26 May 2016

Thai Diva Cuisine

THAILAND

Some restaurants, even good ones, like to flirt with Northern Thai menus and provide the cuisine of Chiang Mai here in New York. Usually they don't do it quite right, with dishes like khao soy and nam prik ong being too sweet or not fiery enough, respectively. The ingredients necessary to make these northern dishes are harder to come by and their substitutions really matter. Chiang Mai Restaurant in Red Hook, Brooklyn did things the right way, but is still trying to open in a permanent space.

Enter Thai Diva Cuisine, about two weeks old in Sunnyside, Queens. We visited last Tuesday night and spoke at length with the the staff here, who speak Northern Thai language to each other, always a good sign. We were told the head chef is only working during the weekday lunches and every other weekend, so the evening chef is an apprentice of sorts. A very capable one though, as we sent in an order for six, basically asking for everything from the two pages of "Northern Thai Style" items that are outside of the restaurant's official, but typical menu.

We plan to return for lunch soon and see what the differences are, but already the food is worth coming here for. Here are our selections from that evening:

Larb muang ($9)

Khanom jeen nam ngiao ($11)

Moo ping ($6)

Sai-ua ($9)

Naem moo ($8)

Nam prik ong ($7)

Nam prik noom ($7)

Khao soi ($12)

Tum kanoon ($9)

This tiny place will certainly be on every radar imaginable soon, so go get your seats before there are no seats to be had. Hungry City will take away any chance of sitting here most nights!

Thai Diva Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

24 May 2016

Yemen Cuisine

YEMEN

Somewhat of a stalwart from a different Cobble Hill, Yemen Cuisine seemingly has not changed a bit over the years. Trader Joe's has moved in, the neighborhood has continued to evolve in different directions, and strollers pass by without as much as a glimpse inside. I doubt even a new coat of paint has been discussed for a decade. A couple Middle Eastern restaurants and a famous bakery remain in the area, but much has changed since 1988 and the wonders described in an Aramco World Magazine article.

No matter, the food at this spot is unchanged, and that is the important thing here.


It has been years since I took lunch specials for myself when I lived near what is now Barclays Center, but I was happy to be back, this time with a group of four. No matter what you order, soup (above) and a salad will arrive before everything else.

The best way to attack the menu is to choose the meats that also offer what they refer to as a "cultural platter." These platters are the staples of Yemeni meals, the equivalent of rice in other cuisines.


Our first selection was the haneez ($21, above), a roasted chunk of lamb marinated in spices. This we combined with the salta (below), possibly the most iconic dish of Yemeni cooking, a mixture of vegetables and spices heavy with fenugreek. It comes in a clay bowl still boiling and is always served with large round pillowy bread.



The half-roasted chicken ($14, above) is also very good here, and well paired with the lovely (if a bit unappetizing to the eye) fatta (below), bread that has been soaked in lamb gravy sauce. The flavors here are familiar even for westerners, home cooking that is reminiscent of Thanksgiving in the USA.



Don't miss out on their uniquely prepared broiled trout ($18, above), which is served split open with no bones and red from paprika. None of us had ever had aseed (below) before, so we paired it with this, what is described simply as "gruel" on the menu. This cooked flour is served with the lamb gravy as well, and has a consistency somewhere between mashed potatoes and West African fufu.


Yemen Cuisine does a brisk business in the morning and afternoon, but closes up shop some time around 9pm and is not in it's best shape in the evening. Keep this in mind when planning a visit.

Yemen Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

22 May 2016

Where to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup and Copa America Centenario in New York City

2016 SUMMER OF FOOTBALL


As many of you know, I cannot get enough football in my life, and have spent considerable energy the past two World Cups (2010, 2014) trying to map the city with the best places to watch the games with the fans of every country participating. Much of the research overlaps with the food and cultural experiences written about here every week. To me, these tournaments are just another extension of what this city has to offer in those cultural arenas, while also a chance to enjoy the beautiful game with its beautiful fans. I can no longer wait four years between this fun, and 2016 offers the perfect opportunity to do the same thing for two enormous tournaments, and many new countries. The best players of Europe will be competing at the Euro Cup starting June 10th, while the best of all the Western Hemisphere will be at Copa America Centenario, a special off-year edition of the Copa America that is being hosted in the United States beginning June 3rd.

As usual, you are 100% covered here on Eat the World NYC with an array of choices to watch the games with the fans and expats of each nation, while eating and drinking with them. Get to know your city more while enjoying the game you love, or just use it as an excuse to see an alternate side of world culture. This list might change and adapt as I find more information, so please bookmark this page and enjoy the tournaments!

EURO CUP 2016, hosted by France:
For your pan-Euro Cup viewing enjoyment without a focus on one team, try places like Woodwork (583 Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn), Smithfield Hall (138 West 25th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan), and the Football Factory (6 West 33rd Street, Midtown, Manhattan).

