>> Eat the World NYC

25 February 2020

Café con Pan Bakery II

MÉXICO 🇲🇽

In the world of chain operations, Café con Pan is the type the city needs. This location is the second of three, a company that originated in Sunset Park, Brooklyn about ten years ago but has spread to two spots in Staten Island since. Currently in its sixth year of business, this panaderia and pasteleria makes a lot more than baked goods and sweets.

Café con Pan exists at a really exciting time on Port Richmond Avenue in Elm Park, a stretch that gets more and more interesting with every visit. Its many tables might not seem busy at most times, but in just a few minutes you realize it is a very active place. People are in and out quickly, grabbing sweet breads or tamales and tortas mostly for takeout.


In the dining area, those chairs and tables are all so colorful, each painted differently with scenes from rural life mixed in with cathedrals, horses, and men playing music around a fire. The barstools each have a scene from a movie. The bar is loaded up with alcohol, but early in the day at least it does not see much action.

While deciding what to get, the large family that had come in just before went straight for the tongs to grab pan dulce. To make a lunch decision easier, a danish and coffee was ordered to follow suit and give a bit more time. The shop has a logo that looks a lot like this order, so it confirmed it was a proper first move.

Café con pan.

If you grab a menu, you get a sense of the massive amount of cooking the place does in addition to their many racks of breads, cakes, and cookies. A full range of antojitos as well as soups and weekend special exist alongside the torta section, which is 30 deep!

Two tamales ($2 each, below) started this meal, of which the rajas con queso was the winner. Plenty of cheese worked well to smooth the masa and keep it moist, something the verde was lacking.

Tamal verde de pollo/tamal de rajas con queso

Conchas

A few of many cookies

As other families had come in to request custom cakes for future parties, the next course of this meal was decided to be the pozole con 2 tostadas ($12, below). This pork and hominy soup was deeper and richer than usual with ample amounts of oregano and rosemary. The tender meat was delicious. The only thing missing was some ground red pepper, which does not appear to be available to spice up the soup.

The two tostadas come completely plain except for a squirt of crema on top. This is a bit different than most restaurants around town, which serve a more "complete" tostada with beans, lettuce, and cheese as well alongside the soup. This allows you to combine bites easier and eat them with the pozole rather than simply as a side.


When it was finally time to attack that list of tortas, the torta mixta ($11, below) won the lottery, a sandwich packed with three meats (chicken tinga, bacon, and ham) as well as two types of cheese, beans, lettuce, avocado, and jalapeño. All of these ingredients were excellent.

What held it back, somewhat surprisingly for the setting, was the bread. It appeared as if the bread was once good, but was it old now and reheated, possibly in a microwave? While this was disappointing, surely a next time would have fresh bread?



The torta should not be written off just by one attempt. If you have had an experience good or bad, please let everyone know in the comments, and of course the article will be updated when another torta is eaten soon.

Or will it be that chipotle torta burger full of quesillo they advertise?

🇲🇽🇲🇽🇲🇽
ELM PARK Staten Island
Café Con Pan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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21 February 2020

Bikanervala

INDIA 🇮🇳

You would not know it when you see the bright colors and modern logo, but Bikanervala has over 100 years of history all going back to a simple shop that sold sweets and namkeen. That shop was just east of the present-day border with Pakistan in the small city of Bikaner in Rajasthan. The company now has almost 100 stores around the world and ships everywhere.

After expanding to Delhi in the 1950's and blowing up through the next few decades, the shop has stuck to its principles for the most part, still excelling with a good selection of sweets and namkeen. The menu has expanded somewhat, with more filling meal options, and the next time you are in Hyderabad, you can even stay at the boutique hotel that the company opened in Banjara Hills.

Pea samosa plate ($2.99, hard pass)

Despite its gloss, Bikanervala still sticks to an informal format. Small portions are served on disposable paper plates. Plastic cutlery is provided nearby. Place your order at the counter and wait for the robotic voice to call your number and say "Please take the meal."

While waiting, browse through their packaged goods section, just a taste of what you can have shipped just about anywhere in case you ever find yourself long distances from a branch.



At a normal dinner time, the bird's nest-like wonder tokri chaat was unavailable but the cashier recommended raj kachori ($7.99, above) as a stand-in. This worked pretty well, with all the flavors and crunchy textures you need from chaat. While in other parts of India, kachori is a spicy snack on its own, in Delhi it is usually served as a chaat dish, the namesake on top as a sweetened wet bread to add another layer than usual.

