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Food Culture NYC

Eat Something New in Queens Recap

March 9, 2021
A recap of the Eat Something New in Queens challenge

What happens when neighbors inspire neighbors to eat something new.

Jhol momo in Queens

Jhol momo from Nepali Bhanchha Ghar

Two weeks ago, we hosted our first Eat Something New in Queens challenge, and it was so incredible to see so many community members inspiring each other regarding what and where to eat. I didn’t announce it very far in advance, so I was a little concerned about how many people would sign up to participate, but we had well over 100 participants, and exactly the kind I’d hoped for: adventurous, curious food lovers who appreciated and wanted to learn more about the wonderful diverse foodscape of Queens while supporting local businesses.

The premise was simple: Every day for five days I sent out an email, each with a prompt for a mini-challenge designed to get participants thinking beyond their usual dining routines. We identified cuisines, restaurants, and finally new-to-us dishes we were interested to try in our neighborhoods, all the while asking for and receiving suggestions from others in our (now 200-member-strong) Facebook group and getting inspired by photo shares and restaurant reports. We also had a supermarket challenge, encouraging participants to look for and try a new grocery product the next time they shopped. I was blown away by the responses and great ideas!

Soon enough the Facebook group was getting harder to navigate; recommendations got buried and participants off Facebook were not able to reap these rewards. Hence, this recap post! Below are all the little culinary nuggets and knowledge bombs dropped by our Facebook group over the course of the challenge. It’s a LOT. I’ve broken it up by cuisine, included a table of contents, and attributed many of the suggestions from the group too (edited slightly for clarity and space).

If you love eating in Queens, join us in the group here! I’ll keep it up indefinitely as a Queens food group until we decide to run this challenge again. (And I’ll work to better organize it with categories.) I also feature a lot of great Queens food on our Instagram (particularly in Stories), so check that out too. And of course, once I’m running Jackson Heights food tours again later this spring, I’d love to meet more of our participants (and their friends!) there—I have some really exciting ideas, inspired by this challenge, to switch up my tours and cast an even wider net of local businesses to involve.

But first—here’s where to Eat Something New in Queens.

 

Burmese takeout spread in Queens

Burmese takeout from Yun Cafe

Burmese Food in Queens

Burmese food was picked by many of us as a cuisine we wanted to further explore, and why shouldn’t it be? It’s flavor-bomb city, especially for those of us who love the funky flavors of shrimp powder and fish paste that come up in certain dishes. It’s a cuisine that’s easy to choose a restaurant for, as we don’t have many in Queens. Most of our conversation surrounded the relatively new Yun Café + Asian Mart in Jackson Heights (in the subway station, no less), although Forest Hills’ excellent Asian Bowl was also mentioned.

Pictured above is the incredible lunch from Yun Cafe that I had for one of my challenge meals. I had been a little underwhelmed by the salads I’d tried at this restaurant right after it had opened, but these dishes made me an official convert—and I was extra happy to support our local Burmese restaurant in light of Myanmar’s ongoing military coup. This order is, clockwise from top left:

  • Stuffed fried tofu: A perfect portable, shrimpy few bites
  • Egg cake: one of many good homemade desserts on offer, like a slice of thick, eggy custard
  • Mohinga, fish soup: The rice noodles, cilantro, boiled egg, crunchy bean tempura, and chili powder for the soup in center. So, so good, and a favorite among my kids.
  • Lemon salad: my new favorite dish (big thanks to Victoria S. in the group for strongly recommending it). This is a tart, funky flavor explosion (thanks to the lemon pieces, fish paste, and dried shrimp powder) that we couldn’t get enough of. Crunchy fried onions and dried shrimp on top add further appeal.
  • Fish cake salad: Another winner! Slivers of homemade fish cake mixed with cabbage, onions, and peanuts. Milder in flavor than the lemon salad, but still great.

Now here are more recommendations from the Facebook group:

From Erin D.: Tea leaf salad and beef rib stew both recommended.
From Claude T.: I had a [hot] shrimp dish with chile and ginger there yesterday that was outrageously good.
Sarah SL also recommends: The tofu salad, lemon salad, and the noodles with chicken.

Ecuadorian takeout in Jackson Heights, Queens

Ecuadorian takeout from Picanteria El Austro

Ecuadorian Food in Jackson Heights

Ecuadorian cuisine was another one lots of people chose, including myself. It’s very well represented in Jackson Heights, but not often enough celebrated. I think many of the participants (myself included) have had a handful of Ecuadorian meals or dishes, and thought it was time to explore a bit deeper. Others had never tried the cuisine at all and were just curious.

Restaurants that came up in the recommendations the most included La Puntilla, Barzola, Mini Picanteria el Guaquileno, and Picanteria El Austro. The latter proved a popular spot for many of us; it’s been around for more than a decade and yet many of us hadn’t tried it. (Jeff O., we know, has loved it since 2008!) Pictured is the seco de pollo, stewed chicken, and one of my favorite Ecuadorian dishes, encebollado de pescado (fish soup), from Picanteria El Austro. Both were excellent, and part of a $10 lunch special with jugo.

More recs from the group:

From Zoraya G.: The platter called bandera is a collection of dishes that represents the cuisine nicely. Barzola is a popular spot. Also try the black clam ceviche.

From Lo Ro: I personally like Puntilla restaurant (for soups, bandera plate, ceviches). Have to try another one called La Hueca that opened a few blocks up too. Another great dish is guatita made with tripe and peanut butter with potatoes. Ecuador is very well known for amazing soups too. There’s a thick plantain ball soup that is stuffed with meat, egg, peanut butter. Delicious. That is why I prefer Puntilla; Barzola put too much annatto in it and the ball was hard and the soup too runny—not typical. If anyone likes black pudding sausage, Ecuadorians also have a great soup of this called caldo de salchicha.

From Erin D.: Caldo de bola (plantain ball soup), llapingachos (potato pancakes), and seco de chivo (stewed goat) are some of my Ecuadorian favorites.

From Sarah SL: The chaulafan [from Picanteria El Austro] was delicious. Uniquely similar to Chinese fried rice. I also ordered gallina guisada and bandeja campesina. We have leftovers for tomorrow and I need a nap. It was delicious!

From Lesley T.: I tried [chaulafan]! Really enjoyed it, especially with the super spicy green sauce (essentially pulverized chile). Had the leftovers for lunch today with some chopped avocado. We also tried the mote pillo con carne asada, which was good! Kids gobbled up the salchipapas. Looking forward to trying more things there. They usually have a chalkboard outside with the specials.

From Val C.: Went to Picanteria El Austro last night. So good, and so much food! Finishing up leftovers tonight. The shrimp ceviche was especially good! [Also got bandera and bandeja campesina.]

