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!
 
 

Yukun Shaobing

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A favorite stop along my “Snacking in Flushing – The Best of the Best” ethnojunket is Landmark Quest Mall, 136-21 Roosevelt Ave, a diminutive food court that’s home to some outstanding vendors – proof positive that good things come in small packages.

Two enterprising women own and operate Yukun Shaobing, a tiny stall where they turn out at least 16 varieties of stuffed flatbreads that run the gamut of flavors from Pork and Chinese Cabbage to Spicy Squid to Cumin Lamb, representing favorites from multiple regions of China.

I won’t even tease you with my customary “will this be on our tour?” gambit; the answer is yes, of course it is, because these exquisite pockets of goodness are amazing!

Of course, you’ll have to take the tour to find out which ones we’ll be enjoying 😉 so check out my Ethnojunkets page and sign up to join in the fun!
 
 

Streecha

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Streecha is a charming-in-its-bare-bones-informality Ukrainian restaurant hidden away in the homey basement of Saint George Ukrainian Catholic Church in Manhattan’s East Village – and it’s a gem. The sparse menu always includes Borsch (beet soup), Varenyky (potato dumplings – with toppings, please), Holubtsi (stuffed cabbage), and Sausage with Cabbage. The sausage is a link of top-notch savory pork kielbasa with an affirmative snap when you bite into it, and the cabbage, despite its sauerkraut-like appearance, is a deliciously sweet cabbage/carrot/onion mélange.

But the Daily Special is a Daily Mystery; it’s not posted anywhere online or even on the premises, so if you want to find out what’s cookin’, go there and inquire, order it, and be pleasantly surprised.

And yes, I’ll be back. Streecha is located at 33 East 7th St in New York City.
 
 

New Section: Ukraine

I’ve created a new section on this site that highlights the cuisine of Ukraine. The prologue begins like this:


Odessa is a port city on the Black Sea in southern Ukraine. It is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches and charming 19th-century architecture.

In the latter half of the last century, many Odessites who emigrated to the US came to Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach neighborhood, now known as “Little Odessa”. I took this photograph on that beach – and tweaked the colors, just a bit.


As a kid, I studied history from a book titled World Civilization; “civilization” was defined as the advancement of the arts, science, culture and statecraft. At the time, it seemed to me that statecraft had as much to do with waging war as anything else. History was something that was about 2 inches thick and had 537 pages.

When I was in high school, I would eavesdrop on my father reliving World War II in exhaustive detail with his buddy, Jack, over highballs; they had served together in the army overseas. I still have his captain’s bars and his Purple Heart. War became a little more real, more than just something you read about; war had certainly affected my father.

In college, we would watch television nightly, transfixed as Walter Cronkite narrated terrifying scenes from the war in Vietnam; I wondered if I would be drafted. War became even more real; war was affecting me.

But now, I know someone who actually lives in Kyiv and although I am fortunate to not be an eyewitness myself, the horrors of war have never been more real for me.

Her hobby is cooking; that’s how we met – through Instagram of all things. She loves nature in its beauty ardently, the flora and the fauna. We communicate on occasion, a genuine, personal one-to-one correspondence. She is very real.

And every time I hear the reports of the latest atrocities, I worry if she is well. If she is alive.

This corner of my website is dedicated to you, Olya. You and all the brave, stalwart, resilient, heroic, beautiful people of Ukraine.

Stay safe, Olya. Stay safe.

🇺🇦 Слава Україні! Героям слава! 🇺🇦
 
 


Over the years, I have enjoyed and continue to learn more about Ukrainian cuisine; I prepare it at home, and now bring people to visit Little Odessa in Brooklyn so they can experience it firsthand.

It is a small gesture, I know, but at least I can introduce others to a part of the vibrant culture of these resolute people who are giving their lives and losing their loved ones in their quest to preserve democracy.

Here, then, are a few dishes from my Ukrainian posts, with more to come….
 
 
Click here to see the new section and the cuisine. You can always visit as it grows by selecting Stories -> Ukraine in the top navigation bar. Дякую!
 