Having noticed the nightly special of a paneer kati roll, and many other dishes including cheese, this dairy product seemed to be a theme of the offerings. In this spirit and as a reason to get some naan ($2.99, below back), a bowl of paneer butter masala ($9.99, below) was added.



The butter masala had a nice and proper amount of heat to it and hit the spot, although the thin naan was unfortunately a bad companion. It will probably be a more wise move to stick to namkeen dishes on future visits and supplement these with orders from the large sweets case.

After all, this is the bread and butter of Bikanervala.

🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳
JERSEY CITY New Jersey
Bikanervala Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

20 February 2020

Hawa Restaurant

SÉNÉGAL 🇸🇳

The intention on this chilly afternoon in late January was to dine at African American Best Food, which had firmly been living on the to do map for a few years. One attempt came during a renovation, another had been made on an unannounced closed day. As of a month ago, it was completely gone.

Since a new place with a similar menu had quickly taken over the space, Senegalese lunch was still possible. The staff here said that the new team had nothing to do with the old, a completely new endeavor. Onward marches New York City, as always.

A few almonds at each table.

As with most West African restaurants around town, it is best to ask what is available before looking over the menu, especially at lunch. On this day there were just three options at around 13:00, and the atmosphere made it seem like no customers came before this time. Maybe do not show up too early.

Thankfully one of the options was exactly what was desired on this day, thiebu djen ($12.99, below). Meaning "rice and fish" literally, this fish and rice dish is one of the staples of Sénégal, enjoyed throughout the country. Their very light djolof rice is excellent here and sets the baseline for the plate.


There may not be a more filling and satisfying meal then thiebu djen, with fish stewed in tomato sauce and placed over the rice with carrot, cassava, and white cabbage. Do take care with that scotch bonnet pepper, as even just dragging it through the rice leaves a nice trail of heat.

The rest of the West African menu, when available, is basic for a Senegalese restaurant in town. What might be a bit of a surprise, but not when considering a desire to expand the customer base, is the items of Caribbean descent like oxtail and curry goat.

🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳
HARLEM Manhattan
410 Lenox Avenue
Hawa Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

18 February 2020

Q.S. Palace

GEORGIA 🇬🇪

Depending on which side of Q.S. Palace you enter, you might end up with one of two first impressions that differ very greatly. On the right side, a simple food store makes half of the business, selling salads and breads and the full takeout menu from a counter.

Georgian crêpes and cheeses and sparkling waters can all be purchased quickly to take home. On this right side of the store, the window allows you to see inside and light escapes to the street. It is likely that this will seem like the entrance to the restaurant.

Georgian salad ($7.99)

But that is actually located behind the tinted windows of the left portion of the property. During daylight hours, opening this door will seem like entering a completely dark room at least until your eyes adjust. At night you can get some sense of the interior, but only coming inside lets you enjoy it fully.

The design and decor is that of a palace for sure, only condensed into a small New York City space. A pleasant blue is the preferred color of walls and ceiling, but it is the gold trim that pops out from crown moldings and other elements.


In Brooklyn, a meal at any former Soviet country's restaurant should usually begin with some cold appetizers like satsivi with chicken ($15, above) and eggplant with nuts ($10, below). These are easy to enjoy a few bites of amongst a group and get your taste buds ready for the main events.

The nuts in question, as usual when talking about Georgian food, are walnuts. On this dish called nigvziani badrijani, the delicious paste is spread over the rolled eggplant, and could only be made better by a more liberal application of pomegranate seeds.



Possibly the two most famous Georgian foods known to non-Georgians are both done very well here, starting with the Acharuli khachapuri ($12.99, above). Take your photos quick and mix up the egg and butter into the scalding hot cheese so everything cooks together.

While important to non-Georgians, khachapuri of course is indeed so Georgian that the tradition of making khachapuri now landed on the list of 48 items of intangible cultural heritage made by UNESCO. This type is sometimes called Adjarski, named for the Black Sea and Turkey-adjacent Autonomous Republic of Adjara in Georgia's southwestern corner where it comes from.