Bolivian Food in Sunnyside

Bolivian cuisine is trending in Queens these days, largely thanks to Sunnyside restaurant Bolivian Llama Party. Both vegetarian and carnivorous group members loved it, and many of us have it on our immediate to-eat list. Here’s what the group had to say:

From Erin L.: Just ordered lunch from Bolivian Llama Party, which wasn’t even on my radar before it was recommended here—and they have veggie and vegan options. Also, best name ever! The aji jackfruit chola and spicy mac + queso were both spicy and delicious! Next time I’m getting the cherimoya ice cream!

From Grace A.: Everything was delicious. We had: saltenas (beef, pork, and brisket); aji queso papitas; brisket mac + queso, trancapecho beef sandwich; cinnamon toast crunch and Bolivia chocolate brownie ice cream with panka chiles.

From Ian M.: My wife and I got the aji jackfruit chola and jackfruit carnitas sandwiches. Added avocado and tempeh bacon. So good! The brisket and veggie salteña was excellent, too. But the api purple corn ice cream blew us all away. So creamy but gritty with cinnamon, clove, and orange zest. Highest recommendation.

Filipino tapsilog, an iconic breakfast, from a Woodside, Queens, restaurant.

Filipino tapsilog in Woodside

Filipino Food in Queens

Lots of participants chose Filipino cuisine as one to explore further, and much focus was given to the wealth of Filipino restaurants in Woodside, as well as Jackson Heights’ Papa’s Kitchen.

For everyone unfamiliar with the cuisine, I shared the photo above of tapsilog, an iconic breakfast that’s a marriage of the three components that give it its name: tapa (dried meat, usually beef), sinangag (garlic fried rice), and itlog (egg, usually sunny-side up). This popular dish has spawned a family of similar dishes, called “silogs”—such as tocilog (with tocino: sweet, cured pork), longsilog (with longanisa, a spicy sausage), and bangsilog (using bangus, or milkfish)—all of which are easy to like, and make a great intro dish to the cuisine. To learn more about the cuisine, don’t miss our Philippines food destination guide, written by a Manila native. The Manila dishes particularly are easy to find in Queens.

Here’s what the group had to say:

Regarding Woodside’s Kusina Pinoy Bistro, from Lo Ro: Adobo is good and pancit (rice noodles with veggies, sausage, chicken), and if you can find an encimada (sweet bun), try it. Pretty similar to Latinos’ food.

From Val C.: I like Lahi on Queens Blvd, but its outdoor dining setup isn’t great. Easier to go to Papa’s for takeout.

From Jeff O.: The Filipino places on Roosevelt around 69th St. are great with the steam tables; they are turo turo style, which means “point point,” so you just point. Also they all speak English.

From Paula R.: Tito Rad’s is great Filipino food.

From me: Don’t miss the Filipino-style doughnuts at Purple Dough! We tried gluten-free ube, Thai tea, and kalamansi—all delicious.

From Grace A.: Papa’s Kitchen has delicious ube pancakes for brunch on the weekends along with the silogs. Ordered for pickup recently and got a yummy oxtail stew with peanut butter sauce called kare kare. Lumpia and lechon kawali are other faves. Wash it down with either a mango, ube or avocado milkshake! If you want more variety, just take the 7 a couple stops to 69th street and try Ihawan or the old Krystal’s for yummy Filipino desserts: Sans Rival cake and Brazo de Mercedes.

From Ian M.: We had a Filipino feast from Papa’s Kitchen. The ube pancakes knocked us out! As others mentioned, you can get them on weekends, from 1-3, I think. The fried chicken and garlic rice lunch deal is only $6, and the adobo chicken was excellent.

From Yi-Ling T.: Renee’s Kitchen is my fave for a hearty breakfast silog. If you get there before 12pm on weekends, you get to choose two options to go with the garlic fried rice! Really good value—less than $8 last time I was there. I typically get the longanisa and fried tamban, along with the garlic fried rice and runny eggs. It’s a beautiful breakfast washed down with kalamansi juice! Also, Kusina Pinoy Bistro has a very Instagrammable giant calamari! Haven’t been in a while, but over the summer they had nice outdoor tables set up right under the 7 tracks. A little pricier than the other Filipino restaurants on the same block, but we found the lechon and sisig dishes very good.

From Susan LK: Baby’s Restaurant in Woodside is amazing. They have a beautiful cuttlefish dish that comes all decked out with vegetables. Baby’s also has a decent outdoor dining set up with windows you can open.

From Erin L.: I’m a vegetarian and Papa’s Kitchen has a few options that are or could be made vegetarian: garlic rice, sitaw and kalabasa (string beans and kabocha squash in coconut milk—you must specify vegetarian, or it will be made with shrimp paste), pinkabet (stir-fried vegetables), and the lumpia sariwa (vegetables wrapped in an egg crepe with peanut sauce).

From Val C.: I love the bangus (milkfish) sisig at Lahi. Also recommend the sisig in any form, kare kare, lumpia, pancit, anything at Jolibee, arroz caldo, and anything kalamansi-flavored. Honorable mention to anything at Flip Sigi in the East Village, which remixes Filipino dishes into tacos and burritos!

Indian takeout from Angel in Jackson Heights, Queens

Paneer tikka, lamb chop, and dal makhani from Angel Indian.

Indian food in Queens

North Indian, South Indian, Goan, Maharashtrian, Gujarati, Bengali—the diverse regional cuisines of India never fail to pique curiosity among interested eaters, and this group was no exception. (See separate Bengali/Bangladeshi section below.) Everyone loves Angel Indian, but plenty of Jackson Heights chaat spots were also discussed. I recommended the chili omelet, dal, potatoes, and naan (plus chai) from Prince Kebab on 74th St., available for $4.99 with either dal or potato for breakfast starting at 9am (the restaurant is currently closed due to the recent fire).

More recs from the group:

From me: Among my favorite dishes at Angel are the okra (bhindi masala), anything with the homemade paneer (both paneer apps are incredible), the lamb chop, the dal makhani, the dahi batata puri, and the samosa chaat. It runs pretty spicy, be warned. For Maharashtrian/Mumbai food, my go-to used to be Rajbhog, but I believe Samudra has a few dishes, like vada pav (my fave, though I haven’t tried it there—a fried potato patty with chutneys in a roll), bhel puri (puffed-rice chaat), and pav bhaji (like a tomato-ey veg curry with bread roll). Look for dishes with “Mumbai” as descriptor. Raja Sweets has a few of these too.

From Courtney B.: [Angel has] the most delicious paneer my wife and I have ever had. Paneer khurchan is my favorite.

From Erin D.: In the past week I’ve tried Angel Indian [and recommend] goat biryani, bhindi masala (okra), chicken makhani, and naan.

