>> Eat Offbeat | Eat the World NYC

14 August 2016

Eat Offbeat


In its first couple years of existence, the Queens International Night Market had less sway on these pages than it should have. Usually the festivals visited are country-specific and vendors are reached in their natural environment. New York City has a way of making its similar gatherings into massive, over-populated events. But this market has consistently made the right decisions and continues to be an essential experience for quite a few cuisines that are underrepresented in the city or have none at all.

When relative newcomer Eat Offbeat announced that they would be a vendor, plans needed to be made fast. This company's plan is about hiring chefs that are refugees in the United States from various countries and giving them the opportunity to cook the foods they love for others here that might not have tried them. Their chefs currently hail from Syria, Eritrea, Nepal, and Iraq.

The only problem (for individuals, not office folk) is that until Saturday, the food was only available as a catering menu that required large orders. Since New York City no longer has an Iraqi restaurant (although check this one out in Paterson, NJ), it was decided a market night was in order to try out the food and support what seems to be a great organization.

Like most orders at the market, one tray of three small potato kibbeh costs $5. They are served plain and leave the meat and internal spices to do the talking. The thin layer of potato mash wraps the beef and is lightly deep fried.

At least three of the chefs were there helping, but only two dishes were available. In addition to the Iraqi croquettes, a Nepalese dish called Manchurian ($5, below) was also being served. Colorful peppers and onion top a deep red cauliflower that is also fried in a mild sauce, and it is served over an unseen bed of basmati rice.

It was their first night at the market, and first time in public as far as could be told. The sweltering evening with "real feel" temperatures hovering around a hellish 45 degrees made their job all the more tough. It was obvious that everyone involved in the operation was kind though as the company's co-founder was introducing them all to each patron.

Best of luck to Eat Offbeat, check out their website and cater your next event with something new.

As portions are small at the market, there were a couple extra dishes ordered from other stands, which are included below.

Deep fried fish skin, HK Street Food

Ceviche, Inti Sumaq Peruvian Cuisine

Queens Int'l Night Market

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