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Decent restaurants on Union Turnpike near St John's?

q
queenseats Dec 2, 2006 12:22 AM

There are so many restaurants on Union Turnpike near St John's University (around Utopia Parkway/179th St). Are any of them worth trying?

  1. Polecat Dec 2, 2006 11:42 AM

    Disclaimer: I haven't eaten here - not yet anyway - and, seeing as how you're too far from Flushing's Chinatown to sample more authentic cuisine, you might want to check this place out, if, for no better reason, to reacquaint yourself with the guilty pleasures of the Mai Tai.

    Check out Jason Perlow's review of King Yum Polynesian: http://offthebroiler.wordpress.com/?s...

    P.

    1. Polecat Dec 6, 2006 02:03 AM

      Disclaimer #2: Seeing as how the area in which I work has what might be the flimsiest selection of restaurants in the whole city, I took a crack at King Yum today with two co-workers. Given the other choices, we had very little to lose. Plus, we were enticed by the genuine tiki decor.

      After having actually eaten there, I will urge you to go only if you cherish long gone memories of wontons, egg foo yung, mai tais and such, and want to take that proverbial nostalgic trip down memory lane. I say this because the food is, for the most part, dreadful. The average neighborhood chinese takeout is tastier than this. I had the combination plate # 1: Chicken Chow Mein, Fried Rice and an eggroll. It also came with Wonton Soup and a free dessert (Pastachio Ice Cream with a fortune cookie sticking out the top). The Chow Mein had no taste, the fried rice tasted like it had been sitting in a refrigerator for a week and, as far as the egg roll goes, if it is indeed, as J. Perlow states on Off The Broiler, the best in the tri-state area, then that doesn't bode well for the state of egg rolls in the tristate area. It wasn't as terrible as the rest, but it wasn't all that great either. I will say this for the Wonton Soup, though: it did take me back to the Wonton Soup of my youth. It made for an instant taste memory. You definitely don't see Wontons like that anymore, crafted so that they scoop out and catch the soup in their crevices.

      I guess it serves me right for going, but I was hoping - against hope - for better. Queenseats, for atmosphere, this might be worth your lunch hour. But for good chow, I would say go elsewhere.
      P.

      1. Linda Dec 6, 2006 02:50 AM

        err yea, negative on the king yum. i have lived in jamaica estates all my life and i've only been there once. it's campy fun if you're with a large group - think karaoke and fun drinks. but that's about it.

        anyway, i've done this run down a few times before, so please do a search for the various restaurants i'll name here.

        acquista trattoria: good & cheap italian

        india corner: cheap and consistent indian. cheap lunch buffet. wouldn't say it blows my mind, but if i'm craving indian i will take a walk to this one.

        sushi zone: korean owned sushi place, decent rolls. again, doesn't blow my mind but sufficient for rolls.

        bagels & co: my favorite bagel shop in all of nyc. i believe they have a shop in the city, too. almost as good as montreal bagels, and i love those so much more than nyc bagels.

        sly fox inn: food is nothing special. usu just grab drinks.

        iguanas: apparently has the largest tequila section around - again, go for drinks only.

        vino: i've always meant to make my way here but i probably have always overlooked it since it's so close to me. i have always heard decent things about it.

        random chinese places: usu pretty average to below, but for a really cheap one go to seven stars. decent. chu jiang used to rock my socks but they sold to new owners (china gourmet). so depressing.

        lulus bakery: a really good italian bakery. the best muffins i've had in awhile. their cookies are great, too.

        12 Replies
        1. re: Linda
          l
          Lindy74 Dec 6, 2006 04:45 PM

          Sly Fox is not bad for a lunchtime burger. You're right, it's nothing special, but it's not bad either, and given the other options...

          1. re: Lindy74
            MisterBill2 Nov 19, 2007 10:38 PM

            How afraid should I be of eating real food (like shrimp or salmon) at Sly Fox? My mother-in-law is throwing herself a birthday party there soon and for some reason she decided to go for the fanciest dinner menu on a Sunday at noon instead of brunch, which would have been more appropriate for that time (and likely safer to eat). My family and I are already making plans for dinner afterwards. Are their wings any good? Maybe I can get them to bring me that instead of some salmon which I am sure will be awful.

            1. re: MisterBill2
              Linda Nov 20, 2007 05:37 AM

              i haven't eaten at sly fox in many years. however, i remember the food being alright - it's nothing special, but it's more than sufficient. i don't recall exactly what i've eaten, but i've been there for lunch and dinner, both were fine. it's a nice neighborhood establishment that's been around for a bit, i would just enjoy your company and such. :-)

              other updates:

              - india corner is no more. it became a thai place, but i am yet to try it and i'm sad india corner is no longer there.

              - i can't believe i forgot to mention popeye's! it's one of the few in the area, on union tpke & 164th st. you can hate all you want, but it's the only fast food i'll eat (once in awhile). it used to be a roy rogers, but is a burger king/popeyes.