From Pooja J.: [Regarding Gujarati dishes] I believe there is a Rajbhog in Hillside. For similar dishes, if you have a car, try Usha Sweets on Hillside Ave—for special occasions we get our Gujarati/Bombay street snacks from there. And also if you can explore out of Queens, Newark has some great places. I will get street food from Maharaja Sweets or Raja sometimes—a little heavier but good flavors. Love the chicken tikka at Angel Indian (the app, which is amazingly well spiced and grilled).

From Mark B.: I usually go [to Raja Sweets] for the chaats and fried stuff. The mirchi pakora is a spicy green chile pepper dipped in batter and deep-fried. Don’t let them heat it up in the microwave. If it’s not fresh out of the fryer, a couple minutes in a regular oven will bring back the texture [he also recs bread pakora].
Also from Mark B: My favorite Bangladeshi/Indian dish is baingan bharta, broiled and sauteed eggplant with tomatoes and spices. Several places serve it including Samudra, Raja Sweets, and Jackson Diner.

From Jacob F.: Raja Sweets has my favorite chai in the neighborhood and a GREAT lunch special.

From Neha S.: Also love [Raja’s] samosa chat and the different parathas!

From Courtney B.: Our favorite halwa poori is from Samudra [chana bhatura also recommended].

From Ben B.: There’s a good restaurant in Jersey City called Bombay to Goa that serves Goan food. I went twice. Yelp says it is closed, but Google says it is “temporarily closed.” So maybe there is hope!

Victoria S. also recommends the vegetable samosas from Merit Kebab (I can personally vouch for the delicious chile-flecked chicken samosas there as well!).

Bangladeshi bhorta from Jackson Heights, Queens

Vegetable (and dried shrimp) bhorta from Haat Bazaar

Bangladeshi/Bengali Food in Jackson Heights

Bangladeshi/Bengali food is easy to come by in Jackson Heights, but some participants hadn’t yet explored the cuisine much. There was some good discussion (see below) about the hallmarks of this cuisine. The fuska trucks on 37th Ave. at 73rd St. were recommended by many—fuska does indeed make a delicious, easy-to-love intro dish. I shared the photo above of some of my favorite snacks from Haat Bazaar on 73rd St.: bhortas (veg or seafood mashes with chilies, cilantro, onion, mustard oil) and vegetable singara (similar to samosa, but plumper, packed with vegetables and including peanuts). The bhortas pictured, clockwise from top, are dried shrimp, pumpkin, lentil, potato (think: spicy mashed potatoes), and eggplant. They are each unique in texture and taste, but all are fiery and pungent! Round a few out with rice and dal, and grab some sweet mishti doi yogurt while you’re there.

More from the group:

From Mark B.: Regarding the fuska, I recommend to eat by the cart. It loses a lot of the crunchy texture with time. Both carts are great—don’t stick to fuska alone and try the other dishes like chotpoti and mango chaat!

From Pooja J.: If you like Indian street food, fuska is Bengali-style, like pani poori (or gol gappa) but with less of the liquid and with shaved egg and green chilies on top. Just thinking of it is making my mouth water.

From Chong-Lim: Premium Sweets for Bangladeshi! It’s on 73rd. My kids love their chicken biriyani, even when it is sometimes a little spicy for them.

From Ian M.: The fuska and mango chaat from Fuska House were predictably great, and I tried a variety of bhorta from Premium Sweets: pumpkin, potato, spinach, squash. The pumpkin and spinach were the best—both had just the right amount of spice. Vegetarians beware: The pumpkin and squash have shrimp in it. Bummer because the pumpkin is excellent.

From Victoria S.: Tried some bhorta at Premium Sweets—an eggplant, an okra, and a squash and shrimp. Hate having to say this, but I don’t think I’ll be repeating it. The eggplant was pretty good, but all three were spiced to the max, with the heat masking any possibility of complexity. Plus I don’t understand using small shrimp in a wet sauce and not shelling them at all.

From Parvez J.: There are some incredible Bengali restaurants on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica. We are also famous for our desserts! As someone from Bangladesh, with my wife from South India, I can tell you that one of the differences in cuisines involve the use of yogurt and coconut in South India. We don’t use that as much in Bangladesh. Folks from Bangladesh are also really into fish—more than South Indians (a lot of whom can be vegetarians, unless you are from Goa). Those are the generic stereotypes from my perspective.

From me: I love the use of mustard oil in Bangladeshi cuisine! The bhortas (veg and fish mashes) are a fabulous intro to this flavor—I really like them at Haat Bazaar. You can also get the mustardy flavor in the mango dish the fuska trucks carry (and puffed-rice chaat jhal muri!).

From Ben B.: As far as restaurants in our neighborhood, Samudra and Dosa Delight serve South Indian food. Most of the Indian restaurants serve North Indian food. Indian food is very regional down to the city. There are a lot of Pakistani restaurants too, like Kababish and Al Naimat.

A few very broad generalizations are:

  1. South Indian food is mostly vegetarian. It has a lot of pancakes, wraps, fried donuts, and other things that are dipped into sauces.
  2. North Indian food has more of the “curries” that are popular in America, eaten with rice and bread. Some are vegetarian, some are not.
  3. Pakistani food has a lot of meat and is mostly halal. The curries are very oily.
  4. A few regional foods that are very popular are chaat and biryani.

Pakistani Food in Jackson Heights

Meaty Pakistani cuisine came up as another cuisine many are curious to know more about. Kababish and Taste of Lahore were the restaurants recommended for this. To someone wanting a distinctly Pakistani dish, I suggested the gola kebab from Kababish. The texture isn’t for everyone—the meat is so finely minced that it nearly falls apart, and is held together with string—but it’s an interesting one to try (also spicy!). The breads are great at Kababish too, cooked in a tandoor oven.

And from Ben B.: Pakistani food is amazing if you like spicy meat and bread. I suggest beef nihari with naan from Kababish. Basically a big piece of slow cooked beef in an oily sauce. The gola kebab is amazing! Like a spicy meat paste. So good and spicy.

Fish momos from Hamro Bhim's in Queens

Fish momos from Hamro Bhim’s

Nepali Food in Jackson Heights

Nepali and Tibetan food both are big in “Himalayan Heights,” but it’s important to know the differences in the cuisines, especially as Tibetan culture is so endangered (see the Tibetan section that follows). Momos, for example, are Tibetan in origin, but they’re so popular in Nepali cuisine because there are so many Tibetan refugees in Nepal. To get into Nepali food, I recommend people get some jhol momo (momo dumplings in a spicy broth, made from tomatoes, sesame seeds, lots of chilies—adding the broth to the dumplings is a delicious Nepali adaptation) and a thali or samayabajee from Nepali Bhanchha Ghar—they have lots of great options for momos too, including potato, paneer, and goat in addition to the usual chicken, beef, and veg. Try Nepali sel roti, rings of fried rice flour, while there too!