EURO GROUP A - France, Romania, Albania, Switzerland

FRANCE: Friday 10 June 3pm (vs Romania)
Wednesday 15 June 3pm (vs Albania)
Sunday 19 June 3pm (vs Switzerland)
The hosts will be easy to catch with prime-time (in France, which means 3pm here) slots for all three games. Bar Felix (340 West Broadway, SoHo) will be a hub for all the afternoon games, but expect crowds pushing to the curb during games for Les Bleus. In Brooklyn, try Bar Tabac (128 Smith Street, Cobble Hill), a funky spot with good drinks and a great football atmosphere in a neighborhood with a lot of French expats.

ROMANIA: Friday 10 June 3pm (vs France)
Wednesday 15 June 12pm (vs Switzerland)
Sunday 19 June 3pm (vs Albania)
Of the two Romanian places in Sunnyside, only Romanian Garden (43-06 43rd Avenue, Sunnyside, Queens) is not currently being renovated, and has a TV that will have all three games showing.

ALBANIA: Saturday 11 June 9am (vs Switzerland)
Wednesday 15 June 3pm (vs France)
Sunday 19 June 3pm (vs Romania)
Based on the reaction of the owner/manager when I returned to Cemi Cafe (61 Church Avenue, Borough Park, Brooklyn), an Albanian-Montenegrin bar in Borough Park, this will be the go to place for Albania's games in the Euro Cup. They open at 9am on regular days, so their early morning contest against Switzerland will not be a problem. Expect an even more lively crowd for the 3pm games, especially the last game if Albania still has a chance to qualify for the next round. The young chef/manager at Pravue Cafe & Albanian Grill (70-02 Fresh Pond Road, Ridgewood, Queens) is a big fan and will definitely have the small place tuned in for the 3pm games. Also in the neighborhood is the members only club Sport.C.Tirana Cafe (785 Fairview Avenue, Ridgewood), which sets up chairs outside in nice weather and probably won't be too concerned about their members only policy when the games are on.

SWITZERLAND: Saturday 11 June 9am (vs Albania)
Wednesday 15 June 12pm (vs Romania)
Sunday 19 June 3pm (vs France)
Switzerland has a couple places that will show their true colors on game days, even if not all the patrons are from the Confederation Helvetica. Downtown option Cafe Select (212 Lafayette Street, Nolita) is a fun place that sets up a projector for games and has good breakfast. Further uptown, Mont Blanc (315 West 48th Street, Hell's Kitchen) will also be showing all the afternoon games live and getting behind the motherland.


EURO GROUP B - England, Russia, Wales, Slovakia

ENGLAND: Saturday 11 June 3pm (vs Russia)
Thursday 16 June 9am (vs Wales)
Monday 20 June 3pm (vs Slovakia)
The English will be hard to avoid anywhere in the city on their game days, with many cold ales spilled if Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy can be friends in the final third. For a slightly lower chance of getting a beer tossed on you, try three spots in Brooklyn: Black Horse Pub (568 5th Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn), which will be open early for every Euro Cup game, Highbury Pub (1002 Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Park, Brooklyn), and The Monro (481 5th Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn), which are all used to the big game crowd and can serve out all the old favorites from the kitchen. Back in Manhattan, try The Churchill Tavern (45 East 28th Street, NoMad, Manhattan), which will be open for the two afternoon games.

RUSSIA: Saturday 11 June 3pm (vs England)
Wednesday 15 June 9am (vs Slovakia)
Monday 20 June 3pm (vs Wales)
Russian support will be high and loud at many spots in the city, but for possibly the best Euro Cup/life experience, spend game day at the Russian Bath on Neck Road (1200 Gravesend Neck Road, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn) which opens at 8am daily and has a connected sports bar which will also be open for the early games. The owner here has autographed jerseys from all the best Russian hockey players and was visibly excited with the upcoming tournament, he seems to be a real sports buff and this is his pleasure dome. Another place to catch a game will be the always odd German-themed beer hall with Uzbek food in Brighton Beach called KeBeer Draft Bar & Grill (1003 Brighton Beach Avenue, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn). In Midtown, make reservations for Russian Samovar (256 West 52nd Street, Midtown) and enjoy the games with fine dining and an impressive assortment of vodka.

WALES: Saturday 11 June 12pm (vs Slovakia)
Thursday 16 June 9am (vs England)
Monday 20 June 3pm (vs Russia)
The one and only Welsh pub in New York City is Brooklyn's Longbow Pub and Pantry (7316 3rd Avenue, Bay Ridge), which will be open for every Euro Cup game in June. The morning game against England should be especially good here.

SLOVAKIA: Saturday 11 June 12pm (vs Wales)
Wednesday 15 June 9am (vs Russia)
Monday 20 June 3pm (vs England)
Koliba (31-11 23rd Avenue, Astoria, Queens) does not keep the most forgiving hours and is closed Mondays, so try the Slovakian menu at Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden (29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria, Queens), which will have all or most of the games and most if not all the Slovaks in Queens.


