>> Eat the World NYC

20 May 2018

Al-Mazaq Restaurant & Bakery

IRAQ 馃嚠馃嚩

On the first evening of Ramadan, when fasting is not yet required during the day, our arrival before sundown was greeted with respite from a day that had just seen the strongest storm of the year to date. The skies were doing their best to let a few rays of sunshine though and the colors of sunset battled on the horizon with darkness.

Main Street in Paterson, NJ is well known for Middle Eastern people, restaurants, groceries, bakeries, and hookah bars. At some point we had made it one block over to Getty Avenue for a Peruvian food truck, but this was our first venture to East Railway Avenue, just south of I-80 and the distinct border between this and the Latin American parts of Paterson.

In this more industrial-feeling portion of Passaic County, a new Iraqi bakery and restaurant has bloomed about four months ago, and initial impressions are superb. Humidity was still high, and preparations with a movable air conditioning unit were being made in anticipation of a healthy evening crowd. The small space is home to good spirit, stacks of Iraqi flatbread, a self-serve coffee station, and plenty of seats for customers wanting to eat inside. Even the clients taking out their food got involved in the chat with others sitting down while they were waiting. The TV is tuned to MBC, the Middle East Broadcasting Center, and news and gossip seem to share top billing in conversations.


For $4.99, tea service comes on a golden plate, with scenes from the former Ishtar Gate of Babylon. Even if you do not like tea, the money is well spent in the opportunity to enjoy the detail. As usual, this Middle Eastern tea is strong and bitter, and works well with a healthy portion of sugar.

While drinking and waiting for food, enjoy some of the art and photography that adorns the walls. When one customer saw me doing just this, he told me the story of "Factory Square," which was prominent in a couple of the photos. He related the struggles there to those relating to Martin Luther King, Jr. here, but unfortunately something in the translation did not quite go perfectly, as I was unable to find more information on these terms.


The meal began with kibbeh ($4.99, above), which in Iraq, unlike the versions with bulghur in parts of the Levant, the ground meat is surrounded with a rice crust.

Advertised on the website as "Iraqi kebab," and a good portion of the reason we came in the first place, the lamb kebab ($13.99, below) is a platter of three ground lamb shish kebabs served inside of their special Iraqi bread and alongside plates of homemade pickles and salad.


Opening up the remarkable and unique bread is almost a ceremony, where you expect heavenly sounds to emerge. The ingredients inside are lovely and colorful. This kebab is delicious, a show-stopper, and should not be missed. No sauces are served, and none are needed. Grab pieces of bread and meat together and enjoy. The side dishes are sharp with freshness and sour vinegars, perfect respite from the fatty oily meats.


It was so delicious that we ordered a mixed grill platter ($19.99, not pictured) to go, which included one of these, two chicken, and a lamb tikka kebab. It made an excellent lunch for the next day.

A bowl of bamia ($4.99, below) was also part of the feast, a sour okra stew. In Iraq, sour tomatoes are used in the preparation, but these are unavailable in the states so the taste is best replicated with dried lemon powder. Sometimes this stew can include meat, but this version was vegetarian.


By the time we finished, we were not ready to leave. Surrounded by friendliness and hospitality, this felt like a place we had been coming for a good portion of life. Questions from the proprietor and employees kept asking us if everything was ok and how we had found the new restaurant in the first place. If we ever had a question, a long answer was given to more than satisfy our curiosities.

When I went to look at framed money on the wall, expecting it to be all from Iraq, another customer quizzed me if I could pick out the two notes that were actually from there. Of course it was necessary for him to point them out, as most of the notes were Arabic-only. With our takeout order ready, we said our goodbyes and wished them luck. With Ramadan, business would be shifted later in the evening, but if you have the chance to visit during these times, it should be quite special.

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PATERSON New Jersey
Al-Mazaq Restaurant & Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

19 May 2018

Ittadi Garden & Grill

BANGLADESH 馃嚙馃嚛

Quick Instagram Dispatch from Jackson Heights, Queens:
An almost finished Diversity Plaza is the site of always buzzing Ittadi Garden & Grill, a vast Bangladeshi steam table joint open 24 hours a day. The fluorescent lighting is always turned on high, but that just makes it easier to pick what you want from the selections available on any given day. High turnover guarantees that food will always be fresh, so small groups are recommended to order half portions and try more. The place is known for their chicken (murgir) roast, which is the cream of the crop. On most days the dry beef kala bhuna is a good bet, while fish dishes are just ok and weirdly the tehari is sub-par.

The unchosen.