The second item that everyone knows is fresh khinkali ($12, above), Georgia's contribution to the world of dumplings. Khinkali appear like a hot water bag, but are thick-skinned soupy delights to be approached with caution.

Allow them to sit and cool for a bit, then turn sideways and bite a hole into the side. Suck out the fragrant herbal juices carefully and continue to the meat.

Dolma in vine leaf ($12)

Potato with mushrooms ($10)

Lamb chakapuli ($16)

If you have ever traveled in Georgia in the summer, one of the most memorable parts of the capital city of Tbilisi is the smells and sights of grilled meats. Vendors outside fill the air with a wonderful aroma of lamb, pork, and chicken on skewers, known locally as shashlik.

In Tbilisi you may find your meats served with Kakhetian bread, named after the far east region that features some of the best grilled meats as well. Here at Q. S. Palace they serve the lamb lula kebab ($11.99, below) inside of a flatbread that seems more Armenian style. This is packed with onions and pomegranate seeds, and can be dipped in their bright red sauce.


Ojakhuri ($12)

🇬🇪🇬🇪🇬🇪
BENSONHURST Brooklyn
Q.S. Palace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

31 January 2020

Sanpoutei Gyoza & Ramen

JAPAN 🇯🇵

With its polished new place on 2nd Avenue, it would be hard to imagine the 50 years plus history that Sanpoutei has under its belt. Hailing from the Niigata prefecture, the restaurant group includes almost 50 locations. Most of these are ramen, but they also have Italian, Chinese, and Shanghainese places, the influences of which you will see shine through on the menu here as well.

This is the first location in the United States and the second in North America following Vancouver. The shop presents itself as a thin restaurant with bar counter seating in the front, but the back opens up into the neighboring space and offers a decent amount of tables.

A wide range of sake from Niigata is available.

This visit was during their fourth night of business, and while the staff was understandably not 100% certain on every little detail, things were running pretty smoothly. Many groups of Japanese people were the main clientele, as the restaurant must have been making quite an impact in local Japanese press.

Niigata city is almost due north of Tokyo but sits on the west coast of Honshu. The prefecture it lives in of the same name is thin and hugs the coast, the sea is very important here.


Having enough people that one plate of gyoza would have been insufficient, two of the three options were ordered, including the Sanpoutei gyoza ($10, above). These are pan-fried pork gyoza, served with a very simple but somehow wonderful vinegar soy dipping sauce. The tastes are familiar, but for a place half-known for gyoza these do not disappoint. The next visit might have to include an entire plate of these for the greediest amongst the group as they are a delight.

The prawn & edamame crispy gyoza ($13, below) were also a hit. These are deep fried as might be guessed by the crispy part of the name, and the use of black tiger prawns is the first hint of the importance of seafood to Niigata.


They are served with an excellent cold and crisp oroshi ponzu that is full of citrus and thickened with daikon. The server almost lost a finger when he tried to remove the dipping sauce from the table after the gyoza were finished.

If there was one disappointment of the meal, it would be the Sanpoutei fried chicken ($16 for six pieces, below), which are rubbed with a curry powder and soy sauce before frying. The chicken was fine enough, but two of the pieces were tiny, and the rub creation just did not do anything. A simple karaage would have been appreciated much more.


The raspberries provide a cool freshness.

Based on the five types of ramen ordered this evening, sticking to the top of the menu and their house special shoyu (soy sauce based) is the way to go. There are at least eight components to the Sanpoutei niboshi shoyu ramen ($16, below), but the bowl is light and simple, the vegetable and meat ingredients ample enough but not distracting from the soup and noodles.

Niboshi refers to the dried sardines that go into the ramen stock, a funkiness that is light and so pleasant. This bowl also includes both cha-shu and roasted pork, both of which are some of the best cooked in town. An extra order of cha-shu for $3 will probably not make a bad decision. Onions, green beans, and bamboo shoot round out the bowl with a bit of crispness.


It appeared that each different ramen was using the same thick housemade noodles here, wavy and containing a great chew. (Apologies for the lack of noodle photo). Another good offer is that each bowl is available in a small size for $4 less, a choice that those usually having a hard time finishing will appreciate.

It is rare to find a place excelling at both typical soup ramen and tsukemen dipping ramen, but this was not the case with their very strong spicy cha-shu tsukemen ($18, below, shown with extra seasoned egg and cha-shu orders).


