Lamb Dumplings in Flushing

I just realized that I haven’t posted any dumpling pix in quite a while, so here’s some research from my Snacking in Flushing – The Best of the Best ethnojunket: takeout from Chinese-Korean Dumplings & Noodles, Booth 30, in Flushing’s stalwart New World Mall on 136-20 Roosevelt Ave.

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Luscious lamb dumplings, because who doesn’t love dumplings?

The inner workings.

So many great vendors there and we’ll go to a number of them. Curious about which ones we actually visit? Take the tour and find out! (Hint: The name of this ethnojunket says it all! 😉)

To learn more about my food tours, please check out my Ethnojunkets page and sign up to join in the fun!

Hay Hay Roasted

Prowling around Manhattan’s Chinatown, I spotted a display of roasted/BBQ meats hanging in the window of Hay Hay Roasted at 81 Mott Street, the space formerly occupied by Hoy Wong. 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). Since I had never sampled their wares (thanks, COVID) I was compelled to rectify the situation. The results:

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Whole Duck. I always ask for it not to be cut into pieces; in addition to cobbling together some impressive homemade faux Peking Duck buns (you can read my Faking Peking Duck story here), the carcass provides a base for an incredible duck soup.

Roasted Crispy Skin Pig. Sweet, succulent meat lounging under a blanket of crispy skin. What more can anyone ask for?

Honey Roasted Pork. Shoulda bought more.

Happy Market Dim Sum Details

A week ago, I wrote about my visit to the ongoing revitalization of Elmhurst’s Food Court at 8202 45th Ave and promised to show you a close up of some of the dim sum I brought home from Happy Market, so here’s a quick overview of three examples:

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Beef Ball. Finely pulverized beef, classically served over bean curd skin with Worcestershire sauce on the side just as you’ve probably experienced in your favorite dim sum parlor. Tasty.

Siu Mai (or Shu Mai). A universal favorite executed perfectly here. These are larger than the typical dumpling and it’s clear why: I discovered a whole shrimp in one of these – no, not a baby shrimp, but a seriously good sized specimen! Big hunks of pork as well – the word “hearty” comes to mind. The texture of the filling is robust and chunky (as it should be) and its flavor is excellent.

Chiu Chao Fan Guo (or Teochow Fun Kor or so many other clever Anglicizations). The thick glutinous rice wrapper envelops mushrooms, peanuts, pork, Chinese chives and more; I cut one open to give you an idea of the inner workings. As juicy as it appears in the photo.

All were truly delicious and left me wanting more – and as I mentioned, it’s back on my Ethnic Eats in Elmhurst food tour. And if you’re curious about which of the many dim sum items we actually indulge in, well, you’ll just have to take the tour! 😉

To learn more about my food tours, please check out my Ethnojunkets page and sign up to join in the fun!

Lhasa Liang Fen

While we’re on the subject of savory Elmhurst food, here’s a shout out to Lhasa Liang Fen, the diminutive restaurant at 80-07 Broadway that serves up Tibetan treats.

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This is a peak rendition of Chicken Jhol Momo, dumplings that hail from Tibet and Nepal (and Queens, it would seem) that can be fried or steamed like these and are available with a number of fillings; jhol refers to the broth in which they are bathing, and here, it is wonderful. There are some differences between Tibetan and Nepali style momos (more about that in an upcoming post); jhol is a Nepali variation.

Beyond the jhol, the filling in this momo is a cut above others I’ve had in these parts, and that’s saying something: you can’t swing a cat-o’-nine-tails in this neighborhood and not hit a momo joint.

Life imitates art.

And a big thank you to the lovely staff who provided special treatment for our large group. Now I need to return and seriously eat my way through the rest of their menu!
To learn more about my food tours, please check out my Ethnojunkets page and sign up to join in the fun!

Elmhurst Food Court Redux

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I did one of my Ethnic Eats In Elmhurst food tours on Sunday. I always arrive early to ensure that the businesses we’ll be visiting are still open (hey, stuff happens), that they’re not out of the goodies we were specifically angling for (that’s happened too), and that my Plan B shelters against inclement weather are available (I’ve been lucky with that one so far).

As I walked past what used to be HK Food Court at 8202 45th Ave, the long shuttered entrance was open – and I smelled food! I tentatively entered and amid significant ongoing construction, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, there were three vendors preparing and displaying their wares in what was something between a dry run and an extremely soft opening. If you go – and you really should – be aware that all the signage hails from the original incarnation and bears no connection to the current vendors (see final photo). But they were indeed open to the public and that’s all the encouragement I needed.

Shortly thereafter, my guests arrived and we checked out the most sprawling of the three. I was told their name would be “Happy Market” and they had been there for only two days. (Timing is everything, right?). In addition to a tempting selection of Cantonese roasted/BBQ ducks, pipa duck, char siu, spareribs, and crispy pig, there was a steamtable set up that I usually associate with “four items plus rice” you’ve probably seen in Chinatowns everywhere, congee, and a considerable array of dim sum.

Everything we tasted was excellent so yes, it’s back on my itinerary. More details to follow, but here are five hastily snapped photos to give you an idea of how things looked; I’ll be doing reports as more vendors populate the new food court.

Having witnessed the demise of so many of our treasured food courts, this brings me joy and gives me hope. Stay tuned….
To learn more about my food tours, please check out my Ethnojunkets page and sign up to join in the fun!

Zaab Zaab

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I had been updating my Ethnic Eats in Elmhurst tour for a few weeks and on one of my initial visits (back on April 16) I spotted Zaab Zaab, the new Isan Thai restaurant at 7604 Woodside Avenue and stopped in for a quick bite. They had only been open for six days and I had my choice of table – but trust me, it’s not going to stay that way; I’m predicting capacity seating. I selected two items from the “Snacks” section of the menu and was happily surprised to receive what I would consider more than just a snack.