EURO GROUP C - Germany, Ukraine, Poland, Northern Ireland

GERMANY: Sunday 12 June 3pm (vs Ukraine)
Thursday 16 June 3pm (vs Poland)
Tuesday 21 June 12pm (vs Northern Ireland)
The heavyweight champion of this category is undoubtedly Zum Schneider (107 Avenue C, Manhattan), the East Village beer hall that will have a line around the block even before the cleaning crew arrives in the morning. The food and beer selection here always satisfies its German contingent, and the place will be forever rocking during German matches and throughout the tournament. If that atmosphere doesn't appeal to you, try walking a bit to Loreley (7 Rivington Street, Lower East Side) which also has good beers and food. Zum Stammtisch (69-46 Myrtle Avenue, Glendale, Queens) will be another excellent choice, and unlike its Bavarian Zum brother on Avenue C, should be manageable for having your own personal space. Plates of excellent food and boots of beer are always popular here.

UKRAINE: Sunday 12 June 3pm (vs Germany)
Thursday 16 June 12pm (vs Northern Ireland)
Tuesday 21 June 12pm (vs Poland)
The Ukrainian Sports Club of New York (122 2nd Avenue, East Village, Manhattan) already has a sign on their door with all the times of each fixture and Ukraine's games underlined. One block north, the Sly Fox (140 2nd Avenue) usually opens at 6pm, but the bartender told me if Ukraine is playing he will be open because he wants to watch as well. In SoHo, upscale Korchma Taras Bulba (357 West Broadway, SoHo, Manhattan) might need someone to request a game to get it on TV, but should liven up as the game progresses. The food here is great.

POLAND: Sunday 12 June 12pm (vs Northern Ireland)
Thursday 16 June 3pm (vs Germany)
Tuesday 21 June 12pm (vs Ukraine)
For Poland's games, head out to Maspeth and Johnny's Cafe (60-39 Fresh Pond Road, Maspeth, Queens), which has a nice small bar and much larger dining area and plenty of TVs to handle a good number of eyes. A little further south in Ridgewood is Krolewskie Jadlo (66-21 Fresh Pond Road, Ridgewood, Queens), which also has beers on draft at its small bar.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Sunday 12 June 12pm (vs Poland)
Thursday 16 June 12pm (vs Ukraine)
Tuesday 21 June 12pm (vs Germany)
There is one Northern Irish (inspired) pub in New York City, the Financial District's Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog (30 Water Street, Manhattan), but they do not have any televisions unfortunately. Working on this.


EURO GROUP D - Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, Croatia

SPAIN: Monday 13 June 9am (vs Czech Rep.)
Friday 17 June 3pm (vs Turkey)
Tuesday 21 June 3pm (vs Croatia)
La Nacional Tapas Bar (239 West 14th Street, Chelsea) was absolutely bursting at the seams during the last World Cup and two years before for the European Championships, so it is a good bet to be amongst Iberians of all ages this year. They are currently under renovations but plan to be open by the time of the first game as Spain tries to defend its title. If that proves difficult to get into, two blocks north is Cafe Riazor (245 West 16th Street, Chelsea), which should be slightly more subdued. Casa d'Paco (73 Warwick Street, Newark, NJ) is over in Ironbound but will be the perfect place to cheer on Spain as it already exudes football.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Monday 13 June 9am (vs Spain)
Friday 17 June 12pm (vs Croatia)
Tuesday 21 June 3pm (vs Turkey)
Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden (29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria, Queens) will be the best place to catch all of the action, with plenty of food and drinks for everyone. Expect massive crowds here on weekend games if the weather is good, but this place has plenty of capacity as well as plenty of Czech and Slovak menu items to enjoy in their lovely and massive garden.

TURKEY: Sunday 12 June 9am (vs Croatia)
Friday 17 June 3pm (vs Spain)
Tuesday 21 June 3pm (vs Czech Rep.)
For that first 9am game, try OPera Cafe & Lounge (2255 Emmons Avenue, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn), which opens for breakfast at 8am daily and has plenty of televisions. For the afternoon games, Staten Island will also afford a good location in Seaside Turkish Restaurant (124 Ocean Avenue, Staten Island) to watch games comfortably with great fresh seafood and drinks. You can expect the games to be on in many casual Turkish eateries throughout the city, with cab drivers and countrymen sneaking in to see if their team can advance.

CROATIA: Sunday 12 June 9am (vs Turkey)
Friday 17 June 12pm (vs Czech Rep.)
Tuesday 21 June 3pm (vs Spain)
It is unlikely that Istria Sport Club (28-09 Astoria Blvd, Astoria, Queens) will open its doors for the 9am and noon matches and is not even open on Tuesdays, so try United Miners S.C. Rudar (34-01 45th Street, Astoria, Queens), where the ground floor bar should be open for the games and the bar also plans to show the games outside if the staff can get up in time. Based on my conversation with the bartender, I would not rely on the 9am game to be showing here, but the other two should be fine. Not every neighborhood has a Croatian pub, but Astoria certainly does. Cafe Bar Scorpio (35-15 Broadway, Astoria, Queens) is always a big draw on game days and should be full for most of the Euro Cup, but do note they don't serve food. There is sometimes a cover here.


