Shanghai You Garden

Part of what I’m calling the “Golden Oldies” series: photos I had posted on Instagram in bygone days that surely belong here as well, from restaurants that are still doing business, still relevant, and still worth a trip.

From a visit in April 2017 to their Flushing venue at 135-33 40th Road.

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Soup Filled Bun. Yes, that’s a standard size drinking straw. Shanghai You Garden is famous for this Brobdingnagian novelty, but in addition to being a show stopper, this pillowy pouch is a taste topper too.


The inner workings.


Steamed Crab Meat Xiao Long Bao; these more modestly sized soup dumplings were tasty as well.


Spotlight on a soup spout.


Deep Fried Yellow Croaker with Dried Seaweed. If you’re a fan of fried fish like me, this will satisfy your cravings.


Ca-rrrunch!


Sautéed Tofu with Salted Preserved Egg Yolk and Shrimp. Instagram is fairly dripping with egg yolk porn, so its popularity seems to be universal. If you’re in that camp and you’ve never tasted salted preserved duck egg yolk in some form, you’re missing out on an intensely rich and flavorful experience that almost makes chicken egg yolks pale into insignificance. Once you go quack, you’ll never go back.
 
 
If you haven’t sampled Shanghainese food, Shanghai You Garden is the perfect place to get your feet wet; everything we ordered that day was a treat.
 
 
And a reminder: New York City boasts at least six Chinatowns and perhaps a few more depending upon your definition of what constitutes a Chinatown; just pick one and go! Now, more than ever, please SUPPORT CHINATOWN!
 
 
Shanghai You Garden has two locations: 135-33 40th Road in Flushing and 41-07 Bell Blvd in Bayside.
 
 

While in Kathmandu

Part of what I’m calling the “Golden Oldies” series: photos I had posted on Instagram in bygone days that surely belong here as well, from restaurants that are still doing business, still relevant, and still worth a trip.

While in Ridgewood or while in Bushwick, consider a stop at While in Kathmandu, the Nepalese restaurant virtually on the border of those two neighborhoods. When we visited in September 2017, they were the new kid on the block, but they’re still holding down the fort at 758 Seneca Ave, Queens and their menu has expanded significantly since the early days. Here’s what we ordered back then:

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Masala Wings, crispy fried chicken wings tossed in a homemade spice blend.


Breakfast! Fapar Ko Roti, a savory traditional buckwheat pancake, served with potato curry, soup, and a fried egg.


Chicken Choila, grilled chicken marinated in a blend of spices and served with chiura (beaten, flattened puffed rice) and aachar.


And, of course, no Nepalese meal is complete without Jhol Momo. Jhol means soup; I was told that mo means steam (then momo would suggest steam-steam so let’s just make the culinary quantum leap to dumpling and not look back: I’ve definitely heard more plausible explanations), hence soup dumpling. But despite what you might be thinking, there is no soup to be found inside these dumplings: rather the hot dumplings swim in a cold tomato-y pool that lies somewhere along the sauce <-> soup continuum and the two complement each other deliciously. They’re available in five of your favorite momo flavors: chicken (shown here), pork, shrimp, plantain (kera ko momo), and vegetable, each with its own characteristic shape. I understand that you can get them fried as well, so I guess that would be fried-steam-steam; I’m not going to go there linguistically, but I’m definitely going to go there for another delicious meal!
 
 
While in Kathmandu is located at 758 Seneca Ave, Queens.
 
 

Wok Wok Southeast Asian Kitchen

Part of what I’m calling the “Golden Oldies” series: photos I had posted on Instagram in bygone days that surely belong here as well, from restaurants that are still doing business, still relevant, and still worth a trip. This one originally appeared as two posts, published on March 28-29, 2018.

Ever been up for Southeast Asian food but couldn’t decide which cuisine would best tickle your tastebuds? Then Wok Wok Southeast Asian Kitchen, 11 Mott Street, Manhattan, has your answer with its dizzying array of Southeast Asian fare. They cover a lot of territory serving up dishes from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, India, Singapore, and various regions of China, and perusing their colorful menu is like taking a survey course in popular street food of the region.

