Pigs’ Ears and Processed Noodles

Instagram Post 10/4/2018

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Two yummy dishes from a quick trip to the food court downstairs in New World Mall, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, Queens.

[1] Pigs’ Ears from Sichuan Cuisine, Stall #9. You’re thinking, “Me? Eat pigs’ ears? In a pig’s eye!” But you’ve heard about them now so see what you think! Plenty of scallions and sesame seeds for contrast.

[2] Old Luo Yang Processed Noodle from Old Luoyang, Stall #4. The combination of slippery noodles, absorbent chewy chunks of gluten, and crispy bean sprouts in a sauce that’s spicy and a little sour is one of my favorites.
 
 

Purple Dough – Ube Leche Flan

Instagram Post 10/3/2018

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Another purple treat from Purple Dough, 38-05 69th St in Woodside, Queens. This time, the new bakery presents ube leche flan – dense flan lounging atop ube (purple yam) cake. Surprisingly, this beautiful dessert isn’t overly sweet, so a dollop of whipped cream wouldn’t hurt if you want to dress it up a little – if you can wait to get it home!
 
 

This is Babka? Really?

Instagram Post 10/2/2018

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When we hear the word “babka”, we usually imagine a freshly baked loaf of irresistible sweetness fashioned from yeast-dough twirled around cinnamon or chocolate filling, topped with a crumb streusel, a slice of which will be perched beside tomorrow morning’s coffee. Or at least I do. So if you wandered into Taste of Russia at 219 Brighton Beach Avenue in Brooklyn’s Little Odessa, you might be surprised to see that selfsame word (but in Russian) labeling this noodle and raisin pudding. I might have used the Yiddish phrase “lokshen kugel” (noodle pudding) to describe this Central European dish, but regardless of the sign (photo 2), it was immediately identifiable as something I needed to buy. Dense with eggs, milk, butter, and sugar and sporting a crispy, browned cap, this treat was delicious but fulfilled its role best as a desserty snack rather than a morning carbobomb. Definitely good eats and a potential treat along my Little Odessa food tour.
 
 

Doufu Hua

Instagram Post 10/1/2018

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If you fancy finding flowers in Flushing, you might flee to the florist where florae flourish at 135-26 Roosevelt Ave. But once there, you’d also serendipitously encounter a different sort of flower, doufu hua (豆腐花) – “tofu flower”. Soy Bean Chen Flower Shop is famous for their warm, fresh doufu hua or bean curd pudding. Slippery slabs of the Chinese snack were ladled up with a sweet ginger syrup on the side although a savory sauce is available as well. It’s so light and it goes down so easily that one of our food tour party who had claimed only moments before, “I couldn’t eat another bite,” ravenously polished it off!
 
 

Lagman House – Part 3

Instagram Post 9/27/2018

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This was my third visit to Lagman House, 2612 East 14th St in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, but who’s counting? If I dine somewhere this many times, rest assured that I liked it. It’s 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. You can check out some earlier posts from July 16 and August 27 if you’re so inclined, but meanwhile, here’s some of Round 3:

[1] Jin Momo. Steamed bread, a little like Chinese bao, but with a lot more character; surprisingly good!
[2] Bon Thon Soup. This unusual and delicious beef and vegetable soup features buoyant, gossamer bits of noodle dough floating within.
[3] Tsomian. The next step up from classic lamian, these long hand pulled noodles are stir-fried with beef and vegetables in a savory sauce.
[4] Manti. Fist-sized dumplings filled with beef and chives; impossible to resist.

I’ll do a complete roundup of everything I’ve enjoyed at Lagman House soon.
 
 

U Yuri Fergana

When I write about restaurants on Instagram, they’re usually brief takes accompanied by a photo or two. (You can see my feed right here on ethnojunkie.com, updated almost daily, by selecting the “Instagram” category from my home page – no signup required.) But folks sometimes ask for more extensive reviews and photos, so in response, here’s a comprehensive report on one of my favorites.



The warmth exuded by a family run business and the luxury of a splendidly appointed restaurant are not at odds at U Yuri Fergana. This mom&populence, if you will, was in evidence from the gracious service through the appetizing dishes we enjoyed during a recent lunchtime visit to their location in Rego Park, Queens.

Its name translates to “Yuri from Fergana”: our host Yuri Moshev and his wife and head chef Myra hail from Fergana, the capital of the eponymous region in eastern Uzbekistan. They and their son Ben have created a unique establishment that distinguishes itself from the multitude of neighborhood Uzbek restaurants in that they operate a livestock production facility in College Point, so you can be certain that the meat is fresh and of high quality; the restaurant is kosher in keeping with the dominant Bukharan Jewish culture in the neighborhood.

