Posted by: Orlick | December 26, 2010

Jeff, What do you do for a living??

Lots of times people say to me: Jeff, What do you do for a living?? Is it related to foodstuff? I’ve kept it a secret for a while because I really don’t like to confuse my professional life with my food life, but so people don’t ask me anymore, I want to let it out once and for all what it is that I do.

When they first started making bike lanes, it was before this whole safety craze took hold of America. They stenciled in characters bicycles without naked heads. Apparently, it’s not politically correct anymore, so the DOT ordered every bike lane figure have a helmet on the cartoon. I won a government bid a while ago to put helmets on each drawing and I’ve been doing it for the past 3 years.

bike lane (3)

Becomes:

bike w helmet (2)

It allows me to explore the city at my leisure and find new restaurants, so that’s good.

So now you know.

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Posted by: Orlick | December 22, 2010

Best New Ten in Twenty Ten

2010 has been an interesting year in the food scene. Actually they all are. As you probably know, I concentrate my travels on Queens and pizza. These are the places which opened this year that made an impact in the world of Jeffrey Tastes.

10. Steinway goes Madness – Lots of new Egyptian and other Middle Eastern restaurants including Duzan (2411 Steinway) and El Souk (25-85 Steinway St). Walk north of 28th Avenue and you’ll discover.

9. Fiesta Grill (6912 Roosevelt Ave.) – They threw up the bomb that is Filipino lunch specials in Woodside. It was their 5.95 lunch special that gave next door Fritzie’s a run for their money. Add in the old standby Krystal’s 7 and change buffet and now Renee’s is doing it too.
fiesta grill

8. Spawn of Joe & Pats: Pier 76 (76 Bay St) – The more accessible version of the JP pie a few hundred feet from port. And for those of you who don’t even want to take the ferry, there’s Rubirosa (235 Mulberry St).
pier 76 (12)

6. Paulie Gee’s (60 Greenpoint Ave, Greenpoint) – It’s hard to believe Paulie Gee’s started in 2010, but yes, they’re still new. And while I wouldn’t say their existence is news, I’m sure others will. The place is beautiful and so are the pizzas.

5. Best Pizza (33 Havemeyer, Williamsburg)- Just opening their doors months ago, this new pie just might live up to it’s name (with the aid of an oven that operated before pizza even existed in the United States).
best pizza (4)

4. Pizza by Cer Te (132 E 56th St, New York)- This flew under the radar. The first talking point is their commitment to green living and the herbs growing off the wall, but the best talking point is how excellent their pizza is.
cer te (9)

3. Ambala Thai (Corner of 72nd St & 37th Ave, Jackson Heights) – Everyone’s wants to claim the next Sripraphai, but she just wants to cook like home. Look for their breakout year in 2011 when they expand to a full restaurant.
ambala (5)

2. Playground Thai (71-30 Roosevelt Ave) – The original owner of Zabb was so brash to create his own place right next to the guys he sold it to. He’s made a small restaurant existing over his karaoke bar downstairs. Because the selection of songs in English are so limited, an American will benefit from the fact that EVERYONE in the bar knows the words to their song, no matter what country the were born in.

1. M. Wells (21-17 49th Ave, LIC) – It’s like they didn’t create M. Wells to be anything, they created it and It Is. From the tale of a beautiful woman luring her French suitor to working-class Queens, to it’s real food. I don’t have favorites, but if I did…
m wells LIC (7)

Posted by: Orlick | December 19, 2010

Real Pizza of New York iPhone app peek: Pizza by Cer Te

This is a sample new entry from my Real Pizza of New York iPhone app. This one in particular was a great find that everyone should give a shot. I try to keep the posts to around 3 paragraphs, but I just had so much to say here!

The pictures are only viewed when you click the slideshow on the app, so I provided a link to a slideshow to mimic the experience.

cer te (12)
View Slideshow

The Utopian Future of Pizza

The first thing you will hear about Pizza by Cer té is their sustainability and commitment to green living. They have LEED Gold certification, which is the second highest level of environmental friendship as decreed by the U.S. Green Building Council, they collect rainwater off the roof, get their ingredients (via a hybrid or bicycle) from the Union Square Farmers’ Market, and when in season, their herbs grow right off the walls.

But for me, it’s all distraction. I’m the first person to eat in sin and I usually lose my appetite over words like “sustainability” and other moral modifiers, but I love the pizza here. It’s like they are green not because it’s marketable, but because it’s efficient. Their menus, take-out boxes, and utensils all are 100% recycled and the seeds from the tomatoes are made into dressing. Nearly every by-product is used for something else here.

There is a lot to say about PaCT, but do not distract yourself from the reason you’re scouring this app: It’s great pizza.

The slices are thin, with a crisp, chewy, airy end-crust. It will probably break apart, and it may also make your jaw tire, but that’s just a testament to the flour. You’ll get a feeling in your mouth you’ll be savoring for hours to come. It makes you turn away that post-meal peppermint.

This is a slice for the sauce lover though. It’s chunky, bright, and fruity. If you can’t tell it was made just feet away, you can see it happening live when you look behind the counters.

The Farmer’s slice is funky and sweet with real, irregular corn. Usually a potato slice will be overwhelmed by the bland interruption going from cheese to potato to crust, but here the layer is just small enough to welcome the wetness of the onions and the sweetness of the corn.

The intriguing pizza options are not limited to vegetarian. Besides the beautiful Bianco and Farmer’s slices, there are the sausage-based Cauliflower Merguez and Saw-Seech pies, along with the Godfather and Italian Wedding square slices (called Bakers) among others.

Non-pizza includes homemade pasta, great looking sandwiches and other entrees. Get your boss to buy lunch here weekly.

There are just 2 counters for dining-in, so you will probably have to get it to-go. That’s too bad because for those that sit in, you have the shaker choices of jalepeno oil, roasted garlic oil, sea salt and Danger sauce to dress up your slice.

It’s wishful thinking that this is the future of pizza, but more likely it’s only the utopia.

Opened: 2010
Distinction: Nothing comes from a can. Local, sustainable. Son of Cer té. Rainwater filtration system.

For more on their eco-friendly habitat, see this blog post from Have You Ever Picked a Carrot.

Address: 132 East 56th St, New York, NY 10022 – MAP
Website
Phone: 212-813-2020
Price: $
Price Details: $2.75 margherita slice. $3.50 specialty slices.
Hours: M-F 8am-9pm. Sat 11am-8pm. Closed Sunday.

Categories: By-The-Slice, Fresh in 2010, Fresh Picks, Manhattan Pizza Tour, New Wave, Unique New York

Posted by: Orlick | December 11, 2010

Trick or Eat Wrap!

Trick or Eat – Halloween 2010 – Broadway, Elmhurst


above photo courtesy Rich W.

This event went better than I could ever have asked for. First of all, the weather was perfect. The rainmakers are definitely on my side.

I was initially concerned about restaurants not being on board the day of the event (even though we agreed beforehand), but they all ended up being gung-ho when push came to shove. What I was trying to do was be effective, not just an event where we pat ourselves on the back. I believe that for some places this could be a great diving board and they will get more business from it. I can’t think of anything that would translate to customers better than a tasting tour like this.