EURO GROUP E - Belgium, Italy, Rep. of Ireland, Sweden

BELGIUM: Monday 13 June 3pm (vs Italy)
Saturday 18 June 9am (vs Ireland)
Wednesday 22 June 3pm (vs Sweden)
The BXL empire will have a monopoly on the Belgian fans. There are two Midtown locations (BXL East: 210 East 51st Street, focus on Belgian beer, and BXL Cafe: 125 West 43rd Street, focus on Belgian football), but the best option of the three is more charming BXL Zoute (50 West 22nd Street, Manhattan), which was full of "Come on Belgium!" chants when I attended a World Cup game in 2014. They plan to be open early for all Euro Cup games.

ITALY: Monday 13 June 3pm (vs Belgium)
Friday 17 June 9am (vs Sweden)
Wednesday 22 June 3pm (vs Ireland)
Ribalta (48 East 12th Street, Greenwich Village, Manhattan) may seem like an innocent pizzeria, but they have a separate Facebook page entitled "Ribalta Stadium" that keeps Italian football fans in tune with the matches they are showing, primarily Italian league games. When Euro Cup begins, you can be sure they will be packed with Forza Azzurri fans for both of the two 3pm games. For more simple places to come and go, try Little Italy staples Mulberry Street Bar (176 Mulberry Street) and Grotta Azzurra (177 Mulberry Street).

REP. OF IRELAND: Monday 13 June 12pm (vs Sweden)
Saturday 18 June 9am (vs Belgium)
Wednesday 22 June 3pm (vs Italy)
Bars in Woodlawn Heights, New York City's most exclusively Irish neighborhood located in the Bronx should be a good place to locate yourself for the three games they play in the group of death. Bonus because the bars will also cure a lot of sorrow. There are about a dozen bars on a few block stretch of Katonah Avenue, the best of the bunch being The Avenue (4352 Katonah Avenue, Woodlawn Heights, Bronx), which has a banner outside proclaiming it the "2016 Irish Euro Headquarters." Sunnyside used to have a much stronger Irish presence, but you will find good places to watch still. Bar 43 (4306 43rd Street, Sunnyside, Queens) is a sports pub at heart, and will be a football pub during Euro Cup.

SWEDEN: Monday 13 June 12pm (vs Ireland)
Friday 17 June 9am (vs Italy)
Wednesday 22 June 3pm (vs Belgium)
Unfortunately, the Swedes find their home for football games at Tonic Times Square (727 7th Avenue). The only good news is that the Netherlands did not qualify, because they also use this horrid place as their home base.


EURO GROUP F - Portugal, Iceland, Austria, Hungary

PORTUGAL: Tuesday 14 June 3pm (vs Iceland)
Saturday 18 June 3pm (vs Austria)
Wednesday 22 June 12pm (vs Hungary)
The main Portuguese community in the area resides in Newark, New Jersey, and this will undoubtedly be the most rewarding place to cheer on the one man show of Ronaldo. The best place will probably be the Madrid & Lisbon Bar & Restaurant (325 Lafayette Street, Newark New Jersey), where #7 jerseys hang from the wall. Also try the bar area at otherwise stuffy Coimbra (637-641 Market Street, Newark, New Jersey), a wonderful place for food and drink. Across the Hudson, and Manhattan, and 90% of Queens is some of the best food at upscale O Lavrador (138-40 101st Street, Jamaica, Queens), which promises to unbutton its collar during matches, especially on the bar side of the operation, an area already covered in red and green flags and scarves.

ICELAND: Tuesday 14 June 3pm (vs Portugal)
Saturday 18 June 12pm (vs Hungary)
Wednesday 22 June 12pm (vs Austria)
[Still monitoring a few places to see if an event or two pops up. Stay tuned.]

AUSTRIA: Tuesday 14 June 12pm (vs Hungary)
Saturday 18 June 3pm (vs Portugal)
Wednesday 22 June 12pm (vs Iceland)
Brand new Werkstatt (509 Coney Island Avenue, Ditmas Park, Brooklyn) does not seem to have plans to open early, but will be open for the Saturday game and has one TV at the bar. Head over to Cafe Steinhof (422 7th Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn) to make sure you don't miss any of Das Team's games.

HUNGARY: Tuesday 14 June 12pm (vs Austria)
Saturday 18 June 12pm (vs Iceland)
Wednesday 22 June 12pm (vs Portugal)
Take the moniker as you like, but technically Radegast Hall & Biergarten (113 North 3rd Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn) is an "Austro-Hungarian" beer garden, and will drop their projection screens down like they do for all big tournaments and be open early for all the games. The first match on Tuesday between Austria and Hungary will probably not test too many rivalries, but it should be a fun place to watch the game nonetheless.
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COPA AMERICA CENTENARIO, hosted by the United States:
For your pan-Copa America Centenario viewing enjoyment without a focus on one team (but certainly a focus on Latin America), try NY Chevillotte Billar (Jackson Heights, Queens), a vast billiards hall with TVs everywhere and decent food, and Smithfield Hall (138 West 25th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan). Many South American league games are played at the Football Factory (6 West 33rd Street, Midtown, Manhattan), so you are likely to see the place full most evenings.

