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Sky Cafe - Indonesian in Elmhurst.

Behold the Kari Bihun.
No trick photography here; it's as good as it looks.

Eat. Enjoy. Repeat.

P.

Jul 27, 2014
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Khao Kang in Elmhurst?

Also, Pata Paplean, the funky little bar next door to Tea Cup, serves up some formidable noodle soups on the weekends. 4 bucks each. One bowl's a snack, two's a meal. The tom yum is excellent.
P

Jul 11, 2014
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Khao Kang in Elmhurst?

Good place. Go for the Hor Mok (Sundays only) and the stewed pork belly.
P

Jul 11, 2014
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

bayside bay terrace whitestone

Give Mian a shot. Decent, if not great, noodle specialist. They took over the space vacated by Deli Masters.
P

Jul 08, 2014
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Long Gone But Not Forgotten! Manhattan Memories

I used to think the Brew Burger made the best hamburger on earth. As a teen, a favorite pastime was to catch some movies in Times Square with a friend or two, hit up the Brew Burger, then try and peek past the bouncer at the Metropole Go Go.

I had my priorities in order back then.

P

Jun 24, 2014
Polecat in Manhattan
1

Spicy Lanka: Sri Lankan Cuisine Returns To Queens

Yes, give or take.

May 05, 2014
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Spicy Lanka: Sri Lankan Cuisine Returns To Queens

I used to hit up a little joint near the Ganesh Temple Canteen in Flushing, called Bownie.

It was a tiny, dark storefront that you could have passed a million times without noticing it. Chances are if you did notice it, you'd likely have mistaken it for one of those makeshift car service joints. What it was, for many years, was Queens' only Sri Lankan eatery.

Bownie was the first place I tried a dish called Kothu Roti, which consists of chopped up roti mixed up and fried with the meat of your choice, assorted vegetables and a dynamic array of herbs and spices. I understand that in Sri Lanka, it's a street classic. In these parts, it was, and still is, hard to find, and I fell in love with it at Bownie. I returned periodically to Bownie over the years and tried other dishes, such as Iddiapam and Fish Curry. Liked them all. On top of that, I liked the people who worked there. Good, friendly folks.

Then, a few years back, something terrible happened.

Bownie burned down. On top of the fact that some good people were out of work, Queens had lost its' only Sri Lankan restaurant. That is, until about a year or two ago, when I heard about a new place that had opened up on Hillside Avenue. I'm sure someone here will remember the name - started with 'A' as I recall - and perhaps a few of you ate there. I never got a chance. On my two lone attempts to eat there, the joint was shuttered, and there was no answer on the phone. Eventually, it was a given that the place was a goner, down before its' prime.

I'd all but given up on Sri Lankan in Queens until this afternoon, when, en route to dropping my car off for servicing, I saw the bright green sign for Spicy Lanka, with the proprietor/server, a very gracious and friendly hostess, standing outside. To my delight, the place wasn't shuttered. It was open.

First, a few facts. Spicy Lanka has been open for about two months. They took over the medium-sized storefront previously occupied by the other Sri Lankan place around 9 months ago, and spent all that time renovating before opening. The chef is, indeed, from Sri Lanka. Sounds like they flew him in just to open the place. I'd give anything to know his impressions of Hillside Avenue.

The menu is a work in progress. Like Bownie's, Spicy Lanka has a small, modest selection of curries - I'm going for the Kingfish next time - appetizers and Devil dishes, which are something of a Sri Lankan stir fry. They don't have Hoppers yet, but will as soon as they have the proper kitchen equipment. The decor is nice, simple, clean. Nice bathroom. There's a funky little bar in the back right, but I'm guessing these guys don't have a liquor license yet; I didn't ask.