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We started with Original Roti, a dish you may know as roti canai, consisting of Indian style flatbread with a chicken and potato curry sauce for dipping. Properly crispy outside and fluffy within, it was the perfect medium for savoring the luscious sauce.


Roti Murtabak, another crepe, this time folded around a spiced chicken and egg mixture and also accompanied by the potato chicken curry, had a pleasantly spicy little kick to it. A cut above what we’ve had elsewhere.


Our soup course was Hakka Mushroom Pan Mee, a study in contrasts. Springy handmade noodles topped with silvery crispy dried anchovies, earthy mushrooms, chewy bits of minced pork, and tender greens in a clear broth that was richer than I had anticipated.


Spicy Minced Chicken, Shrimp and Sato – ground chicken and chunks of shrimp with sato cooked in a belacan based sauce. Sato, also known as petai and sometimes stink bean, is a little bitter, a little smelly perhaps, but quite enjoyable. Belacan is fermented fish paste; most Southeast Asian cuisines have their own spin on this pungent condiment, and it’s particularly characteristic of Malaysian food. Maybe it’s an acquired taste, but I think it imparts a subtle flavor that renders this dish delicious.


Spicy Sambal Seafood – plump and juicy jumbo shrimp sautéed in spicy Malaysian belacan sambal with onions and peppers was excellent – best enjoyed over rice.


Malaysian Salt & Pepper Pork Chop had a tiny bit of sweet and sour sauce gracing it. We’ve tasted versions of this dish that were crisper and thinner and unadorned by any manner of sauce. Not bad at all, but not what we were expecting from the name.


Four of a Kind Belacan – to me, the only thing these four vegetables have in common is that they’re all green! Beyond that, the flavors, textures, and even the shapes differ radically – and that’s a good thing in my opinion. String beans, eggplant, okra (not at all slimy), and sato are united by the medium spicy belacan sambal; stink bean and belacan play well together and the combination is a singularly Malaysian flavor profile.


Stir Fry Pearl Noodle featured eggs, bell pepper, Spanish onion, scallion, and bean sprouts with pork. This is actually one of my favorite dishes and not all that easy to find. Pearl noodles, sometimes known as silver noodles, silver needles, and other fanciful names, are chewy rice noodles that are thick at one end and then taper to a point at the other (look closely at the little tail at the bottom of the photo and you’ll see why one of those fanciful names is rat tail noodle). They’re generally stir-fried to pick up a little browning and a lot of wok hei (aka wok qi, the breath of the wok) that ineffable taste/aroma that can only be achieved by ferocious cooking over incendiary heat. Not at all spicy, this one is always a favorite.

Due to a communications mix-up, a couple of dishes came out that weren’t what we ordered. Everything we tasted that day was very good, but I want to make sure that you don’t end up with two or three similar dishes – for example, one belacan and/or sato offering is plenty for the table – because I want you to experience a broad range of flavors, and Wok Wok is most assuredly up to the task. Choose a wide variety of disparate dishes, perhaps even from different parts of Southeast Asia, and you’ll go home happy and satisfied!
 
 
And a reminder, once again, to please SUPPORT CHINATOWN!
 
 
Wok Wok Southeast Asian Kitchen is located at 11 Mott Street, Manhattan.
 
 

Great N.Y. Noodletown

Part of what I’m calling the “Golden Oldies” series: photos I had posted on Instagram in bygone days that surely belong here as well, from restaurants that are still doing business, still relevant, and still worth a trip.

A fixture in Manhattan’s Chinatown, Great N.Y. Noodletown, 28 Bowery at the corner of Bayard St, is an absolute must-do (and you know I seldom say that) for two of their signature dishes in particular:

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“Salt baked” (read “delicately fried”) menu items like shrimp, scallops, squid, a couple of kinds of fish, eggplant and bean curd, pork chops, etc. are certainly excellent, but Great NY Noodletown is justifiably famous for their mind blowing (and you know I seldom say that either) Salt Baked Soft Shell Crabs. Of course, their eponymous homemade noodles are delightful as are so many of the other dishes they offer, but these are hands down (claws down?) the best soft shell crabs you will ever eat, the standard to which you will hold all other soft shell crabs henceforth and forever. Get ’em while they’re in season. Two orders on this plate, two crabs to an order, and trust me, you won’t want to share.