125 people came. While I do think this is a little low, it was actually the prime amount. Any more and it would have overloaded the restaurants.

If there was a winner, it would clearly be Cafe Noodle. For each group of 10 or so, they had them sit at a table and served them a few dishes from their menu like gyoza (dumplings), spicy lamb stir fry, mango chicken and many others. Nearly every person I spoke to said Cafe Noodle was the best stop on the tour. Cilantro showed well too. They gave everyone a taco and a small taste of a drink like horchata. These are wo of the places I’ve been trying to spread the word about since they’ve opened. By giving a taste to this many people, hopefully word will spread further.
El CilantroTacos at El Cilantro
above pictures of Cilantro courtesy Veronica Chan



Above pictures of Cilantro courtesy Jim Uschock

This was definitely an exercise for me to unite a community that is generally thought of as unattainable. Most owners only opened up when I showed up with my ambassadors who are speakers of their languages like Thai, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Indonesian and Cantonese – It was the essential tool for making it happen. Scouting this neighborhood so much helped me gain much more knowledge about each food business along Broadway, and I made some friends and enemies along the way. Also, I talked to many organizations and found out who can help me and who can’t in the future. Most couldn’t do anything for this neighborhood, but for future projects, I’m sure they will be a big help (Big shoutout to Community Board 3, whut whut!). Just about the only organization that did help was the Asian American Journalists Association.



above pictures of La Fusta courtesy Jim Uschock

Argentinian steakhouse La Fusta also showed well with their mini empanadas and 2nd generation jovial owner.
Empanada (La Fusta)
above photo of La Fusta courtesy Veronica Chan



above photos of Sweet Yummy House courtesy Jim Uschock

Sweet Yummy House did not hold back. They served tripe, pickled cabbage, and boiled peanuts. I respect them for not giving in to American tastes. Maybe they just aren’t aware. I am definitely coming back here with friends.



above photos of My Thai courtesy Jim Uschock

My Thai, however, I was concerned they were doing pad thai to pander to American tastes. Which they may have been, but it was pretty damn good pad thai and the noodles themselves were ultimately satisfying.



above photos of Elmhurst Mex courtesy Jim Uschock

Elmhurst Mex was one of the most surprising standouts of the group. For many, they gave fresh apple cider/juice. I heard rave reviews all around.

Totoro likes cupcakes

Fay Da gave out mini cupcakes, which I got great reviews from too.


above photo of Fay Da courtesy Rich W.

Actually, most people liked everything on the tour. After the first hour of places taking a bit to warm up, things went extremely smoothly with a better than expected output.

Ploy Thai, accelerating lately at the speed of sound up the Thai ladder probably gained a few new fans. I’m sure many of the guests knew the name, but they benefited by just walking in the doors for the first time and becoming comfortable with being there. Now they can come back with confidence.


above photo of Boon Chu courtesy Jim Uschock

Boon Chu gave some of Randy’s Homemade ice cream. It was the middle of fall and they gave whole cones. Luckily it was a beautiful day outside and people were glad to have the ice cream. I only hope the people also picked up a menu, because inside is one of the best Thai restaurants in Queens – I’m serious.


above photo of Java Village courtesy Talisa Chang

Java Village gave samples from their big steam table selection. They just unveiled a new menu including lunch sets to go along with their Indonesian fare. This was good to show off their impressive collection of food like kale in cocunut curry and beef randang. See a sampling of their menu at their site. We are very lucky to have them in Elmhurst, I hope more people come specifically for their food.

Sweet Yummy HouseBrian drinking milk tea with a tapioca noodle
Scallion pancaaaakeJuice
Above photos clockwise of Sweet Yummy, Quickly, Elmhurst Mex and Hot Pot courtesy Veronica Chan



Above photos of Hot Pot courtesy Jim Uschock

Hot Pot served scallion pancakes. This is the new restaurant venture from the owners of the legendary Lao Bei Fang. I hope they do well. At least people were able to come in and check it out. They might have to work on their business model though. They are so skilled, but I am not sure if hot pot will drive people in the way they should be.

Bella pizza
above picture of a Bella Pizza piece courtesy Jim Uschock

Bella Pizza and Gino’s – after a late start – did well. Elmhurst has surprisingly great pizza. I think it has something to do with the water lines below Broadway. Gino’s is even on my Real Pizza of New York iPhone app.



above pictures of Yi Mei Bakery courtesy Jim Uschock

Yi Mei Bakery sponge cake and buns – tasted like challah.



pics of Coco Malaysian/Thai courtesy Jim U.

Coco Malaysian – I was surprised by how many people told me how good their satay was.


above photo of Quickly courtesy Rich W.

Quickly gave samples of their tea, but instead of the Ambassador to America tapioca balls, it was noodles in the tea! Something many of the guests were not used to. It showed the adventure of coming to Elmhurst.
\

above photos of Carniceria Colombia courtesy Jim Uschock

Carniceria Colombia gave out chicharron until they closed at 4pm . I hope many people got a look at their great selection of Colombian cuts and will return soon.

Cute chick
above photo courtesy Veronica Chan



above photos of Dunkin Donuts courtesy Jim Uschock
Dunkin Donuts even gave some munchkins to our adult-kids

I hope people expanded their palates and their restaurant row. I hope they tell their friends and they will inspire more people to come to the area I like to call The Edible Mile. Thank you everyone who helped, supported, and especially to those that came.

All of these restaurants can be found along Broadway from Queens Boulevard to the Elmhurst Hospital in Elmhurst. Use google by typing in their name in quotes followed by Elmhurst to find out more information.

Jeffrey Tastes on Yelp – Spurred as a reaction to this event

Thanks to Veronica Chan, Jim Uschock, Rich W., and Talisa Chang for pictures.

BINGO-SHEET-web

Posted by: Orlick | November 4, 2010

Ambala Thai – NYC Thai steam table

Ambala Sweet & Bakery Chat House
Corner of 72nd and 37th
Jackson Heights, Queens

This is progress.

It’s nothing you’d take transportation for, but for anyone within walking distance it’s a branch of basil fallen from heaven. The floor plan is 80 percent supermarket with the remainder a small take-out shed. Inside the prepared food area, there is one table and 4 chairs, one steam table and one deli-style glass fridge that takes up half the room. It’s the first casual take-out of Thai food I’ve seen like this. I love it.

These dishes are complex. This isn’t the type of food that can typically be prepared in the lapse between your order and its plating. It’s homestyle, even occasionally produced in the chef’s own home if the ingredients can’t be found in the other side of the building. It’s the closest thing to the food served at the Thai temple that I’ve experienced.

ambala thai (7)

The woman that serves you is also the chef. Lovely, caring and from Bangkok. She’s a little hard to understand and I don’t know the names of most Thai dishes by sight, so I won’t be able to tell you what I had other than pad thai, green curry, massaman and red curry; but I do have pictures….

ambala (3)

ambala (6)

ambala thai (4)

ambala thai (2)

ambala thai (3)

ambala thai (6)

The spice quotient varies, so this would make great Thai for a beginner. Some options are spicy though, which when you point to it she will warn you in a competitive way, because, as opposed to most Thai in the area, about half of the curries are water based. The selections are surprisingly diverse, with about 15 dishes in rotation. I cannot find a pattern, though she uses chicken, tofu, pumpkin and fish as protein elements (they are halal). All of these are swimming in the curries, absorbing the flavors before you enter. And for an appetizer, the vegetarian samosas are buttery and have a definite kick. Probably the kickiest thing on the menu. These are excellent.

