Hong Kong Taste – Part 3

Instagram Post 8/1/2018

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Tomato Fried Eggs with Pork Chop was on the specials board today at Hong Kong Taste, the wonderful cha chaan teng (tea restaurant) at 47-21 90th St, corner of Corona Ave in Elmhurst, Queens. The pork chop was good, the tomato/eggs even better. I kicked up the rice with a little of their amazing housemade curry and garlic sauces and rounded out the meal with their delicious Hong Kong style milk tea. As I always say about H.K.Taste: more to come!
 
 

Khao Nom – Chan Noodle

Instagram Post 7/30/2018

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One more from Khao Nom, 42-06 77th Street, Elmhurst, Queens. For a restaurant that once had the reputation of being a dessert specialist, I find their savory dishes to be every bit as great. This is Chan Noodle, grilled jumbo prawns served with stir-fried noodles in tamarind sauce with garlic and chives. The crunchy fresh bean sprouts partner perfectly with the supple, spicy noodles.
 
 

Mama G African Kitchen – Part 2

Instagram Post 7/27/2018

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The further adventures of Ghanaian food from Mama G African Kitchen at 3650A White Plains Road in the Bronx.

[1] Part of our first course: Grilled Red Snapper and Spicy Kebab.

[2] Peanut Butter Soup (you might see it as Groundnut Soup/Stew). This bowl was home to both meat and fish but I didn’t catch the types. The starch that accompanied it was emotuo, a pressed ground rice ball (some would call it a dumpling) that was perfect with the soup; I’ve seen emotuo only in connection with Ghanaian cuisine.

[3] Okra Stew with Banku. Banku is another West African staple starch. It’s most closely associated with Ghana and is distinguished by the fact that it’s one of the fermented varieties, in this case a blend of cassava and corn. It works like all West African doughy starches: pinch off a bit, dip it into the stew or soup and enjoy – really hands-on cuisine! Okra stew can vary from somewhat mucilaginous to extremely mucilaginous, but either way it’s relentless in that regard. It may be an acquired taste, or more accurately, an acquired texture, but give it a chance before you pass judgment; you might be surprised!

Note that there’s another location of this restaurant/catering facility at 1322A Gun Hill Road, also in the Bronx.
 
 

Blue Mountain Cuisine

Instagram Post 7/26/2018

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Don’t you love it when you head into a modest, unprepossessing place and get gobsmacked by great food? That’s what went down at Blue Mountain Cuisine, a Jamaican restaurant at 3701 Eastchester Road in the Bronx.

This virtuoso hearty breakfast was definitely something to sing about. It starred delicious stew kidney accompanied by bammy (cassava cakes) and plantain; the role of the bread in this performance was festival, sweet Jamaican fried dough that usually comes in a form less extended than what you see here. And the cornmeal porridge was more flavorful than any I’ve had in recent memory – so tasty that I chugged, rather than spooned, the last of it down: good to the last drop!
 
 

Mama G African Kitchen – Part 1

Instagram Post 7/24/2018

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Bronx food needs more love, so here’s a nod in that direction! Recently, a group of us who were craving 🇬🇭 Ghanaian food went to Mama G African Kitchen at 3650A White Plains Road for lunch and I’m so happy we did; the lighting didn’t do the chef’s skilled cooking justice, but fortunately my eyes were bigger than my camera so I enjoyed our meal immensely.

[1] Waakye – you may see variant spellings but the pronunciation is wah-chay (rhymes with watch-way) and it’s Ghana’s culinary claim to fame. Similar to West Indian rice and peas, it’s made with rice and black eyed peas or cowpeas; the characteristic reddish-purplish-brown color can come from dried red sorghum leaves, millet leaves, or even baking soda. It was paired with croaker plus spaghetti and gari (ground cassava). Shito, the sauce made from hot peppers, tomato, garlic, and fish, is on the side.

[2] Pinch off a bit of starchy eba (which is made from gari) with your fingers and gather up some stew – here either the accompanying spinach or egusi (ground melon seeds) – the best way to enjoy West African cuisine!

Note that there’s another location at 1322A Gun Hill Road.
 
 

Sing Kee – Beef Short Ribs in a Pumpkin

Instagram Post 7/19/2018

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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. 🎣