Pictured below is my lunch today - String Hopper Kothu with beef. String Hoppers are a kind of noodle, aka Idiyappam. The portion was enough for a meal and then some, and could easily be shared by two people along with another dish or two. What to say, I'm in love all over again. For those who've tried this at the celebrated Sigiri, Spicy Lanka's version is just as good, with potent heat, great texture and a wonderful array of flavors. It's also, at 10 bucks, about five dollars cheaper. This dish has a claim on my soul - I consider it a dark master. I know it's not good for me, but I can't stop eating it. With each heaping spoonful, I say I'm going to stop but know that I don't stand a chance. I'm caught in the crosshairs and resigned to my fate.

In all, I've been worse.

I'm excited to try more dishes here, and am really glad we have some Sri Lankan in Queens again. If the kothu is the only good dish here, I'd return again and again just for that.

Hope others come, enjoy and report back.

P.

Spicy Lanka
159-23 Hillside Avenue
(about a block or so away from the Parsons Blvd F stop)
Jamaica, NY 11432
718-487-4499

May 02, 2014
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Eim Khao Mun Kai: A Hainanese Chicken Rice specialist sets up shop in Elmhurst

Eim Khao Mun Kai is a small, dark store front with no outdoor signage. They do one dish and one dish only, Hainanese chicken rice. I would never had noticed them at all had it not been for the fact that I parked the car just a few paces away, on a busy stretch of Broadway that I usually look to avoid at all costs. It’s sandwiched between a pizza joint and a liquor store, and is just a few storefronts away from Ploy Thai.

The walls are brick, the ceiling one of those old-school corrugated numbers. It’s mostly a take-out joint, with two small round tables against the wall. Three skinned whole chickens hang from hooks behind the counter to the right, and there’s what appears to be a metal street food cart to the left, from which they sell cold drinks and sodas.

Again, these guys do one thing and one thing only. You have a choice of two orders, a half or whole chicken, on a pile of ginger-flavored jasmine rice, with a side of soup and a soda. The small order will hold you; it’s $8.99. The chicken rice comes with mostly white meat boneless chicken atop the rice with a few pieces of dark meat and a few small slivers of chicken liver, as well as three cucumber slices, for palette cleansing, and a thick, dark spicy sauce in a small plastic cup. There are other condiments on the table that I didn’t bother with, because the spicy sauce was enough. These guys are Thai, and the guy behind the counter told me that they do a Thai-style chicken rice (Khao Mun Kai is Thai for chicken rice), not so much that I’d notice; the sauce was what struck me as Thai, nothing else. The rice here was the clear star, fresh, aromatic, tasty, and, like I said, I liked the sauce. The chicken wasn’t so great, not when you consider that this is a place that does nothing all day but this dish. It wasn’t especially tender and, on the whole, not all that much better than what you’d get at any Malaysian restaurant in these parts. It should be better.

I actually did a double take when I peered inside this place and discovered it was a specialist restaurant, and, for that reason, wanted to like it more than I did. As it stands, although I liked the rice and the sauce, I don’t see myself beating a path back here any time soon. That said, these guys are new – they’ve been around for less than a month – and the food quality at this stage could be a variable.

The upside here is that, if these guys hit their stride - they've been around for less than a month - it could set the tone for more specialist joints to open up in Queens, which, to my taste, is a good thing. So I find myself rooting for them to succeed, and would encourage all of your Chicken Rice enthusiasts to beat a path out here and see what you think.

Eim Khao Mun Kai
81-32 Broadway, Elmhurst
(sorry, didn't get the phone number)

P.

Feb 18, 2014
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Mei Li Wah – A Cha Siu Bao Institution; Amazing Cha Siu Bao? No…The Best In Chinatown? Probably

I think they do a dai Bao; we've gotten it a few times. It's on the sweet side.

I've liked the pumpkin bun here.

Aug 06, 2013
Polecat in Manhattan

Mei Li Wah – A Cha Siu Bao Institution; Amazing Cha Siu Bao? No…The Best In Chinatown? Probably

I actually miss the older place. How can you beat a card board sign taped up to the wall saying, "no spitting."

We actually run into one of the older guys who used to man the counter. We were semi- regulars back in the day, so he smiles when he sees us. Never saw him do that when he worked there.

The big combo bun used to be my go- to back then; haven't ordered it much in recent years.