If you feel inspired to cook, you can visit the market next door. Inside are all the spices you may need to create these dishes. I am sure the chef would love to help you if you asked her how you can make your own. You’d just have to walk outside to enter the the market, while she’d go through her own private doorway.

This is also the cheapest lunch in the area. $4.50 for three items and rice. 3 samosas for $1. This is how we eat like Queens. I’ve been eating here so much in the past month that I am concerned I might tire of it. Sorry Fiesta Grill, sorry Ayada, sorry taco trucks. I got a new best friend.

ambala (8)

ambala (7)

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They cover all their bases with the signage

Posted by: Orlick | November 3, 2010

Lotus of Siam NY, First Look

Here’s an early taste of the waiting-to-open Lotus of Siam New York (24 Fifth Ave). This is the second location of the legendary Las Vegas Thai restaurant created by Chef Saipin Chutima.

Chef Saipin Chutima

Lotus of Siam’s claim to fame is that it’s original location was named “The single best Thai restaurant in North America” 10 years ago by Jonathan Gold. A lot of has happened since then, so what’s a Gold star worth today?

They are taking over the former Cru space; keeping their wine chops and warm earth-toned decor while adding their own bistro-inspired wicker chairs. Plates on the table show mostly white with a pupil of tastes, as the progression of a meal is served one place setting at a time – a luxury of indulgence. And the bathrooms make me nervous. The open-air depository is at least 6 feet from the door, which makes you susceptible to being infamously exposed were someone to open the it uncouthly, perchance you forgot to lock it. If there are not stories already, there will be.

This is new for New York. It’s what upscale would nearly be in Thailand. Refreshingly, we aren’t being falsified by upscale lighting and a stiff waitstaff. This is the first Thai place I know of to be considered upscale for the its chef and sommelier.

And the view of the kitchen is the most dynamite part about LoSNY. The motion detector doors, fluidly in and out. And the striking blue and silvers of the machinery. The chefs’ faces are lit up around their stations – I wonder if it’s for their attention to the plates or our attention to them.

Kitchen

Descriptions from their website. Photography from Veronica Chan.
Tuna Koi Soy
TUNA KOI SOY (Raw Tuna – Issan Style) – Minced beef with fresh herb, fresh and dry chili rice powder, seasoned sauce, lime juice, served raw.

Nam Kao Tod
NAM KAO TOD – Crispy rice mixed with minced sour sausage, green onion, fresh chili, ginger, peanuts, and lime juice.

Tod Mun Plar
TOD MUN PLAR – One of Bangkok’s favorite appetizers. Deep fried fish-cake mixed with curry paste, served with cucumber salad with chopped peanuts.

Mango salad with toasted coconut and shrimp
MANGO SALAD with toasted coconut and shrimp

Spicy Chicken Wings
SPICY CHICKEN WINGS – Chicken wings deep fried until crispy then sautéed with chili, garlic sauce, and topped with crispy mint leaves.

Tum Makhuea
Tum Makhuea – A popular Northern dip made with eggplant, roasted shallots, roasted garlic, and fresh chilies.

Tom Kha Hed
TOM KHA HED – spicy coconut milk soup with oyster, maitake and shimeji mushrooms

Scallop Krathiam Prik Tahi
SCALLOP KRATHIAM PRIK TAHI – Seared sea scallop with a garlic & cilantro pepper sauce

Drunken Noodles with Soft Shell Crab
DRUNKEN NOODLE SOFT SHELL CRAB – Deep fried soft shell crab with homemade fresh chili and Thai basil. Serve on the top of pan fried flat rice noodle.

Prik Khing Koong
PRIK KHING KOONG – Prawns in spicy red chili paste and green beans.

Phak Kana Fai Daeng
PHAK KANA FAI DAENG – stir fried chinese broccoli

Cool rice container
RICE container

Sea Bass with Ginger
SEA BASS with GINGER – Steamed Sea Bass topped with our special brown sauce and ginger. Serve on the top of steamed vegetable.

Larb
NORTHERN LARB – Completely different from the Issan larb in taste, this northern style larb (ground pork) is cooked with Northern Thai spices and no lime juice, garnished with fresh herbs and vegetables.

Thai custard on sticky rice with coconut milk
THAI CUSTARD on sticky rice with coconut milk

On my visit this Saturday, we were used as an exercise for the kitchen to get up to prime performance speed. We had a set menu as displayed above, paid for by the house account. Highlights were the sauce on the sea bass, the tom kha hed (spicy coconut milk mushroom soup), and the impeccable cooking of the seafood.

Unfortunately the sauces didn’t always jive with me because of a heat imbalance. This was my first time at their brand, and this location’s typical customer is Manhattan for the masses – something I am not used to dealing with – so getting the heat correct for my taste buds was difficult. It was only by the coconut custard sticky rice dessert that I started to get a handle on their steps towards petpet, but I’m not even sure they were pushing out the heat levels consistently anyhow.

A customer at Lotus would benefit from becoming a regular, where you can get what you expect confidently. Unfortunately for me, being a regular would equal another rent to pay. Each dish seems to be expected in the teens to 20s.

It’s hard not to compare it to Elmhurst, but it’s really unlike any other Thai food in New York. With the addition of Ambala, a casual steam table take-out place (to be written about soon), and LoSNY, the Thai landscape is definitely broadening for New York. It’s a very good thing.

Posted by: Orlick | October 29, 2010

Trick or Eat Strategy

What’s gonna happen on Sunday??

If you’re taking the train, you’ll get out of the subway at Elmhurst Ave (EMR) and you’ll probably see me at the park on the corner of 45th Ave and Broadway. Come with your group and Mr. Hamilton and I will give you and your friends a gameboard which entitles you to samples at all of the participating restaurants. If you are coming by your lonesome, just stick around and join a group – it’s cool.

This is not a tour, it’s like an open house/tasting festival/trick or treat. Elmhurst will be crazy busy with trick or treaters during our route. There are some businesses not participating in our Trick or Eat – but if you are dressed up, you can get a good look at them and have a regular piece of candy by trick or treating them.

Elmhurst is unique. Home to the best Thai, a strip of Fujianese late-night places, Indonesian, Malaysian, Chinese, great pizza, tacos, Argentine and more. The percentage of restaurants in the Edible Mile from Baxter to Queens Boulevard is remarkable. It’s not Chinatown. And it’s not Steinway. It’s not the Village. It’s not Bedford. It’s only Elmhurst Broadway.

This is meant to be an open house for the great restaurants of Elmhurst. If you like what you see and taste, pick up a menu and come back next week.