Tsukemen involves chilled noodles and a very hot bowl of dipping broth, here made with plenty of richness and bite. Midway through someone should come around and refill the bowl with more hot broth, which did not happen, but it must be assumed they will iron out this kink as well.

For more spice, the spicy miso ramen ($14 small version, below) can be ordered. This is available in a non-spicy bowl as well, but both were found to be a bit too thick, almost like the tsukemen. Served with kale and bell peppers, it almost has the feel of an afterthought and trying to beef up the menu rather than focus on their strengths. For now, shoyu tops miso for sure.


The most outstanding appetizer, pulled to the bottom here so that a bit more space could be devoted to it, is the Niigata sake drunken chicken ($13, below two photos). This is a modern riff on the drunken chicken popularized from Zhejiang province in China, just south of Shanghai.

Instead of Shaoxing rice wine, they of course substitute Niigata sake here to cook the chicken with. Surrounded by crisp cucumbers and topped with sesame, the chicken rests in a shallow pool of ginjo sake sauce and has the nice zip of Korean chilli powder in every bite. Despite the winter weather, the dining room was quite warm and this provided such a pleasant refreshment.


Niigate sake drunken chicken with cucumber.

Two rice bowls are available for those not in the mood for noodles, one of which was used as another way to split an appetizer. Shown here is the roasted pork cha-shu don ($11, below), more slices of their great pork over a ball of white rice.


Topped with a wasabi soy sauce, be sure to mix this and the small egg yolk thoroughly before digging in.

Two flans make up the dessert menu for now. The mango flan ($6, below left) is workable and fine, topped with smooth and fresh whipped cream, but the better order is definitely the Kurogoma flan ($6, below, right). This is made with black sesame and topped with kuromitsu, a sugar syrup that translates to "black honey."


For now it seems that New York City will remain a destination for Japanese-based restaurants looking to expand their market, as places like Sanpoutei seem to be opening quite often. This one definitely stands near the top of the pack though, and is worth visiting.

🇯🇵🇯🇵🇯🇵
EAST VILLAGE Manhattan
Sanpoutei Gyoza & Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

29 January 2020

Puente Guanaco

EL SALVADOR 🇸🇻

If you have ever driven around Long Island, you know there are no shortages of pizza joints and small town seafood restaurants near the water to satisfy your hunger. The interior of the middle third of the island is also blessed with many people from Central America, El Salvador in particular, and because of that many restaurants serving the foods these recent transplants miss from back home.

While Hempstead is probably the western end of this axis, with a large amount of people surrounding the city, Central Islip and Brentwood form the major population center of the east. A bureaucratic visit to some government offices nearby recently afforded the opportunity for a hearty Central American breakfast at Puente Guanaco.


It was hard to resist a pupusa before breakfast though, this pupusa de queso y frijol ($2, above) was priced well for a working class clientele. In reality, there may be no food more undervalued as a pupusa around the world, but that is a larger argument. It pulled apart nicely with melted cheese and a thick layer of beans, beautiful in every way. A tupperware container of curtido, the pickled cabbage topping, was brought to the table with the plate, a mark of the real deal.

Puente Guanaco has plenty of good breakfast options, including the desayuno salvadoreño ($11.50, below), which serves eggs scrambled with bell peppers and chorizo, fried beans, a block of queso fresco, avocado, and sweet plantains swimming in a luxurious sweet cream. Two thick freshly made tortillas come alongside to do with as you see fit.


If you have ever traveled in El Salvador, like its neighbors, you know that the foods involved are never flashy. Most everything is what is locally available and cooked with plenty of tradition. In addition to the items found on a plate like this, you would also eat tropical fruits like mango and sweet bananas alongside everything.

These tastes might seem simple to an outsider, but they are deeply familiar and desired by the people who have relocated elsewhere in the world. A plate like this will fill you up for the rest of the day, and that is part of the idea as well.


There are enough Hondurans in the area that the restaurant has added a few typical items you would find in this neighboring country as well. The flour tortilla made fresh for the baleadas con carne ($7.95, above) are thinner than most you will find, but still very tasty.

Each folded baleada contains an enormous amount of meat, beans, cheese and cream that tries to find its way out each end on every bite. Honestly, it should not be any other way.

🇸🇻🇸🇻🇸🇻
CENTRAL ISLIP Long Island
Puente Guanaco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!