I (and others) also recommend the fish momos at Hamro Bhim’s on 37th Rd. (try the green banana momo if he has it!) and pretty much any creatively topped fried momo from Momo Crave (sukuti fried momos, chili momos, chili potatoes, tandoori momos, Mexican momos, etc.).

More suggestions from the group:

 From Courtney B.: We just tried the goat jhol momos and the chilli chicken [from Nepali Bhanchha Ghar]. So delicious!

From Erin D.: NBG—I recommend the jhol momos, sukuti bhaji (which is kind of like a mini thali), and fried rice.

From Victoria S., re: Hamro Bhim’s: The vegetable momos were fine, but the fish—which I haven’t seen at other momo places—were wonderful! Kind of, oddly, like gefilte fish momos, which is not as utterly weird a notion as it sounds. (She also mentions her favorite veg momos are from Nepali Bhanchha Ghar, and the carrot at Lali Guras, and she loves Nepali chow mein, really just pan-fried noodles.)

From Gopal S.: The momos at Himalayan Yak are underrated. The dhindo (buckwheat) is very good! With goat it is best, but veg is delicious too.

Yellow laphing in broth from Momo Corner

Tibetan Food in Jackson Heights

Tibetan food is near synonymous with Jackson Heights, and momos are by far the most popular food here in the cuisine. But there’s so much more to the cuisine to explore, which is where some of our conversation focused. I recommended people try thenthuk, Tibetan hand-ripped noodle soup. I love the vegetarian version at Lali Guras. I shared about Tibetan laphing, like cold noodles, available in both the white and yellow types around here (the new place Momo Corner on 37th Rd. has both, as well as a version of yellow laphing in broth). For momos, the Amdo truck on 74th/37th Rd. and the cart by Wendy’s are my favorites for the thicker-skinned Tibetan style.

More Tibetan recs from the group:

From Mark B.: Beef momos I get from Potala truck by Diversity Plaza. I like their meaty texture and sauces the best, although there are other great momos around.

From Jeff O., regarding Phayul: Try butter tea before it gets hot out again. Gyuma or blood sausage is good.
From Ben B.: My favorite thing from Phayul is the beef with laphing.
From Susan LK: I am a fan of the chicken chili dish from Lali Guras (with the tingmo dumplings, my son’s favorite).

Colombian-style hamburger with ham, bacon, cheese, and fries inside.

The Arepa Lady’s Colombian burger

Colombian Food in Jackson Heights

Colombian food is huge in Jackson Heights, and there’s much to explore there. I shared this photo of the “Colombian burger” at Arepa Lady, topped with ham, bacon, cheese, its homemade sauce, and fried shoestring potatoes. I’m not generally into loaded burgers, but I really enjoyed this one! (I think because of the fries—reminds me of the Cuban frita burgers in Miami that I love.) We had a thread about Colombian bakeries specifically too.

Over to the group:

From Jeff O.: I have been going to MiraCali lately and had an awesome morcilla this morning. I also love lots of things at Delicias Calenas on 73rd and 37th, like the deditos de queso, pan de bono, and empanadas.

From Mark B.: I have to throw Rico Pan bakery on Woodside Ave. into the mix. Great pan de bono, buñelos, and empanadas.

Regarding the bakery on Roosevelt that may or may not still be called Picoshitas: There are “slamming empanadas” according to Paul T., while Frances B. got flan and a guayaba mousse that were both really good.
Lo Ro recommends: churros, suspiros (beaten egg whites that are baked), vigilantes, and pan de yuca. (On a non-bakery note, Lo Ro also recommends the caballo steak/beef from Gata Golosa on 89th St. and 37th Ave., as well as the bandeja Barriles to share at Barriles, along with a steamed veggie platter.)


Chinese Food in Queens

China’s many regional cuisines will surely be delved into deeper in the weeks to come. For now the group discussed some favorite hand-pulled noodle spots and bakeries in the area, as well as where to find Uyghur food nearby.

From Val C.: Lao Bei Fang is known for its hand-pulled noodles, but you absolutely cannot sleep on their dumplings. The pan-fried are particularly good! Also all the dishes are such a good value.

From Sarah S-L: Love Hand-Pulled Noodles from HK Food Court in Elmhurst.

Lunar New Year-specific, from me: I went to Fay Da and Rainbow Bakery on Broadway for some traditional Chinese New Year treats: (dry, crunchy, delicious) sesame cookies and nian gao, a sweet rice cake (I read it is commonly dunked in beaten egg and pan-fried the next day, so I tried that, and wow! Really good, like French toast caramel.).

From Lenore S.: At Fay Da, at 75th and Broadway, try a “taro puff.” Puff is sort of the wrong word—they’re heavy as kryptonite—but YUM! Think of them as a sweet potato pie in a ball, surrounded by the crust. But purple!

Uyghur cuisine, from me: There are definitely some good Uyghur spots in Flushing, like Nurlan Uyghur Restaurant.
From Mark B.: Tarim Uyghur Cuisine is still open in the New World Mall food court in Flushing. I like their skewers a lot.

Bethany D. recommends Shanghai Zhen Gong Fu in Elmhurst for Shanghai noodles and “all the dumplings.”

Thai Esan sausage from Queens

Esan sausage from Khao Kang


Thai Food in Elmhurst

There was lots of love for the incredible Thai restaurants we have in Elmhurst, although it wasn’t a cuisine people identified as one to further explore right now. Likely this is because many of us eat a lot of Thai food already! Ayada came up a lot as a favorite spot, and in an email I gave a shout-out to a new favorite of ours, SaRanRom Thai (try the spicy anchovy special!). Pictured is the sour Esan sausage I recently bought at Khao Kang that I loved. The restaurant has lots of great grab-and-go items on its counter, and some terrific desserts, like the kabocha squash with taro sweet egg custard (for more desserts, of course, there is its sister restaurant next door, Khao Nom).

More favorites from the group:

From me, re: Pata Paplean: The nam tok boat noodles are incredible. (There also are votes for nam tok + tom yum at Ayada.)
From Courtney LK: Pata Paplean’s cocktails are so good, like dessert.

From me: I love the fiery fish tom yum and the pink-hued yen ta fo (both noodle soups) at Tea Cup Café on Woodside Ave., a dessert spot that has expanded its savory menu in recent years. I also love its pandan custard toast and some of its giant slushy desserts on hot days!

From Giulia P.: I highly recommend Eim Khao Mun Kai, which does chicken rice and ONLY chicken rice, but it is a revelation!

From Pooja J.: I tried the sour shrimp curry from Ayada this weekend based on recs from this group. It was nice to explore something new on their menu.

Bethany recommends the rose Rangoon and basil sauce with duck from Thaan; Victoria S. loves the crispy catfish salad (and everything else) at Ayada.