Which Eats you can expect:
Cafe Noodle – 8329 Bway
Sweet Yummy House – 8313 Bway
Yi Mei bakery – 8124 Broadway *1-3pm
Lao Bei Fang’s Hot Pot – 8305 Broadway
La Fusta – 8032 Baxter
Boon Chu – 83-18 Bway
Coco – 82-69 Broadway
Dunkin Donuts – 8121 Broadway
Ploy Thai – 8140 Bway
Java Village – 8610 Justice Ave
Quickly – 8306 Bway
Carniceria Colombia – 8408 Broadway
Elmhurst Mex Grocery – 8003 Broadway
Gino’s – 8635 Bway *limited
My Thai – 83-47 Dongan
El Cilantro – 81-10 Bway
Bella Pizza – 8130 Bway *limited
Fay Da – 8612 Justice
Post Time – 8634 Broadway (Afterparty in the beer garden, no specials booo)

carniceria colombia

la fusta

elmhurst grocery

yi mei

quickly

Posted by: Orlick | October 26, 2010

El Cilantro – Trick or Eat Run-up

El Cilantro (81-10 Broadway) was one of the top 3 places I thought would benefit from Trick or Eat the most. They are new and they are different on the inside.

el cilantro

Every time I go in there, they have something new and exciting. Last week, I came in at 1am, and that a stew of chicharron and cactus, which was put over rice in the taco. This place has the most depth of taco selections I can recall.

My Yelp review

They’re 24 hours too.

They will be interesting at Trick or Eat. Get your game board and check them off right after Ploy Thai.

Posted by: Orlick | October 24, 2010

Gino’s Pizza – Trick or Eat Run-up

Did you know I made the Real Pizza of New York iPhone app? It’s the best way to find a great slice no matter where you are in NYC. See it on iTunes

One of the best pizzas in New York City is right in Elmhurst (2 of them are actually).

Here’s a sample from the iPhone app:
ginos elmhurst (7)

ginos elmhurst (2)ginos elmhurst (4)

Gino’s Pizza (Elmhurst)
Great pie from the pan

Among pizzaphiles, there’s always the age old question: Which makes the best pizza? Is it a coal? Is it wood? Is it a rotating oven? The answer has been under our nose the entire time. The best pies come from brick. Brick walls.

The luscious Sicilian slices; It does not get much better than this. Great mini pan pies. As a matter of fact, every pizza here created in a pan comes out luscious. They all have this sweet, buttery, thick crust. Cheesy and wet on top. Even the heavy garlic knots and pepperoni rolls are great. Those pies rotated by hand, however, are less recommended.

It’s always been the brick walls. There’s something about the warm in the winter, cold in the summer brick leaning against your skin as you collapse into a booth. There’s something about the uniqueness of every brick and graying mortar that hugs it. There’s something about the way the smells of history reside against the walls.

It’s Bricks. Gino’s: excellent pizza for Queens, great pizza for all mankind.

Opened: 1968
Distinction: White brick facade. Old school Queens.

Address: 8635 Broadway, Elmhurst, NY
Phone: (718) 672-8515
Price: $
Categories: Queens, Old School, Square

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There will be samples of their Sicilian slice offered at Trick or Eat. But go quick – they may run out!

Posted by: Orlick | October 22, 2010

Yi Mei Bakery – Trick or Eat Run-up

When you come on Trick or Eat, look for the restaurants with the Trick or Eat logo in the window. You’ll know they are IN for the event. Otherwise, if you are dressed up, you can probably get away with trick or treating the other places with the general public down the avenue. Trick or Treating is really big in Elmhurst.

And that’s one of the biggest challenges. We’re competing with the huge amount of kids that the businesses are going to be giving out candy to. To assuage that challenge, we’re going to have volunteers to help the businesses. Do you want to be a 2-hour volunteer for the event? Flag me down with a comment or email.

Another challenge is the language barrier. And Elmhurst is basically the most uncharted territory as far as community involvement. The Thai restaurants are mostly gung-ho, but the others are more difficult. Either way, we’re not stopping

One of the latest places to be in is Yei Mei bakery. Just getting to the owner is basically impossible. After being cut off by the barrier of 4 young Asian girls giggling (not the fantasy is sounds like), the owner/baker with his caked smock runs out and we attack him. He was reluctant because of the economy, but that’s exactly why he should do it, I said. My Mandarin ambassador talked with him for about 8 minutes before aside she said to me, “He’s In.” We rushed to give him the window flyer and leave before he could reconsider.

He’s going to be cutting up cakes and breads for sampling from 1-3pm. Get there early if you want a slice.

Yi Mei Bakery, 81-26 Broadway

yi mei

Invite your friends on Facebook to Trick or Eat.
The bigger your group, the more efficient you will be.

Posted by: Orlick | October 20, 2010

Ploy Thai – Trick or Eat

Ploy Thai has (81-40 Broadway) been getting some attention lately. At the Asian Feastival, they had a triumph with their miang khana, and the blogger love started to flow. Just today, they appeared on The Eaten Path. And on chowhound, people are starting to pick them up too. Do you remember when our Thai Ambassador took us there?

They’ll be participating in Trick or Eat.

ploy thai

Posted by: Orlick | October 19, 2010

Sweet Yummy House – Trick or Eat Spotlight

Sweet Yummy has a layer of excitement around it. They came onto the scene about 6 months ago and within a month went from Burmese to Szechuan food. But don’t be dismayed by the title that attaches itself to so many Chinese take-out joints, this has spark and is a pretty, comfortable restaurant.

When you go in, check out what they have under the glass. Maybe it’s a pepper mix or something minced meat. I am always wide-eyed when I look under there. And the tables always have something intriguing on them like burners boiling over pots of darkness.

Sweet yummy house

Joining these restaurants up for Trick or Eat is not easy. Not only the language barrier, but the wariness of having a foreigner (white guy me) trying to persuade them to do something. At first, I spoke to one of the workers who flat out told me No, that they don’t have time to fool around with my event. I asked who the boss was and what language he spoke. A week later, I came back with my Mandarin ambassador and after about 5 minutes of talking, the owner smiled and they were in. What a relief! They were one of my major aims for this crawl. I know that once people come in there and sample what they are like, they will come back for more.

You’ll check it out on Trick or Eat. Pick up a menu, and return with some friends in November.

Sweet Yummy House
83-13 Broadway
Elmhurst, Queens

Posted by: Orlick | October 17, 2010

Cafe Noodle Spotlight – The Trick or Eat Run-up

I’ve learned a lot while recruiting for Trick or Eat in the past month regarding the restaurants of Elmhurst. One interesting one was Cafe Noodle. It just changed ownership and is now a Modern Fuzhounese style restaurant.

It was initially difficult to get them involved. The owner wasn’t concerned about cost, but that his food wouldn’t show well because it would get cold if waiting in the open all day for Trick or Eaters to come. I assured him that he will have a plethora of eaters coming in and he should cook a dish at a time, then play it by ear. This definitely shows me he’s a man of integrity and proud of his food.

The menu looks good, with a long list of seafood and other dishes like Garlic Fried Lamb and Abalone Fried Belly Tip (what??!). And it’s spotless. I would love to take a group of 6 here.

They will probably put on a show. Be sure to head here on your Trick or Eat.

cafe noodle

Cafe Noodle
83-29 Broadway
Elmhurst, Queens, NY
718-393-0888

Did you know I have an exclusive email list? It’s where I write my latest information about Ambassador Programs (which aren’t announced publicly beforehand) , my special events and other news. I like people to really want to be on the list, so I haven’t said outright how to get on. But if you just send me a comment that says you want in, I’ll put you on.

