Category Archives: Queens

Indonesian Food Bazaar in Queens Serves Up Lots of Delights

There are several Indonesian food spots in Queens, but what better spot to try out a variety of dishes than an Indonesian food bazaar?

A few weeks ago, we trekked out to Long Island City to the Masjid al Hikmah mosque. About a dozen booths were planted around what looked to be the mosque parking lot. Down the center, was a long table. That’s where we sat after roaming the booths and sampling several dishes. Our favorites? The fried tofu, a rice noodle and fish soup, and the fabulous fish cakes. Best to eat those the second they emerge from their bath of boiling oil.

Photos by Laura B. Weiss

 

Indonesia cooking woman

Indonesia cooking white things

 

Indonesia green food

Indonesia skewer hands great

 

Indonesian eaters

 

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Wafa’s in Forest Hills: Go for the Terrific Middle Eastern Home Style Cooking

 

Wafa Chami, chef at Wafa's, Forest Hills, Queens. Photo: Laura B. Weiss

There’s been quite a lot of buzz about Wafa’s lately, the homey Middle-Eastern eatery on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills. Mostly, the talk’s been about Wafa’s baba ghanoush, but there’s a lot more to this modest establishment than its savory eggplant dip.

There’s nothing fancy about Wafa’s.  The room is small and plain and it’s mostly families and locals who frequent the place. Wafa Chami, a Lebanese native who came to the US in 1975 when she was 17, presides over the kitchen. And it’s a wondrous kitchen at that.  Covering her blond hair with a baseball cap, Chami hunches over the stove preparing kibbe, falafel and a parade of other dishes.  In fact, out of the small space, more compact than many home kitchens, comes some of the best Middle-Eastern food in the city.

If it feels like you’re eating at someone’s kitchen table, that’s because you are, indeed, eating Chami’s home cooking.

“I grew up in Lebanon, and these are all family recipes from my mother,” Chami told me one night when we decided to stop by Wafi’s for dinner after a stroll through lovely Forest Hills Gardens. “They’re old family recipes, from my mother, from my grandmother, from one generation to the next.”

Not only is the food sensational at Wafa’s, it’s an incredible deal.  Four of us ate a multi-course dinner for under $100. The kibbe, moist and delicately spiced, was a steal at $8.00.  I fell hard for the grape leaves—not your typical dry-as-sawdust cylinders, but moist and so flavorful that at $6.00 for a half-dozen of the succulent morsels, I didn’t hesitate to get two more orders.  Piggy, yes. But they were simply the best gape leaves I’ve ever eaten.

Other dishes that scored high among our group were the fattoush ($8), and the chicken ($12.95) and lamb ($13.95) schawerma. The meats come with two sides.  You can choose from any two of the following: green salad, okra, mujadarah, tabouleh, mousakaha, baba ganoush, French fries, and cauliflower.

The word has spread about Wafa’s.  We got there at 6 pm to beat the mob.  By 630, there was already a scrum of hungry fans waiting for a table to open up.

Wafa’s
100-05 Metropolitan Ave Map.6e70ca7
New York, NY 11375
718 880 2055

 

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Flushing’s New World Mall Food Stalls: Not Your Mother’s Food Court

By now, the Flushing malls, with their compact food booths from which emerge some dazzling regional Chinese dishes, are a well-known stomping ground for the culinarily curious.

The New World Mall, which opened last year, is hidden on the lower floor of a nondescript office building on Flushing’s bustling Main Street, the predominantly Chinese area’s teeming commercial hub. Enter the building, and the first floor holds few surprises. There’s a wireless provider and a Haagen-Daz ice cream shop. Very humdrum.

 

Making pork and scallion dumplings at Tianjan Food, New World Mall, Flushing, Queens. Photo: Laura B. Weiss.

 

But if you ride down the escalator, which is planted straight ahead of you just after you walk inside the building, you’ll encounter a mad riot of neon signs and mobs of hungry locals.

New World Mall, Flushing Queens. Photo: Laura B. Weiss

Yes, it’s a food court with booths stationed around the edges, the center filled with long tables. Except this spot is lined with roughly two dozen stalls serving up all manner of Chinese, Korean and Japanese delights. It seems that every family living in or around Flushing’s Chinatown—the second largest in New York after Manhattan’s—has descended on the place. There are families with children. There are teenagers huddled around tables. Elderly people pick at their steaming bowls of soup noodles.