P

Aug 06, 2013
Polecat in Manhattan

Northern Boulevard Flushing Koreatown

It isn't sickly sweet tastes more of sesame.
P

Aug 05, 2013
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Best Filipino restaurant in Queens?

Inihaw na Baboy, or grilled pork belly. It's excellent. Comes with a nice vinegar sauce. The tuna belly is also a good way to go. They offer it up in different portion sizes, which is nice.
P.

Jul 30, 2013
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Northern Boulevard Flushing Koreatown

If you're ever up for Korean-Chinese, get on over to Chinese House (just around the corner from Ham Ji Bak, same block as Mapo BBQ) and order the ying yang combo of jajangmyun and jjambong. They're the only restaurant in town I know of that lets you combine the two in one order.

Wet your whistle with an iced Misugaru @ Cafe Originale, just a few doors down from Hansol.

We also just had some decent chik naengmyun @ Kum Sung in Murray Hill.

Lots more but also fun to just explore that little Murray Hill area; there always seems to be a new place cropping up every time we're there, which is often

P

Jul 30, 2013
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Larb Ubol Hell's Kitchen Thai

Went on Sunday, arrived early. Was the only customer for a while before other diners gradually sauntered in. I haven't eaten Thai in this area for ages so was blown away by how many restaurants there are on 9th alone; compettion should be better.

Anyhow, nice space, clean, very friendly and helpful waitstaff. Poodam came out to greet me after I'd told the waiter that I dined a few times at her old Astoria location. I was told that Hor Mok, the spicy fish custard, will be added to the menu eventually, but that anyone who wants it can order it off-menu.

I had the Gang Om, listed on the menu as a Laotian dark, spicy soup. You can get it with beef, chicken or pork, I believe. I got it with beef. It took me a while to remember where I'd tried this soup before, when I realized that Thailand Center Point in Woodside serves a version as well, which I always liked very much. Poodam's has even more going on in her bowl, though. There's also cabbage, chunks of pumpkin, lemongrass and dill. The flavor combination was parts sweet, tangy, earthy and, yes, spicy. Very, very spicy. I specified to the waitress that I liked it 4 out of a possible 5, which is usually how I order, but this felt more like a 5.5 or even a 6 compared to most other venues I've frequented (Ayada, Chao, Sri - the usual suspects). This was tongue-searing, lip numbing, sweat-inducing, sinus-clearing, damn-near trance-inducing heat. The waitstaff must have filled my water glass ten times, should have just left the whole pitcher on the table, or, better yet, run an IV from the sink. Through all this, though, the other flavors came through nicely; and typified the complexity that I love about Thai cooking. I'll just know to ask for it at Level 3 next time.

For what it's worth, I heard the couple to my left, who came in a little after I did, exclaim a few times, "wow, this is spicy!"

P.

Jul 30, 2013
Polecat in Manhattan

Nom Wah Tea Parlor – Surprisingly Good Dim Sum at One of Chinatown’s Oldest Restaurants

Ate there a few times in the old days, and also in recent years following reports of improvement.

The dim sum did improve. But it's also been inconsistent (never went @ night, only late morning/ trad dim sum times). So, while I've liked the egg roll a lot, I'm not surprised to hear that it's been overly greasy at times.

P

Jul 30, 2013
Polecat in Manhattan

Nom Wah Tea Parlor – Surprisingly Good Dim Sum at One of Chinatown’s Oldest Restaurants

Tried the Goto at Krystal's (Woodside) recently, with tripe. Thicker than Cantonese juk, with a side dish full of fried tofu squares immersed in a vinegary dark sauce. If you don't dig that sour, vinegar thing - I do - then this isn't for you. I liked the thickness of the porridge and the way the vinegar played off the savory and funk of the other flavors.
P

Jul 23, 2013
Polecat in Manhattan

Authentic Okinawan Cuisine in Manhattan

Okinawa soba...had this at a charming little joint on Kurumaebashidori in Koiwa. The wife and I really liked it, but it was too long ago for me to remember exactly why or what was unique about it. Staff and supposedly cooks were also Okinawan. Going back this August so I'll be curious to see how they're doing.
P