COPA GROUP A - USA, Colombia, Costa Rica, Paraguay

UNITED STATES: Friday 03 June 9:30pm (vs Colombia)
Tuesday 07 June 8pm (vs Costa Rica)
Saturday 11 June 7pm (vs Paraguay)
There are two bars in New York City that have official ties to the American Outlaws, the greatest organization in all the land. In Manhattan, AO NYC meets at Jack Demsey's (36 West 33rd Street, Midtown) on the top floor, while the Brooklyn chapter sets up BBQ and other specials at Lone Star Bar & Grill (8703 5th Avenue, Bay Ridge). Red, white and blue is the theme of both places, with passionate support trying to overcome nervousness and eventual disappointment.

COLOMBIA: Friday 03 June 9:30pm (vs USA)
Tuesday 07 June 10:30pm (vs Paraguay)
Saturday 11 June 9pm (vs Costa Rica)
While they might be better for families, skip the cafes of Roosevelt and 37th Avenues and head up to Northern Boulevard. Two years ago I walked back and forth trying to figure out which one of many places would be best as they all heaved with yellow jerseys. Try Teatro Restaurante Boulevard (82-24 Northern Boulevard, Jackson Heights, Queens) for a full-on party in a space usually reserved for dinner theater. The food here is acceptable (the "mini" bandeja paisa is anything but mini), but the party promises to be one of the best. For less of a sit down atmosphere, try one of three bar restaurants: La Pollera Colorada II (82-13 Northern Blvd, Jackson Heights) should be rowdiest, while El Rumbero (82-05 Northern Blvd) and El Paisa Bar (87-05 Northern Blvd) won't be far behind. Spend a little time at each if you can.

COSTA RICA: Saturday 04 June 5pm (vs Paraguay)
Tuesday 07 June 8pm (vs USA)
Saturday 11 June 9pm (vs Colombia)
The place to be on Ticos game days is Olga's Place (214 LT Glenn Zamorski Drive) in Elizabeth, New Jersey. I got to catch a game here during Costa Rica's great 2014 World Cup run, and the roof almost came off. The food is good too. New York-based Ticos seem to hang out at Favela Cubana (543 LaGuardia Place, Greenwich Village, Manhattan), but with no Costa Rican food, you can also try friendly (but alcohol-free) New Jersey favorites like Guanaticos (261 Irvington Avenue, South Orange, NJ), Maplewood Deli (1628 Springfield Avenue, Maplewood, NJ), and The Banderas (41 Park Avenue, Summit, NJ).

PARAGUAY: Saturday 04 June 5pm (vs Costa Rica)
Tuesday 07 June 10:30pm (vs Colombia)
Saturday 11 June 7pm (vs USA)
The one place to watch Paraguay is I Love Paraguay (43-16 Greenpoint Avenue, Sunnyside, Queens), which will undoubtedly stay open late for that 10:30pm game versus Colombia. Get there early, as the place will be over capacity well before kickoff.


COPA GROUP B - Brasil, Ecuador, Haiti, Perú

BRASIL: Saturday 04 June 10pm (vs Ecuador)
Wednesday 08 June 7:30pm (vs Haiti)
Sunday 12 June 8:30pm (vs Perú)
Coming off the disappointment of 2014 and the fact that Rio will host the Olympics later in the summer, the performance of Brasil is to be determined. Neymar will not be with the team as he has only been allowed to play one of two tournaments and his home country wants to showcase him in the Olympics. Given all this, you can still expect the Brazilians in New York to be out for their team. In Brooklyn, Brazilians love to gather at Miss Favela (57 South 5th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn), which is tight but has great atmosphere. Beija Flor (38-02 29th Street, Astoria, Queens) might have Astoria's best viewing setup, but non-alcoholic eateries like Rio Market (32-15 36th Avenue) and Pão de Queijo (31-90 30th Street) will also have their TVs on and provide very good food.

ECUADOR: Saturday 04 June 10pm (vs Brasil)
Wednesday 08 June 10pm (vs Perú)
Sunday 12 June 6:30pm (vs Haiti)
Barzola (92-12 37th Avenue, Jackson Heights, Queens) will be the hottest ticket in town, get there early or just enjoy the standing room only overflow. Tropical (67-22 Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside, Queens) is another good option for a slightly less raucous crowd and has many locations throughout Queens, while Hornado Ecuatoriano (76-18 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights) probably offers the best game food if you're hungry and want a table. If the weather is good and you want to stay outside, the three food trucks parked on Warren Street just south of Roosevelt also have TVs and should gather a nice crowd.

