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unfindable cuisines

I've posted on here before about a similar topic (my still unsuccessful bid to find a Saudi Arabian restaurant in NYC), but I've come across another difficult country: Papua New Guinea. Any advice on where to find this food?

Some background: My new year's resolution was to eat at restaurants from 150+ different countries without leaving New York City (i.e. those with over 1 million residents).
I've made my way through about 15 so far - and captured the memories at fabulouslyunforeign.com.

As a side note, if anyone would like to join me for one of the meals, I am always looking for dining companions on this 'journey.'

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  1. Im not even sure if NY has any restaurants from the South Pacific (excluding Australia and possibly Hawaii - not sure what the current state on this is).
    Would be interested if you find any.

    1. Are you aware of any Saudi specialties that differ from other middle-eastern foods? I'd guess it's not a country that many people emigrate from. In culinary terms national boundaries aren't necessarily culinary boundaries. You'll no doubt find more variation among Indian cuisines and definitely Chinese regions than among Mashreq cuisines (have you found any Jordanian?).


      1. I think I remember the food vendor on Governors Island last year was from New Guinea. Not sure though. I think she regularly parked somewhere in manhattan though, maybe fidi

        2 Replies
        1. re: Jeffsayyes

          here is the food vendor I was talking about. Can't see any sign. They might have not been new guinea, it may be just wishful thinking.

          1. re: Jeffsayyes

            when was it? I looked on line and there was one weekend where there were vendors from brazil, .... and guinea (not new guinea).

            but there was another weekend with more and new guinea might have been mentioned.
            Didnt realize there was all this stuff going on at Gov's Island these days.

        2. Does having a cup of Papua New Guinea coffee count?

          1. New Guinea is a rather diverse place without what i would say is an overlying cuisine. That coupled with the fact that there has not been much emigration to the US might hurt your chances.

            While I applaud your goal I do not think it is going to work. The thing about food from different countries is that modern political boundaries really do not represent how cultures are divided. For example if you were to check off Indian restaurant by eating at one Punjabi place you really wouldn't be getting at the depth of what the many differences between regions are. Alternatively you could check off both the Czech Republic and Slovakia as different "country cuisines" but they are "virtually" identical. Papua New Guinea poses a similar issue to India only without any true representation. The island as a whole is one of the most physically diverse in terms of geography and demographically diverse in terms of culture and language. I think you may want to abandon the whole "country" aspect and delve into different cuisines. there is a great deal of overlap but I think this is something that can better illustrate the diversity of NYC.

            1. rebeccaas21,

              Don't listen to the naysayers! Who are they? The food police? It's your idea! Full steam ahead on your quest and have fun!


              Glendale is hungry...

              4 Replies
              1. re: Glendale is hungry

                Agreed. Rock it. I was planning on something similar this year, but my inability to get organized coupled with the fact that I spend my entire day in front of a computer already (why add more "Dell-time") led me to abandon it. But I tried to come up with a way to tackle regional cuisines within a single country and it led me nearly mad. (Venetian vs. the cuisine of the Veneto, for instance.)

                There are some great lesser cuisines out there, Liberian, Surinamese, Guinean, etc. There is a New Zealand pub in the Seaport, although besides some beers and a pavlova, they're not really that Kiwi.

                In my research, Dave Cook's excellent site http://www.eatingintranslation.com/ , as well as Rober Sietsema's coverage in the VV were invaluable. (EIT especially for its coverage of summer festivals which can be a great place to sample cuisine from un/underserved countries like Burma and Armenia.


                Good luck, and I can't wait to see how you finish the year!

                1. re: lambretta76

                  There's a decent amount of Armenian out there, even if NYC isn't the best city for it.

                  In my experience one of the best resources for this type of stuff are cab drivers. I've talked restaurants with Burmese, Senaglese, Moroccan, Tunisian, Malian (?), and Bangladeshi drivers and they're usaully happy to give their opinions. Good luck.

                2. re: Glendale is hungry

                  I wasn't telling her not to do it but that it might be easier and more effective to try a different approach. For example eating Szechuan food would be a good way to check Chinese food off of the list but you then miss out on a huge variety of great stuff.

                  1. re: MVNYC

                    MVNYC; I'm with you. but this sounds very goal-oriented and not about immersing and enjoying the myriad of tastes within one country's borders.

                3. Rebeccaas21, you sound like my kind of explorer, adventurous but methodical. I applaud your effort. However, I have never seen a Saudi restaurant anywhere in the U.S. or Europe. I used to tutor a group of Saudis in San Diego and enjoyed a number of homey and also festive meals with them. I have yet to meet a Saudi in New York (and I've been working in immigration courts for about 17 years). The most Saudis I encountered were in the Phoenix area. There might be a restaurant there.

                  Some Saudi food is similar to generally known Arabic food, such as tabbouleh and hummus. My favorite dish that I have only heard of in a Saudi context (though it may also be common in the Emirates, Oman or Kuwait) is kabsa (sometimes spelled kapsa). It is a chicken and rice dish with a number of spices. They also have their own flatbread and eat a lot of dates, raisins and nuts. They also use a lot of cardamom, even in their coffee.

                  Meals are usually spread out on a cloth on the ground and eaten with the right hand. They can be very hospitable and enjoy good food but mainly entertain in their homes, not in restaurants.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: JH Jill

                    I think that there are one or two Saudi restaurants on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

                    1. re: StheJ

                      A lot of Yemeni, but I've not seen any Saudi places in Brooklyn (especially the waterfront to Flatbush corridor).

                    1. re: gpcohen

                      Hey, that's a good blog, and very well written and engaging. Thanks.

                      1. re: gpcohen

                        worth also to reach our dear friend DaveCook at www.eatingintranslation.com ; the man gets around!

                        1. re: gpcohen

                          another one I just saw; they are just starting out and apparently . . . looking for some rotting decomposed egyptian fish!

                        2. This may sound crazy, but did you consider calling the embassy?