Archive for the ‘Queens’ Category

"It’s Fried!"

March 12, 2008

Went to Elias Corner for Fish the other night- a reputable Greek seafood joint in Queens that Aya wrote about a few months back. It was awesome!

Aside from the soft, char-grilled octopus, the gooey garlic musselfest, and the plethora of grilled fishes we ordered (red snapper, salmon, the kickass monkfish), my favorite part of the meal was a little something our gregarious server plopped down on the table after our meal was over.


“This is on the house,” she said. Big smiles all around here.
“What is it??” I asked.
“It’s Fried!!!!” she exclaimed.

Best answer EVER! This plate consisted of beignet-like fried dough pieces, coated with a pint of honey. One word: orgasmic. It was sad when it all had to end.


Vestiges of our meal:
Red snapper- the head is the best part! David ate the eyeball. Then swallowed it. Brian freaked out.

Garlicy oozy mussels- very original.

I accidentally dropped a mussel into our carafe of white wine. How does one do that?? I finished it off anyway. No shame- it was fine. You figure that there’s wine IN the mussel dish, so why not the other way around?

Hyoe- we’re devastated you’re leaving the city, but happy we got to send you off with a good meal. You’ll be back though!

Elias Corner for Fish
24-02 31st St.
Astoria, NY11102
T: 718.932.1510

Afterthought: Andy just informed me that these fried donut pieces are called Loukoumades. Here’s the recipe. Yamahomo, get on it, pronto! These are heavenly!

Umamiventure #6: Jackson Diner

January 28, 2008

Trekked out to Jackson Heights on Saturday for our monthly Umamiventure- a food field trip that we take to cult-following foodie places all around the 5 boroughs (that the DOH wouldn’t necessarily recommend). After all the hoo-hawing about the Indian food at Jackson Diner, I thought that this would be a good opportunity to check out what all the hype is about.

Honestly, I was sorta skeptical about this choice, and even thought about changing it last minute– I heard so many mixed reactions from people! But since it’s such a famous destination spot, we figured we should all try it at least once. As my friend Radhika says, “Makes me giggle that the Indian restaurant with the most street cred in all the burrows is called ‘Jackson Diner’.” SO TRUE!!!

All in all, we had a great time. There were 14 of us, and even though I had only made a reservation for 8, they were really friendly and accommodated us in a smaller dining room upstairs (which was much better cause the downstairs area is really loud because of the high ceilings).

The lunch buffet is only $10, all you can eat, and they had all sorts of dishes: chicken tandoori/ makhani/ with chili sauce; goat curry; grilled veggies; pekoras; saag paneer; and even a man making dosas. Favorites around the table included the veggies, chicken makhani, chicken in chili sauce, pekoras, the saag, and the coconut rice dessert.

To be fair though, I would say the food was so-so– I’m a Indian food novice to say the least, but there wasn’t anything super spectacular about it, I didn’t think (Radhika agreed- she being my Indian food expert). People say that Jackson Diner isn’t what it used to be from 10 years ago, which may be true, I couldn’t say. This is why I normally don’t blog a place I haven’t been to at least twice though- it’s just not fair to rate the food on your first occasion. Radhika says that Saravanaas in the city is much better, so we need to try that pronto.

But for $18 after tax and tip for all that food and a Kingfisher beer, it was a fun day trip to Queens. After the meal, Mariana led us into the depths of Jackson Heights to an Argentinian bakery– they sold all sorts of Argentinian goods, and even bags of mate! Walking around the neighborhood (Betty Suarez born and raised), you really do feel like you’re in another place– makes you remember how great New York can be.

All photos by Christy Jones and Matt Myers.

Jackson Diner
37-47 74th Street

Jackson Heights, Queens

T: 718.672.1232

*PS- Umamiventures are open to everyone! I do post information about it under “UM News” or on our FACEBOOK page whenever they are coming up so don’t be shy and join us!