HAITI: Saturday 04 June 7:30pm (vs Perú)
Wednesday 08 June 7:30pm (vs Brasil)
Sunday 12 June 6:30pm (vs Ecuador)
Close to Barclays Center, try La Caye (35 Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn), which has a small bar and very good atmosphere as well as food. One of the owners here actually played for the Haitian national team in the past, and the place has a projection screen that comes down for big games. Tonel (1236 Rogers Avenue, Flatbush, Brooklyn) will probably have the largest gathering in one room, with two screens above the bar being the center of attention. They host all types of Haitian events and should be the spot near Nostrand. The perfect sounding place is also on Nostrand Avenue in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, and Football Restaurant (1727 Nostrand Avenue) will assuredly bring Haitians to eat as it always seems busy, but with only one table and a small TV, maybe not so many for the games. Around the corner try friendly Solide Rocher (3011 Beverly Road, East Flatbush), where I had a very nice conversation with the son of the family running this place who seems very excited for Copa America (and for everyone I know to come here in June). The surrounding area of these blocks is full of Haitians, so if these options do not impress, walk a few steps and follow the flags and cheers.

PERÚ: Saturday 04 June 7:30pm (vs Haiti)
Wednesday 08 June 10pm (vs Ecuador)
Sunday 12 June 8:30pm (vs Brasil)
Vast new Lima Restaurant & Bar (85-07 Northern Blvd, Jackson Heights, Queens) provides a fairly upscale experience, but on nights with Perú games I expect some of the stuffiness to subside. For a much more informal setting, go further east on Northern Boulevard to fun Pico Rico (103-12 Northern Blvd, Corona, Queens), which has a full menu of great drinking foods.


COPA GROUP C - México, Uruguay, Jamaica, Venezuela

MÉXICO: Sunday 05 June 8pm (vs Uruguay)
Thursday 09 June 10pm (vs Jamaica)
Monday 13 June 8pm (vs Venezuela)
Tacos Morelos (94-13 37th Avenue, Jackson Heights, Queens) might be the best place to sit down with excellent food and plenty of cold beers. The restaurant has flags of many Latin American countries on its ceiling and will probably be full every night of the Copa. Also think about going to one of the many seedy "sports" bars lining Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights. Horns blare when goals are scored and the atmosphere is very fun. Bartenders are exclusively female and very lightly dressed, if that matters. Try Cafe 75 (75-18 Roosevelt Avenue), Scorpion Bar (75-16) and El Abuelo Gozon (79-03) to get in the middle of the action. Sunset Park in Brooklyn is more about families and therefore will be much more low key. The back room at Tacos El Bronco (4324 4th Avenue) has big screens for the games and wonderful food, but unfortunately serves no alcohol.

URUGUAY: Sunday 05 June 8pm (vs México)
Thursday 09 June 7:30pm (vs Venezuela)
Monday 13 June 10pm (vs Jamaica)
La Gran Uruguaya (85-02 37th Avenue, Jackson Heights, Queens) now has an attached restaurant and bar that will all be full of La Celeste and chivito steak sandwiches. Also serving this and other grilled meats is Chivito d'Oro (84-02 37th Avenue, Jackson Heights, Queens), which can seem calm until Diego Forlán's blond hair starts waving as he streaks down the sideline. Across the Hudson, the Uruguayan community in Union City, New Jersey will be descending on Uruguayan pizza joint Pizzarra's (4000 Bergenline Avenue, Union City, NJ).

JAMAICA: Sunday 05 June 5pm (vs Venezuela)
Thursday 09 June 10pm (vs México)
Monday 13 June 10pm (vs Uruguay)
Try one of two locations of Footprints Cafe (1521 Surf Avenue, Coney Island, Brooklyn and 5814 Clarendon Road, East Flatbush, Brooklyn), which are known for live music and events. I sat down at the bar of the Coney Island location to research this piece and have some rasta pasta, their famous dish. Sugarcane (238 Flatbush Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn) is Trini owned and has a menu from the most southern of Caribbean islands, but the place is always full for football and expects good crowds for both Jamaica and Haiti. In Manhattan, try Miss Lily's (132 West Houston Street, West Village), which should be a lot of fun.

VENEZEULA: Sunday 05 June 5pm (vs Jamaica)
Thursday 09 June 7:30pm (vs Uruguay)
Monday 13 June 8pm (vs México)
The Astoria arepas franchise will be in full gear for Copa America. Arepas Grill (21-19 Broadway, Astoria, Queens) is the second child but does much more to advertise games, usually offering $3 Polar beers, a Venezuelan pilsner, during World Cup qualifier games. Expect good deals and people for all the Copa America games as well. The older sibling is Arepas Cafe (33-07 36th Avenue, Astoria, Queens), which will also have the games on. El Cocotero (228 West 18th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan) seemed very interested when I inquired in person and does have a projector, but never called me back so I assume will not be showing the games until someone tells me differently.