Jun 17, 2013
Polecat in Manhattan

Hot Dogs in Manhattan

Strong second on this one. I go to the Rego Park Costco and always look forward to a big, cheap and tasty jumbo dog. Easily the most underrated in town; I'd take it over Crif in a heartbeat.
P

Jun 13, 2013
Polecat in Manhattan

NY Magazine's "Sichuan Belt" in midtown Manhattan

SCG re-opened as the Hong Kong Cafe? When did this happen? And where are they?
P

May 21, 2013
Polecat in Manhattan

Mamak - An Indian Malay Specialist Opens in Flushing

Recently saw it at Song's Family Foods on Northern Blvd in Flushing, but you can probably find it in an H-Mart or Hanyeung Market (near Daheen Wang Mandoo, Geo Si Gi, etc)
P

May 21, 2013
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Mamak - An Indian Malay Specialist Opens in Flushing

Right u are. Yes. I'd been used to the Korean version, home made by my wife, mom- in-law and friends, and love it, but JV's version is altogether addictive.

Getting the shakes just thinking about it.

May 21, 2013
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Mamak - An Indian Malay Specialist Opens in Flushing

Re JV: The whole-fried Tilapia is terrific, as is their chicken jook.

My favorite item there, though, which is take-out only, is the fried sardines with peanuts. Been meaning to post about this alone.
P

May 21, 2013
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Mamak - An Indian Malay Specialist Opens in Flushing

I didn't mention that at least half the dishes are from a steam table up front. That's not an issue for me as a) I got there right after they opened, b) I saw Nani working hard to replenish and keep things fresh and c) some of my other favorite places - Java Village comes to mind - feature mostly slow-cooking steam table dishes.

But from a spice pov, it's definitely best to find out what they cook to order. You might want to call in advance.

P

May 21, 2013
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Mamak - An Indian Malay Specialist Opens in Flushing

With respect to NYC Malaysian joints, we’ve all become accustomed to the stock menu featuring scores of items spanning a greatest hits mélange of Malay, Hakka, Peranakan, Singaporean, Chinese and even Thai dishes. The result is that the kitchen tends to be spread very thin in trying to do all these dishes well, and winds up excelling at few to none.

The folks who opened up Mamak on May 8th, on a commercial stretch of Farrington Street just off of Northern Boulevard in Flushing, are doing the opposite. These guys are, in the words of the owner, specialists.

The menu, which features what I estimate to be no more than twenty to thirty items, reflects the Penang upbringing and background of Nani, the gracious and friendly chef-owner. Her specialty is Indian Malay dishes, each lovingly prepared with a variety of herbs and spices; the aroma grabs you the minute you enter the place. You won’t find Char Kwey Teow or Hainanese Chicken Rice on the menu here, nor for that matter any pork items, as the place is Halal. But that’s okay. These guys hone in on what they know, and something tells me we’ll all be the better off for it.

I did a solo lunch here yesterday, came in happy, left happier. Had I had a few more diners with me, I would have ordered the fish head curry ($28) in a heartbeat. Being on a solo budget, though, and wanting to try a few items, I mixed things up a bit.

Here’s the line-up:
-Indian crackers with a sweet and hot brown sauce (complimentary): crackling good fun, and I dug the sauce

-Rendang Chicken (complimentary): the owner saw that I’d been waiting a while and brought over this small bowl. The rending was a nice combination of sweet and hot and went well with rice; the bird was fall-off-the-bone tender.

- Sambal Ikan (Sambal Fish): the sambal wasn’t as spicy as I’d expected, but it had a decent amount of heat and a really nice depth of flavor. The mackerel was meaty, moist and not overly boney. Good stuff.

- Fried Cabbage with garlic and turmeric: This had a nice clean taste, wasn’t oily at all and brought good balance to the spicy fish.