This latest is a long one, but it’s all relevant. I try not to write more than one a month, and generally pack lots of info concisely into one email. I value your inbox. Here it is. Enjoy

Long time, no write, huh? I’ve been busy. Let’s roll.
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First off, is my latest big event: Trick Or Eat
This takes back Halloween Trick or Treating from kids and let’s us have some fun again. Attendees will walk down Broadway in Elmhurst and sample from as many restaurants as they like. Each participating restaurant will have signage in the window to notify you if they are participating. I am aiming for every restaurant in Elmhurst from the hospital to Queens Boulevard to participate. It’s a big project, and I still need your help! If you are a speaker of any of the languages of Elmhurst (Thai, Mandarin, Cantonese, Indonesian, Vietnamese), or if you know anyone that can help, please contact me right away. This is a great way to get to know the business owners and would even be a great resume add-on. How cool would it be to say that you united a community that everyone said was impossible?? Contact me ASAP – I’ll buy lunch.

For more details: http://iwantmorefood.com/trick-or-eat/
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The Real Pizza of New York iPhone app
Most of you already know my love of pizza and my relentless pursuit of the slice in NYC. Well, my lifelong research has finally materialized in the form of an iPhone app. This is probably the best way I can spread my knowledge. It’s like the app universe was designed for my mind. A book wouldn’t be half as useful as this. When you buy it, you have free updates for life, but to start, I have listed 100 of the best, real pizzerias of New York. Inside are opening dates, pictures, distinctions, and maps to see what slices are close to you at the moment. There are also categories like Pizza Tours and Pilgrimages, along with Coal, Wood and others. I’ve tried to make it as functional as possible to assist you at finding love in NYC pizza.

This week only – for New York locals and the people who have supported me – I am holding the price at 99 cents. Next week, I raise it to the price of a pepperoni slice.

This has already been written up on Slice at Serious Eats ( ‘Real Pizza of New York’ iPhone App Is a Pizza Lover’s Must-Have). Here’s an excerpt of what they had to say: all I can say is that this app is a must-have for hardcore and newbie pizza fans alike. Mr. Orlick gets all the classic places in here as well as some real hidden gems. And his taste is impeccable. This guide is authoritative, accurate, and accessible. Bravo! Wish I would have come up with something like it myself!

Get yours at http://sutromedia.com/apps/Real_Pizza_of_New_York
and if you dig, write a 5-star review http://sutromedia.com/review/Real_Pizza_of_New_York

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HOT POT Ambassador!
We are lucky to have chef Kian Lam Kho lead us on a rooftop hot pot for a surely unforgettable night. We met at the Asian Feastival where I asked him to dream up a night to share his culture and cuisine. This is it.

If you don’t know what hot pot is, see this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BV571QBB0Js – But this video is at a restaurant with no ambassador. Kian says: usually they serve commercially prepared dumplings, meatballs and other industrialized ingredients. I will be preparing all these at home with fresh ingredients. So the guests will be experiencing true homemade hot pot ingredients… the dinner will be served on proper chinatableware and not on disposable containers. The atmosphere will feel more like an exclusive dining experience rather than a takeout food gathering.

Kian is the author of the Red Cook blog http://www.redcook.net/about/ – where he shares recipes for Asian cooking. He is a virtual encyclopedia of Asian food. Kian is a private chef and promises a night of hot pot happiness. From the stories I’ve been privy to, it seems Kian is one of the most skilled underground chefs in NYC. It should be good.

Interview on MSG
Interview on iwantmorefood.com

Location: Long Island City rooftop
Price: $35 w/ optional beer/wine pairing TBA.
Sat, Oct 23rd, 5pm. Optional Prep with the Chef at 4pm.
Attached is a menu for the hot pot

Limit: 20 people. Email me to be included in the hot pot. This will fill up fast.

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Our South Asian Ambassador, Joseph Aranha has another invitation for a great eating experience:

As part of our monthly programs here is an invite for dinner on October 29, from 6 to 8 PM for the most authentic tasting Malaysian food in New York City (my opinion, after learning to cook it in KL, Malaysia and at which restaurant I have been eating regularly for the past twenty five years)
at the
“JAYA restaurant”
at 90 Baxter Street in Chinatown (just off Canal Street), New York 10013
The menu will consist of 2 appetisers, 5 entrees and a desert.
Charge per person + $ 25- (includes taxes and tips)
Reservations is a must. Please send you checks in the name of the “Jaya Restaurant” to
Joseph Aranha, 88-04 70th Road, Forest Hills, New York 11375-6620
to reach me by the 25th October.
Please feel free to get back to me with any queries that you may have.
Kind regards
Joe

Joseph holds monthly eating experiences himself. If you would like to be put on his mailing list for future events or are interested in this one, send an email to joseph9aranha@yahoo.com

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And Roommates Wanted NYC is going great. We just expanded to Harlem and LIC. Two weeks ago, we were written up in the NY Times, Meet, Mingle, and Maybe Move In – and have events this Sunday in Prospect Heights and East Village. If you know anyone with a room to rent, they especially will benefit from our events. For more info: http://roommateswantednyc.com/

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Nice to catch up with you. Email me if you want to come to the hot pot. It’s going to be awesome. Also the Trick or Eat should be addressed ASAP. If you can talk to the Asian community, help a brother out and share the knowledge. We can make this happen.

Let’s talk next week,
Jeff Orlick


Find your taste: Iwantmorefood.com
Find your space: Roommates Wanted NYC

Click to download Hot Pot Ambassador menu

Posted by: Orlick | October 6, 2010

Battling the sickness in Queens

Are you sick? I am. Here are some dishes in the vicinity to cure and alleviate.

Pozole: A sometimes intense soup whose defining characteristic is hominy (large kerneled corn). It has lime in it and usually pork or chicken. This is known to be a hangover cure. It will also clear out your cold. Get it at Taqueria Coatzingo (7605 Roosevelt Ave, 4018 82nd St) or El Paso (6406 Roosevelt Ave)(has been closed occasionally).

Thenthuk – This is a brothy flat noodle soup from the Himalayas. In Tibet Town (around 37th Rd), some of the restaurants make their own noodles. At Shangri-la/Lhasa, they shave it off a ball into your soup – it’s fun to watch them in their open air kitchen. As with everything in this post, add some spicy pepper sauce to get your fluids running. Also, try the soup at Namaste at on 74th and Roosevelt or Lali Guras on 76th street. Consider steamed momos too; the iron and B12 is important for your recovery.

Thentuck from Shangri-La

Jugos de frutas from Chuzos y Algo Mas (79-01 Roosevelt Ave). You want the mas part here. Look at the jugos section of the menu. Try #9: strawberry, banana and orange juice. Maybe try something that adds to your protein level like #11: banana, papaya, granola and orange juice.

Tom yom soup (hot and sour) from Arunee (3768 79th St) or the new Thai casual place on 72nd and 37th(look forward to a post soon). Also, try the water-based (hotter) curries like jungle curry. It doesn’t have the melting from coconut fat, so it can be intense. You’ll soon forget your cold if you are eating jungle curry, trust me. At the Thai casual place you can just point, but if you have to speak to choose, say “Pad Khing”.