COPA GROUP D - Argentina, Chile, Panamá, Bolivia

ARGENTINA: Monday 06 June 10pm (vs Chile)
Friday 10 June 9:30pm (vs Panamá)
Tuesday 14 June 10pm (vs Bolivia)
The epicenter for all things Argentinean football is the miracle on Queens Boulevard that is the Boca Juniors Steakhouse (81-08 Queens Blvd, Elmhurst, Queens). If you want to see what being at a game at La Bombonera in Buenos Aires is like, this is as close as it gets without booking a plane ticket. Get there EARLY. Other Argentinean grill restaurants to try are La Esquina Criolla (94-67 Corona Avenue, Elmhurst, Queens) which sits at the crossroads of Argentina in Queens, La Fusta (80-32 Baxter Avenue, Elmhurst, Queens), a sprawling place with plenty of viewing options, and La Cabaña Steakhouse (86-07 Northern Blvd, Jackson Heights, Queens) if you can't pull yourself away from Northern Boulevard. Any way you go, you will be well fed. Experiences in Manhattan will not be up to par with Queens, but if you must stay on the small island, try Novecentro (343 West Broadway, SoHo, Manhattan), which will have the flags up and TVs on for most of Copa America.

CHILE: Monday 06 June 10pm (vs Argentina)
Friday 10 June 7pm (vs Bolivia)
Tuesday 14 June 8pm (vs Panamá)
The city's go-to Chilean spots are both owned by the same guy and go by the name of San Antonio. San Antonio Bakery (174 Rockaway Avenue, Valley Stream) is technically in Long Island, but will be the prime spot to be amongst a Chilean mob, drinks included. San Antonio Bakery #2 (36-20 Astoria Blvd, Astoria, Queens) is a little closer to home and has delicious casual food as well, minus the alcohol. Completos and chacareros make the perfect game food.

PANAMÁ: Monday 06 June 7pm (vs Bolivia)
Friday 10 June 9:30pm (vs Argentina)
Tuesday 14 June 8pm (vs Chile)
The city's only exclusively Panamanian eatery might not be the ideal game night spot, but surely it will draw a good crowd for games. At Kelso Dining (648 Franklin Avenue, Crown Heights, Brooklyn), the food is excellent, and a newly renovated space has a bar and will take care of you.

BOLIVIA: Monday 06 June 7pm (vs Panamá)
Friday 10 June 7pm (vs Chile)
Tuesday 14 June 10pm (vs Argentina)
Cumbre Restaurant (67-03 Woodside Avenue, Woodside, Queens) offers excellent salteñas and a full menu of hearty favorites to pair with games. Expect most of our small Bolivian community to find their way here on the nights their country plays.

18 May 2016

Cafe Globus

KAZAKHSTAN

This is not a post about a Kazakh restaurant, unfortunately. New York City may have some more evolving to do before we have one of those. Hell, I wish we could have our Kyrgyz restaurant back. I did however recently come across one solitary Kazakh dish in a two week old restaurant run by an Uzbek of Korean descent. Russian is the language of choice inside. This combination may seem weird but there are at least three other establishments with the same connections just in Brooklyn. Go figure.

Back to Kazakhstan, which as far as I know has not been featured on any menus for about ten years. Several pages into the long Cafe Globus menu, which runs the gamut of Russian, Uzbek, Ukrainian, and even Moldovan food, is a lamb section containing kuyrdak "Kazakh style." In English, the description is "stew lamb, veal liver and vegetables."


The dish runs $12.99 and as many former-Soviet type restaurants in Brooklyn tend to do, a service charge will be added to your bill even when dining solo. The meat chunks are cooked well done and a majority is liver. Tomatoes and onions make up the vegetables and the plate is served with a small portion of mashed potatoes. The stew makes me more curious what the dish tastes like in Kazakhstan when done by a grandma. It has extremely high potential.

On this first visit, I was actually stopping by to see what I thought would be Cafe Kiev, the beloved previous tenant. Now that I know about the new place and its wide array of countries on the menu, I will bring a group back as soon as possible and explore the list.

Cafe Globus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

16 May 2016

Déjà Vu

BULGARIA

Deja Vu bills itself online as a place for a romantic cocktail, and later in the evening, a good party. It has a Bulgarian owner and some food on the menu that calls itself Bulgarian, but that is certainly in the background. For me, it was reason #1.

The scene here is small and a bit kitschy, but both in a good way. A hipster might walk in curious and roll their eyes, but the simple place maintains a level of class and treats its customers well. The woman who ran the bar both times I visited was a delight. The food is by no means a full representation of Bulgarian cuisine, and sticks with the grilled Balkan meats similar to other restaurants nearby in Astoria.

We ordered a plate of hummus ($6, below) served with a heaping plate of warm just-grilled pita slices. The hummus is homemade with roasted red peppers, served in a generous portion that requires healthy scoops to finish completely.


