Chicks Isan

Instagram Post 1/22/2019

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Feeling peckish? You might consider a visit to the stall from Chicks Isan that roosts in DeKalb Market, 445 Albee Square West in Brooklyn. If you like chicken wings, you need to try their Zaab Wings – you might see the spelling “zabb” elsewhere but either way it’s your clue that you’re hearing about food from northeast Thailand; the word means flavorful and delicious. Speckled with a crunchy coating combining chili, lime, and mint, they’re crisp, spicy, and not at all greasy.

There’s more to a bird than its wings, however, so we also got an order of Isan Style Grilled Chicken (Kai Yang) marinated with shallot, garlic, turmeric, and coriander root. (Thai cooking commonly uses coriander root along with the stems and leaves; it brings a pungent, earthy quality to the party.) The agreeably grilled half chicken came accompanied by two sauces, the sweet-hot orange colored one you see universally, and a more unusual herby, spicy variety that complemented it distinctively.

Lots more to try from their menu as well….
 
 

Manting Restaurant

Instagram Post 1/21/2019

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Mala Tang and Mala Xiang Guo are Sichuan dishes that are underrepresented in Manhattan’s Theater District, but those are the specialties at Manting Restaurant, 150 W49th St. We were invited to taste their renditions amid a selection of other items on the menu, and we happily obliged.

[1] They feature eight kinds of Mala Tang, the spicy, soupy hot pot, in ready-made versions such as beef, lamb, fish (pictured), seafood and vegetable. When I see “málà”, I expect numbing, spicy Sichuan peppercorns but the best I could tell was that this was ignited only by dried red chili peppers. Not complaining though: we requested very spicy and we actually got it. Spoon some of the sauce over rice for maximum enjoyment.

[2] Mala Xiang Guo, spicy dry pot, is a stir fry in which diners can choose from among 35 items that include meats (beef, lamb, chicken, tripe, kidney, for example), seafood (shrimp, fish fillet, squid), and a garden of vegetables (like mushrooms, cabbage, cauliflower, seaweed) and tofu. Choose your favorites, specify a spice level, and you’re set. Read the menu carefully regarding portion size and pricing: it’s priced per pound with a 1.5 pound minimum and a surcharge for orders under 2 pounds, but you’ll probably exceed those anyway if there are at least two of you. Common sense dictates that if you request many ingredients but the size of your order is modest, you may find only one piece of something you desired in the bowl. We decided to get two of these, one with meats and [3] the other fish based. Both filled the bill.

[4] We opted for the Scallion Egg Pancake appetizer, sort of an omletized scallion bing.

谢谢, Manting!
 
 

Shaanxi Tasty Food – Cumin Fried Noodles with Beef

Instagram Post 1/20/2019

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A couple of months ago, I wrote about Shaanxi Tasty Food, stall 27 in Super HK Food Court, 37-11 Main St, Flushing, in the basement of Super HK Supermarket. Shaanxi Province is in the northwest region of China and “tasty” describes the cuisine precisely. In that post, I raved unabashedly about their Oil Spill Noodle, aka Oil Splashed Noodle, so when my dining buddies and I were in the neighborhood the other night and about to embark on our second of three dinners (long story), it was a clear choice.

This time, we opted for the Cumin Fried Noodles with Beef (C3 on the menu, also available with chicken) and it was another hit. Now and then I have a taste for noodles that aren’t slathered in sauce or swimming in soup. These are dry – in the best sense – boasting a perfect chew, redolent of cumin, touched with a toss of bean sprouts, scallion and carrots plus a little kick from green pepper.

More to come from Super HK Food Court….
 
 

Like Cafe

Instagram Post 1/17/2019

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Enormous backlit dazzlingly bright hyper-colorized scenes of bustling Hong Kong streets gild the walls and stand in contrast to the unpretentious furnishings of this informal Brooklyn café. The youth-centric menu is extensive – a trifold glossy sheet that opens to a 25½ x 11 inch onslaught on the eyes and flaunts a hodgepodge of colorful mini-photos arranged in splashy, artful disarray captioned in dozens of fonts with as many exclamation points.

Like Café brings its rendition of Hong Kong street snacks to 6205 18th Ave in Bensonhurst with a good assortment of Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian and Vietnamese offerings: noodles, dumplings, wings, rice dishes and sundry tids and bits scream for attention amid some lobster and sizzling beef contenders.