Mark B. and Victoria S. both love the crab and cheese wontons at Kitchen 79!


Taiwanese Food in Elmhurst

Taiwanese is a cuisine that came up a lot from people wanting to learn more. Taiwanese Gourmet and Pulau Pinang were the most recommended restaurants in the area, followed by Q Town (those lobsters!). Check out these group suggestions:

From Chris T.: Some recommendations [in general]: pork chop over rice (comes with the mustard greens and braised pork), add the soy marinated egg; beef and tomato; three-cup chicken; chicken with celery; fly heads; pork with dried tofu

From Jeff O.: Taiwanese Gourmet is pretty good. Some specialties are the sausage in the sausage (rice with sausage inside and wrapped in intestine), bamboo and beef, and fried rice. Pulau Pinang is our favorite—my wife says the stinky tofu is the best she’s ever had. As I’ve said before, everything they make is great. The Malaysian food is typically more alluring, but their Taiwanese food is excellent. “Very local flavor,” says my wife.

Q Town is also great. We just go to PP much more often. I don’t recommend Happy Stony Noodle, especially when you have these others around.

More from Jeff O.: Some typical dishes to get at Taiwanese restaurants are: oyster pancake, fly heads, beef noodle soup, sausage in sausage, stinky tofu, and red meatball (it’s a meatball with a Q-ey wrapper on it). Q is an important part of Taiwanese cuisine—it means something like chewy, like bubbles in bubble tea or a good pan de bono. It’s an island, so seafood is very common. Great country!

From Claude T.: Q Town in Elmhurst has had a great deal for quite some time now, two lobsters done a variety of ways (I prefer ginger and scallion) for $32.95. The lobster is always perfectly cooked. They come with rice and are fairly large, I would say about a pound and a quarter each. They can prepare them in 4 or 5 different styles.

From Susan LK: My absolutely favorite kind of vegan food is Taiwanese vegan food. So good. I haven’t tried this place yet but it has good reviews: Bodhi Village.

From Val C.: Happy Stony Noodle is doing a special menu of two entrees served with rice and choice of soup. Don’t remember how much, but it was a great deal. Highly recommend the stir-fried string beans.
From Amy N.: Happy Stony Noodle was my lunch spot when I worked in Maspeth/Elmhurst. The cold dishes were awesome: tofu skin and cucumber.


Malaysian Food in Queens

Malaysian food generated a lot of interest, with the top restaurant recommendations being Taste Good (where I love the pictured curry noodles with stuffed bean curd), Pulau Pinang, and Little House Café. There was also talk of neighborhood chef Nicholas Lee, a Malaysian-born pastry chef that does many different types of food in his weekly menu. Follow him IG or email [email protected] to get on his email list (weekly menu goes out each Sunday—thanks, Josh S. and Jess L.!). Here are the group suggestions:

From Val C.: Love Taste Good’s “Love Me Tender” rendang, and the Fantastic Four veggie dish.
From Ben B.: My order is always a roti canai and the kari laksa. Really delicious.

From Yi-Ling T.: For Malaysian I like PappaRich in Flushing, but Taste Good is also good (and far closer). I like to get anything with sambal belacan (especially the okra, stingray, or squid), and if I’m eating with a large group (pre-Covid), the fish head curry. If I’m alone, I get the Hokkien udang mee. Don’t get more than one sambal belacan dish since they have the same flavor profile.

From Jeff O.: I LOVE Pulau Pinang for Malaysian and Taiwanese. [Assam laksa and stinky tofu are among his recommended dishes.]

From Bethany D.: At Pulau Pinang, I ordered roti canai, Hokkien char mee, and satay tofu, which was stuffed with bean sprouts and cucumber. It was delicious!
[Grace A. recommends the fried pearl noodles too.]

Japanese Food in Queens

The neighborhood’s slim Japanese offerings have improved in recent years thanks to 969 NYC Coffee, Sushi Fella (weekends-only), and the new Izakaya Fuku on Roosevelt Ave. We ordered from the latter and enjoyed the mentai udon with bacon, the tonkotsu ramen (very popular with my kids), the boiled baby octopus, mentai fries, and a grilled salmon bento. (There’s currently a 10% off pickup or delivery when you order via its website.)

From Hannah H.: Got tuna and salmon onigiri today at Cafe 969, and I’m so excited about it!
From Victoria S.: Try the ginger, honey, lemon tea next time you go to 969—iced or hot, it’s the best drink in the ‘hood. Also try the rice and nori sandwiches. Oda, the owner, is as wonderful as his food too. (She also recs the oyster and rice sandwich and calls the burdock slaw “revelatory”).

From Val C.: Nontraditional, but try Kissaki in Long Island City. The head chef there used to be at Gaijin, which was probably the best sushi in Queens.

From Kirsten S.: Our family really loves Izakaya Fuku for Japanese food in Jackson heights. It doesn’t have much sushi but has lots of other yummy Japanese dishes. Reminds me of izakayas I ate at in japan.

From Ilana Y.: I got the mackerel bento box [at Fuku] and was quite pleased. Needed some hot sauce to kick up the heat for me but otherwise excited to try the rest of the menu, especially other seafood dishes.

From Victoria S., re: Izakaya Fuku: It’s a charmingly eccentric room, but, even better, the food was exceptional. Had the chuka idako (boiled baby octopus with sweet soy sauce), the fried kibinago (deep-fried herring with mayo), gyu tan (grilled beef tongue) and the creamy mentai bacon udon (udon noodkes with spicy, creamy cod roe – creamy, funky and utterly delightful). Not a dud in the bunch. And beautifully packaged with lemon wedges and small bags of shredded nori. Plus it carries the ridiculously absurd and purely delightful sake jello shots that make me giggle. Will be back very, very soon. [She was, and also recs: the spicy menma (bamboo shoot with spicy oil), shio saba yaki (grilled mackerel with sea salt)—“excellent, subtly seasoned and perfectly moist inside, but I was truly dehydrated after the meal and this might have been the culprit”—takoyaki (grilled octopus balls)—“ ‘ve had and loved these before, these were unbelievably better, savory and both tender and chewy”—and yakiudon (pan-fried udon noodles with bacon, vegetable and yakisoba sauce)—“solid, but not revelatory, except that I do love the bacon here.”]

From Joanna H.: The wasabi octopus and the takoyaki were two of my favorites [at Fuku].

From Yi-Ling T.: Really like the mentai pasta, the gyu tan, and the grilled mackerel.


