thurs 7/11 2pm, jackson heights/elmhurst

four of us are planning to meet in jackson heights this thurs for some food exploration, give a shout if you’d like to join!


Dammit! I will be clothes shopping. Eat some stuff for me please.

That’s somewhere between “I have to wash my hair” and “if you ever ask again, my father has a gun” on the rejection spectrum :joy:


Looking forward to reading about your adventures.

Well, I did have to wash my hair. But that’s every day, so it’s hard to use it as an excuse.

Actually, it’s an every day excuse :wink:

I believe that’s the point of the excuse.

@FlemSnopes, his lovely wife, @Ike and I met in jackson heights and walked into elmhurst yesterday.

  • Tawa Roti Dhaulagiri Food: This was our meeting point, unfortunately, they were out of momo, the sel roti had been made in the morning and the piece we tried wasn’t fresh. I do want to return, they were grilling and packaging fresh flatbread when we left, looked wonderful.

  • Tongs Fuschka truck: Doug and his wife wanted to try fuschka, I wrote about this truck last week, excellent again!

  • Bhanchha Ghar: I’ve never had sel roti, read they do it well and make them to order, wow, was this good and at $1.50, one of NYC’s great bargains. Probably risking Saregama’s ire when I say reminiscent of the vada we had at dosa hut but maybe a little sweeter. The steamed goat momos were also delicious, I preferred the less spicy sauce for its fruity notes.

  • Taqueria Coatzingo: Ike wanted to compare jackson heights tacos to what he’s found in sunset park, I thought the tacos very good but not life-changing. My position on tacos, affirmed by my dining mates, is that homemade tortillas are a necessary but not sufficient ingredient for great tacos and, while the fillings here are excellent, the shells don’t taste homemade.

  • G-Mart: I wrote about G-mart previously, as planned, I bought a bunch of condiments, bok choy, and noodles. I must confess to hustling the condiments into the pantry before my wife got home. Yes, I have a condiment problem.

  • Pata Market: A small thai market, they laughed when I asked for holy basil, so the hunt continues. They do carry frozen northern thai sausage (yes, I also have a sai ua problem) but the price works out to the same as our local restaurant. I also bought a small packet of hand mixed larb spice, $3.50 for about 20 cents worth of spice, but interested to see if it improves my to-date good-to-pretty-good results.

  • Saranrom Thai: we looked at the menu, Ike really likes this place, perhaps an option for an HO dinner.

  • awang kitchen: we started with their fried fish skin which doug and I liked but I’m not looking to order it again. The gado gado salad was big and delicious but I’d have liked a little more heat in the peanut sauce. Finally, we had some sort of whole fish dish which was good but again, I’d probably not order again. This is a place to return with a group and sample their big menu or maybe as a couple for their Rijsttafel.

  • Mall update: @DaveCook the mall is el mort, locked up tight, and mostly empty.

  • Fuji snacks: I bought some house-fried bean crackers which were pretty good, I’ll post a photo on Sunday.

a wonderful day with amiable companions, here are some tidbits we learned about one another:

  • doug is the first person I’ve ever met that has a broader bbq experience than I do and I’ve judged over 25 bbq contests where I’ve met 100s of bbq fanatics.
  • Ike claimed not to know much about elmhurst yet knew every single restaurant and store we passed.
  • I shared that I spent years and years perfecting homemade banh mi rolls only to read an article this week by Andrea Nguyen, author of the banh mi handbook, where she stated rhe roll really doesn’t matter :scream:

@Ike and @FlemSnopes pls post your thoughts and photos when you have a chance.



Sounds like a fun and diverse wander.

I’ve never eaten Sel Roti (though I’m guessing it might be reminiscent of other things with similar ingredients).

What condiment contraband did G-mart yield?


