E Eto's 7 Train post... for an LA hound
My time in NY is short, so I want to make the most of my time and limited stomach space, and so my question to you is this...
What can I get on the 7 train line that blows away what LA has on offer?
For example, even if you can get great Chinese hand pulled noodles on the 7 line, I can head to Malan in Hacienda Heights. Unless your hand pulled noodles would clearly trounce Malan, for example, in a heated BATTLE MIEN, please offer something different... something non-LA.
Off the top of my head, I'd be looking for the following:
- some mind blowing eastern european food
- old timey (but authentic) Irish joints from when Irish lived in Queens
- perhaps Indian/Pakistani (I understand that NY's Indian offerings blow away LA's, although I've had some great Indian food in LA's Little India.... Woodland's and Ambala Dhaba for example)
- Various african cuisines (other than Ethiopian)
- Caribbean food
- What else along the 7 line blows away what LA has to offer?
Please understand, I know that NY may have some very good Thai, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, etc... But that is not what this post is about.
I've researched several extensive posts, not the least of which is E Eto's opus here:
Blow us away, Queens hounds!
Eastern European is not along the 7 line, you can get Irish (aka burgers in a pub) under the 7, go to Deshi Biryani for Indian leaning Bengali food on 37th Avenue off the 74th St 7 stop OR switch to the F (at 74th) , take it to 169th St, and have an EXTREMELY authentic Bangladeshi meal at Ghoroa. The shutki and chicken pulao are very good there. Also, a whole meal for two will run about 3 dollars a person if they know you.
African is in Brooklyn, Harlem, and the Bronx. Not under the 7 train. The 7 has Colombian, Ecuadorian, Mexican, Chinese, Korean, etc, but not that sort of stuff. Same for Caribbean. Loads in Bkln though.
You'd probably like the offerings you'd get at Bosna Express and the Ridgewood Pork Store in Ridgewood off of the L or M trains though.
Queens has very little Pakistani food btw, but it probably has the largest number of Bengalis per capita in the US. Also, you'd still be much advised to try Chao Thai for their guay jub or Sriprahai in general. Also, stalls like Chengdu Heaven and the Xi'an stall in Golden Mall really have no LA equivalent.
Including Bronx and Brooklyn in this would really help you steer clear of LA's strengths as Queens (or at least the 7 line) is pretty much an Asian and Hispanic food paradise.
Sure, I'll bite... what would you recommend in the Bronx and Brooklyn? On my last visit, we did go to a fantastic Ukranian place... can't remember the name. Small, homestyle cooking.... pelmeni and vareniki and pickled watermelon. Great stuff... down to earth, totally authentic (no "fusion" stuff), and hugely inexpensive (particularly by NYC dining standards). I'd love to find more of the same.
Gohora sounds great... just what I'm looking for. Bengali food is right on the money for what I'm seeking.
Any other suggestions?
re: Mr Taster
Alright so Ghoroa at the 169th stop, Peppa's Jerk Chicken on Flatbush Avenue for jerk chicken (the best in Brooklyn), Rocher D'Horeb for Haitian (their pork grillot is something special), The Islands (Definitely go here) for some excellent Jamaican. While I wouldn't recommend the jerk chicken there, I love just about everything else including the owner (get the lemonade!) Check some of Robert Sietsema's reviews for African in both the Bronx and Brooklyn. I can personally vouche for Deback Malick on Fulton and Bedford for Nigerian, but I've been meaning to try another Nigerian place in East New York (though I wouldn't recommend making that trip without a car.) You might also want to consider Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. I'd hit up the Italian markets, but pass on the Italian food in exchange for a Albanian burek. Similarly, head out to Ridgewood on the L or M train from the city for burek, Romanian food, Bosna Express' tasty grilled items (Bosnian burgers of the gods) and the bordering on divine Ridgewood Pork Store with its endless supply of salamis and so forth. I'm sure the owner (who is beyond nice) would be able to direct you to even more Romanian, Bosnian, and Serbian eats in the general area. It has the added benefit of being pretty easy to reach especially via the L (super fast like 20 mins from city.)
I do personally think you should still check out Golden Mall for Szechuan and Xi'an food in Flushing if only to compare it to LA. To be honest though, you're going to find dishes there that you've never seen elsewhere unless you've been to China. Make sure to hit up the other similar food malls during a trip, but check out our extensive Chengdu Heaven thread for that.
Cheburechnaya as recommended below is an excellent spot for you and it serves up delicious kebabs which come straight off the grill. Especially good are the lamb fat and sweet bread kebabs. I would pass on Minangasli and Kabab Cafe especially if you have a limited amount of time. Rincon Criollo is delicious, but you're limited exclusively to the specials there because the rest of the menu just doesn't turn out well. Rincon Criollo is right next to the Junction Blvd 7 stop. Only order the daily specials. Some more Brooklyn eats that you have to get include Di Fara Pizzeria (of course, assuming you haven't gone yet) and places in Brighton for Russian if you want Russian (Cafe Glechik has some very good Ukrainian food but the service is the worst I have ever experienced in my entire life ever ever ever. Terrible.)
Acasa in Sunnyside was very good for Romanian when I tried it, but I heard they raised their prices and it just seems quite odd now. Sad.
Also, for Trinidadian food (though this is a trek) you can go well out on the A trian to reach Annie's Roti Shop for some incredibly delicious stuff. Really really good. Also, if you look up my somewhat recent Punjab Restaurant and Sweets post you can take the J train there, eat there, go down further, eat at the Colombian place recommended on the same thread, and also eat at Singh's Roti Shop (also Trini) which is more easily reached than Annie's (which requires a full A train trek and then a walk from the train. The area around that is very cool though with huge Guyanese, Trini, and Bangladeshi pops.)
Ghoroa's stuff can range pretty widely day by day. Always get the shutki, always get everything with rice, the kerala with potatoes is usually delicious (I eat like a Sylheti villager), the chicken pulao is exceptional but should not be paired with any of the aforementioned as its a much fancier dish in the Bengali kitchen, etc. Stick to fish and rice then work your vegetables into it. They usually have at least 3 fish a day. Also, if you ask to try stuff they'll let you. You can also try Sagar and Sagar Chinese (Indian Chinese) while in the area. Ghoroa is one of those "I see another white person about once every 6 months places) btw.
Cafe Glechik was the place I was referring to with the pickled watermelon and such. Fantastic, fantastic food, and dirt cheap. We weren't particularly bothered by the service because we were there with a group of people, and having a generally good time, and not paying much attention to anything else other than the food and the company (though I do remember our server being a classic east european beauty who didn't smile.)
Thanks for the jerk chicken rec as well. There's a jamaican stall in the Hollywood farmers market every Sunday with tasty food, but I've never been to Jamaica (or eaten on Flatbush) so I have no frame of reference. I do however have a frame of reference for Chinese food, not just because I live in LA, but because my wife and I spent 2 months there in 2006 (and my wife is Taiwanese). I am curious to check out Flushing and will do so, just don't want to spend valuable stomach space and time on eating stuff we can easily find in LA.
I'd be curious to hear your opinions on the many restaurants listed in this guide from the Queens Council on the Arts guide to the 7 train
I have been to Di Fara twice now.... wonderful, wonderfful. The porcini slice is heaven sent. The tricky part is convincing my sister to go... she lives in Clinton Hill and although she has a car, her first experience there was the typical Dom-forgets-everything-so-we-wait-an-hour, and it's soured her on going back... even though she did absolutely love the pizza (though she's convinced to this day that the pizza only tasted that good because we were so hungry after waiting an hour)
Cheburechnaya sounds great.... Romanian is also an excellent choice. Romanian is all but absent from Los Angeles.
Again, many thanks for all the recs. If you have any more I'd love to hear them.
I was about to suggest this thread, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/477178 but then I saw you were the one to actually start it...
How about places in Queens near other lines?
I've only been to LA once and not that familiar with it. I apologize if these cuisines are well represented in LA.
Cheburechnaya for Uzbeki/Tajikistanian
Malagueta for Brazilian
Minangasli for Indonesian
Kabab Cafe for Egyptian
Rincon Criollo for Cuban (Near the 7 line
)Greek in Astoria?
These are great suggestions. There are a few pretty good Cuban places in LA, but nothing to compete with what Miami might have to offer, for example. Armenian is well represented here, but other middle eastern food is not (save Iran/Persian cuisine, since we have a Little Tehran district), so Egyptian is a good pick. Greek is also woefully underrepresented in LA (though we do have one very good, authentic Greek place, http://www.papacristo.com/ but that's really about it. If you've got not just traditional but *regional* Greek food in Queens, the sort of places that offer up local specialties and not just gyros and spanikopita, that would be fantastic.
Frankly, I can't think of much that you'll find on the 7 line that will beat similar foods from LA. The Roumanian in Sunnyside might be a good choice, since that's not a food well represented in LA. Turkish is another one that LA doesn't have a lot of. Indian-Chinese might be my best suggestion at Tangra in Sunnyside. You could also try the Tibetan places along the 7 line, or perhaps the Colombian places, though I don't get so excited about these cuisines. However, you should check out the arepas from the arepa lady if you're around at night on the weekends. Otherwise, it gets kind of slim. The grandma slice at Peppino's Pizza in Woodside is better than most pizza in LA.
If you want to take a ride out on other subway lines, you'll get more options. The Balkan places in Astoria would be some of the first places I take a Angeleno for some cevapi or cevapzinica. I'm also very partial to the Egyptian places in Astoria, and do find Kabab Cafe to be a one-of-a-kind experience for NYC. As well as Mombar for more traditional Egyptian.
For most other ethnic foods that I can think of in Queens (besides the Indian/Bangladeshi and Flushing Chinese places mentioned earlier), LA's versions probably outshines the stuff in NYC.
re: E Eto
You mention Tibetan.... in 2006 my wife and I were at Lugu Lake in a remote village in the mountains of Yunnan province, very near Shangri-La and the Tibetan border. Every night for 4 nights that we stayed in that village, we are barbecued yak. It was served and cooked Korean BBQ style, at a squat, makeshift table with an inset charcoal grill, though the meat was brushed with an outrageously flavorful oil before cooking. It was one of the most delicious and memorable times of our 7 months traveling through Asia. Would the Tibetan restaurants serve any equivalent of this experience?
I can't add more places to the list above, but let me just stress the joy of it... or perhaps an aspect of the joy you haven't considered. You can walk and walk and see widely dissonant images flashing by on each block... women in brightly colored saris walking past a mariachi band... all those images totally foreign to the US. You can stop in any one of those places and you will be immersed in the ambiance of a foreign land. For instance, Rincon Criollo, mentioned above, is run by three brothers who, long ago, ran it in Havana before Castro came to power and chased them out.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/247466 That basement mall in Flushing is eerily like Hong Kong in the 1980's. Here's the post on Chengdu Heaven
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/451804 and here's a report from a visitor from San Francisco: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/516764
I did a post about a year ago describing one such walk in detail. I can't find it to link to it, so here it is again. It starts at Roosevelt and 61:
You can start off in Woodside, and the sun hits your back as you walk by the guys standing outside the many bars. Ten years or more ago it was construction workers looking for jobs you'd see, now it's computer programmers talking into cellphones. Ireland's changed. But they're gone as you walk through a tiny Thai neighborhood and then a cluster of crowded Filipino hangouts and then a tiny Indian shopping street thronged with women in graceful swaying saris. There are men too of course, and they mix more than they do on the subcontinent -- I've seen a turbaned old Sikh eating in a Pakistani restaurant -- but they also gravitate to separate corners. One patch of sidewalk is a Nepali hangout, a block or so down you'll hear Bengali gossip until late into the night.
Leave India behind as you walk on, through a long Colombian neighborhood. In that wonderful film "Our Lady of the Assassins", filmed in Medellin, one character says "Lets escape, far away, to New York City. No...too many Colombians there." And much of another recent Colombian movie, "Maria Full of Grace", was filmed here. They're restaurants with home-longing names like "Pequena Colombia", "Mi Colombia" and "Tierras Colombianas", and they're all packed.
A few blocks down the neighborhood changes again, and its Mexicans that fill the cantinas, young workers drinking beer, missing home, and hoping for something approximating mama's cooking. And then come Peruvian places, Ecuadorian, whatever people comes to these shores you'll find them here. And it's all along one street, Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, New York City.
And yes, some of the storefronts are gritty. There's an elevated train line right above. But remember what one of the characters in that Maria movie says when asked how she can live in Jackson Heights: "Yes, when I first got here, I called my parents back in Colombia and they were celebrating my sister's birthday and I heard all the laughter and wanted more than anything to be home. And then I got my first paycheck and realized what I could do for my sister, for all my family. Four years later, I'm still here."
re: Brian S
I actually did that walk a few months ago -- from 61st Street Woodside to Flushing. Just wanted to mention that you may want to hop on a subway or bus after 103rd Street on your way to Flushing -- it's pretty desolate and not too much to see except Shea Stadium and auto body shops. I don't think I've ever walked as fast in my life before (except maybe when I accidentally walked through Skid Row in LA).
re: Mr Taster
Aside from the area I mentioned, all of the other areas are fine to walk through. I do have to say that Skid Row really turned my stomach. Had homeless people with blood all over their faces and bodies following me. I don't think there's a neighborhood in NYC of its equivalent.
From 61st Street Woodside, you can walk down one block south to Woodside Ave where you'll find some Irish places. The most famous one, however, is around 58th Street (Donovan's). They are known for their burgers -- haven't had anything else there. If you continue walking on Roosevelt Ave (the avenue where the 7 train follows), you'll find some Filipino places and a few Korean ones. On 74th Street, make a left turn and walk to 37th Ave. You'll be walking down the main drag of the Little India. I like to take a break from the el and walk down 37th Ave. If you want the best of both worlds, you can weave in and out of the streets, alternating between 37th Ave and Roosevelt. You'll be hitting a lot of Latin American places. Yo may want to stop by this bakery:
There are also a lot of street vendors, generally concentrating on Roosevelt Ave around 82nd Street, Junction Boulevard and 103rd.
If you want to make a detour, if you continue walking North in the mid 80s, you'll hit a few Spanish places on Northern Boulevard. Despana, a store specializing in Spanish goods, is worth a stop. If you want, you can splurge on some jamon iberico.
Once you hit Flushing (hopefully by subway or bus), you can explore the Chinese malls, stores and restaurants around Main Street, Prince Street and Kissena Boulevard. The Korean areas of Flushing are on Union Street and Northern Boulevard (from the mid 140s to 150s).
ETA: I forgot you're from LA. Forget the Korean neighborhoods..
re: Mr Taster
Everything is 100% safe along the route and pretty much all of Queens as a whole. It's just that the stretch she mentioned has pretty much jack so there's nothing to see or do besides walk fast to get to the joys of Flushing. I wouldn't consider anything in Queens to be dangerous during the day in the slightest with only a bit of Jamaica getting nastier at night.
My fastest walking ever would have to be the entire East New York portion of a walk I did with my friend. We walked from the Lower East Side across the Williamsburg along all of Brooklyn's Broadway with some trips off the path for food and finally through East New York then up to Jamaica. The East New York section (and the night time portion of our Bedford Avenue walk where the sun set when we were crossing Fulton and still had to go all the way to Manhattan Beach) were some serious speed walking moments!