              - chu jiang's used to be my favorite chinese take-out (down by 188th st), but the owners sold it and it became something like china gourmet. awful, awful, awful. i had hoped that the owners would've passed on their recipes, but the new place is clearly cutting corners and you can taste it in the food.

              - i know there's been some discussion here about king yum's as a fun kitschy place to eat, but i still refuse to go there. it's been around forever, but i remember it being kinda expensive and not very good. i don't have such a hankering for watered down, sweet cocktails and bad chinese food.

              - i think that crepes and tea place is still around, right across from barnes and noble? i went there once for a bubble tea and it was alright. it seems like it's more geared towards the st john's kids, but it's an interesting addition to the 'hood.

              1. re: Linda
                MisterBill2 Nov 20, 2007 11:19 PM

                Bubble tea? Where is it relative to Sly Fox? It might not be a lost cause food-wise, after all.

                1. re: MisterBill2
                  Linda Nov 21, 2007 05:19 AM

                  i feel like it's the next block up from sly fox. stay on the same side of sly fox, and walk towards utopia parkway. you will see a small, white-painted place called like "crepes tearia" or something.

                  it's really nothing special, so it would be best to go with low expectations. i've only gone in there once to pick up that bubble tea awhile back - it was sufficient for that hot summer afternoon.

                  1. re: Linda
                    MisterBill2 Nov 21, 2007 06:34 PM

                    > it's really nothing special, so it would be best to go with low expectations

                    Much like I feel about my meal at SFI.

                    We have some good bubble tea places up here in Westchester so I am probably better off not going there and being disappointed. Maybe I will just stop off in Kew Garden Hills for some falafel beforehand.

              2. re: MisterBill2
                c
                ctina Mar 27, 2008 04:20 PM

                I had their salmon a while back and it wasn't bad. I asked the guy if it was fresh and he said "of course"- so I went for it. Nothing spectacular, but not bad at all..

                1. re: ctina
                  MisterBill2 Apr 11, 2008 10:57 PM

                  I think I ended up having the salmon with some sort of sun-dried tomato sauce. The sauce was bitter but the salmon was edible. I had low expectations so I was not disappointed. I didn't bother asking for it cooked medium (as I prefer it to be prepared) since I figured the kitchen was not going to be able to handle a request like that.

                  Personally, I would have much preferred to have a plate of wings, which I'm sure would have been better, but the waitress said I had to ask the host (my mother-in-law) if it was ok, and I didn't want to bother with that since she would have asked me why I didn't want to eat the food that she had selected.

            2. re: Linda
              h
              hana Dec 6, 2006 07:28 PM

              king yum is horrid.
              jade king further up union turnpike is good. the sushi place ("izumi" 177-13 Union Tpke., Flushing, 969-8298)
              india corner, which i've always gone back was closed when i went 2 weeks ago. hopefully they'll reopon.
              iguana's - like y ou said drinks only, food is horrible.

              1. re: Linda
                e
                emarcus Dec 6, 2006 09:08 PM

                Almost as good as Montreal bagels? Can you please give some more information about Bagels & Co? Are they smallish, dense, crusty and soulful? How would you compare them to, say, Oasis?
                Thanks.

                1. re: emarcus
                  Linda Dec 7, 2006 02:55 AM

                  hey there.

                  ok. maybe i'm exaggerating a little b/c i've been dreaming about montreal bagels a lot lately. :-)

                  i like oasis, but i only liked it when it was fresh and super hot. i haven't had one in years, however.

                  bagels & co... i'm not a bagel connoisseur by any means, but it isn't as doughy and thick as most bagels are that i get in the city on the way to work (i don't like thick and doughy).

                  well, i've only had the flat bagel from there, so maybe that's why it's not as doughy. nonetheless, very fresh and the bagel shop is just as busy as oasis, imo.

                  let me know what you think! it's really not that much farther from oasis... even if you take a bus, it's about 5 mins from oasis on the Q17.

                  1. re: Linda
                    j
                    JFores Nov 20, 2007 02:54 AM

                    My family has been going to Bagels and Co for ages. We always go out of our way if we're driving into Queens from Brooklyn for it.

              2. s
                Scribbler Dec 6, 2006 07:25 PM

                I have to second the recommendation for Vino. Lovely room, wonderful food. An interesting bonus is the cone of outrageous fries he puts on every table! Definitely worth a trip!

                1. l
                  lukeydog Dec 7, 2006 12:14 AM

                  King Yums is a horror show..The smell of pesticide is a tip you would be better off going somewhere else..Obviously it has not been inspected too recently..Worst dining experience I have ver had was at ole King Yum.A close second was the old Mexico City Cafe down the street I now steer clear of that section..Further down Frankie and Johnnies Steak House and the Italian place next door are OK.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: lukeydog
                    h
                    hana Dec 7, 2006 01:54 PM

                    i'm curious to know where frankie and johnnies steak house is on union turnpike? and i believe mexico city cafe closed about 5 years ago? it's now kosher bagel place and next door is a kosher wine bar.