 

Hand-pulled noodles with crispy duck at Lan Zhou Hand Made Noodles, New World Mall, Flushing, Queens. Photo: Laura B. Weiss.

 

Recently, I roamed around the mall, scarfing down savory hand-pulled noodles with fried duck at Lan Zhou Hand Made Noodles; the broth was savory but not earthy or deeply flavored enough for my taste. Then I tried feathery scallion and pork dumplings at Tianjin Food, easily the lightest and most flavorful I’ve eaten outside China.

 

Dumplings from Tianjin Foods, New World Mall, Flushing, Queens. Photo: Laura B. Weiss.

 

I finished up with a steaming bowl of congee, a Chinese porridge that’s often eaten for breakfast; sweet chunks of pumpkin floated just beneath the glistening surface.

If you want to try some Asian food dishes in familiar surroundings, the New World Mall provides a gentle introduction. And, of yes, the food court boasts clean bathrooms for that necessary pit stop before you head home.

How to Get There:  Take the Number 7 train or LIRR to Flushing/Main Street.

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First Annual Beer Month Kicks Off With Grill-Off at Water Taxi Beach

There had to be a month devoted to local beer making and imbibing, right?  And what better month than July?  That’s assuming the sun comes out, it gets hot and steamy like a normal  NY summer–and it stops raining.  A tall order, I know, given that, weather-wise, we’ve turned into Portland, OR,

water-taxi-beachSlow Food is using the occasion of Good Beer Month to drum up support for some worthy food causes. Water Taxi Beach in Queens will be the site July 21 of the great “Local Grill-Off,” the Good Beer Month kickoff featuring featuring hot dogs and such, not to mention suds from Red Hook’s  Six Point Brewery.

Here’s the info:

When:  July 21 (Tuesday), from 4pm-8pm (rain or shine).

What: The signature event of the first annual Good Beer Month will be the “Local Grill-Off” at Queen’s Water Taxi Beach benefiting the Slow Food NYC Harvest Time program. Harvest Time supports edible Victory Gardens, Student Farm Stands, and Good Food and Nutrition Education at schools in East Harlem, on the Lower East Side, and in Williamsburg.

Cooks will battle it out for the title of Good Beer Month Grill-off Champion, preparing their creative takes on traditional, and not so traditional, grill fare.. burgers, sausages, hot dogs.. produced from animals raised sustainably and humanely on regional farms. Six Point Brewery will serve up brews.

Good Beer Month will showcase great, neighborhood good beer bars and outstanding local breweries. Events will benefit non-profit organizations, including Slow Food NYC.

Where: Water Taxi Beach, Queens

How Much: Buy tickets at: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/71753
$30 Slow Food Members/$35 Non-members
Ticket cost does not include beverages.

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Bloomsday is Feast for Joyce Fanatics

I was late  last Tuesday to the 28th annual James Joyce orgy, Bloomsday on Broadway, Symphony Space’s 12-hour tribute to the Irish novelist. This year the theme was food.

People scampered in and out throughout the 12-hour marathon that began at 6 p.m. and ended at midnight. I spotted a lot of gray heads dotting the audience at this iconic Upper West Side event as a parade of veteran actors and celebs read passages that charted Joyce’s james-joycefoodiest moments.  These included descriptions in Ulysses of Bloom’s fried kidney breakfast–yes, he was an organ meat guy– and of the items like potted beef that occupied Molly’s larder. I walked in on the reading of a passage from Ulysses in which Bloom recounts the agony and ecstasy of his a.m. bowel movement.  Maybe that was appropriate given the median age of the listeners, not to mention of the readers which included Robin McNeil former host of PBS’ News Hour and battle-scarred Broadway actresses, like Marian Seldes.

Bloomsday on Broadway celebrates June 16, 1904, one of the most famous fictional dates in literature, when Leopold Bloom walked around Dublin in the pages of Joyce’s Ulysses.

To get the right Irish vibe going on the hamish Upper West Side, lamb stew and soda bread were dished up during intermission.

What did you think of this year’s Bloomsday on Broadway?

Related: Symphony Space: Bloomsday on Broadway Dips Into Food

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