 

JoJu

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I’m forever scoping out restaurants, food courts, and food stands for my ethnojunkets, and this time Elmhurst was in my sights. Here’s the Number 1 Classic bánh mì from JoJu at 83-25 Broadway; it features slices of Vietnamese ham and headcheese with pâté and pork house sauce along with cucumber, cilantro and traditional pickled carrot and daikon.

The marketing describes their wares as “Modern Vietnamese Sandwiches” and indeed, the menu is infused with Korean, Thai, and Japanese influences. They’re more than just a sandwich shop though: this venue (one of three) offers spring rolls, chicken wings, rice bowls, and more to round out the menu.

So…will we indulge in this bánh mì bonhomie on my Ethnic Eats in Elmhurst food tour? Only one way to find out: check out my Ethnojunkets page and sign up to join in the fun!
 
 

Sin Kee

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Sin Kee, located in the Queens Crossing Food Court, 136-20 38th Avenue, Unit #4, markets itself as serving up 21st Century Hawker Cuisine in NYC. I had read about their Taiwanese Braised Pork Belly Rice Platter so I had to investigate to see if it would make a good candidate for my Snacking in Flushing – the Best of the Best Ethnojunket.

The dish, Lu Rou Fan, is served over jasmine rice with a side of braised egg and sautéed preserved mustard greens, and it’s chef Richard Chan’s special sauce that makes it one of their signature dishes.


And while I was there, I tried their version of Taiwanese Gua Bao – slow-cooked pork belly with peanuts, cilantro, and more mustard greens plus special sauce in case a snack-sized goodie would work better for us.

They both look good, right? But will they be on my food tour? Only one way to find out: check out my Ethnojunkets page and sign up to join in the fun!
 
 

Taiwan Bear House

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Night Market Crispy Chicken from Taiwan Bear House, 11 Pell St in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Larger than average chunks o’ chix, crispy and juicy street food – a satisfying snack.

The inner workings:

And as I’ve mentioned, this is all part of the process of picking primo possibilities for my ethnojunkets, so not all of the dishes I post show up on the tours, of course.

Curious about which ones we’ll actually sample? Take a tour and find out!

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

Tianjin Baozi Shop

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The last time I visited Stall Number 27 (a couple of months ago) there was nary a word of English extant: not on the menu, not even the name of the vendor, and certainly not uttered by the folks behind the counter. I had been making the rounds within the New World Mall Food Court, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave, to ferret out some good candidates for my Flushing food tour and I might have passed by, but I was riveted by the maneuvers of the chef. He massaged a clump of dough on his work surface, piled a mammoth heap of meat onto it, folded it into a seriously massive cannonball, and proceeded to drop it onto his work surface repeatedly until it was ready to be rolled out and pressed into shape. I guessed he was constructing one of the examples depicted on a sign gracing the front of the booth.

I snapped a photo of it, caught the eye of the woman busy behind the counter, and pointed to the picture I had just taken. I nodded at her with questioning, raised eyebrows, she nodded back in the affirmative, and I waited, hoping for the best. The dish arrived in a tin, sliced into wedges and was surely more than I could consume in a single sitting. She held up a finger which I took to mean “wait”, went to the back, and returned with a plastic pint container filled with an unidentified liquid that she added to the bag.

After some gratifying research at home (admittedly, I have a strange idea of fun), I confirmed that I had just visited the Tianjin Baozi Shop and purchased an order of Beijing Xianghe Meatloaf, a meat pie that unexpectedly comes with complementary Tong Sui (sweet soup). The tong sui was beany, laden with rice, and barely sweet, a good foil for the slightly salty meat patty. I’ve pulled a couple of hunks of the filling out of their pancake cloak so you could see where a lot of repetitive pounding and rolling gets you. (Note that there’s a Tian Jin Dumpling House on Kissena Blvd with a very different menu.)

Oh, and as I’ve mentioned, this is all part of the process of selecting the best of the best for my ethnojunkets, so not all of the dishes I post show up on the tours, of course.

Curious about which ones we’ll actually sample? Take a tour and find out!

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