- Tomato Rice: When I ordered rice, I was asked if I wanted white rice or tomato rice. I went for the tomato rice. Can you blame me? It was a light-red coated jasmine and was nice and aromatic and absorbed the other flavors very nicely.

- (Ipoh) White Coffee: I’m pretty sure this was instant, probably the same brand I have at home and can get at pretty much any Chinese supermarket, but, hey, these guys are the only restaurant I know of that serve it at all. Even the instant version has a light, unique taste and is an excellent way to cap off a meal like this.

In perusing the menu, there are very few items I don’t want to try. The fish head curry, for one, is calling my name. But then so is the Assam Pedas and the Sambal shrimp. I wouldn’t mind having a halfway decent Mee Goreng either, which is one of only two fried noodle dishes they do here; the few times I’ve tried it in other NYC joints, it has always pretty much sucked. I have higher hopes for Mamak’s version.

There is a palpable feeling of excitement here. Nani told me that, just the night before, there was a long line of homesick Malaysians waiting all the way out the door. On the dreariest, rainy Sunday we’ve had all year, as I was eating, the place filled up pretty quickly.

Mamak is a small, rectangular shaped place, with brick walls, bigger booths lining the walls on the left as you walk in, long and narrow two-tops on the right. The two-tops in particular are so long as to make you feel you’re very far away from your dining partner, but charm and good food will hopefully continue to win the day. At this point, there appear to be some awkward and minor service issues which are made up for an overall, genuine feeling of friendliness and desire to please. At one point, the waitress, noting that I had been waiting a while for my food, looked at me and said, “so how is your day going?” “Good”, I replied.

I didn’t lie.

Thanks to Joe DiStefano for tipping me off to Mamak in the first place. Here’s his post on Chopsticks And Marrow:

http://chopsticksandmarrow.com/2013/0...

There’s also an early Yelp buzz: http://www.yelp.com/biz/mamak-queens#....

Here’s Mamak’s website, with complete menu: http://www.mamakhouse.com.

P.

May 20, 2013
Polecat in Outer Boroughs
1

Araliya Sri Lankan

I was really looking forward to trying this place but had the exact same experience as you, about two months ago.

We've been sorely lacking Sri Lankan in this borough since Bownie closed.

P

May 11, 2013
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Main Street Imperial Gourmet – There’s A lot More To Taiwanese Food Than Street Food

Either with chives (I love chive dishes, I admit). They also do a spicy squid dish which I've liked. Looking forward to trying the putz fish and re- trying the oyster pancake. It's been years since I first had it here.

Haven't been thrilled with Yeh the few times I tried it but should have included it in my prior list, as it's very popular with the locals. Look forward to your recommendations.
P

Apr 08, 2013
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Main Street Imperial Gourmet – There’s A lot More To Taiwanese Food Than Street Food

I always go for a squid or cuttlefish dish here, never misses. Recently had a pork with chives dish that was excellent. Strong 3rd on the Fly Head, and agree about the friendly staff. Fried chicken with basil is surprisingly good; always wish I had a beer when I order it.

This area has really picked up in the past year or two. This joint anchors a mini-scene that now includes Lake Pavillion and two new Shanghai eateries. There's also Tasty Roast House (which I've found to be hit or miss) and a Malaysian place (one visit has inspired no more). I'm lucky enough to have wheels and live/work nearby, but it's fast becoming an expanded scene on it's own and is definitely worth checking out.
P

Apr 08, 2013
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

Taiyaki tea house - chinatown

Thanks for this. The only stateside taiyaki I can get regularly is the Korean version at the Flushing/Union Street H-Mart. Mitsua too but that's too much of a haul.

Look forward to trying this place.
P

Apr 07, 2013
Polecat in Manhattan

carnation bakery on kissena

Yes, but here's the big question: have you tried the pineapple chicken bun yet?
P

Mar 18, 2013
Polecat in Outer Boroughs

indian in queens, post southern spice and spicy mina's?

Seconded. Go for the GBM (Goat Brain Masala).
P

Mar 18, 2013
Polecat in Outer Boroughs