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Mar 30, 2008 07:43 PM

Meals with Nancy and others (London Times)

As many of you may have seen, a reporter from the London Times (Nancy) recently proposed and organized a meeting of Chowhounds in New York. Our first meals (thanks to Michael) were at Eastern Noodle and Best Fuhzou. So after some waiting at the Chinatown Holiday Inn, we were on our way to the first destination. Mr Gao, the owner of Eastern Noodle, greeted us happily and began serving up bowls of his delicious hand pulled noodle and beef soup. After this "appetizer" we headed over to Best Fuhzou for what was basically a banquet. An enormous meal followed (with no rice for filler.) We ate taro cakes, a seafood casserole (a bit expensive for 3 crabs, but tasty), duck or pork kidneys (I believe both. Very good. My favorite dish.), Fujianese lychee pork (very tasty), and more. Each meal begins with free boiled peanuts and pickled vegetables. It should be noted that smoking is very common in this restaurant (I've seen it every time I went) and while it doesn't bother me (adds to the atmosphere) it might bother others. Great meal nonetheless.

The next day began at noon in Jackson Heights. While the invites were basically botched by me (I forgot to send the final email until the day before) it still came together OK (if slightly reduced in size.) Nancy, Jason (a photographer for the London Times), and myself began our food walk down Roosevelt Avenue which was oriented towards Hispanic street food. The first cart we ate at was the elotes cart on 82nd Avenue. We ordered a white corn with all the fixings for 2 dollars. Delicious and one of my favorite street snacks in the area. Next we ordered a quesadilla from the nearby cart on the opposite side of the same corner. We were served up a delicious and cheesy chicken quesadilla for another 2 dollars. Another destination included the pandebono bakery down the street where I was greeted with an immediate "Como estas?" from my usual counter woman. A pandebono and two empanadas later and we were beginning to get full, though pandebonos in themselves brought up interesting comparisons to glue (tasty ones though.) Next came the taco cart on 86th where we shared a lengua taco as we neared the end of our walking meal. The lengua was delicious, tender, and well-seasoned. Leaning next to the grill to talk while waiting for our taco enveloped us in tasty porky goodness as carnitas sizzled away (Mmmm pork vapors...) The walk finished when we reached the family owned hornado cart near Junction Blvd. An enormous 10 dollar order of hornado (which comes with a potato cake, white corn, a spicy mango sauce, and salad) ended the food tour. The pork was delicious, tender, and filling. The skin was almost unbreakable, but it was still tasty. The pork skin at this cart varies. Sometimes it's perfect and hard but breakable (with incredible flavor and the texture of hard candy) while other times it is virtually indestructible. Oh well. Great stroll down Roosevelt Avenue though!

BTW, has anyone seen Isabella's cart lately? I haven't seen her in ages. BTW, the calabaza quesadillas from 61st St and Roosevelt under the LIRR tracks are incredibly good. I forgot to try the Oaxacan tamales though.


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  1. Thank you for writing this. Is there still time to take her to Chengdu Heaven?? I think you've given her a real appreciation of NY food. Whenever someone asks what is my vision of the quintessential NY food moment, they expect me to mention a pizza or bagel, but I say it's standing on Roosevelt Ave eating food from a cart, watching Indian women in saris strolling past a mariachi band playing outside a Mexican restaurant.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Brian S

      Unfortunately we didn't have time to hit up Chengdu Heaven (which is a shame.) Oh well. My quintessential NYC experience drifts between Roosevelt Avenue and Di Fara. Depends on my mood and how long I've gone without pizza as a result of London.

    2. Sounds like you had a great time in Jackson Heights. Sorry I couldn't make it this time. I've posted separately on the Manhattan board about Eastern Noodle and Best Fuzhou:

      3 Replies
        1. re: JFores

          Great post! I had a great time (and will def be heading back to both Mr. Goa's and Best Fuhzou). BTW what's the name of the special pancake not on the menu at Best Fuhzou? I'm so sorry I missed the JH stroll though, b/c everything sounds delicious. I'll be making a trip soon, based on your recs!