Here are a few of the satisfying dishes we tried. (Click any photo to view in glorious high resolution.)

Sautéed Eggplant Salad

A bright, sweet and sour mélange of sautéed veggies with eggplant in the spotlight; the perfect foil to the richly flavorful kebabs (see below).

Meat Salad

Although there was a pronounced sweetness to this dish, it was considerably different from and less sweet than the eggplant salad. Fresh, crispy and crunchy, the combination of flavors was even better than I had anticipated.

Peeking out from the side is Toki, baked into a parabola on the convex side of a wok and similar to matzo but a little less brittle; its tiny flecks of cumin were a welcome element.

Lagman Soup

Characterized by long, hand pulled noodles with a perfect chew, lagman soup is a fixture in this part of the world. It’s worth noting that the word “lagman” is a cognate of the Chinese “lo mein”, their geographical proximity providing the clue. This beefy, tomato and vegetable infused version was delicious.

Kebabs

What Uzbek meal would be complete without them? From left to right, ground lamb, lamb chop, liver, chicken, beef, and ground chicken. Usually, chunks of chicken are the also-ran in the company of other meats, but these were outstanding.

Leposhka (Homemade Bread) and French Fries (with dill and chopped garlic, of course!)

Gusinie Lapki (Goose Feet Cookies)

Not too sweet, these delicate cookies along with some tea provided the perfect finishing touch to our delightful meal.

Note that some large family-style items on the menu must be ordered in advance, so call ahead if there’s something on the menu that piques your interest.

U Yuri Fergana is located at 94-09 63rd Drive, Rego Park, Queens.


Note: This was a complimentary meal sponsored by the management of U Yuri Fergana. The opinions expressed in this post are uninfluenced and impartial.
 
 

Kashkar Cafe – Samsa, Two Ways

Instagram Post 9/30/2018

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While preparing for my ethnojunket through Little Odessa, I passed Kashkar Café, 1141 Brighton Beach Avenue in Brooklyn, and grabbed a few items to bring home. Kashkar serves the food of the Uyghur people, a primarily Muslim ethnic group who live on the Chinese/Russian border near Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan; as you’d expect, the fare is a blend of Chinese and Central Asian cuisines.

Samsa are baked (usually in a tandoor or clay oven), filled with a tasty lamb/onion mixture, crisp outside, moist inside, and often decorated with a few nigella seeds. On the left, a large, round one (triangular samsa are common too), one to an order. On the right, Samsa Parmuda, four smaller pieces to an order, same filling, but easier to divvy up on a food tour! The white bun in back is Yutaza, a plain, steamed multi-layer bread, a little like a Chinese bao but denser.

Photos of a dine-in experience to come soon.
 
 

Pecel Ndeso’s Indonesian Kue

Instagram Post 9/29/2018

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Here’s the first in a series from another visit to the monthly NY Indonesian Food Bazaar at St. James Episcopal Church, 84-07 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens. These are kue (diminutive Indonesian sweets/snacks) from Pecel Ndeso’s booth; the disk-shaped twosome are serabi solo. There are many regional variants on serabi; most are made with rice flour but some use wheat flour, and most call for coconut milk. Green almost always implies pandan flavor, while brown indicates palm sugar. The cutaway view reveals the puffy, airy interior.

One of my all-time favorite snacks is anything that involves sticky rice pressed and sweetened with coconut milk. The Indonesian fulfillment of this wish is wajik, which I posted about on 8/16. Usually diamond-shaped (wajik is the Indonesian word that describes a diamond or rhombus shape), this sweet, green blocky rendition is infused with pandan and contains bits of jackfruit, another weakness of mine.

More to come from the bazaar….
 
 

Chuan Tian Xia – Chengdu Dragon Handwriting

Instagram Post 9/26/2018

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These light dumplings came from recently opened Chuan Tian Xia at 5502 7th Ave in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. The combination of a little knowledge and more research leads me to think that menu item “Chengdu Dragon Reading Hands” (成都龙抄手) might be better translated as “Chengdu Dragon Handwriting” but that’s still not much help in determining their contents or the derivation of their fanciful name. Can anyone enlighten me?
 
 

Chuan Tian Xia – Fish Flavored Eggplant

Instagram Post 9/25/2018

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Fish Flavored Eggplant. Don’t be misled by the phrase “fish-flavored” – it neither contains nor tastes like fish; rather this delicious Sichuan yuxiang (魚香) sauce refers to a combination of ingredients, a little sweet and sour, a little spicy and salty, often used in preparing fish. New kid on the block in Sunset Park, Chuan Tian Xia at 5502 7th Ave, Brooklyn, did a nice job with this one.

Stay tuned; more to come….