Ethiopian Food in Queens

Ethiopian was surprisingly popular for this challenge—surprising only because Queens does not have a ton of Ethiopian options. Once Long Island City’s Makina Café was mentioned, and it was realized that delivery to Jackson Heights is possible, quite a few of us ordered in. Here’s what the group had to say:

From Maura MC: Makina Cafe was awesome! We had the chicken tib bowl with ater and miser, and the vegetarian bowl with shiro, tikel gomen, and beet salad. We also each had a lentil sambusa, which was my favorite, and I wish I ordered more than one! The meal came with the perfect amount of injera (flat sourdough bread) and was just a fabulous, tasty new experience!

From Emma G.: I second the recommendation of the sambusa—I tried both the beef and lentil version, and both were fantastic. It’s hard to stop at eating just one, so order extra! Also loved the gomen (collard greens) and the ater kik (yellow split pea stew) in the vegetarian bowl.

From Lily DL: I suggest ordering a lot of extra injera. They don’t give much, but it’s cheap. And order the mushrooms on the side!

Regional Mexican Food in Queens

Lots of folks were interested in regional Mexican cuisine, from Oaxacan (try Cienega Las Tlayudas de Oaxaca in Corona) to Sinaloan (Mi Dulce Mexico, also in Corona) and more. Here are the recs from the group:

From me: I love La Esquina del Camaron Mexicano for its cócteles de camarón y pulpo (shrimp + octopus cocktails), but I also love the grilled fish taco and sea bass empanada. [Others recommend the ceviche, grilled fish taco, cocteles, and empanadas.]

From Courtney B.: I thought the tacos at El Don Taqueria & Grocery under the 7 train at 54th St. were pretty good. I appreciated the jalapeño chunks in the green salsa.

From Mark B.: Bought a huge bag of corn tortilla chips from Tortilleria Nixtamal on 104-23 Roosevel; sometimes they have blue tortilla chips as well but not today. They also sell rotisserie chicken, and if you want to make tamales or tortillas at home they sell masa and even pork lard.

From Kirsten S.: [Tortilleria Nixtamal] now has a restaurant in Manhattan. You can order meal kits for delivery, which are great. Also you can order and pick up if you have a car.

From Val C.: One of my favorite tacos in the hood is the taco placero at La Caleñita Bakery. It’s massive and in addition to the meat or chile relleno, it has potatoes, rice, and fried chiles. If you eat meat, I think they actually have the best, most flavorful birria in NYC! Their consommé edges out Birria-Landia IMO.

Also from Val C.: I like to get takeout from Parrilladas Sunrise. They are always cleaning inside and everyone is wearing masks properly as well as gloves. We’ve had many items from the antojitos portion of their menu, and they’re all great! I love their enchiladas, and the portions are generous.

From Bridget J.: El Rico Tinto is my favorite go-to.

From Taryn M.: We really like Coatzingo, and I’ve also been ordering some from Latino Bites. The Coatzingo chicken enchiladas with the green sauce are my go-to comfort food in the nabe. The chicken tacos from the Latino Bites truck are awesome, but I haven’t ordered them for delivery yet.

From Rebecca K.: I like Pico de Gallo. I think everything there is pretty solid.

From Grace A.: Love Que Rico Taco, we usually get: pastor tostadas; steak burritos; chicken taquitos; shrimp, fish, lengua tacos. Oh and their agua frescas: cantaloupe or watermelon.

Victoria S. recommends the figs stuffed with gorgonzola from La Flor (a Mexican fusion restaurant—it’s a special, but often there).
Lo Ro recommends the quesadillas and tacos from Taco Veloz on 90th St. and Roosevelt (“best one”).


Indonesian Food in Elmhurst

The Indonesian cuisine chat that came up was mostly me recommending my favorites: Awang Kitchen and Warung Selasa, both in Elmhurst. One thing I love about Warung Selasa is that she only does one dish a week (it’s essentially a long-term Tuesday pop-up inside an Indonesian grocery store, Indo Java), so you don’t have to choose! And you know it will be good. Even just following the chef, Dewi, on Instagram is useful to learn about the various dishes:

I have a feeling we will be delving deeper into Indo food soon.


Vietnamese Food in Queens

Just a few recs for Vietnamese food, but strong ones! Both Louise D. and Val C. gave high props to Joju for banh mi and fries! The kimchi and banh mi fries with bulgogi, to be specific. Victoria S. loves the beef bulgogi banh mi at Joju, while Bethany D. touts the shrimp banh mi and bun at Addictive Banh Mi. Elsewhere, Pho Bac was recommended.


Bhutanese Food in Woodside

Bhutanese was a cuisine of interest among some of us, and for those who are curious: There’s a billiards spot doing Bhutanese food in Woodside, called Weekender Billiards. Don’t miss the ema datsi, Bhutan’s national dish! It’s an interesting mix of hot chilies and cheese.


Peruvian Food in Jackson Heights

We are lucky to have lots of good Peruvian options in Jackson Heights. In our group, the two favorites that came up are Pollo Inka and Antojitos Doña Fela. Regarding the latter, we love the ceviche, arroz con mariscos, chicharron de pescado con yuca frita (fish and yuca fried to perfection)—you can get all three in the “trio marino” special for two. The pollo al cilindro is great, and the anticuchos (grilled beef hearts, super tender). Also surprisingly liked the causa de atun, which combines lemony potatoes with tuna (I usually avoid foods with mayo, but this was really tasty!). The morning tamales are said to be excellent, and don’t miss the fresh-fried picarones (like doughnuts) for dessert.

More from the group:

From Val C.: As a Peruvian, I implore you to go beyond roast chicken. My favorite places are Pollo Inka (especially on the weekends, when they do rotating specials) and Antojitas Doña Fela.

Also from Val C.: Ceviche is the national dish, and tiradito is a related dish. Jalea is a mountain of fried seafood. Chupe de camarones is a favorite; it’s like a creamy shrimp chowder. At Pollo Inka you can get tallarines verdes (creamy pesto) with fried fish, which I always love.


Middle Eastern Food in Queens

Mark B. shared some favorite orders from Duzan in Astoria, which delivers to Jackson Heights via Doordash: chicken shawarma platter with hummus and salad (you can choose two side: salad, hummus, rice, Israeli couscous, or fries). He recommends its hummus bowls (“either hummus-shawarma, or msabacha, which is hummus topped with warm chickpeas mixed with tahini and lemon”), its “warm and fluffy” pitas and delicious sauces. “I have not had better hummus in NYC.” Natalie C. suggests the hummus yafa there.

We are also fans of the newish El Toum, which also does falafel really well, plus has great kofta burgers and thick-cut fries.

Salvadoran Food in Queens

A pupusa stand on Roosevelt between 61st and 62nd came up thanks to Hannah H.: Call 646-659-4031 for delivery.

Armenian Food in Queens

For a group member seeking Armenian food, Joanna H. advised: My friend of Armenian descent buys a lot of prepared foods from Carmel in Forest Hills. Also, Holy Martyr’s Armenian church in Bayside does a festival every fall with mostly grandmas cooking food to sell, and it is so delicious!