Beef tehari


Rupchanda dopeyaja


Dry beef kala bhuna

Chicken (murgir) roast

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Ittadi Garden & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

http://www.eattheworldnyc.com/2016/01/map-of-eat-world-new-york-city.html

18 May 2018

La Esquina del Camar贸n Mexicano

M脡XICO 馃嚥馃嚱

Quick Instagram Dispatch from Jackson Heights, Queens:
Around forever but made famous by its weekend outdoor stand for quick cocteles, this back of the house kitchen is actually around all week, and if we're being honest the rest of the new menu is much more interesting anyways. Every option is seafood, and the fish and octopus tacos definitely stand out. Try the shark (dogfish) flautas for something truly unique, shredded shark meat with cheese inside of fried tortillas, and smother it with their oily homemade green salsa.

Outdoor stand on weekends

So back to the coctel... is this the Mexican equivalent of White Castle? Only good to those that have grown up with it? I see it on tables at Mexican restaurants from here to Los Angeles and around the country of M茅xico of course, but have never seen the light of this sweet concoction. Oh well, my loss for certain.

Coctel de pulpo y camarones

Flautas de caz贸n (dogfish)

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La Esquina del Camar贸n Mexicano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

17 May 2018

Chorsu Samarkanda

UZBEKISTAN 馃嚭馃嚳

Quick Instagram Dispatch from Gravesend, Brooklyn:
Literally meaning "four streams" in Persian language, but signifying a crossroads, "chorsu" is the perfect name for this establishment at the intersection of Kings Highway and McDonald Avenue and the F train. Named after the once-famous bazaar in Samarkand, the cultural capital of Uzbekistan, you can expect portions of all cuisines enjoyed in the country to be here. Uzbek food in Brooklyn can sometimes be hit or miss, but usually hits the spot even when the meal does not wow. Thankfully this meal was a hit and did a lot of wow-ing. Our table of four went for a bit of everything, Uzbek favorites mixed with Russian items, Korean-influenced fish, and even a Greek salad. Chorsu Samarkanda had been on my to-do list forever, glad we finally stopped in to enjoy it. BYOB.

Herring with boiled potatoes

Khe Korean-style fish

Lepeshki

Greek salad

Feta cheese with lemon

Pilaf with meat

Zoomed in

Samsa with meat

Mantes (manti)

Assorted kebabs

馃嚭馃嚳馃嚭馃嚳馃嚭馃嚳
GRAVESEND Brooklyn
Chorsu Samarkanda Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

16 May 2018

Antojos Ticos

COSTA RICA 馃嚚馃嚪

Quick Instagram Dispatch from South Plainfield, NJ:
In the tiny community of South Plainfield, you could easily pass by Antojos Ticos without ever noticing there was a business here. Outside and in, the restaurant is nondescript and barely has anything to say until you look at the menu. Certainly there are grilled meats, but it goes further than these and rice and beans to find the skillful Costa Rican dishes that show the the depth of the country's cuisine.

Ceviche de pescado

After a very nice ceviche, the meal focused on gallo pinto, the star of a few Central American countries. This dish of rice and beans is often served with eggs, queso frito, and tortillas as they do here, perfect for breakfast but enjoyed all day long.

Gallo pinto

Also check out gallo de salchichon, a tasty sausage "taco" dressed up with lettuce, ketchup and mayonnaise.

Gallo de salchichon

Still not enough breakfast? Chorreadas, a sweet corn pancake eaten with sweet crema, should satisfy.

Chorreadas

We will be going back here whenever we're close.

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Antojos Ticos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

http://www.eattheworldnyc.com/2016/01/map-of-eat-world-new-york-city.html

15 May 2018

Xime Deli & Pizza

M脡XICO 馃嚥馃嚱

Quick Instagram Dispatch from Mott Haven, Bronx:
Some other plans fell through and I was pulled into this bright deli by the offer of a $5 torta lunch special. After sitting down and taking in the place, four teenage girls came in and ordered drinks from the front counter, which serves fresh juices and crazy iced drinks. I noticed the family that was seated already had them too and suddenly felt left out, enticing this order. The diablito (little devil) is all spice and no relief like some other versions with mango, etc. It was an experience, but I think I would stick to the half spicy half sweet versions, as the red pepper ice is not a delicious flavor on its own. Xime Deli itself is a fun place to hang out, Mexican blankets on some tables and the flag on others, festive colors and banners everywhere and ukuleles on the walls.

Diablito

Chewy candies

$5 lunch special torta

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XIME Deli & Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato