>> Eat the World NYC

11 January 2021

Qing Dao Restaurant 青岛ι₯­εΊ—

πŸ‡¨πŸ‡³ CHINA
(SHANDONG)

COVID-19 UPDATE: Qing Dao Restaurant is in a modest 3-stall food court. They are currently takeout only, with the food well-suited to reheating. In normal times there is proper seating upstairs.
 
EDITOR'S NOTE: Written by Joseph Gessert, photographed by Liv Dillon.
 
New pan-Asian steamed rice roll vendor Rolls Rice has been getting great press since their 2020 opening, in all the major New York City outlets. Their innovative rolls are really good, and the stall is worth a visit. While you are there, you should also pick up a truly inspiring takeout meal from their neighboring eatery Qing Dao Restaurant, who used to be the sole tenant at this address but has since welcomed company and reduced their footprint.

The rather desultory google maps listing is limited to simply Qingdao, and files it as a "Mandarin restaurant." In practice, Qing Dao slings a wide variety of wares from their namesake city in Shandong province. Qing Dao’s menu items show off the city’s unique history and geography—it is just across the Yellow Sea from the Korean peninsula and was occupied by Germany for two decades early in the twentieth century. Influences from both countries are evident in the cooking, and the Germans left behind a famous brewery—Qingdao can also be translated as Tsingtao.
 

Though it may prove useful to be well-versed in Mandarin, everything is ready to serve in trays, so it’s easy enough to point at what you want. Most items are priced by weight. The first four trays are all protein mains. Beef tendon ($5 for a small serving) is served cold with scallions in a light chili oil. The flavor is mild, but the dish is a textural experience, reminiscent of pigs feet but more user-friendly.
 
What the servers describe as simply beef ($10 for a large serving, above bottom left) is beef jerky in entree form. The jerky is cooked down until crunchy, saturated in sugar and chili oil that’s heavy on the Sichuan peppercorn, and finished with sesame seeds. Though not something you can eat a huge serving of, this dish is unique and memorable, bringing to mind Indonesian and Southeast Asian dishes as much as anything Chinese.
 
Over in the vegetable section there are plenty of options for vegetarians, with small containers of everything costing $5. Sour cabbage is again served cold in chili oil, and is aggressively fermented (hello kimchi, guten tag sauerkraut). Shredded potatoes, wood ear mushrooms, and cucumbers with garlic are all of the mild variety. Julienned celery and baked tofu is mild but soaked in Sichuan peppercorn oil, leaving your lips tingling. The star of the vegetable case defies easy translation, being described as “preserved vegetable” during two recent visits. It is green, has a ridged stem, and when preserved ends up very crunchy and a little sweet, which is balanced out perfectly by, you guessed it, a mild chili oil dressing. Whatever it is, get a container or if, or more, as both the flavor and texture are hits. Be forewarned that the crunch comes through clearly during Zoom calls.
 

Past the vegetables is a collection of beautifully homemade sausages ($10 a pound), which stand head and shoulders above other recent sausage entries from Chinatown. Qing Dao’s are larger than most Chinese sausage, dominated by whole chunks of pork meat and fat. The seasoning relies on the familar five spice, but is less sweet and more savory than many Chinese sausages. It appears cured, but also holds up well to a few minutes in the frying pan. Don’t forget to drain it on paper towels—these things do not lack in grease.

Besides the glass case items, the desserts in the entryway are also part of Qing Dao’s offerings, as are the bread products opposite the main counter. Amidst the buns and other options are containers of impressive guotie, or potstickers ($6 for six), longer and wider than other Chinese dumplings. These fry up nicely in the leftover oil from that sausage.

Shandong cuisine is one of the eight formal culinary traditions of China, but is far less well-known to New York eaters than its cousins such as Sichuan and Cantonese. Qing Dao Restaurant offers a great introduction to this food that’s no less memorable for how affordable it is. And for exploring new foods, you cannot beat the point and scoop method.

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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.

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31 December 2020

Juquilita Laundromat & Deli

πŸ‡²πŸ‡½ MΓ‰XICO
Google Street View

COVID-19 UPDATE: Juquilita is takeout only, unless you are doing your laundry and wolf down a taco on the side. The tiny store can get crowded and the kitchen is often backlogged, so it is best to call in orders ahead of time, or go for a walk while your food is prepared.
 
EDITOR'S NOTE: Written by Joseph Gessert, photographed by Liv Dillon.
 