Past trips include:
WINTERMARKET – 12/07
Sripraphai Restaurant – 11/07
Taste of Jackson Heights – 10/07
Red Hook Ball Fields – 06/07
Ocean Jewel Restaurant – 06/07

Masitas in Jackson Heights!

January 24, 2008

Masitas are teeny-tiny Argentine pastries. I’ve been obsessed with them since always and photographing them in their natural habitat for the last three years, but I only learned recently that these miniaturized pastries are basically the same thing as petits-fours. But do not confuse them with dumb squares that look like wrapped presents!


You can find them at bakeries all over Buenos Aires, and also in Jackson Heights at La Nueva Bakery on 37th Ave. La Nueva may have a smaller assortment than your typical bakery, but the classics are all there, like this little cone of dulce de leche bathed in chocolate:


Or this coquito, cousin of the macaroon:


This one has dulce de leche between cake layers:


Here is a masita with a local twist–tiny carrot cake!


La Nueva Bakery
8502 37th Ave,
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

T: (718) 505-3700

Best Seafood in Queens

November 18, 2007

Friday was Astoria exploration day. After hitting P.S. 1 for a rooftop performance by Min Tanaka (which was more about the 4 or 5 photographers who were making so much noise throughout) Ryo guided us into her ‘hood. It was already nighttime dark at 6pm, and very chilly, so I was hugely relieved when we arrived at the unassuming restaurant Elias Corner.


I love how it says “for Fish.” I’d read up on the place on-line when Ryo mentioned this restaurant — she had wanted to go, because it smelled so good, and it was always packed, but always ended up at the Beer Garden down the block and never made it out.

When we arrived, we were the first ones in the dining area, but within 30 minutes the place was already packed. Upon entering, we passed by a huge glass case displaying the evening’s ingredients:

Fish, fish, shellfish and more fish. Dizzying!

There are no menus in the restaurant. You have to ask the waitress to tell you everything they’ve got for the day, or ask for something specific (and I assume they probably have it). We started out with the grilled octopus, fried calamari, small white fish fried, and chopped green salad.

The friendly waitress cut the octopus for us. SO moist and tender, absolutely delicious. There was an online review that complained that the octopus was rubbery, but not so! In fact it was so darned good we got another plate of it! Yummmmm


Both the calamari and the fish were beautifully fried. Light, crispy, not too greasy or batter-y. I am not the biggest calamari fan, but this was pretty nice. The little fish fried whole were AWESOME. We got our calcium for the day, for sure. Both dishes were nice and simple — served with a big lemon half. That was all you needed — a little lemony acid to cut through the oil.

The chopped green salad is worth mentioning as well. Dressed lightly, it also had dill, which added a lovely flavor to otherwise ordinary roughage.

For the main course, we decided to split two grilled fish — Mediterranean sea bass and red snapper. Again, there’s no mystery in the preparation here, just simple, straightforward, and beautifully done. Both fish were dressed in lemon halves and perfectly moist on the inside.


Mari preferred the sea bass, but by that point in the evening I was so content that I’d lost my faculty for discerning one great dish from another. It was all good. I didn’t take an “after” pic, but very little remained. Mari was sucking on the bass bones like a cat.

The only surprise was the bill. Since there is no menu, you don’t really know what you’re getting into. We got several carafes of white white, and maybe 6 Greek beers, and the total came out to $42 per person. A bit more expensive than we’d hoped for, but well worth the price and the trip out to Queens.

Elias Corner for Fish
24-02 31st St.
Astoria, NY11102
Phone (718) 932-1510

Umamiventure Report: Sripraphai Thai Restaurant

November 12, 2007

UmamiVenture Archives:
Taste of Jackson Heights – 10/07
Red Hook Ball Fields – 06/07
Ocean Jewel Restaurant – 06/07

Authentic Indonesian Food

October 5, 2007

I was taken to Queens last night. I haven’t left the island since I moved back, so it was quite an excursion.

Subway ride to Elmhurst, and Minangasli restaurant was right there. I went there with my friend Tonny, who is from Bali, and he insisted we had to go there to experience true Indonesian cuisine, so I followed..