Egyptian Food in Queens

Ben B. likes Sabry’s in Astoria for Egyptian food, while Mark B. says Zooba in Soho is a great Egyptian fast food joint (plus Eileen’s Cheesecakes is just across the street). Stay tuned for more exploration of this cuisine!

Venezuelan Food in Jackson Heights

Courtney B. suggests the pabéllon empanada from Empanadas Mix at 81st and Northern: “It is basically pabéllon inside a corn empanada shell, with shredded beef, cheese, black beans and plantain. Perfect combo of sweet and savory. One is perfect for a large snack or a small meal. They have a couple outdoor seats, too, but this is an easy meal for takeout.”


Uzbeki Food in Queens

A few group members had some good recs for Uzbeki cuisine:

From Frances B.: There’s a great kosher market on Main Street, Flushing—Haim’s International—that has good Uzbek samsa and breads. It’s a fun excursion. (It’s a bit of a mask-free zone, FYI).

From Victoria S.: Definitely try Cheburechnaya on 63rd Drive in Rego Park. All the filled and fried creations are great, as is the pilaf. It’s also a lot friendlier to non-Bukharians than other places I’ve tried in the area.

From Ying-Li T.: For Uzbek, the shashliks and the plov are how I measure restaurants! Especially the liver and lamb rib shashliks—they should be tender yet perfectly grilled. Plov (a Central Asian rice dish with mutton) should be flavorful, with the mutton falling off the bone. Pre-pandemic, Tandoor was really good and affordable, but it seems to have shut down. Shashlichnaya is now my go-to. Would recommend dining in, not taking out, since you want to eat the shashliks fresh off the grill.

From Erin D.: [I recommend] Uma’s for Uzbek food (Rockaway Beach).

Other/American Food

Ben B. hit up Butcher Block in Sunnyside, interested in corned beef, pastrami, and the great snack selection (Courtney B. suggests the classic Terry’s Orange Chocolate & Tayto’s Smoky Bacon!). He reports: They make the pastrami fresh there. The color and flavor was good. The price, at $9.50, was also good. But it wasn’t very juicy. A bit dry. So I probably wouldn’t get it again. Still fun though. It’s a very cool store I haven’t been to before. It’s like a small supermarket specializing in food from the U.K. and Ireland. They have a lot of things I haven’t seen before, like Irish bread, which is kept in the refrigerator case.

From Jeff O.: Nick’s Deli in East Elmhurst has surprisingly pretty damn good pastrami.

Also on the sandwich front, from me: I like the egg, cheese, and salsa verde sandwich from Parva Bakeshop and Café, as well as their quiches and emapanadas.
From Cindy L-M: Parva’s sausage egg and cheese croissants are huge!

Victoria S. and Lo Ro suggest dishes from Oceanic Boil: the shrimp and sausage gumbo and the lobster or crab legs.

And two recs for Lety’s: Lenore S. loves the lobster tails (crunchy filo dough filled with whipped cream), while Mark B. goes for the cheesecake flan, lobster tails, and Russian tea cakes.


Best Halal Carts in Jackson Heights

Here are the responses:

From Mark B.: My go-to is Salam’s Halal on 37ave in front of TD bank—they have a killer green cilantro sauce. The one around the corner is solid too, and their spice mix smells amazing. Sammy’s by Diversity Plaza is legendary as well, but I’m too lazy to go the extra block and I like it a little less anyway.

From Jeff O.: About 10 years ago, we had a competition for the best halal cart. The TD Bank cart won, on 74th St. I didn’t know it had a name.

From Josh S.: I’m a big Sammy’s fan! It is conveniently located by the 37th Rd. subway exit, so it was an easy stop in my way home pre-Covid.

Best Fried Chicken in Queens

Another thread asked about the best fried chicken in Queens:

From Jeff O. (several comments!): Jollibee, Popeyes, and Pollo Campero are great chains. The Queensboro‘s is sooo interesting. They have it every Friday. Not sure how often it changes, but the Lunar Rosh Hashanah one was awesome and the “normal” Korean-accented one was great. Also, Broadway Bakery on 90th is great when it’s great. They call it a broaster. Papa Chicken is like the best Chinese-restaurant fried chicken. (Not sure I will go back though.) I love BocBoc in the mall. Pomeroy and Thirsty Koala are on my list. They are a little pricey though. I think of fried chicken as Southern and casual. Maybe my favorite is the Kennedy around 90th and Northern. Pies and Thighs is pretty pricey, but I think it might be my favorite taste in NYC.

From Courtney LK: I like UFC Korean fried chicken. Sweet Chick in LIC is good too, for more Southern style. (But pricey, at $21 for 3 pieces.)

From Monica L.: Pelicana in Sunnyside on Greenpoint Ave. I’ve only done their soy garlic wings and boneless chicken. The truffle fries are pretty good.

From Ben B.: Palace in LIC. I guess it’s like a fast food chicken?

From Frances B.: Papa’s Kitchen on 83rd has good fried chicken. The hat yai chicken at Thaan is excellent.

From Gopal S.: Popeyes is the best. Surprising but true.

From Chris T.: Adding the fried chicken at Pecking House [the expensive pop-up, good for special occasions; Jackson Heights chef doing great sides and desserts too] and Sugar Freak to the list.

Paul T. mentions Dylans Forest Hills as promising (both for fried chicken and live acts).

Ashley C. and Pooja J. suggest Mad for Chicken (with shout-out to scallion chicken dish).


Where to Get Frozen Dumplings in Queens?

Short answer(s): Tian Jin in Flushing; Lao Bei Fang in Elmhurst; Bund on Broadway in Astoria; White Bear in Flushing; Pacific supermarket on 75th St.
Frozen momos from Nepali Bhanchha Ghar, Lali Guras, and Amdo truck, where they generally run 50 for $25.


Vegetarian-Specific Recommendations in Queens

A few veg-specific threads came up, with plenty of responses. Samudra and Maharaja Sweets in Jackson Heights are popular vegetarian-only Indian spots, among the others listed below. Beware of shrimp paste in Malaysian food and fish sauce in Thai food!

From Pooja J.: I recommend parathas made to order (can be made vegan) at Raja Sweets.

From Emma G.: We recently found Vegan Bowl Factory on Seamless and enjoyed it. They have a limited menu but everything is tasty—it’s mostly Indian-style dishes. My go-to vegan Chinese spot here in Queens is Jujube Tree.

From Val C.: You’ll probably get a lot of recs for Indian food, but Tangra Masala is excellent for Indian Chinese. Maybe Vietnamese? My go-to, Pho Bac, has bún with tofu and Buddha’s Delight, which will always be veg.