Mexican food in New York City did not hit its stride until the past decade or so, following an influx of immigrants from Puebla and other states driven by NAFTA’s destabilization of the Mexican economy. Being new immigrants to a high-rent city, would-be restaurateurs have been resourceful—much of the best Mexican food in New York is cooked behind the deli counters of bodegas-cum-taquerias.
 
Staten Island’s Juquilita Laundromat & Deli goes a step deeper into the pool of resourcefulness. It started life as a simple coin laundry, which spawned a grocery store, and now hosts a taco counter making some of the best burritos on the island.
 
 
New York burritos suffer in comparison to their West Coast counterparts in part because most locally-manufactured flour tortillas are not big enough to make a proper Mission-style burrito, and most taquerias are not doing enough burrito business to justify making their own flour tortillas. Juquilita sidesteps this handicap by overlapping two Banderita-brand tortillas in a Venn diagram of deliciousness.
 
It does not hurt that their carnitas are top-notch, or that they generally hit the sweet spot of bean/rice/meat proportion. In a busy kitchen the preparation can be uneven, but on a good day their carnitas burrito ($9, below) sings. Burrito puritans might raise their eyebrows at the lettuce, or the pickled jalapeΓ±os, but the sum effect is hefty and delicious. Please note that Juquilita does not have a salsa bar, and your green and red sauce will set you back an extra 50 cents a cup.
 

Beyond the burritos, Juquilita's menu is ever-expanding with hand-written addendums. A torta Hawaiana ($9, not shown) is sloppy in the best way, ham and melted Oaxacan quesillo anchoring a mess of chipotle, avocado, beans, and canned pineapple. If you do not like pizza with pineapple, this might still do the trick.  
 
Tacos Aztecas ($10 for three) combine bistec with quesillo and grilled nopal. Other recent menu additions include a selection of Pueblan tacos placeros, and a few nods to the increasing number of non-Mexican customers from the neighborhood. A bacon egg and quesillo sandwich ($3.75, below) is served with avocado, grilled jalapenos, and a dash of mayonnaise. Another variant substitutes chorizo for the bacon. It’s great to see the Mexican ingredients dressing up a classic New York sandwich.
 
A New York City-Oaxaca mashup.
 
If you’re in a hurry there are often ready-made guisados simmering in pots back in the kitchen. A recent Saturday lunch yielded an exemplary red pipian with rice and beans ($7.50, below). Pipian in New York is often mild and liquid-y, but Juquilita’s iteration is thick with ground pumpkin seeds and very rich. Well worth a second order the next time it is available.

Besides laundry and tacos, Juquilita offers a full meat counter, fresh produce, and a remarkable selection of Mexican groceries jammed into a multi-pupose space. This could be the start of an epic North Shore Mexican food crawl: starting at Juquilita for pipian and a burrito, walking up Castleton to the excellent Oaxaca Pizzeria Deli & Taqueria for tacos de alambre and nachos con pico de gallo, and then staggering on to Port Richmond Avenue, the heart of Staten Island’s thriving Mexican community.
 
 
 
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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.

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28 December 2020

Lebanese Eatery

LEBANON πŸ‡±πŸ‡§

COVID-19 UPDATE: Takeout only, which isn’t much of a change from their usual business model. Online ordering is available at lebaneseeatery.com, and will reduce wait times.
 
EDITOR'S NOTE: Written by Joseph Gessert, photographed by Liv Dillon.
 
Until last year Lebanese Eatery was a lunch counter tucked in the back of a bustling supermarket. The market is now gone, but thankfully the eatery remains, serving some of Staten Island’s most well-executed Middle Eastern food.
 
All of the usual Lebanese mezzeh are on offer, and everything is excellent, but extra love is put into the baked goods. Mini lamb pies ($1.50) are seasoned with red pepper and yoghurt, while chicken pies (also $1.50) are flavored more mildly. Large meat pies (beef, $3.50) are a meal in themselves. All are best supplemented with a side of toum for dipping ($4.50 large). Toum is the Lebanese cousin to aioli, an emulsion of garlic, oil, and lemon juice. The emphasis is on the garlic, and on Lebanese Eatery’s menu as on many US menus, it is sold as “garlic sauce.”
 
