Looking for Old School Help
I know this is pretty far-reaching, but I feel like I gotta ask anyway:
Old School Chowhound from DC prizes hole-in-the-wall finds. Looking for one meal anywhere this board covers. This might be a Monday, so let me know if a place is usually closed on Mondays.
I used to read more, but I am not so up on things the last three years or so.
Here are places, cuisines that I I would consider if I don't get any replies:
Sichuan, Spicy and Tasty? others?
Blue Ribbon Bakery? or anything else really good.
DiFara's is far from being any find, it's well known and discussed ad nauseum.
Spicy and Tasty is good, but it's not a hole in the wall, the atmosphere is clean and okay, and it's well known, so again, not a reclusive find
Sprip is well known and delicious, and if Thai is what you're after, you are generally guaranteed a tasty meal--nice atmosphere (they expanded several years ago, if you haven't been, you wouldnt' recognize it from the old digs----beautiful outside huge patio also)--and again, not a hole in the wall.
Spicy Mina, gets mixed reviews here, her fans still love her and put up with inconsistency every once in awhile, and her detractors fail to see the love, or have had hit or miss bliss. A bit of a dump, if that's what you're after. Seems all the talk of Indian on the boards these days is the 162 post thread about Southern Spice in Flushing. You might want to go there. That might do the trick. Atmosphere looks plain in the photos, I haven't been myself yet, so can't venture an opinion, but it sounds like pretty great from what I've been following on the thread.
So, for Queens, there are many raves for Little Pepper, that's a pretty dumpy place that lots of people love, for Szechuan, close by to Spicy and Tasty in Flushing. Hopefully you'll get some more spot on suggestions. And by the way, when you say Old School, do you mean "old school as in school chum?", or old school as in old school traditional cooking--? Translation needed for the old farts. Thanks. Oh, wait, the old school farts!
I guess I mean Old School for Chowhound, trying to find transporting food outside of the mainstream crowd. Now, I realize that some of the world has caught up with Chowhound - I half expect a Zagat rating for taco trucks soon- so something that has been a Chowhound mainstay for quite some time is perfectly fine. Doesn't have to be a recent discovery.
look for posts on Bamboo Pavilion, 18th Ave in Brooklyn, reputed to be really excellent Sichuan Food.
there is a lot of good pizza around in NY - DiFara is still the king but there are many trying to make good pies, Lucali, for example.
There have also been posts recent on Hunan House and Northeast Restaurant in Flushing, and Southern Spice (indian in Flushing)
Georgian Bread on Neptune Ave. and other places in Brighton Beach
The Red Hook Ballfields on a Weekend
Check Dave Cook's blog for special weekend events, for example a mosque in queens hosts an indonesian food even on Sundays in the summer
DiFara is *closed* on Monday, but otherwise would meet your desires. It may be well known here, but it will certainly feel like a "find" to someone up from DC for the day. The opposite situation applies to Bamboo Pavilion. It is a real find for NYers as it has been flying under the radar, but unless you are Brooklyn based, you might be happier at one of the Flushing restaurants like Little Pepper or the new CH favorites, Southern Spice (South Indian) and Hunan House.
do you think the Flushing Sichuans are better than Bamboo Pavillion or are you just commenting on transportation? For someone from DC, 18th Ave would have other charms too, for example Italian stores (Frank and Sals, not open on Sunday tho) and Villabate (Sicialian pasticceria) to peruse. also not far from the Belt Parkway and Verrazano if the DC hound is coming by car.
re: jen kalb
Without a car I think Flushing is a lot easier to get to from anywhere except parts of Brooklyn (by car, Bamboo Pavilion is probably easier, and parking is not as difficult as Flushing). While I think BP is excellent (and my recent Flushing experience is limited), I would say that Flushing is a "destination" place for walking around and discovering things (like the Lower East Side, Brighton Beach, Sunset Park or Arthur Ave). But while Bensonhurst has a number of interesting stores to visit if you are already there, it is not as dense as Flushing. Another way of putting it is that I think that if I lived in Queens or Manhattan, I would not go to BP, but as a Brooklyn resident I do occasionally go to Flushing's restaurants.
the best finds are the ones you make. Go to East New York and bring a map. uncharted great stuff there. go to middle village. walk down roosevelt ave from sunnyside to flushing.
as said, these are finds in comparison to Manhattan restaurants like Nobu and Lombardi's... but among food adventurers, these are pretty much the top restaurants - and for a reason, they are all excellent.
"go to east new york and bring a map"? , yeah, that ought to really help you out.
Do not bring your friend from DC to East New York. Middle Village? I can't think of anything that I would consider chow worthy to go there. DC and vicinity has some really good food, but great chinese is lacking, and so is really great Thai. I would hit Flushing, lots of good choices there, or Srip for Thai if your friend has not been. I think he just wants to take his friend to something that's authentic, that doesn't mean that he needs to go discover something on his own in uncharted territory.
Stick with Sripiprai, Spicy and Tasty, Little Pepper, (or many other choices in Flushing)--or Southern Spice and your friend will be happy.