From Erin L.: I’m a vegetarian and also love Tangra Masala! The chili paneer and gobi Manchurian are our go-to dishes! Angel Indian has a great vegetarian menu too.

From Monica L.: There’s a new place on 83rd and 37th that’s doing oatmeal and tapioca bowls [Sweet Lucca].

From Annie L.: My favorite dish at any Nepali restaurant is the vegetable thali. Some combo of lentils, bean, veggie curry, with stir-fried mustard greens and pickles.

From Ben B.: Xian Famous Foods in Woodside has some great cold vegetarian noodles. I suggest the liang pi. Stall #28 in the New World Mall in Flushing also does a good version of them. I like the upside-down slice at Mr. Bruno’s in East Elmhurst. And if you see any of the taco trucks offering a chile relleno taco, try that. They have a good one at Aqui en Bella Puebla.

From Val C.: One of my favorite tacos in the hood is the taco placero at La Caleñita Bakery. It’s massive and in addition to the chile relleno, it has potatoes, rice, and fried chiles.

From me: Sandwich Therapy, the newish Israeli-Georgian stand by Travers Park, has some interesting veg options (pumpkin porridge, sabich, shakshuka). Some other favorite veg dishes around here: Colombian arepas, Peruvian tallarines verdes (Urubamba has these), falafel, of course—I’m loving El Toum’s lately. Cart quesadillas with queso + hongo. Ecuadorian llapingachos. Veg bhortas and shingara at Haat Bazaar. Korean bibimbap. The veg or egg thenthuk at Lali Guras, and the potato or paneer momos at Nepali Bhanchha Ghar (also love the veg thalis at both!). 969 NYC Cafe had a good veg ramen—I’m not sure he still makes it though.

From Hannah H.: In some Mexican restaurants you can get quesadillas de flor de calabaza (zucchini flower) or huitlacoche (a mushroom fungus that sounds weird, but it’s rich and can be delicious). Also basic but chilaquiles con huevo are super yummy (as long as you’re not super strict, because probably most Mexican restaurants use pork or chicken broth or fat at some point).

From Amy N.: El Shater, a Lebanese place on Queens Blvd and 43rd, has great food, usually one vegetarian option a day, like stewed chickpeas or eggplant and tomatoes, over rice with bread. So good. I also like Afghani for the spinach or okra and pulau rice. And pumpkin dumplings.

Kid-Specific Questions Re: Non-Spicy Food

Ah, the age-old conundrum for spicy lovers with kids: what to order the kids? Sure, some kids can handle it better than others, but even our hot sauce-loving little ones can’t handle the fire that comes with certain cuisines. With something like Colombian, Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Mexican, or Tibetan cuisine, you’ll find plenty of non-spicy options. Thai, Nepali, Bangladeshi, and Indian runs a bit spicier, but you can usually find something mild. Specific recs here:

From me: We order obsessively from Angel, and you CAN call and ask for certain things not-spicy there, but it’s never fully spice-free. Something like dal, chicken tikka, butter chicken or chicken tikka masala could work. And definitely Samudra! I used to take my boys there for plain idly and vada, uthappams, and plain dosas. In case something does have spice–get ’em a lassi! [More non-spicy tips from Angel: the fish moille, kale pakora, pani puri, dahi batata puri, paneer tikka (order mild), dal makhani (order mild)]

From Basia W.: We ask for the yellow dal not-spicy at Jackson Diner and my daughter loves it. Ditto for the lentil soup at Thakali Mustang Kitchen. And then there’s always pad Thai at Thai food. Ayada is a personal favorite!

From Natalie C.: We often order from Seva in Astoria as a family. They do a great job when we ask for “not spicy” and mention it’s for the kids. They love the paneer mahkani and the malai kofta.


The Supermarket Challenge!

On Day 4 of Eat Something New, we have a mini challenge involving a trip to the grocery store—why not liven up your next food shop by buying a new-to-you little something? The group took to this one, and there was definitely more than one recommendation for Lao Gan Ma’s spicy chile crisp (as well as smaller producers Yun Hai and Fly By Jing). Who’s tried it on ice cream yet?

From me: I grabbed two items from Yun Cafe’s shelves while waiting for my food order. I’ve eaten fried fava beans before, but not mixed with other beans and nuts and sesame seeds. Also not the way the package suggests: in a salad with tomato, cabbage, chile, onion, garlic, salt, and oil. After sampling 4 of Yun’s salads, that makes perfect sense! The tinned fish I couldn’t resist, because our family eats a lot of that.

From Amy N.: I hit up New Golden Supermarket on Broadway and Justice. I’ve been having buckwheat noodles which cook really quick for lunch. Either with a splash of Soy or aminos and a squirt of Dijon mustard (trust me, it works) Or a quick peanut sauce (peanut butter, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar/mirin, soy blended with a spoon of cooking water). Usually with microwaved soy beans or stir fried frozen green beans. Takes like 6 minutes.

From Sarah SL: I also use it with some chopped kimchi drizzled with rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Garnish with sesame seeds and strips of dried seaweed paper.

From Courtney B.: I went with a crunchy, spicy mix from the market where Farine used to be.

From Mark B.: Euro Market on 31st is my favorite in Astoria. Great selection of Balkan and Eastern European products (check their fluffy pitas!). They also have a surprisingly impressive imported beer selection. In my last visit I bought Serbian paprika (both sweet and hot) and also lokumi, the Greek version of Turkish delight, with ouzo, which I never had before. The lokumi is delicious, although I wish it had a bit less sugar. [There was a rec for the hummus at this market too.]

From Catherine D.: Net Cost in Rego Park is also great for Eastern European and Russian food goods.

[Don’t miss Mark B.’s dedicated post guide to shopping at Net Cost!)

From Cindy L-M: I got some sesame tong yurn (or glutinous rice balls, soft and chewy, mochi-like on the outside with sesame “lava” filling on the inside), and jasmine tong yurn to make for closing Chinese New Year. In Chinese, their name sounds like “unity,” which is important as a dish to symbolize togetherness for this new year. Also got some seafood balls: imitation lobster ones and fish with fish roe. (These I cooked in seafood broth with fried tofu cubes, mushrooms, bok choy, and bean thread noodles.) Also, a walk down the snack section had me spotting my all-time favorite as a kid: Puffs with creamy milk flavor filling! (Do not share with your kids, because you won’t have any left!) Got all these at the big Chinese supermarket in Elmhurst.

From Sarit A.: Taramosalata was our new grocery item from Titan Foods in Astoria. It’s good as a sandwich spread, but not as much on its own as it’s quite heavy on the mayo. Titan has their own brand that I tried a while back, which I think is better but of course pricier.

From Sara V.: I love Titan! My other favorite Greek market is Mediterranean Foods. They have a few locations. [So much feta!]

 

 

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