Dried meats are very common throughout the Balkans and Northern Africa. Here they offer a sudjuk meze ($6, below), a plate with Bulgarian dry salami also made in house and served with pitted olives.


The "Grilled Delights" section of the menu is really just a way to offer three varieties of the same grilled meat. We went for the grand slam Deja Vu Grill ($16, below), which promises the kufte and kebapche along with a side of fries and feta. The portion of meat is not immense but it is satisfying, especially when slathered with the accompanying ajvar, a roasted red pepper sauce that should be on every table in the world, not just the Balkans.


Their heavily promoted happy hour is from when they open at 6pm until a very generous 9pm, so time your visit right on a weekday and enjoy good discounts on your drinks.

Deja Vu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

12 May 2016

Desi Galaxy Food Court

INDIA


While not extremely large, walking into Desi Galaxy for the uninitiated can be a slightly overwhelming experience. Every color in the place is bright, and lists of offerings cover almost every available surface. Upon entering, there is a separate shop to the right and a paan dealer to the left, serving from a window. A few steps in, five separate stands line the right wall, while a drinks stand is on the left, offering coffee, tea, juices, and lassis.

In my opinion, the reasons to come here are with the drinks stand and the first and last stands on the right wall, both snacks shops. The middle three sell meals, but those are better in one of many sit down restaurants on the adjoining blocks of Oak Tree Avenue.


The first stall is Bombay Spice (above), which is mostly a chaat purveyor and has over a dozen varieties. I tried to start a chat (er, conversation) with the woman at the register, but she did not seem interested in explaining anything to me.


What we settled on was the dahi bhalla papdi chat ($7, below), which had a nice mixture of textures and flavors. I prefer my chaat to be as crispy as possible, and this did not fail me in that regard. Once you get all the sauces underneath mixed in, the dish turns pink and has a lot of punch.


Even more interesting is Live Pani Puri (below), the stall at the very rear, which offers a taste similar to what you find on the streets of Indian cities. Pani puri vendors proliferate the streets, offering just about the cheapest snack you will ever find. "Live" does not mean that still breathing creatures will be served, but rather that the experience takes place as you eat. They serve you one at a time and make them as you stand and wait.


They offer seven here for $6, which actually seems like a high price. Thankfully it is fun and even works with a group so that you can each sample a couple. Six different flavored waters are poured on each ball, a hollowed out fried and crispy sphere filled with potatoes, onions, chickpeas, and chutney.


Desi Galaxy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

11 May 2016

Khao Kang

THAILAND

I fell in love with the fiery curries and stews of southern Thailand during my first trip to the country in 2001, waking up each morning in Hat Yai craving a spicy breakfast. An otherwise unnoteworthy and dirty city void of tourist attractions, Hat Yai kept me in its grasp for well over a week simply because I wanted to eat more of these curries and all the Muslim foods not found farther north. On its dusty streets were many restaurants cooking large vats of several curries, which they would serve until they ran out. "Khao kang" translates to "curry over rice" but is more of an expression of this style of restaurant, specifically in the south. Elmhurst's Khao Kang is now a go-to place for the Thai community, and lovers of Thai food here in New York.

I have been eating here since it opened but unfortunately have not given it a proper write up because being a point and choose sort of set up, no menus are available and names are unwritten. Choices change day to day, so what you see here may be unavailable, but Khao Kang is doing very good things, and I have never been disappointed with a meal here with over half a dozen attempts.

Pick two ($7.50) or three ($7.95) entrees with steamed rice. Value here is excellent. The kitchen knows exactly what it is doing, the place is always full of Thai people, and you won't find more deliciousness for this amount of money anywhere.

On my most recent visit, we picked three southern-style curries (below). The kang tai pla (top left) gets its deep color from fermented fish organs and is full of fish meat, eggplant, bamboo, and kaffir lime leaves. The kang teh po (top right) is a red curry with pork belly and morning glory. Kang som pla (bottom) gets its sour taste from preserved bamboo shoot and has meaty chunks of fish.


Fair warning: All three of these curries and most southern food in general is melt-your-face-off spicy, so make sure you are up for the task. Toning it down is not an option since they make it in big batches.

There are an array of items that will not hurt as much, including the pad woon sen goong (below), a glass noodle dish with shrimp. It is common in southern eating to have options to eat in between all the heat, like noodles or fried fish.


Another calmer is the moo tod (below, left), fried pork that is possibly best eaten before the curries if you want to experience the full array of much more subtle ingredients. Pad naam (below, right) is fermented pork but covered in chilies and not so much of a break from the heat. Both are delicious.


Other options worth trying are outside of the steam table are hor mok ($7, below), a fish curry that is steamed in a banana leaf. The puffy texture comes from blending all the ingredients before it is cooked.


If you still have room for something sweet, try the kanom beang (below), small dosa-like wrappers containing coconut cream and sweet shredded egg.


In a city that keeps getting better and better with its Thai offering, Khao Kang is solidly in the top five and offers some curries and dining experience not found elsewhere.

Khao Kang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato