The CHOW Blog rss

Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

World of Warcraft–Flavored Soda

World of Warcraft–Flavored Soda

This week's mission: a beverage for gamers. READ MORE

Popcorn Balls for the Holidays

Popcorn Balls for the Holidays

Too sweet and delicious to hang on a tree. READ MORE

Forecast: Soup Days Ahead

Soup’s on, just in time for this month’s rude preview of winter. ferdia says Mexican hound haunt Taqueria Coatzingo makes two of the best broths in Queens: a rich, porky posole (spike it to taste with lime juice, cilantro, onion, and cumin) and spicy, bright red chilate de pollo, full of chunks of tender chicken and hauntingly scented with an unnamed Mexican herb (2slices guesses it’s papalo, which also turns up in Coatzingo’s terrific cemitas). Either of these soups is a meal in itself, ferdia advises.

A few blocks up the street, Jose Fish Market, a go-to spot for Jackson Heights hounds, is on its game, dishing up cheap, delicious seafood soups: “Surprisingly good and very well seasoned,” says janethepain, especially with some hot sauce and a squeeze of lemon.

For lentil soup with a Turkish kick, phylrose suggests the ezogelin at Mangal in Sunnyside. (Get it with a slice of lahmacun, the crisp lamb flatbread, urges Anicca.) megc counts on Il Bambino in Astoria for “pretty kickass soups.” Recent choices have included split pea or Tuscan white bean with prosciutto; an autumnal pumpkin-apple; and a popular smoked-tomato bisque.

In Long Island City, Sage General Store also makes excellent soups, including daily vegetarian choices, phylrose reports. Coming up this week: chicken-vegetable with lime, roasted tomato-fennel, and roasted butternut squash, among others.

Thai soups can deliver heat in more than one way. ferdia goes for num tok noodle soup at Chao Thai in Elmhurst, which can be ordered with beef or pork, and light or dark (that is, enriched with pork blood). Nearby Ayada makes a killer beef tendon soup, also offered light or dark. icelandadam swears by it.

For a restorative tonic, ferdia recommends the Malaysian-style bak kut teh at Taste Good, which is a rich brew with medicinal herbs, fried tofu, and pork stomach and rib (just the thing to scare away the swine flu).

And Miss Needle fortifies herself at Woo Chon with sachul jungol, a spicy Korean lamb casserole with vegetables and perilla (shiso) seeds. “Stick-to-your-ribs hearty comfort food for the winter,” she promises.

Taqueria Coatzingo [Jackson Heights]
76-05 Roosevelt Avenue (near 76th Street), Jackson Heights, Queens
718-424-1977

Jose Fish Market [Jackson Heights]
81-04 Roosevelt Avenue (near 81st Street), Jackson Heights, Queens
718-478-0232

Mangal [Sunnyside]
46-20 Queens Boulevard (between 46th and 47th streets), Sunnyside, Queens
718-706-0605

Il Bambino [Astoria]
34-08 31st Avenue (near 34th Street), Astoria, Queens
718-626-0087

Sage General Store [Long Island City]
24-20 Jackson Avenue (between 45th Avenue and 45th Road), Long Island City, Queens
718-361-0707

Chao Thai [Elmhurst]
85-03 Whitney Avenue (near Broadway), Elmhurst, Queens
718-424-4999

Ayada [Elmhurst]
77-08 Woodside Avenue (between 77th and 78th streets), Elmhurst, Queens
718-424-0844

Taste Good [Elmhurst]
82-18 45th Avenue (between 82nd and 83rd streets), Elmhurst, Queens
718-898-8001

Woo Chon [Flushing]
41-19 Kissena Boulevard (near Main Street), Flushing, Queens
718-463-0803

Board Links: Good soups in Queens?
Recent Jackson Heights meals #3

Girls Who Hate Girly Drinks

Girls Who Hate Girly Drinks

Bad bartenders assume you're wimpy. READ MORE

Back-to-Basics Lobster Roll at Luke’s

Luke Holden, who grew up trapping lobsters in Maine, barely recognized what passed for a lobster roll in the big city: gooped up with mayonnaise, cut with celery, priced in the high $20s. So he enlisted a dependable supplier (his dad, still in the seafood business back home) and opened Luke’s Lobster in the East Village.

His lobster roll is sparely seasoned (salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, celery salt), bound with the barest amount of mayo, and served on a lightly grilled and buttered bun—and it’s just $14 for a four-ouncer or $8 for a snack-sized two-ouncer. So far, hounds are eating it up. “There is just enough mayo and butter to intensify the flavor,” says iFat, “but the focus is on simplicity and freshness, which is exactly what eating good lobster is all about.”

Some find the meat too cold or too salty, or the portion too small. NYAngeleno allows it might be on the small side next to the usual seafood-shack suspects, but finds it quite substantial, well proportioned, and better than rival rolls at Ed’s Lobster Bar, Mary’s Fish Camp, and Pearl Oyster Bar.