I asked about the difference between two contiguous menu items, Nuer Koy and Nam Tok, since both are meat salads. I was told that Nuer Koy was “more rare” so you know which I opted for. Whether it was rare or raw is open for debate but I thought it was great; marinated beef served with fresh hard-to-find herbs, roasted rice powder, chewy pork skin, and spicy as hell, it was as delicious and authentic as any dish I’ve experienced in the neighborhood.

Quail Egg Wonton came with a righteous sweet chili tamarind sauce. My only regret is that I should have asked for an order of sticky rice to accompany the beef. You should too when you go – and I suggest you go soon!

Gusht Non

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In my last post about Bosu Lagman at Kashkar Café, 1141 Brighton Beach Ave, I mentioned an item that was so yummy, it’s a permanent fixture on my Little Odessa ethnojunket through Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach neighborhood. So much so, in fact, that on a recent visit there I asked my dining buddy, “Is this really, really good or have I just been eating too much of my own home cooking?” His reply between bites: “It’s really, really good.”

The first photo shows Gusht Non (гушт нон), literally “meat bread”, in its pristine state. Think Turkish gözleme with lamb meets Chinese scallion pancake via Kazakhstan.

The inner workings.

The menu humbly describes gusht non as “lamb meat, onions, and greenery baked in a pan” which is certainly accurate as far as it goes, but once you’ve had a bite, you’ll gush with pleasure – nononsense!

Ethnojunkets will be starting up soon – stay tuned for the official announcement! (No extra charge for mnemonics. Or bad puns. 😉)

Bosu Lagman

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I’ve written previously about Kashkar Café (here and here), 1141 Brighton Beach Ave, Brooklyn, and since I’m in the throes of revivifying my food tours, a return visit was in order; I’m pleased to report that Kashkar is still thriving and still reliably delicious. They serve the food of the Uyghur people, a primarily Muslim ethnic group who live in the Xinjiang region of northwest China near Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan; as you’d expect, the cuisine is a comingling of Chinese and Central Asian fare and definitely worth getting to know.

On a recent visit, we opted for Bosu Lagman; linguistically, the Chinese influence is easy to identify from the cognates: lo mein → lagman. On the menu, you’ll see жареный лагман, literally fried lagman, delectable noodles with a perfect chew accompanied by tender lamb and vegetables.

Stay tuned for another dish from Kashkar that’s so tasty, it’s a permanent fixture on my Little Odessa ethnojunket.

Looking forward to seeing you just as soon as the weather gets a bit warmer!

Afrosiab Café

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One component of reviving my ethnojunkets involves the always fun task of checking out locations where restaurants along my food tours have closed and new ones have opened in their stead. Such is the case for Afrosiab Café which is firmly ensconced in the former digs of Café At Your Mother-in-Law at 3071 Brighton 4th St, Brooklyn.

Named for the settlement of Afrosiab in Samarkand, Uzbekistan (dating back to about the 6th century BC), Afrosiab describes its cuisine as Middle Eastern although the choices on the menu point to Uzbek food.

My dining buddy and I ordered Jiz Biz; we’ve enjoyed a dish of lamb offal – spelled djiz-biz – many times at Azerbaijani restaurants, but the menu here described this simply as lamb chops. And indeed they were. Accompanied by fried potatoes, sliced red onions and tomatoes, and grilled wedges of Uzbek bread, it was an artful presentation.

Achichuk, Uzbek tomato and onion salad.

More reports of revisiting Little Odessa to come….

Brooklyn’s Homeslice Pizzeria – Revisited

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Someone once said that the best pizza in New York is in New Haven. And no, it’s not because I went to college there; it’s because there is simply none better. Anywhere. I freely admit it: I pledge allegiance to Pepe’s for their bacon pizza and Modern for their sausage. (And of course, be sure to grab a bottle of Foxon Park’s white birch beer soda to wash it down.)

But sometimes you just can’t travel two hours to satisfy a craving. Fortunately, there is some outstanding pizza to be enjoyed in NYC as well; it’s easy to stay abreast of the best and most iconic via email missives from subscriptions to favored foodie websites. Each has its own bespoke style: there’s no mistaking a Paulie Gee’s pizza for a Kesté’s, for example, so you can’t really compare one with the next.

But even then, there are times when you don’t want to go out of your way to hit up one of those vaunted venues. Sometimes, you just have to consider the local neighborhood pizza joint, you know, the one you sail past on the way home, some of which are, um, less than stellar.

However, I’m fortunate because one, about seven blocks from my apartment, actually does a good job. (And yes, I know that by NYC standards seven blocks to a pizza parlor is a hike.) Two years ago I posted about Brooklyn’s Homeslice Pizzeria at 567 Vanderbilt Ave.

What makes them unique is their crust’s edge covered with panko crumbs that provide a crispy crunch.

That attribute in conjunction with its thin, flavorful crust, easily folded over on itself (as pizza is meant to be consumed), a slender but sufficient layer of cheese (the kind you used to peel back as a kid) and a naturally sweet and tasty tomato sauce contribute to this pie’s success.

Since I always go plain on the maiden voyage, I promised that I’d be back to try the toppings and having returned more than once, I’ve found a combination that I think is baller delicious: Bacon, Onions, and Extra Cheese (first photo and below). Now, this particular pizza with this particular configuration of toppings is as unique as any other pie I’ve mentioned and therefore should not be compared to others of note.

I do understand that the ideal topping is in the mouth of the beholder: one man’s pepperoni is another man’s anchovy, one man’s meat is another man’s poisson.

But my current comfort-food crutch notwithstanding, major props to this one!