                    1. re: hana
                      l
                      lukeydog Dec 7, 2006 02:13 PM

                      It has been awhile since I have been there..but is on what would be the opposite side of the pike and east of what was Mexico City Cafe..There are 3 restaurants...one Italian,one a steak house and I am not sure the third...Come to think of it it may not be Frank & Johnnys it may be Nick and Tonys definitely two names..Sorry I can't remember the exact name...Positive on location however.

                      1. re: lukeydog
                        h
                        hana Dec 7, 2006 09:14 PM

                        you're talking about nick and maggies, luigi's and is it a chinese restuarant? this is very east. it's closer to great neck than st. john's area.

                        1. re: hana
                          Linda Dec 8, 2006 07:08 PM

                          yes nick and maggies is waaaaay far down union turnpike - we're talking union turnpike as it approaches lake success shopping center. i hear it's good nonetheless, but nowhere near st johns.

                  2. a
                    adam Dec 7, 2006 09:32 PM

                    i will second acquista. also peking house is solid and dependable if not spectacular old school chinese american.

                    1. l
                      lukewarmcola Dec 8, 2006 05:06 PM

                      I visit Acquista practically every week...that's how much I love it. Good cheap eats are my thing.

                      But, by all means, don't miss out on dining at Vino. This place is really a gem hidden away in the heart of Fresh Meadows. They have the most incredible Argentinian food. And if your not hungry for a full meal than definatly go for a glass of wine and pick out of there incredible desert selection or cheese platter. Infact I went there for desert the first time around and it really took me by surprise. I knew I had to come back for a four course meal and it was incredible.

                      I never dined at King Yums. They have no windows. That's scarry.

                      Although I should not compare, because the cuisine is different, your better off driving up a bit to Kyoto. The sushi is awsome and they have okay thai food.

                      1. r
                        roseipoo Mar 15, 2008 09:31 PM

                        My husband and I just ate at Acquista Trattoria. The price was great! However, the food was not so great. He ordered chicken francese with spaghetti (with oil and garlic sauce) as the side. I ordered the fetuccine alfredo with shrimp. Although the ambiance and the people dining there were great, the pasta was terrible. Both my fetuccine and his spaghetti were over cooked. Now, I know some people like their pastas al dente but this was a different color. You know your pasta is going to be hard when it's no longer yellow but has taken a brownish color.

                        Our waiter noticed that I hadn't eaten my pasta and asked if I wanted to take it home. I didn't want to bother. When I mentioned that the pasta was hard- he offered to soften it by heating it up. GRRRR That just gave me the idea that they probably just heated my pasta with the sauce...

                        So, would I go back there? Sure, why not. Everyone deserves a second chance. However, it's not anytime soon.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: roseipoo
                          m
                          maddog5150 Mar 17, 2008 05:16 PM

                          I've got to agree with roseipoo. I read the reviews and was really looking forward to eating at Acquista Trattoria. It was just mediocre - at best. My Mom also had the chicken francese and I had the pasta Amatricana. Very pasty and tasteless. But as others have said, the low prices are what gets people in the door. Just like that dump Giardino's in Douglaston that serves tremendous plates of uggh.

                        2. u
                          usernameistaken Apr 15, 2008 12:22 PM

                          iguanas is fun for a casual dinner. don't expect anything earth-shattering, it's pretty standard mexican fare, good sized portions - but the atmosphere is fun in almost an epcot way (and i mean that in a good sense as is sometimes on st. paddys day its fun having all the shamrocks and leprachauns around :P )

                          the bonus is definitely if you're having a fun dinner you just walk 4 steps on the other side of the wall and you're at a decent bar :)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: usernameistaken
                            u
                            usernameistaken Apr 15, 2008 12:35 PM

                            btw am going to Kyoto Sushi later on tonight, first time (trying to find more sushi gems in Queens) so will have to get back to you, it's in the area as well though. menu looks spectacular. http://www.kyotosushinyc.com/

                            will have to report back though :)

                            1. re: usernameistaken
                              u
                              usernameistaken Apr 16, 2008 11:10 AM

                              Kyoto last night was good, unfortunately like too many other places if you're a party of 2 you need to sit on top of the party of 2 next to you :(

                              Sushi was average-to-above-average (not the best i've had, but good, i just wish there was more variety, i hadnt realized there weren't too many types of fish itself - just a lot of variations of the same kinds)

                              Had the passionfruit saketini - that was almost worth going for in itself. Very light - which is good b/c i usually dont drink on a work-night :P

                              I would say thumbs up b/c the atmosphere was very good, the sushi was good, the drink was fabulous - but i'd want to go with a larger party to sit in one of the 'cool booths' they had on the side.

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