Wading through an ocean of dishes with intriguing names like Show Me Your Love Rice and Sloopy Noodle, we settled on Fishball Shumai Noodle, Macaense Wings (that’s either the Spanish word for Macanese or a typo – you decide) and Man Romance Rice. (See what I mean about the names?)

[1] The first turned out to be rolled rice noodles, tiny fish balls, and diminutive, dense fish paste shu mei swimming in a sweet soy/peanut butter sauce topped with sesame seeds. The rice rolls and sauce were okay, the fish balls and dumplings less so.

[2] I like wings that are crispy and I also like wings that are saucy – not sure about the marriage however. These were spicy, a good thing, but when crispy crumbs get saturated, they lose their raison d’être. The sauce was chickeny, but I couldn’t tease out any other specific flavors. The pickled veggies on the side were good though.

[3] You’ve been waiting for Man Romance Rice, haven’t you? Possibly the best of the three dishes, it consisted of pork belly, bean curd skin, and thick meaty shiitake mushrooms in sauce over rice. Satisfying. And no, I didn’t ask about the name.

Oh, how I wanted to love Like Café, but so far I only like Like Café. Despite what I’ve written, I’ll give them another chance – it’s possible that now that I have a sense of the place and based on other photos I’ve seen, with more judicious ordering it could prove to be a better experience.
 
 

Yummy Tummy Asian Bistro – Part 3

Instagram Post 1/16/2019

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Last post (for now at least 😉) from Flushing’s Yummy Tummy Asian Bistro at 161-16 Northern Blvd, the casual Singaporean restaurant.

[1] Soft shell crab is always delicious but it’s especially delectable in Yummy Tummy’s deep fried Chili Sauce Soft Shell Crab, bathed in spicy goodness. It was surrounded by fried mantou poised to soak up the amazing sauce – so good we asked for an additional order of just the buns to ensure that nary a drop would go to waste.

[2] Bah Kut Teh is a mild, slow cooked pork rib soup made with Chinese herbs; the small size came with two ribs along with a few other bits of pork and some mushrooms. By itself, it left something to be desired, but it was served with a much needed sauce that was akin to Chinese dumpling sauce.

[3] We ordered the Durian Cheesecake for dessert and it was wonderful. I’m a huge fan of the King of Fruits so I may be biased, but the layer of durian purée was sweet, gentle and perfect for first timers.

That’s the story for now, but I’ll be back! Who wants to come with me?
 
 

Yummy Tummy Asian Bistro – Part 2

Instagram Post 1/15/2019

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Yummy Tummy Asian Bistro at 161-16 Northern Blvd in Flushing, approximately a three block walk from the Broadway stop on the LIRR Port Washington branch, is my current go-to fave for Singaporean cuisine.

[1] If you’ve never indulged in Hainanese Chicken, this is the place to go. It’s slow poached and comes to the table pale yellowish-white in color with slippery slick skin. Always remarkably tender, this version seems extra juicy and practically melts in your mouth; even the white meat is extraordinary. Here, it’s served with two sauces, a potent red chili sauce and a green herbal sauce the menu describes as pesto. The mild chicken and formidable sauces are a yin-yang combination that coexist in perfect harmony. I’m accustomed to seeing a particularly delicious rice made with chicken stock and chicken fat accompanying this dish, but I didn’t find it on the table; a closer inspection of the menu after I left revealed Hainanese Chicken Rice as a side. I regret missing it; don’t make the same mistake.

[2] Look for Cai Tow Kueh (you may have seen it as chai tow kueh), another Singapore favorite, in the Snacks section of the menu. It consists of chunks of radish cake (daikon), steamed first then stir-fried along with bits of egg and vegetables in a sweet soy sauce that clings to the cai tow kueh; it’s another treat that gets high marks for both texture and flavor. It’s also available with belachan (dried shrimp paste) sauce instead of the sweet rendition; it would have been overkill to order one of each so I’ll just have to go back. Soon.

More to come from Yummy Tummy Asian Bistro.
 
 

Yummy Tummy Asian Bistro – Part 1

Instagram Post 1/14/2019

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On beyond the eastern terminus of the 7 train in Flushing lies an overwhelming phalanx of Korean eateries on Northern Boulevard. One notable exception is Singapore-centric Yummy Tummy Asian Bistro at 161-16 Northern Blvd, approximately a three block walk from the Broadway stop on the LIRR Port Washington branch and definitely worth a visit.