 
Also great with toum is stuffed squash ($2.99). The skill of Lebanese Eatery’s kitchen is evident in the barely-there thinness of the squash, which has been meticulously hollowed out and filled with a blend of rice and spices, then cooked in a tomato broth. As with other Lebanese restaurants, vegetarians and vegans can eat well here. However, the main business at Lebanese Eatery is in meat, and their meat shawarma ($9.99 for a wrap) combines beef and lamb off the spit with perfect proportions of pickle, veggie, and bread.
 
Nearby Todt Hill is home to a well-established Palestinian community, and Lebanese Eatery branches out into some Palestinian dishes as well as their Lebanese mainstays. Chicken maqluba (“upside-down,” the one-pot rice dish that is Palestine’s national dish) is an occasional special, but was not on offer during a recent weekday visit. Also available is kunafa ($4.50), the baked filo-and-cheese dessert that is omnipresent in the West Bank and served in volume at Bay Ridge’s Nablus Sweets. Other Palestinian dishes are available on Lebanese Eatery’s catering menu and as occasional specials.
 

There is nothing revolutionary happening here menu-wise, but it is all done really well, and served with obvious pride by a familial staff. As the menu states, “all food homemade by chef (mom),” and her cooking is definitely worth a trip out of your way. And then again, perhaps in a borough that’s been so hostile at times to immigrants, proudly serving authentic food from far away is revolutionary in itself. Regardless, the cooking is fantastic, and worth a trip from anywhere.
 
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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.

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17 December 2020

Shan Xi Snack

CHINA πŸ‡¨πŸ‡³
(SHAANXI)


COVID-19 UPDATE: Both locations are currently takeout only. Online orders can be placed directly through the restaurant's website. Please note that many of the “special snack cold dish” items (cucumber, black fungus, etc) may not be available.
 
EDITOR'S NOTE: Written by Joseph Gessert, photographed by Liv Dillon.

Shanxi and Shaanxi are neighboring provinces in northeast China. Despite its name, Shan Xi Snack features menu items more commonly associated with Shaanxi, whose capital Xi’an has inspired the Chinese regional cooking chain Xi’An Famous Foods as well as dozens of other NYC stalls and restaurants offering variations on the cumin lamb burger.
 
A bit past the southernmost end of Sunset Park’s Chinatown, Shan Xi Snack’s cumin lamb crispy burger ($5.75, below) is genuinely different. Their version has a crispier, lighter bread, dollop of sweet mayonnaise, and a scattering of fresh vegetables dressing the chunks of cumin lamb. It marries the Xi’an burger with American fast food sensibilities, and is joined on the menu by a black pepper beef, a more traditional pork, and a handful of other burger variations including a vegetarian option.
 
 
A menu section is dedicated to various incarnations of tri-color cold skin noodles. Liang pi with spicy house special sauce ($6.75, below) is served room temperature, as is common with these noodles, mixed with cucumber, bean sprouts and chunks of gluten.
 
Stir-fried liang pi with beef ($7.75) is warm, with the vibrant colors lost a little in the stir-fry but the noodles’ texture holding up admirably. Judging by that texture, Shan Xi’s liang pi are likely wheat-based, rather than rice.
 

Hidden in the appetizer section of the menu, a very respectable hot and sour rice noodle soup (below) will set you back only $6.95. This is not the Chinese American soup of that name, but a tangier corn starch-free, altogether different dish that is commonly found in China.
 
It is often listed on English menus as spicy and sour. The noodles taste more like yam or potato starch than rice, and are delicious regardless of starchy origin. They are topped with baby bok choy, peanuts, strips of seaweed, and much more.

 
The surprise hit of two meals was crispy burger in lamb soup ($9.95, below), with chopped up flatbread, glass noodles, and chunks of lamb meat dunked in a rich and spicy lamb broth. The dish is a beautiful showing of Muslim influences in Chinese cooking. A mysterious plastic container of black garlic was added to the hearty soup and provided a perfect note of funk and acid.

Pumpkin pancakes ($2.95) are mild but very beautiful, with the pumpkin flavor subtle in a puck of glutinous rice. Plum juice is a bargain at $2, with the smoked preserved plums flavoring an increasingly-common favorite at modern NYC Chinese restaurants. And though Belgian biscuit milk tea ($5.75) comes out looking like black sugar milk tea, it’s actually full of crumbled cocoa cookies, in addition to boba, and the black sugar is chocolate syrup. The chocolate and crunchy cookie bits are yet another twist in a menu full of surprising textures and flavors.


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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!