Hot and Sour soup from JJ Chan’s (7521 31st Ave).

Chicken Ginseng from Korean-Chinese Mi Dang (7514 Broadway). Ginseng is gonna heat you up and cool you out. It gives your body the run-through. Get it where you can.

Pho (said fuh) – from Thai Son (4010 74th St). There’s at least 15 varieties on the back page of the menu, but the main differences between them are whether you want a big bowl and whether you want navel or tendons in there. You should probably get them. The steam and spice clear out your sinuses and the broth has your nutrients.

Congee from Lao Bei Fang (86-08 Whitney Ave) – Resist the fried dumplings! The main reason congee is good for a sickness is that it’s nutrients are easy to absorb into the body from it.

And if you’re still sick, try Candalaria Botanica (9217 Roosevelt Ave). Get some candles and incense to eliminate the bad mojo.

Stay away from sugar, fried foods, dairy, and alcohol. Aim for ginger, garlic and heat. Lots of it. Isn’t it strange we only eat well when we’re sick? This is how you’re meant to eat, after all.

What do you eat?

Links:
Great guide to Thai curry
Foods to eat when you’re sick
Taking Stock of a Sick Day

Posted by: Orlick | October 3, 2010

Trick or Eat Elmhurst – Halloween 2010

This is the latest, big event:

Sunday, October 31st. Halloween.

The idea is for everyone to walk down Broadway and try small morsels of food from each restaurant. Each place will give a sample of a signature dish and people will get to walk in and have a taste of what each environment is like. Like trick or treat.This will showcase our great neighborhood, give out-of-towners the excuse to visit, and be a safe, fun place for adults and kids to hang out on Halloween.

If you are a foreign language speaker, contact me. I need your help. If you know any of the restaurant owners personally, contact me. I need your help. This is a big challenge, but there is no alternative. It’s going to happen.

We are going to start at 1pm. Meet at the park by Taste Good (45th Ave) for your special game board, which each restaurant will check off when you’ve had your treat.

Suggested donation: $10 per group. No limit to group size.

Proceeds will go to the Roosevelt Ave Street Crawl (Festival) next summer. It’s going to be sooo bad-ass.

For updates, check the Trick or Eat page

Posted by: Orlick | September 30, 2010

BRGR Look from Rachel Alexandra and Marigold Mitchell

Once in a while a PR company sends me an email to look at their product. Sometimes it’s a restaurant doing an open house for “select” members of the press. Sometimes it’s wine. I generally offer these up to my staff of writers (friends). Yelp helped me realize that there are so many compelling writers out there, but most don’t have the means to make a grand organization of it. Same thing with the Ambassador Program. I’m sharing the fruits of my blog, plus I like to provide more info on my site. All I tell my writers is: if they like it, they write about it. And don’t gush. — Jeffrey Tastes

BRGR Look by Rachel Alexandra and Marigold Mitchell

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The daily grind provokes the most important question from noon – 1 PM. What’s for lunch? In the Midtown East/Upper East Side area, you could go really big (David Burke Townhouse), go lazy (the deli next door), or perhaps go for the all ever-satisfying gut bomb burger. There’s a few in the area from Pop Burger and Burger Heaven to Goodburger and Fl!p at Bloomingdales. The newest one we’ve discovered is BRGR, which opened in May.

This is the second BRGR location in Manhattan (1026 Third Ave – 60/61). The original BRGR opened in Chelsea 3 years ago. The new location is a plethora of polka dots, heavy on grass references, and so much nicer than a McDonalds and the neighborhood diner.

BRGR lies in-between a fast food joint and a sit down restaurant. All of the food is cooked fresh and to order. The average wait time for a burger is eight minutes, you can specify how you want your meat done (medium is the default), and if you are short on time you can always just phone in your order and pick it up at the counter.

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BRGR’s claim to fame is that they use grass-fed beef. It’s supposed to be healthier (rich in omega 3, lower levels of cholesterol and saturated fat, etc.) than corn-fed beef and friendlier to the environment. We noticed that the calories were not listed on the menus. Since BRGR only has two locations, they don’t have to list them.

So what’s the skinny on BRGR? We tasted quite a few options on the menu and this is what we found:

The Beautiful Day BRGR: beef patty, American Cheese, Thousand Island, grilled onions, L/T/P – It was a great basic burger. This burger is nowhere in the league of Shake Shack but it is a pretty darn good cheeseburger.


The Rainforest BRGR: beef patty, Gruyere, avocado, herb mayo, L/T – BRGR gets fancy with the Gruyere cheese. The herb mayo is made in house and the avocado made it very refreshing.

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The Blue Sky BRGR: beef patty, Roquefort, bacon, sweet onion marmalade, L/T/P – Bacon! It was apple smoked and delicious! Along with the Roquefort, it was a bit salty but was well balanced by the sweet onion spread.


The Down on the Farm BRGR: beef patty, Cheddar, bacon, horseradish sauce, onion, L/T/P – We had expected this burger to have a little zing based on the horseradish sauce but it really fell flat and was uneventful.

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The Fresh Morning BRGR: beef patty, American Cheese, egg, Thousand Island, grilled onions, L/T- This burger was messy! When the yolk was punctured, it oozed everywhere. Grease, cheese, and yolk… Would you want that all over your fingers? The taste wasn’t really breakfast in a sandwich. It did not live up to its fame.

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The Cultivated Garden BRGR: veggie patty, Gruyere, avocado, herb mayo, L/T/P – This burger was all green made up of broccoli, peas, fava beans, carrots, etc. It was excellent and just as satisfying as a meat patty. It holds its form well and isn’t too mushy. It also does not taste bland or err on the side of cardboard. It’s pretty sweet and you can see all the veggies.

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The Rolling Hills BRGR: turkey patty, Gruyere, herb mayo, grilled onions, L/T/P – Not bad for a turkey burger. The patty was a little salty but telling BRGR not to sprinkle salt on your order could easily rectify that.

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We also tried the sweet potato fries and the milkshakes. The sweet potato fries were crisp and a small serving. The milkshakes come in four flavors: blueberry-pomegranate, black & white, strawberry, and vanilla. They are Ronnybrook Farm Dairy shakes. If you have been to Ronnybrook Farm Dairy in the Chelsea Market, then you know that these shakes are serious business. The blueberry-pomegranate is the signature flavor.

If you are going for the works (burger, fries, and drink) a lunch break at BRGR could cost you anywhere in the range of $12 – $18. For the area, the price is on par. And let’s not forget, BRGR uses grass-fed beef. Surely, that’s gotta be worth something. Give it a shot and let us know how it fares for you in the burger wars.
—Rachel Alexandra and Marigold Mitchell

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Posted by: Orlick | September 28, 2010

Real BBQ at The Royal Rib – Bedford Stuyvesant

I came here on the recommendation of James Boo, of The Eaten Path. Now, James is the biggest BBQ fiend I know of, he even led a BBQ Ambassador on the subject – so when he gives out a recommendation for gnarly meat, I listen. But apart from that, The Royal Rib is only open 3 days a week and goes until the pork runs out. That turns me on.

royal rib (2)

Inside, the room feels like a doctor’s office, with everyone waiting anxiously to leave with their cure. Dialing through the menu of platters in the low teens, my cohort and I asked for chopped pork and ribs through the iron gates at a doorway inside. The payment was then exchanged through a rotating bullet-proof clear plastic case. There is nowhere to sit and eat, so we took it to Tompkins Park (at Tompkins & Greene) which is less than a mile away.

royal rib (6)
royal rib (3)
royal rib (13)
royal rib (12)

The BBQ sauce on ribs and pork elicit a small, but tame tingle. The chopped pork has nice bits of everything. It makes you eat it slow so you don’t choke on cartilage. Finally, I understand what chopped pork is supposed to be. Even in my travels to North Carolina, I was disappointed to not get it.