Extreme closeup: plump and delicious! And yes, they were all like that.

As to the other notable entry, you’ve probably gazed at the awesome roasted/BBQ meats (and sometimes cuttlefish if you’re lucky) hanging in the windows at Cantonese restaurants: roast pork, roast pig, roast duck, and so many more. The collective term for these favorites is siu mei (燒味), not to be confused with the popular dim sum dumpling, shu mai (燒賣). On our visit back in August 2017, we indulged in these three treats, all very different from each other:


Spare Ribs


Even though it’s not truly roasted, it proudly takes its place in the window and belongs with this group – the aforementioned Cuttlefish, aka squid.


Roast Baby Pig


And Sautéed Pea Shoots because you will surely want some greens to go with this!
 
 
And a reminder, once again, to please SUPPORT CHINATOWN!
 
 
Great N.Y. Noodletown is located at 28 Bowery, Manhattan.
 
 

Spicy Village

Part of what I’m calling the “Golden Oldies” series: photos I had posted on Instagram in bygone days that surely belong here as well, from restaurants that are still doing business, still relevant, and still worth a trip.

Spicy Village, a little off the beaten path at 68B Forsyth St, is one of Manhattan Chinatown’s hidden gems. Showcasing Henan (not Hunan) cuisine, it’s one of those restaurants where the cognoscenti whisper, “Don’t miss this place! And when you go, order the Spicy Big Tray Chicken (Da Pan Ji) and be sure to get an extra order of their wonderful hand pulled Hui Mei wide noodles to go with it.”

Here’s what we ordered back in August, 2016:

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Soup Dumplings


Spice Scallion Sauce Dumpling, captioned here as it appears on the takeout menu.


Spicy Big Tray Chicken. A classic dish, classically prepared.


Pancake with Pork


Spicy Lamb Hui Mei from the Dry Hand Pulled Wide Noodle section of the menu (as opposed to Lamb Hui Mei from the Hand Pulled Wide Noodles Soup section of the menu); IMHO “spicy” and “dry” are the way to go. For soup lovers, there is a choice of Flour Line Noodle, Yam Noodles, Rice Vermicelli, Rice Thin Noodle.


Garlic Chinese Baby Bok Choy, also captioned here as it appears on the takeout menu.


Beef Brisket Huimei, same options apply.
 
 
And a reminder, once again, to please SUPPORT CHINATOWN!
 
 
Spicy Village is located at 68B Forsyth St, Manhattan.
 
 

Happy Stony Noodle

Part of what I’m calling the “Golden Oldies” series: photos I had posted on Instagram in bygone days that surely belong here as well, from restaurants that are still doing business, still relevant, and still worth a trip.

From a visit to Happy Stony Noodle, the Taiwanese restaurant located at 83-47 Dongan Ave, Elmhurst, Queens, on March 19, 2016.

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)Three Cup Chicken. This appears on the menu as Chicken with Ginger & Basil but the Chinese characters, 三杯雞, are the giveaway. A Taiwanese classic, theoretically made using one cup of soy sauce, one cup of sesame oil, and one cup of rice wine, but usually tweaked a bit and fleshed out with additional ingredients including garlic, ginger, and in this case, basil. Good eats.

Ji Vegetable and Pork with Rice Cake. You might see ji cai (cai means vegetable); this Asian green is also known as shepherd’s purse because of the shape of its fruits. Just the right addition to this stir fry of pork and rice cake. Looks like comfort food to me!

Pork & Dried Bean Curd, Hakka Style. Two of my favorites tastes. With veggies even!

Oyster Pancake. A classic Taiwanese appetizer. If you’ve ever had Hangtown Fry, a dish dating from the days of California’s Gold Rush, you’ll see a connection, but in this case, sans bacon.

Pork Roll. Bean curd skin stuffed with succulent pieces of pork and more, fried to crunchy deliciousness.

Pickled mustard greens, an essential condiment at every table.
 
 
Happy Stony Noodle is located at 83-47 Dongan Ave, Elmhurst, Queens.
 