          1. re: Dops

            Ask for a Chinese oyster pancake. It can be ordered with seafood in general for more money.

      1. Justin thanks for the report. All sounds great and a partial eating template for my next NYC trip. Interesting point you make about no rice ordered at Best Fuhzou - I tend to steer clear too and was pleased to observe Cantonese friends not ordering any rice with our meals when I was in HK on and off earlier this year.

        Looking forward to the resumption of your London board posts.

        3 Replies
        1. re: oonth

          Just a point of order that all of you are misspelling Fuzhou. Or does the restaurant itself misspell the name of the city?

          1. re: oonth

            Thanks for the encouragement!

          2. My dear, thank you so much for writing this up. It was, indeed, all thoroughly splendid. Thanks to Michael for the first day's recoms: Mr Gao's soup is fantastic, a wonderful clear broth that made you feel as if it was truly doing you good. A sort of Chinese version of chicken soup, in that way. You can't help but feel better for it. It's great to watch him pull the stretchy dough of the noodles in front of you too. And, to use a great British phrase, it's as cheap as chips. Possibly cheaper. The seafood casserole at Best Fuzhou was delicious but slightly difficult to negotiate with chopsticks, you really need a decent pair of shell-crackers, which they did provide, you just have to be prepared to get seafood up to your elbows. The lychee pork is a kind of Fuzhou version of sweet & sour pork - a virulent shade of orange but delicious. I wouldn't have even found, let alone walked into, either of these places without someone taking me there, so I'm so glad I did. It's such fun to meet other chowhounds too, you always have something in common and everyone was keen to discuss the food and find out about each other.
            The next day was a great deal of fun - in London our 'street food', such as it is, is not the sort of thing you eat if you can still remember your own name, so I would never have gone near the carts without Justin's recommendation. I'm so glad I did, it was superb. The corn was, well, weird, actually, to someone who has never even see white corn before, but it was oddly more-ish. I loved the quesadillas, so simple but it was great to see them with a big bucket of fresh dough, with which they make the bread themselves before they slap it on the griddle-thing. Frankly I could live without pandebono, it's like eating rapidly solidifying rubber and a bit sweet for my taste but we all enjoyed the empanadas, they sort of remind me a bit of a cross between samosas and Caribbean patties. I would heartily recommend the lengua taco, it has a wonderful yielding texture and because it's chopped into fairly small pieces, you don't get any of that weird recognition when you put it in your mouth that you're eating the same thing you're eating with, if you see what I mean. I do think that the hornado was the piece de resistance though, despite the skin nearly pulling out my teeth. Any place where they start the day with a whole suckling pig gets my vote. Well done Justin, and thanks, it was a joy. Chowdowns should happen more often! They're such fun.

            1 Reply
            1. re: BritishNancy

              "The corn was, well, weird, actually, to someone who has never even see white corn before, but it was oddly more-ish."

              if there is one thing that binds us together as americans, and i mean americans in the broadest sense from canada to patagonia, it's corn. we all love our corn with a passion. we even love each other's versions of corn as much as our own. so please do report your fellow europeans that corn is more than pig food and they don't know what they are missing. ;)

              what a fun food tour, sounds like you all got quite a lot of variety. please do post your own article when you can!

            2. I think you mean quesadillas de flor de calabaza, not calabaza quesadillas.

              3 Replies
              1. re: LRS

                I don't think the filling was zucchini flowers.

                1. re: JFores

                  Oh, ok, it was just wishful thinking, then. I guess you had some sort of roasted pumpkin quesadilla? Anyway, I've been looking for a good squash blossom quesadilla (not canned, like the ones most restaurants use) and since it is almost squash blossom's season I thought that was what you had. I guess I'll need to wait until July to have a feast of quesadillas de flor de calabaza in el DF.

                  1. re: LRS

                    El Paso Taqueria in Manhattan had them last summer ....