The place looked like a ghetto Chinese take out, but it felt a lot more homey, only handful of tables.

I didn’t know what to order, so Tonny took care of it, and I still don’t know what I had. Fortunately I had my camera, and took pictures! I am becoming a good blogger.

This was a drink with soy and coconut milk, with some green objects. It didn’t taste much, something similar to tapioca?

A combination platter of: Rendang chunks of beef stewed in coconut milk and chili gravy (top left), Gudeg, raw jackfruit that cooked in a javanese traditional way (middle) and hard boiled egg in some orange sauce. I might be completely wrong with names of the dishes.

Beef was VERY good. Jackfruit tasted like artichoke, curry-ish flavor. Tonny ordered some fruity drink, which contained sweet jackfruit, and tasted completely different from raw version. It’s amazing how people use a fruit in cooking, and resulting in completely different texture, taste, etc.

He also picked up Ziploc bagged shrimp chips thing (again, don’t know the name, it was tasty as well).

Too bad they didn’t have Babi Gling (roasted whole pig).

Although I had to wait so long for subway back, and I was very annoyed by it, I will go back there. There were many other similar type restaurants, including Pho Bang near by.


Minangasli
86-10 Whitney Avenue (Macnish Street)
Elmhurst, Queens
(718) 429-8207

Taste of Jackson Heights

October 1, 2007

Taste of Jackson Heights was last weekend and some of us went on a little Umamiventure to Queens on Saturday afternoon. After attending “Taste of Times Square” and “Taste of the Village” in recent years, I have to say I like how they do it in the Heights! Very low key. Only about 8 restaurants had tables in the garden at a church, and tastings were only a dollar or 2. There was food from Argentina, Burma and India, to name a few. Here are a few pictures from our afternoon…



Mango Lassi


Burmese Banana Cake


Spanakopita


This Halal cart won the “Vendy Awards” this year


Steamed Colocasia Leaves
served with Dhokla (Indian Savory Yellow Cake)
and Samosas


To see the rest of our pictures, please click here.
photos by erin gleeson

Spicy Mina (NYC)

September 8, 2007

It was time for another Mets game with my friend Bill, so we knew to start the night off with a pre-game, ethnic meal in Queens last night. This time we chose to try Spicy Mina, a Bangledeshi restaurant.

WOW! It was really an experience- so flavorful with unique spices – somewhat similar to Indian food, but definitely had it’s own trademark on flavor.

For starters, we ordered the Samosa Chat (vegetable fritters served with hot tangy sauce, prepared with yogurt chat masala). For entrees we went with the Chicken Jhaal Fry (chicken cooked with onion and hot traditional spice) and the Lamb Vindiallo (lamb cooked in a hot and tangy curry sauce). We had the waiter choose a vegetable dish for us – I think this is what it was: Chana Masala with Puri (Chick peas prepared with Bangladeshi spices served with puri) – whatever the correct name, it was like a chick pea risotto. But wait, there’s more — we also ordered the Onion Kulcha, which is nan stuffed with seasoned green onion. What a meal, I wish my words did it justice. The dishes did not come out five minutes after ordering, you could tell they were cooked to order. We finished it off with their specialty dessert – rice pudding. We split an order, which came out to be about 3-4 spoonfuls each, which was just enough sweetness to top of the incredible meal.

I was so engrossed in our special meal, that I forgot to take photos (I’m sorry!), but I did remember to take a photo of this one piece of “artwork” that was hanging behind me.

Spicy Mina is so easy to get to from Manhattan — the R or the V will take you right to the corner where the restaurant is located (65th Street stop). I got there in 20 minutes by taking the R from 59th and Lexington.

Sidenote: there were these colorful green chili peppers in the chicken dish. Bill insisted that it was a “clean hot”, so I took a small bite and thought I could handle it. I nodded, told him he was right, but then a few seconds later I broke out into a sweat and almost thought I was going to cry. Maybe there was smoke coming out of my ears, like in the cartoons. It took a good five minutes to recover. So eat at your own risk!!