 

NOT Cooking in the Time of COVID – Frozen Chinese Dumplings

Instagram Post 6/3/2020

 
👨‍🍳 NOT Cooking in the Time of COVID 👨‍🍳

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You know what? I think I’ve had it with all this cooking. Like, if I were to opt for prepared food, I’d have so much more free time. I mean, I could kick back, munch a hashtag brownie, and binge watch every episode of Bob Ross rendering a happy little cloud, right?

So although I do make Chinese dumplings, I didn’t make these. Bought ’em frozen, steamed and fried ’em up, sauced ’em, and garnished ’em. Does that even count as cooking?
 
 
Stay safe, be well, and eat whatever it takes. ❤️
 
 

Cooking in the Time of COVID – Puff Pastry

Instagram Post 6/1/2020

 
👨‍🍳 Cooking in the Time of COVID 👨‍🍳

This is it! The last post of the purge-the-pantry-flush-the-freezer-of-elderly-edibles exorcism! Aside from items that are mandated to reside there on a long term basis, all that remained in the freezer was some puff pastry; the pantry had been home to a can of Russian caramel fudge cream (sort of like dulce de leche) that was well past its expiration date; and apropos of expiry, those bananas on the counter were hurtling to their demise as well, so I let the weird experiments commence. <Cue ominous pipe organ music.>

For the sweet batch, I combined the mushy bananas with the dense caramel fudge cream and made some, um, what you see here…

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…and tried a different shape as well. I don’t have a clue as to what I made but they were crispy and sweet straight out of the oven.

On the savory side, this is a melty, creamy, Greek feta, er, thing…

…and I added slices of a remaining Polish sausage (remember those from a previous freezer rant?) to the mix in a final fling.

All were yummy and frankly, if I knew they were going to taste this good, I might have taken more time shaping the dough – not my strong suit though. But it’ll be a long time before I buy more frozen puff pastry unless I have a goal in mind beforehand. 😉
 
 
Stay safe, be well, and eat whatever it takes. ❤️
 
 

Cooking in the Time of COVID – Thai Pumpkin Soup

Instagram Post 5/13/2020

 
👨‍🍳 Cooking in the Time of COVID 👨‍🍳

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

At this point I think it’s pretty clear that Cooking 🍳 in the Time of COVID must have something to do with being stir 🥄 crazy.

In keeping with that characterization, I raided the freezer again and discovered leftover puréed roasted sugar pumpkin from last Thanksgiving’s pies, a container of spicy soup I had concocted many months ago using the remnants of Thai takeout stewed pork spine, and Panang curry paste.

Adhering to my current excursion avoidant practice of using up whatever I have on hand, I grabbed a can of coconut milk from the pantry plus a few other ingredients and proceeded to whip up a pot of completely inauthentic Thai Pumpkin Soup. Tasted pretty good, especially on a snowy day in May here in New York City.

If you’re curious about the garnishes (aside from the cilantro and spibbles of coconut milk), the little spherical bits are crispy dried peas (technically Chinese) for some crunch, and the gossamer threads are dried shredded red pepper (technically Korean) for some pretty.
 
 
Stay safe, be well, and eat whatever it takes. ❤️
 
 

Cooking in the Time of COVID – A Mediterranean Melange

Instagram Post 5/30/2020

 
👨‍🍳 Cooking in the Time of COVID 👨‍🍳

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

A Mediterranean mélange in the service of using up the last bits of saladworthy candidates from the pantry and fridge. Of primary significance, I’ve finally finished off the last of the dried chickpeas! 🙌

The slightly smaller spheres are Lebanese moghrabieh which are similar to their more diminutive Israeli couscous cousins. These wonderful starchy pearls deserve far better than the short shrift I’ve given them here – I almost wish I had left them in the pantry to star in some future culinary legerdemain. There’ll be a next time. In this case, I toasted them first to bring out their latent nuttiness; toasted almonds and currants made a considerable contribution as well.

From the refrigerator, I exhumed some jarred red pepper strips, Italian fried green peppers and agrodolce sun dried red peppers along with Moroccan pickled eggplant, Greek black olives and creamy feta cheese. Plated the medley over baby arugula and dressed it with olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, za’atar and sumac.

Tasted so much better than it looked!
 
 
Stay safe, be well, and eat whatever it takes. ❤️