Follow up questions:
I see that S&T, LP, and BP are kinda like a 'top three' for Sichuan cuisine. If I were interested in little plates (xiao chi), which one do you think would best fit the bill?
Another follow up question: thanks to Jen Kalb, I found the Eating in Translation site. Now my head is really spinning. I'd like to know if anyone has some serious feedback about Sabry's Seafood in Astoria or Curry Leaves in Flushing. It seems that both places have great potential but maybe their menus have never really been explored much.
Steve, first off, you wont go wrong with any of these places. But if what you want are small plates, I'd go check out Xi'An Famous Foods stall in the Golden Mall. Food truly doesn't get any better. Get any of their noodle dishes, and the lamb sandwich And around the corner is a stall that has incredible dan dan noodles.
But, like I said, you won't go wrong with any of those other places you've mentioned.
Reporting back after three days of eating. Turns out that I had more time than I thought to hit up some board favorites plus strike out (a little bit) on my own.
In chrononlogical order, I ate
Tony and Tina's Pizza and Burek. I had a pumpkin burek. Nice stuff. Glad I didn't go out of my way for it, though.
Sabor a Mexico Taco Truck on Valentine just north of Fordham Rd. (a block or so east of Fordham Rd. subway stop) Taco de cecina. Maybe this is just avg. for NYC, but where I'm from, it's off the charts. One taco was a meal for $2.50. Piled high with lettuce.tomato, onion, crema - which is also different than what I'm used to. Super delicious.
Xi'an Famous Foods. Savory Lamb burger. Nice stuff, didn't wow me, but this seems to do it for so many, so it's just a question of personal preference.
Curry Leaves. I could only find two references on Chowhound, both very positive, about this Malaysian joint. Since I have little access to Malaysian food in DC, I decided this would be a nice change of pace. Ordered two dishes. Rojak, a fruited salad covered in a pitch black sweet sauce and a heavy pile of toasted sesame seeds. Also ordered pork skin and tofu puffs. The rojak did not come as advertised since the menu said jicama, cucumber, and mango and it actually came with jicama, pineaple and squid (!). Squid was tough, and the sauce, with a hint of spice, was overpowering (but in a good way). The pork skin and tofu puffs came out as a soup in a very deep bowl filled with chili oil and coconut milk. Potent stuff, delicious, the solid ingredients acting simply as a sponge for the hot oil/ milk combination. I get the feeling that this huge menu is worth exploring. Prices seem low and portions enormous, so a group outing is called for.
Little Pepper. I'm glad they start you off with free peanuts and pickled vegetables. The peanuts are plain, but the pickled vegetables are an A+ version of this dish. This left me ordering only one dish, the ox stomach with mashed garlic sauce. Beautifully executed. Very rich. As with most of the food I ate on this trip, I could only finish about 1/8th of what I was served. It is easy to see why LP is beloved. (Still, I feel it necessary to put in a good word for some of the Sichuan choices I have in the DC area.)
Side note: About 8:30pm on a Monday evening, I passed by a guy on the sidewalk with a smoker and a sign that said 'Tacos unicos estilo Tijuana" at 111-22 Roosevelt Avenue, about a half block from the subway stop at 111th. It smelled great, but I couldn't think of stopping. Well, I thought about it.
Milan's. Slovakian food. I've been to Slovakia, and I couldn't resist going here. The big difference between Milan's and a place in Slovakia is that a Slovakian restaurant will carry maybe 5 items (and variations thereof). Milan's serves at least 25 distinct items. I ordered one of them. It was so gratifying to eat the pork and sauerkraut goulash with dumplings. I love this food. So simple, hearty, delicious. Deeply satisying.
MANHATTAN: I know this is not the board, but I only feel like posting once.
Luzzo's. Sfizio vegetale and margherita pizza. Sfizio vegetale (slices of eggplant and zucchini) benefited from the coal oven cooking. Probably the best single item of the trip. Pizza was very fine and just the style I prefer, but I could not detect a benefit from the coal oven on this. I read later they use half coal/ half wood.
Momofuku Noodle Bar. Ramen. Great solid ingredients, but broth was saltier than salt soup. Probably the worst item I had on the trip. Soft serve twist of rhubarb and cake batter. Nice flavor, nothing special about the texture. Not worth the $4.
this is probably not the place for this. Im torn between them. they are pretty different. I love the beansprouts and chicken served as "banchan" at Bamboo Pavillion, and the fact they give away such good food, had a spicy fish on the flip menu that was really excellent but lots of bones, pumpkin dish excellent -Im looking forward to exploring more on their big menu
Grand Sichuan house has some fine green veg dishes, a plus for us, and that green been and tea smoked duck dish is super.
They are both very good, with differences on the menu. Im not ready to say one is better than the other - Bamboo Pav has a better location, for chinese community support, thats for sure.
Hunan House on Northern Blvd in Flushing is our current favorite for spicy Chinese food. Covered extensively here. Real Hunan food is thin on the ground in NYC.