Sides of yams were great, and the mac and cheese looked nasty good, but were only rated tepid for my taste. It’s the meat though. It’s the the meat that is my taste.

royal rib (11)

Royal Rib House
303 Halsey St
(between Marcus Garvey Blvd & Throop Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11216
(718) 453-9284
Official Site

Links:
James Boo’s review The Royal Ribs Treatment
Serious Eats covers the Rib

Posted by: Orlick | September 23, 2010

Asian Feastival Wrap-up… tricia bites

Here’s tricia bytes with her wrap-up of the first Asian Feastival. This was meant to showcase the heights of cuisine which Asian restaurants are offering in Queens. There were over 20 vendors, each giving a sample of their very best. Ultra-satisfying stuff. I wonder what will happen next year — Jeffrey Tastes

It’s hard to know where to start this review, since the event was packed with interesting food and experiences. We got to the event early, having taken the 7 train from JH and gawked at the people going to the U.S. Open. We walked into the lobby of the Sheraton Laguardia East Hotel in Flushing (where more tennis fans were visible) and walked upstairs. It took a few minutes to get our bearings: there was an outdoor patio with demonstration tables and a few stalls where people were still setting up their food; this area seemed manageable. Then we circled back inside and were overwhelmed: a huge room filled with setups from dozens of restaurants — the serious eating was about to begin for real.

dduk lady at work2

DJ

ham ji bach lady

Ham Ji Bach and Kum Gang Sam represented the Korean restaurants, and their choices for what to serve really complemented each other. Ham Ji Bach busted out a killer app — ‘app’ as in appetizer, that is: pork belly wrapped in kimchi. Part of what makes Korean bbq so good is that you get to have kimchi soaked in pork grease. The kimchi-wrapped pork belly was indescribably good — juicy and tasty — and they served it on a little piece of tofu. Perfect! After the event, one of us kept having recurring dreams about this dish.

kimchi wrapped pork belly

Kum Gang San took a more subtle approach: their table had chap chae (sweet potato noodles) and, to the side, two trays of fancy dduk (rice cake) with a lady in a traditional outfit making the dduk. The chap chae was very nice; we recently had the chap chae at Kum Gang San and the one here was better: good sesame oil flavor, and overall not too sweet. Why do people always make chap chae so sweet? The sweetness was in the dduk (not to mention the dduk lady, who stood there like a trooper for nearly the whole event, smiling and making the little cakes). It was cool that these guys seemed to be pushing the dduk envelope; we’re not dduk experts, but citrus-y flavored dduk? Awesome.

dduk tray

Ploy Thai offered these little wraps called miang kam filled with pork, ginger, peanuts, lime and coconut. It’s an amazing combination of flavors, with the lime standing out but not dominating. The leaf they usually use for this dish is Chinese broccoli leaf, but in the spirit of dressing to impress, Ploy Thai made their miang kam with betel leaves, which had a delicious flavor and were more tender than the Chinese broccoli leaf. They had a mango or papaya curry that looked fabulous. Not trying this is regret #1 of the day.

ploy thai

miang kana

There weren’t too many places offering sweets, but Payag, a new-ish Filipino restaurant, really impressed us with their little squares of halayang ube cake (white cake with a layer of purple yam jam). Payag also had tuna ceviche and roast pig. Regrets #2 and 2.5: Not pigging out more on these pastries, and not trying their pork.

purple yam cake

Speaking of sweets, this is as good a time as any to mention that there was an area of “products” — tables that didn’t represent a restaurant but that represented some sort of product. This was an aspect of the event itself that was very nicely done, because it’s easy for these product hawkers to take over an event like this, and then the whole thing starts to feel like a mall or something. Most of the products that were being sold were drinks — and they were all in the same area, so when you were thirsty you could just go to the drinks area and try: a cold sparkling (almost non-alcoholic) wine made with white jasmine tea (delish), drinks made with fancy all-natural brown rice vinegar (weird but healthy), Bruce Cost ginger ale (delicious but why is it always slightly musty?), Laotian beer (the dark version was delicious, and Laotian beer — how cool is that?), wine, sake, and soy milk.

sparkling tea

laotian beer

The king of the products, however, was this coconut — or as we started calling it, crack-o-nut — jam, which they spread on little triangles of toast. “I think I need another coconut toast” was a sentence spoken more than once throughout the afternoon.

crack-o-nut jam

Among the products though not in the drinks area was dumplings from a company called Tang All-natural. They served vegetarian and chicken whole-wheat dumplings. These were just okay, fine for healthy frozen dumplings; but if you’re going to go the dumpling carb route, why choose a frozen whole-wheat dumpling, no matter how healthy? The vegetarian was pretty tasteless; the chicken was ok. But speaking of dumplings, Nan Xian was in the house, and their soup dumplings (xiao long bao) were sublime, as usual, something to remember in those moments when life doesn’t seem worth living. A final product that we tasted was Mama O’s kimchi (we dubbed it “hipster kimchi”). Their kimchi was pretty good, and the company has this fun idea of making traditional and non-traditional kimchis and putting them in cool packaging, spreading the gospel of kimchi.

Other highlights: Java Village offered up the most amazing curried kale — yes kale — which was perhaps the butteriest thing in the world. Fay Da bakery was generous in its offerings, and all the ones we tried were terrific: pork pastries, mooncakes, bubble tea. Ice Fire Land offered up mini styrofoam bowls of hotpot. It was the usual hotpot but with some extras that was newish to us: cabbage and pork (or maybe beef?) of course, and then a slice of squash and delicious peanut-y sauce on top. M & T is a humble Chinese restaurant in Flushing that offered up one of the more exotic dishes that we tried, a gelatin salad in a delicious sauce. We split in opinion on this one. One of us couldn’t get used to the texture, but the other found it to be one of the best items at the event. Bownie restaurant also had fare that was new to us: a generous and delicious little meal of noodles, coconut chutney, and fish balls. On a normal day, this would ordinarily be enough for lunch; today was not such a normal day.

curried green kalefay da pork puff
hot potM&T gelatin dish

There were some other South Asian restaurants represented, but for some reason we never hit them. Regret #3: not hitting the Dosa Place table.

Some notes on the event itself: Comptroller John Liu showed up and gave a little speech and Azn pride swelled. His speech, ending with “there are no diets today!” was something of a climax in the event. And it was just after Liu’s appearance that we noticed the music, which ranged from “All Night Long” (that’s right — Lionel Richie!) and “It Takes Two” (Rob Base) to “Close to Me” (The Cure) and “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” (The Outkast). Yes, the music was that varied and cool.