01 December 2020

Delicacy Passion Patisserie

CHINA πŸ‡¨πŸ‡³

COVID-19 UPDATE: The only visible pandemic impacts on this mostly-takeout spot have been masked staff and the banishment of the lone indoor table. On warm days, there may be two chairs set up on the sidewalk.
 
EDITOR'S NOTE: Written by Joseph Gessert, photographed by Liv Dillon.
 
Brooklyn’s second Chinatown, extending from Bensonhurst to Gravesend, is home to over a dozen Chinese bakeries, most of which offer the familiar (and pleasant) mixture of bubble tea, baked goods, and limited dim sum items made to order or pulled from a steam case.
 
On the eastern end of 86th Street, past the growing cluster of Vietnamese restaurants, the curiously-monikered Delicacy Passion Patisserie has been doing something quite different for the past two years. While this strip was largely shuttered in April and May, Delicacy Passion stayed open straight through the spring, and business is finally picking up at this unique Chinatown bakery that offers no savories, limited teas, and a small but ambitious selection of French-influenced Asian American desserts.
 

On assessing their display case you would be tempted to sample from the middle row cakes that feature combinations of Asian ingredients: jackfruit and coconut, red bean and matcha, durian cheesecake to name a few. These are all completely serviceable, and surprisingly subdued, but you will actually be better off picking from the top row, where the chef’s more outlandish creations are on display, and the most love has been put into both aesthetics and flavor.
 
The Big Apple ($6, below, right) is a shiny pastry apple, wicked witch-worthy, that opens up into a re-imagined apple pie a la mode—a white chocolate shell with mousse and apple filling seated on a graham cracker cookie. On a modest block of an unpretentious neighborhood it is a surprising accomplishment, this piece of fine dining stagecraft that tastes every bit as good as it presents.
 
 
The chocoburger ($6, above, left), its frequent counterpart on the top row, features a chocolate-shelled chocolate mousse burger sandwiched between jumbo sesame macaron buns. Crack it open and raspberry filling gushes out, marking the burger rare. Other recurrent top row items include a mocha cream puff bear, flowered cupcakes, and a selection of macarons that includes lychee and sometimes sriracha. Presumably there is a Vietnamese influence at work here somewhere.
 
It should be noted that as adorable as these items are, they will fall apart as soon as you stick a fork in them—appreciate your apple or bear or burger, take a picture if you are so inclined, but then resign yourself to the whole thing going to pieces as you dig in and enjoy.
 


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09 September 2020

Green Garden Buffet

CHAD πŸ‡ΉπŸ‡©

[COVID-19 UPDATE: Born into the world during a pandemic, Green Garden Buffet knows no other way of business. They have recently added a small covered eating area to the parking space in front, allowing customers to sit down with their meals and eat immediately.]

For the first time in 20 years of scanning new businesses in and around the five boroughs, the flag of Chad is waving in the wind under a small awning in the East Village. The representation is from the chef and owner of the small restaurant, who hails from the large, land-locked nation in north-central Africa.


As the name suggests, most business here is done via the buffet-style steam table and sold at $9.99/pound. There is a menu, that also describes the kitchen as "French style," but it is easier just to come inside and ask to see everything on offer on any given day. The proprietor will be happy to explain it all and show her dishes off.

On multiple visits, there always seemed to be a delicious-looking whole tilapia ready to go, but since foods had to travel and do a bit of sitting before they could be consumed, an array of smaller bites from the steam table were combined for just over a pound's worth of lunch.


The focus was on the stewed spinach and beef dish (above), which was a creamy and rich exciting find. If another lunch is put together and this is available, the portion will have to be doubled at least. Sitting on a bed of tasty yellow rice, her vegetables are all more complex than they might appear. The sauteed cabbage is full of onions and garlic, while both the zucchini and okra make perfect complements.

If it is not automatically offered, ask for the homemade hot sauce to give everything the final kick.

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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!

03 September 2020

The Greek Pie Factory

GREECE πŸ‡¬πŸ‡·

[COVID-19 UPDATE: Without much space to sit inside to begin with, not much has changed here and most business is takeout. They do have a couple tables with an umbrella set up on nice days as seen above.]

If you are cruising east down the Sunrise Highway just outside of New York City, it is not hard to find simple Greek fare. Plug that into Google Maps and an array of options are presented. But there is one small gem that stands out from the diners and gyro spots, located on a corner just one block south of the thoroughfare.