Spicy Mina
6423 Broadway
Flushing, NY 11377
(718) 205-2340

This Just Can’t Be Summer Love

August 28, 2007

Summer’s over for the both of us
That doesn’t mean we should give up on love
You’re the one I’ve been thinking of
And I knew the day I met you you’d be the ooooooone…
– Justin Timberlake

Ok, so it’s a bit premature to say that summer is over, but here’s a post to remind you that the end is near. Very very near. So quick, go to the beach in this final week of summer, at Justin’s yearning urgings, when we can still wear white, while we can still work on evening out that tan for our own vain pleasures, before our bodies are enveloped in bleh color tweeds and heavy, unflattering wool coats.

Go to Rockaway Beach, to see where I fell in love this summer.

Not with a boy, nor even a girl. But with this little seaside shack humbly called the Wharf, that is quietly nestled on the water behind a Duane Reade and a gas station–a place that has not been Yelped, Citysearched, nor has a website, hence it does not exist (right?).

I fell in love with their patio overlooking the bay, with views of the Verazzano Bridge to the left, and the Manhattan skyline in a distance, far, far away. Head over heels for their perfectly plump and juicy shrimps and steamed clams. In love with their low prices that would make any Manhattan seafood addict swoon with disbelief and then, delight.

I am in love, and the Wharf is THE ONE.

Aya took me here a month ago, who in turn had found out about it from a local a few years ago (sorry Aya, but I can’t not talk about this place- like I said, it’s L-O-V-E, and I’m shouting it from the rooftops). I took Alda there last week. And by golly, let me tell you that Alda, too, is in love. Just look at these pics for a glimpse into what I am blabbering about (please excuse that weird sci-fi looking dot in the pictures- something got into my lens I think, which is bad news):

Here it is– on the corner of Beach 116 Street and Rockaway Beach Blvd., is a Duane Reade and a Getty gas station. No sign of any restaurant right? There can’t possibly be a little seafood haven back there, could there??? Have a little faith my friends…

… Cause when you walk through the gas station, there it is! The Wharf! Uh, still no sign though.

Walk through to the back of the building et voila! It’s seriously paradise.

In the distance, the Verazzano Bridge…

… and there it is, the sticky hot wonderland we call home, but boy, are we ever delighted that we’re not there right now.

Alright, the food. Ah, look at these gorgeous, plump, fresh, perfectly boiled shrimp– they call it the “bar shrimp”.

You get a dozen– manically peel em with your paws, and dip them in their brilliant housemade cocktail sauce that packs the horseradish like fairy dust slicing through your nose.

The “grilled clams” are a must. These chewy little morsels are laid out in all their godly glory, and half the fun is dunking them into the conspicuous bowl of juice that they were just cooked in. It tastes of the sea, and nothing more. We asked the server what we should do with it, to which she replied, “anything you want”. Do as Aya does and drink up!

Mmmmm, the fried scallops. A wonderful dish. Look at how beautiful this is all laid out! This was Alda’s favorite. Here’s a play by play:

The scallops were super fresh, and plump, never greasy from the frying. They tasted a bit minerally, as scallops often do, but definitely very satisfying. The best part is that they are HUGE.

The onion rings were a highlight of the meal for me. Thick slabs of onion perfectly battered, fried to a crisp, but never burned. An ace in the hole.

The broccoli too, steamed to a crisp- never soggy grossness. The broccoli and onion rings may just be sides, but it’s these little fine-tuned details that really convinces me that this is indeed ONE. The real deal. For real.

And when it’s all over, after we’ve licked the cocktail and tarter sauces from their respective containers, the clam juice from the bowl, and the bread crumbs from the plate, we say OMMMMMMMMM. Three times.

I would also recommend the french onion soup. The fish and chips weren’t great. For all you raw clam junkies, they have clams on the half shell, which I haven’t tried. YET.