[1] Hokkien Fried Noodles – egg noodles comingling with rice noodles, seafood (I saw fish cake, shrimp and squid), and a healthy dollop of belachan (dried shrimp paste) on the side in what the menu described as a seafood broth. I see the word “broth” and I expect soup but I’m pleased to report that it was more of a sauce, and a delicious one at that. The belachan which I’d normally describe as aggressive, wasn’t at all overpowering and was a welcome addition to the dish.

[2] Otah otah (you may have seen otak otak on Indonesian menus) is a deftly seasoned mixture of fish and shrimp paste wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled. Each juicy bite provided a burst of seafood flavor with a gentle kick. Incidentally, the repetition of a word as part of a grammatical construct is common in Malay, and in linguistics is referred to as reduplication (a word which itself seems redundant); the Indonesian cumi cumi (squid) and gado gado (a vegetable salad) come to mind. Often, as in the case of otah², appending a “²” to the word is used as shorthand. Yum².

More to come from Yummy Tummy Asian Bistro.
 
 

Forcella Fried Pizza

Instagram Post 1/14/2019

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Two words that consistently hover near the top of my Guilty Pleasures list are “fried” and “pizza” so it’s little wonder that Forcella Fried Pizza’s stall in DeKalb Market, 445 Albee Square West in Brooklyn, grabbed my attention.

The procedure entails tossing the dough to shape it, deep frying it, adding toppings, and then subjecting it to their fiery pizza oven; the finished product is the puffy Neapolitan style pizza that’s been the rage for several years with enough crispiness to distinguish it from an unfried pie. I like the combination of blisteringly hot oven char and deep fried crunch – the best of both worlds.

Just the right size for sharing, here’s their “Italian Sausage” option: sausage, tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and pepperoncini – yes, sometimes I go basic on a maiden voyage. I prefer sausage in chunks (but pepperoni in slices) and that’s their MO, so I was happy. Good stuff; next time, a more challenging version!
 
 

Farmers Restaurant – Part 3

Instagram Post 1/11/2019

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The more I post about this place, the more I want to return, if only to have another go at establishing a communications link with the folks at Farmers Restaurant, 1692 86th St, Brooklyn. Everything we tasted at this eatery in Bensonhurst’s Chinatown (yes, that’s a thing) was wonderful and I’m keen to sample some different dishes next time despite the language barrier. It’s worth noting that verbal exchanges aside, the take-out menu differs from the online menu which differs from the heavily redacted in-house menu – not to mention any specials of the day. I like a challenge.

Here’s Crab with Sticky Rice from the Chef’s Specialties section of the take-out menu. This kind of dish looks deceptively simple, but it’s not always easy to get it right; working with sticky rice requires some finesse and the chef had plenty.

This one is for friends who accuse me of never posting photos of vegetables (let alone ordering them 😉): water spinach, aka water convolvulus, aka water morning glory plus a frustrating litany of increasingly misleading names, served here with garlic sauce (another vegetable!) – tasty, green, and good for you. Right? It grows in water and its hollow stems are the clue to positive ID; they provide the buoyancy that keeps the leaves afloat. I’m not entirely sure if this was on any of the menus!

Looking forward to going back!
 
 

Her Name is Han

Instagram Post 1/10/2019

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Four of us went to Her Name is Han, 17 E 31st St in Manhattan, for the delightful lunch special in which several types of bapsang are offered. Bapsang comprises the words for rice (밥 bap) and table (상 sang) and has a well-defined structure that varies primarily with the number of dishes served. Expect rice, soup, small plates of a seasoned vegetable or salad, kimchi, additional banchan (side dishes are where the number can vary), plus a protein like chicken, beef, pork or fish; sometimes, the dominant item is jjigae, a rich soup or stew. Because only the featured dish varied in our selections, it was particularly easy to share, especially since the company was so convivial. In this set, the focus is Grilled Garlic Chicken; absolutely delicious.

[2] A close-up of Boodae Jjigae, spicy beef broth with three kinds of ham, rice cakes, kimchi, noodles and vegetables

[3] Grilled Hokke (mackerel)

[4] Fire Grilled Pork Barbecue which was everything one could hope for. Definitely warrants a return visit for dinner!