What also stands out is the story of its owners, more recent arrivals than many Greeks in New York. The husband and wife who own the shop left Greece during the economic crisis that began ten years ago, leaving behind their restaurant in the north of the country that they had run for 25 years.


After a few years in their new country, the couple decided to use their skills again and The Greek Pie Factory was born in June 2015. Although everything here is fresh and made daily, thankfully they put the reference at what they are best at right in the name.

Depending on ingredients, these come in many names in Greece but are simply "hand made Greek pies" here, priced at an unbelievably economical $3/each and made round and bulging. A most classic version of spanakopita can be seen in front with hints of green from the spinach it is filled with. Also in there is feta, onion, and egg, combining to create one of the best you can find in the area.


The other pies were filled with leeks and cheese and another spinach and feta which also added chicken. All of them were insanely good.

Another section of the menu is filled with "Chef's Daily Traditional Meals," and should not be missed for more great deals. The lamb gyro platter ($9.50, below) comes with thinly sliced strips of gyro, buttery rice, lemon potatoes, salad, some of there freshly made bread and pita, and tzatziki sauce.


Other options are favorites like souvlaki and comfort foods like mousaka. It seems they cover just about all the bases, and if these first tastes are reproduced across the menu there is a lot here to be excited about.

Valley Stream residents sure do have a gem.

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VALLEY STREAM Long Island
83a Roosevelt Avenue

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 August 2020

Killmeyer's Old Bavaria Inn

GERMANY πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ

[COVID-19 UPDATE: The very cozy wood-paneled interior and beautiful bar are unfortunately closed at the moment, but the biergarten is in full swing for lunch and dinner. Staff does a great job with masks and everything is distanced quite well.]

There is never a bad time to talk about the meaningless of the word "authenticity" when describing food. Killmeyer's Old Bavaria Inn might be one of the greatest examples of a place that will send people's thoughts in opposite directions, but a good starting point.

The biergarten is especially inviting in 2020.

Certainly this is not the place you should bring your friends who are visiting from Germany, they will probably have a lot to say about your choice. But is this authentic? With absolute certainty, yes. Places like this permeate every region of the country, and weave the entire U.S. story of European migration, 19th century manifest destiny imperialist thought, and the generations and generations of families that have come since.

It is also representative of the borough and the country as a whole. To get here on public transit from other boroughs, it takes quite a commitment, a ferry, a subway ride, and then a bus. Even by car it shows off the end of the world nature of this community in southwestern Staten Island.


So about that authenticity? The "German specialties" portion of the menu is the place to start, but as mentioned, your friends from Munich might never take your advice for dinner plans again. These are the recipes of a few generations down the line, and they will call it "American food." Meanwhile it will make the group of old locals sitting next to you conjure up the stories told to them by their almost-German grandparents back in Wisconsin.

The good news? They are both right. The best bet however is the 3 sausage sampler ($19, above), which does not show up on the lunch menu but is always available. There are four or five choices of sausages here, all of which probably come from Schaller & Weber or something similar, making them good quality. Unfortunately the mustard is just your standard deli variety.


The bed of sauerkraut that the sausages come on and the gravy that covers the pork jΓ€gerschnitzel ($11 at lunch, above) have an interesting, if not offputting, sweetness to them. Again, this is the result of many generations down the line and worthy of study rather than scorn.

And the best way to study these aspects of the United States is to keep ordering, and enjoying the great selection of German beers that Killmeyer's has on offer both on draft and in bottles and cans. The biergarten is simply a secret eden that you have needed for the last six months.

Killmeyer's sauerbraten with red cabbage ($12 at lunch).

Unfortunately the history of the spot is mainly indoors and the beautiful mahogany bar that was built in 1890 cannot be enjoyed at the moment. When you go inside to use the restroom, sneak a peek at it and make plans to return during better days.

The current owners have taken care of the property since 1995, but the story of this little slice of Staten Island goes back at least to 1855 when the first Killmeyer originally purchased it. Some stories push its history back to the late 1700's.


The beef goulash ($10 lunch price, above) has "over egg noodles" next to it on the menu, but somehow it could not have been pictured without spaetzle until it arrived exactly as described. Accompanied also by a small packet of oyster crackers, the generational research still had so much further to dig.

But sitting with a second Krombacher Pils, or maybe in front next to the "world's largest Hummel," enough of it made sense for continued enjoyment of the restaurant and the history. This is not only Staten Island in a nutshell, but also New York City, and the entire country. At least a slice of it anyways.


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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!