How exactly do you get to this place, you ask? It’s SO easy! Take a Far Rockaway bound A train to Broad Channel. Get off, and wait and transfer onto the Shuttle, and take it to the very last stop, which is Beach 116 Street. When you exit the station, the beach will be to your left, and the Wharf is to your right. The beach is really nice too, the waves are pretty rough, but the water is warm enough to dive in, and the beach goes on for miles and miles.

Seriously people, this can just be our secret- our Umami Mart secret, cause no one in the city knows about the Wharf, and it’s like that last sacred place there is in this god foresaken city where every place is bloggable (she says as she blogs) and all your secret haunts have been overtaken by annoying hipsters that have taken over all the 5 boroughs (she says as she blogs from the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Crown Heights) and are bringing their crying babies with them!!!

So shhhhh… hurry and go before summer is really finally over! You’ll see that you will fall in love with it too.

I can’t wait to fall in love with you
You can’t wait to fall in love with me
This just can’t be summer love, you’ll see
This just can’t be summer love (L-O-V-E)

PS- I’m also in love with Justin. But that’s not a secret either. Hey, speaking of Justin, has anyone been to his new bbq place, Southern Hospitality?

Wharf
416 Beach 116th St
Far Rockaway, NY 11694
(718) 474-8807

Famous Fat Dave

June 17, 2007

If a cabbie asks where you eat in your neighborhood before dropping you off, don’t hesitate, just answer. It might be “Famous Fat Dave.”

Dave Freedenburg gives culinary tours of all five boroughs in a private car or, for a bit more money, his yellow cab! The tours start at $100 an hour (four-hour minimum) regardless of the number of eaters and includes food, waters, gas, and parking tickets. There are various themed tours, such as the “Fat Elvis” (which is more than eight hours long and stops in thirteen neighborhoods) and the “Midnight Munchies” (which could start as late as 2 A.M.), or you can create a customized tour with Dave.

In a recent NPR story, the journalist was “drunk” on the fried chicken they picked up at Charles’s Southern Style Kitchen in West Harlem, and was licking the shells of jerk shrimp from the Bronx’s Feeding Tree. As I listened, I wondered if I could actually eat that much food for over four hours. No worries, though. You don’t eat full meals at every stop, instead you get “generous tastes”, so by the end, you are definitely full, but not stuffed.

Sounds like the perfect birthday present for any foodie!

Listen to the NPR story on Dave’s tours.

Read his blog.

And check out a list of some of his favorites spots in NYC:

Brooklyn:

Ferdinando’s: 151 Union St. Old school Sicilian foccaciaria that serves arrancini just like they do in the old country.

Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie: 204 Van Dyke St. Pier 41, Red Hook. Civil War-era warehouse on the Red Hook waterfront with amazing views and delicious key lime pies.

Manhattan:

No 28 Carmine: 28 Carmine St. Within a couple blocks of Joe’s Pizza, John’s Pizza, Bleecker St. Pizza, DeMarco Pizza and Abitino Pizza is No. 28, which blows them all out of the water for authentic Napoli pizza margherita.

Russ and Daughters: 179 E. Houston St. The greatest place on earth for lox, chopped liver, tuna salad, cream cheese, and a nice whitefish.

Queens:

5 Star Punjabi: 13-15 43rd Ave. Long Island City Long Island City is the main hub for yellow cab garages, and this restaurant keeps their bellies full of samoza late into the night.

Ali’s Kebab Cafe: 25-12 Steinway St. at 25th Ave., Astoria Egyptian food like you’ve never tasted, cooked right in front of you by Ali.

The Bronx:

Sam’s: 596 Grand Concourse Get perfect BBQ chicken before the Yankees game, or go afterward for fried shrimp, chicken wings and karaoke.

El Valle: 555 Grand Concourse No. 149 Rice and beans, maduros, roasted chicken. The Boogie Down Bronx. Nothing could be finer.

Staten Island:

Denino’s Pizzeria Tavern: 524 Port Richmond Ave. Order anything involving mozzarella. The pizza is the classic Staten Island pie, and the mozzarella sticks are the stuff of legend.