This article? Or this older one? (There’s an even older one on F52.)

my guess is that her conclusion is partially based on an evolving realization of just how hard it is for even an experienced home baker to perfect banh mi rolls:

" Where to shop Supermarkets, ethnic grocers, bakeries, delis, bodega-style convenience stores

Type of bread Roll or loaf, sometimes sliced bread

Bread characteristics

  • Feels relatively light when picked up
  • Has a delicate (thin) crust
  • Possesses a tender, chewy-soft interior (press on it and it should lazily bounce back)
  • Tastes faintly sweet
  • Is considered everyday, affordable bread

Examples of breads that work well

  • “French” or “Italian” rolls or loaves sold at supermarkets
  • “Baguette” at Chinese, Vietnamese markets, bakeries, and delis
  • Mexican bolillo or telera rolls
  • Cubano rolls
  • Ciabatta rolls or loaves
  • Partially baked (parbaked) rolls or loaves of French, Italian, or Ciabatta-style bread (follow instructions to finish baking)
  • Kaiser rolls
  • Hoagie or cheesesteak roll
  • Sandwich bread (white, wheat, multigrain, or gluten-free)
  • Mini slider buns

This is heresy. The rolls at Ba Xuyen are what makes it!

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I think she’s been down the rabbit hole since then.

This is from the second link, where she shares some successes and failures (2015):

After lots of sleuthing and a happy circumstance, I found out that dough improver/conditioner and special commercial-grade flour were the key to the crisp, light bread used for banh mi. That’s how I eventually arrived at the recipe in The Banh Mi Handbook .

This is from the first link (2007):

My first response is to direct the person to a Vietnamese market or deli, or a Mexican market or deli where they can pick up a bolillo roll, which is very similar in texture and function in that they’re used for torta sandwiches.

Most Vietnamese people DO NOT bake their own baguette for these simple reasons: (1) it’s cheap and more convenient to buy baguette, (2) yeasted dough is hard to master, and (3) home ovens are scarce in Vietnam.

Given the number of hours involved in baking bread, it’s an awful disappointment when things don’t succeed.


BTW, the former Fuji Foods seems to go by a different, more Burmese-sounding name now, though I didn’t catch what it was.

Anyway, some of the photos I took didn’t look like much, but here are some of the better ones:

Sel roti:


More to come!


Do they bake their own? We were discussing on another wander that there might be bakeries that supply these rolls, as they do for cubans and other culturally iconic sandwiches.

When I was at a Viet market in San Diego a month or so back, they had a stack of Banh mi rolls (bags of 6) for purchase right next to their banh mi ordering station. House-made radish and carrot pickles could also be purchased, so you could assemble your own sandwiches at home.


Here are the steamed goat momo

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Yes, to be fair, when our banh mi group started using her dough recipe, we all saw immediate improvement. Still, we are a group of experienced bakers, not entirely convinced someone with beginner shaping and baking skills could quickly master her recipe.

We have access to an excellent Mexican bakery at our place in westchester, plan to give their bolillo rolls a try.

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Toni and I really enjoyed having two knowledgeable guides (@vinouspleasure and @Ike) for our first in-depth look at the amazing diversity of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst.

Fuchka from Tong NYC

Neither Toni nor I had had fuchka before, so we were both eager to try something novel. The delicate thin little fried cups stuffed with onions and maybe potatoes and beans and other stuff, topped with tamarind sauce, was the highlight of the day for me. I could eat this every day.

Toni had had a similar dish, pani puri, at Chowpatty Chat (which she recommends very highly if you’re ever in Houston’s Gandhi District), but that version was so yogurt-drenched that I was unable to take more than one lactose-fearing small nibble. So it was a great treat to have a non-dairy contaminated version.

Since fuchka is entirely new to me I did a little googling to educate myself.

The dish does not yet appear to have a standardized name in the US, as I saw it referred to in various places as “phuchka,” “puchka,” “fuska,” “puska,” “fuchka,” and “fuschka.” I’m going with “fuchka” because it seems the simplest and because that was the name on the Tong NYC truck where we ate.

