in the Philippines, I guess you could think of this dish that’s both creamy and spicy as running from one terminus on the flavor route to another.

More dishes from Lahi, 51-24 Van Loon St in Elmhurst, Queens, to follow.
 
 

Sing Kee – House Special T-Bone Steak

Instagram Post 7/12/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

Another scene from our Cantonese banquet at Sing Kee, 42 Bowery in Manhattan’s Chinatown. I had heard about their battered, fried, House Special T-Bone Steak from a reliable source so I was totally down with trying it. Insiders’ tip: In order to determine your preference for degree of doneness, they don’t use terms like rare, medium, or well done; rather it’s expressed in terms of percentage. I discovered this when our waiter asked how we wanted it done. As we looked at each other, stumped for a decision, he offered, “17%? 25%?” I think our final vote was, “Um, yeah.”
 
 

New Asian Cuisine – Halal Beef Onion Buns

Instagram Post 7/11/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

The sign hanging just below the awning of New Asian Cuisine at 153D Centre Street, Manhattan, was what caught my eye: Halal Beef Onion Buns. I believe the Chinese text was literally “Halal Beef – Big Scallion (hence onion) Bun”. The text in French at the bottom (which I can read far better than I’ll ever be able to read Chinese) was “Recettes d’une Chinoise”, Recipes from a Chinese Woman. That was enough to persuade me to venture into what looked like an old school downtown NYC coffee shop that had seen better days.

(The second photo shows the inside scoop.)

I don’t know if this inexpensive but tasty snack was really Chinese. I don’t know why the subtitle was in French. And I know even less about that emoji-like face stuck to the sign. But I do know that this steamed bao hit the spot right before I descended into the subway station next door!
 
 

Tulcingo Bakery

Instagram Post 7/10/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

One of my favorite destinations when I’m craving Mexican carbs is Tulcingo Bakery at 103-02 Roosevelt Ave in Corona, Queens. Named for the municipality in Puebla, Mexico 🇲🇽, it’s a triple threat: a market featuring the freshest ingredients for your cocina Mexicana, the go-to place for amazing carnitas, barbacoa (goat), tamales, and atoles on the weekends, and of course, an extensive panadería, the focus of today’s post.

Literally dozens of kinds of Mexican cookies, sweet breads, layer cakes and loaf cakes, and holiday and traditional breads, not to mention fruit tarts, gelatin desserts, puddings, and more are on display; just grab a tray and a pair of tongs, and let your corazón be your guide. According to Wikipedia, it’s estimated that there are between 500 and 2,000 types of breads and baked goods currently produced in Mexico. Each is distinct: the treats shown here are soft or flaky, sugary or fruity, crispy or filled with custard or cheese and the list goes on from there as you’ll see when you visit this cornucopia of confections for yourself. The perfect leisurely breakfast is one of these beauties and a cup of Café de Olla. Or better still, Mexican hot chocolate!