There are other things to say about how the event itself was put on, because we’ve been to events that don’t get it right. The whole classy but casual vibe was enjoyable, and the fact that the products didn’t take over was great — the focus was on food and learning about Asian food. Which brings us finally to the panels and educational parts of the event. We went to the one on South Asian spices, led by the Edible Queens editor (kind of exciting to see her in person) and featuring spice experts Geetika Khanna and Nirmala Narine. Ms Khanna really charmed us with her quiet passion for Indian food, and it it made us want to sign up for her cooking classes. At the end of the presentation, we got to ask some questions. Audience member: “But lots of recipes say to add garam masala during the cooking.” Answer: “And I judge those recipes.” Love her. There were other educational displays, leading to Regret #4: Not going to the display on demystifying Asian produce.

spice panel

demystifying chinese produce

One of the highlights of the event for us was Maangchi’s kimchi-making demonstration. Maangchi is a total online celebrity for those of us who follow her blog, and all of us fans stood awkwardly around the table, waiting for her demonstration to begin as Maangchi chatted with us as though she wasn’t the rock star that she really is. Maangchi made stuffed cucumber kimchi (oi sobagi kimchi) and perilla leaf kimchi. We only had room to try the perilla leaf kimchi, but it was off the off the hook!

maangchi
cucumber kimchi

The event had two bookend events, a bike tour before the festival and a Flushing eating/walking tour after the festival, led by Joe DiStefano. These constitute regrets #5 and #6. Hopefully the Asian Feastival will become an annual event so we can fill in these gaps next year. — tricia bytes

Links:
Asian Feastival official site
Addresses of participating restaurants
Maangchi’s youtube channel

Here is Joseph Aranha with a wrap-up of his Pakistani Ambassador Program. It was our biggest ambassador ever. This program aims to satisfy the Ambassador’s food and culture dreams for a group dinner. For Joseph, I believe his was to lead a huge room of people eating great food. It happened. He did a great job telling us about the region and the food – he even brought maps of South Asia for each of us. For me, the food was so good because it came straight from the tandoor, rather than from the steam tables. The meat was sooooo tender. —Jeffrey Tastes

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As one steps off the 7 Train at 74th Street and Broadway one can discern a faint pleasing aroma in the air and as one enters 74th Street this meledy of aromas becomes stronger. This street and the adjoining streets are a bright mixture of sari and salwar kamizez shops, jewelry stores, and restaurants and grocery stores. Everything Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani and even Nepali and Tibetan can be found in these four blocks.

Bangladesh, India and Pakistan were one country before the partition took place by the British whose policy was to “divide and rule”. Christians, Hindus and Muslims and other religions lived together as one group. There were, and are quarrels which are quickly sorted out, but as we say in the sub-continent “oh even amongst families there are quarrels”.

 KK outside shot

Kabab King located at the corner of 73rd Street and 37th Road is a Pakistani restaurant who has grown over the years to become a giant among Pakistani restaurants in New York City. The food and their flavors are close to the original as possible and the four brothers led by Wazir Ali who own this place run a tight ship.

The place is a 24 hour joint and there is a continuous relay of some of the most authentic dishes served with naans, chapathis and parathas, served straight from the clay oven/tandoor. The tastes in this restaurant stirs the soul and brings back memories of home and mama’s cooking, while others who flock to this restaurant are treated to tastes they won’t get anywhere else. While the ground floor is for the ones who want a quick bite or a cup of masala tea, the second floor is meant for families and those who want to be served in style.

Recently the “Ambassador Group” led by Jeff Orlick in collaboration with the Asian Arts and Cultural Council conducted one of it’s programs at the Kabab King. Members who attended were treated to special robust meaty dishes and others with delicate aromas and flavors. There was Haleem – a dish of succulent lamb cooked to perfection with lentils in a sauce blended together using various spices. There was also brain fry, roasted quail, fried liver, and for those of the faint of heart goat biriyani and also lentils, salad and potato stuffed parathas. The dinner drew to a close with gulab jamans (one of many deserts) and spiced/masala chai/tea.

Hover over pictures to see the name of dish
paratha

lentils (2)

liver fry (2)

haleem (2)

mutton biryani (2)

brain fry (3)

galub jaman

 Close up of the plate with kabab and quail.

Chef Tan Zeel at the Kabab King traces his lineage back to the Chefs who prepared cuisine for the Mughal emperors centuries ago. These ancient recipes without any dilution or change makes the Kabab King a unique place to have a memorable dinner or a quick snack. During the entire evening of the Ambassador program the diners were literally pampered by a team of waiters and waitresses. Two managers kept an eye on things and the program was a tremendous success.
Chef Tanzeel with a plate of kababs and quail.

Chef  Tanzeel with potato stuffed paratha and a bowl of lentils

Spices used in the sub continent is probably as old as civilizations itself. There are spices to flavor your food and specific spices which are also used in food to help in the control or cure of medical ailments.

Basically most cooking starts with a mixture of onions, garlic and ginger as it’s base. Then depending upon which curry one cooks various spices like cumin, mustard seed, fenugreek, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, pepper, turmeric and chillies, to mention a few, are added. These spices in correct combinations make different curries like kurmas, sambhar, and vindaloo are also used in preparations to make samosas, tandoori chicken, various kababs (shami, gola, bihari and chapli), chicken makani and other such dishes. Curries used with rice generally have a thinner constituency while those prepared to be used with any of the breads (naan, chapathis, parathas and pooris) are generally thicker.

group shot.

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Recipe for HALEEM
Ingredients needed are – 750 grams of minced lamb, 150 grams of yellow split pea, 115 grams of lentils, 80 grams of oatmeal, 4 spoons of jeera, one large yellow onion, 4 spoons of garam masala, shallots, lemon, salt and pepper and coriander.

Preparation – Boil the split peas and lentils with salt for about 30 minutes. While this is boiling mix the lamb with salt, pepper and ginger. Slice the onion and while frying it slowly add in the minced beef. Let the meat and onion fry till all the water has completely evaporated from the mixture. As the cooking progresses add the jeera and garam masala to the mixture. When the dhal (split peas and lentils) is soft add the lamb to it and then boil it in a pressure cooker with two liters of water for about 30 minutes. While this is being done add the oatmeal to a glass of water and stir well. Then add this to the mixture in the pressure cooker and stir well till everything blends together.

When this has been done, the haleem is ready to be served.. .

Please note that the amounts of salt, pepper and garam masala are to be added according to the taste of the gathering.

GARAM MASALA/hot spice mixture – Garam Masla is usually used in various preparations
and since this concoction of spices induces perspiration, it also helps in keeping the body cool.

Spices used to make Garam Masala

Depending upon a family’s tastes the amount of various spices in this mixture can be adjusted. The spices usually used are one spoon of black peppercorn, three bay leaves, a three quarter inch cinnamon stick, one spoon each of black and green cardamom, one spoon jeera (cumin seed) one spoon of cloves and three or four medium sized red chillies.

All these spices are then ground together into a fine powder in a stone mortar.
Please note that the spices used and their quantities may vary from region to region and from family to family. —-Joseph Aranha

Links:
Sara Under the 7’s wrap-up.

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