I apologize if this is a duplicate to someone else’s earlier post, but this NYT article about Tong (the original fuchka truck) and its many nearby imitators is a delightful read. The talent the Times has gathered in all its departments right now is amazing. (I read somewhere recently that the NYT now employs almost 7% of all the newspaper employees in the USA.)

I’d love to come back one summer evening and do a taste-off trying all the competitors’ versions of fuchka.

Nepali Banchha Ghar

The sel roti was very good, reminiscent of a French cruller, but not as sweet. I was disappointed that they were out of buffalo, but the goat momos were an excellent rendition, and as noted, the orange fruity sauce was delicious, much better than the spicier red sauce. I don’t remember having green momos before.

Taqueria Coatzingo

We were surprisingly fastidious at Taqueria Coatzingo. We each ordered a taco - four different types, lengua, carnitas (I think), al pastor, and suadero – but the sharing among the unmarried was limited to a single fork of each meat, However, Toni and I know each other pretty well, so we swapped our al pastor and suadero tacos at the halfway point. The suadero (a very smooth textured cut of beef) filling was excellent and the al pastor (cooked on a trompo) was even better. But as @vinouspleasure noted, the tortillas didn’t seem homemade and had no griddle char on them at all, which disqualifies them from the very top ranks of tacos, regardless of how good the filliings are.


A lot of interesting stuff here, including this vegetable, which I’ve had no luck in identifying:

Awang Kitchen

Although I thought the culinary highlight of the day was clearly the fuchka, I enjoyed eating at Awang Kitchen the most of any our stops.

Awang Kitchen places a central role in this beautifully written piece by Dena Igusti (published by the Asian American Writers Workshop), “Did You Hear About …? Gossip and Care in the Indo Community in Queens.”

Ms. Igusti leads off her essay with this description of Awang Kitchen: "Awang Kitchen is an Indonesian restaurant along Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst, a half mile away from Queens Center Mall. This rumah makan, named after its founder and chef, Siliwanga, is known for large group get-togethers and big portions that accommodate every table size. With karaoke every week and constant chatter from seemingly stone-faced men and women, it’s always guaranteed to be a good time. It’s also where my friends, my parents, and my parents’ friends gather to talk. It’s where you’ll hear bits and pieces of information that you have no business knowing. "

Awang Kitchen was in fact full of groups of Indonesian-American friends sitting and chatting (well, gossiping, if you believe Ms. Igusti). Great people watching.

I enjoyed the food quite a bit too. The gado gado was one of the better versions I’ve had and the fried fish skin cake was good and very interesting (but dense enough that I also probably wouldn’t order it again unless there was a large group to share it with.

We asked our waiter for a recommendation and he unhesitatingly recommended the fried pompano in a chili onion sauce. Toni and I both loved this dish, more, I think, than @Ike and @vinouspleasure did.

The name of this dish in Indonesian is ikan bawal goreng cabe bawang kecap manis (emphasis added).

Like @vinouspleasure , I have a condiments problem, which Toni periodically urges me to solve either by using them up or throwing them out (obviously unacceptable).

One of my unused condiments is a bottle of Indonesian “kecap manis,” which this dish uses. So maybe I will try to find a recipe for this dish, as a baby step forward with the condiments. Of course, it might well be that there are other condiments I will need to buy for the sauce, but such is the price of progress.


That would imply there was a standardized name to have :rofl:

The same dish is called pani puri, gol gappa, puchka, and phuchka / fuchka in different indian cities. The latter two are in Kolkata / Calcutta, West Bengal (Hindi speakers pronounce it one way, Bengali speakers the other) — hop the border to Bangladesh and the “ph” is pronounced only in its flipped form of “F” and it becomes “Fuchka”.

The “ch” in the middle also got mispronounced to “sk” — it’s not as stark in bengali, where both can be (mis)pronounced as a soft “shk”, that’s why it’s transliterated variously as “chk”, “sk”, and “shk”.

“Pani” = “water” so it’s unlikely you had pani puri in Houston, rather dahi puri / dahi batata puri — dahi = yogurt.


Bitter melon

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