Luke’s Lobster [East Village]
93 E. Seventh Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A), Manhattan
212-387-8487

Board Link: Luke’s Lobster

Where Kimchee Meets Wheat Dough

HLing went nose-to-nose with a gigantic kimchee bun at Ming Chan Dong, and came out a winner. “The bun was almost as big as my face,” she swears, but it went down in no time thanks to its well-balanced and spicy but not overpowering filling stuffed into tasty wheat dough. The same dough is made into buns filled with pork, red bean, or vegetables (robust and delicious), as well as ma hua, deep-fried foot-long braided rolls that are slightly sweet and agreeably chewy.

Ming Chan Dong is on Union Street in Flushing, which marks the rough border between New York City’s richest hunting grounds for Korean food (mostly to the east) and Chinese food (mostly to the west). Not surprisingly it’s a Korean-Chinese hybrid, serving kimchee soon dubu (soft bean curd), more tart and flavorful than most, and both the Korean and Chinese versions of noodles in bean sauce with pork. The menus are in Chinese and Korean only; the waiter, who speaks both, is from an area of China near the Korean border.

“This is a new type of restaurant that’s got the best of both worlds,” HLing writes, “a very unpretentious place that suits my ‘peasant’ taste well.”

Ming Chan Dong [Flushing]
36-24 Union Street (between Northern Boulevard and 37th Avenue), Flushing, Queens
718-358-3935

Board Link: Giant Kimchi Buns from the borders of China & korea

Trend-O-Meter Says: Bread & Jam Is In (10/16/09)

Who doesn’t love a good bread-and-jam combo? More restaurants are seeing how, done right, it can be a pretty thing on a menu. It was spotted at Culver City, California’s Akasha, where you can choose among breads, including one made from spelt, served with strawberry jam. And also at Duck Fat in Portland, Maine, as grilled brioche topped with your choice of berry jams and mascarpone cheese, Nutella, or peanut butter. And though not technically jammy, in the spirit of the thing: a dessert being served at NYC’s Prune that’s called “butter and sugar sandwiches with raspberries.”

See more food trends, or tell us what trends you’re spotting.

Image source: Flickr member moriza under Creative Commons

New Find: Never-Stick Brownie Pan

No more broken brownies or stuck-to-the-bottom brownies. This is like a springform pan for brownies or bar cookies, even Rice Krispies Treats. You simply cook the batter in a grid shape, then the bottom lifts out so each brownie is individually formed and needs no scraping out of the pan. Genius!

Slice Solutions 9×9 Inch Brownie Pan Set, $19.99

Mayhem in the Kitchen

The New York City Wine & Food Festival went off last weekend, and the Hungry Beast took the opportunity to pry some hysterical stories of kitchen mishaps from the famous chefs at the party.

Ex-Top Chef-er Sam Talbot was in the midst of opening his Surf Lodge when the propane tanks ran out. He undertook a dangerous mission to borrow a tank from a friend of a friend: “we jumped in a 1967 Pinzgauer, which is a European, Humvee-like military vehicle, and sped over. Actually, we left one guy to make cold salads. Lots of cold salads. And the servers poured as much Champagne as they could. The nine of us loaded the propane tank into the back, and then lurched our way back to the restaurant across bumpy roads. Those things are highly explosive—it had to be the most dangerous thing I’d ever done.”

Matthew Weingarten of Inside Park at St. Bart’s had a tale from his younger days:

“When I was a young cook, Julia Child came in to eat at the restaurant that I was working at. She ordered roast chicken and I ended up cooking her nine roast chickens. The first was probably fine, but it wasn’t good enough to me, so I put it aside. The next three I burned, the second two were undercooked. So it ended being nine before one went out.”

Image source: Flickr member rubber bullets under Creative Commons

He Really Wanted Tacos

It’s well known that working in fast food is a thankless task. Between the hours, the pay, the sizzling-hot grease, and the often cranky attitudes of supervisors and customers alike, it’s not surprising that when the choice is between working at Burger King or an entry-level position with the Gangster Disciples, many opt for the latter.

But a pistol-packing would-be customer at a Taco Bell in Miami took “unpleasant workplace environment” to the next level last week. A local Fox affiliate reported:

“The gunman, who remains at large, ambushed several employees as they stepped out of the Taco Bell at 630 NE 79th St. at closing time, at about 3:30 a.m., Tuesday. He fired several shots, and Rebecca Bouie took a bullet to her leg, before he fled the scene. ... Bouie took the bullet, according to Miami Police, because some guy was upset the store had closed and he could not buy any food.”

Holy. Hell. We’re all sensitive to the importance of the Fourthmeal, but shooting a single mother who’s already working the graveyard shift at the Bell is absolutely beyond the pale.

Image source: Flickr member greenmelinda under Creative Commons