“My old man used to take me to Manhattan Chinatown when I was a child,” says Joe, a food writer and editor, and yet another amazing Vayable foodie in New York. “I recall being not quite tall enough to look through the windows of the Cantonese roast meat shops where they hack up roasted pigs and ducks. Those experiences helped trigger my interest in Asian food, but it was living in Queens that really expanded my horizons.”
Joe is an authority on the Asian food scene in Queens, the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world. His three tours on Vayable don’t only cover three distinct areas of Queens; they cover three distinct areas of Asia. There’s the Nepali and Tibetan cuisine around Jackson Heights, the south-east Asian food in Elmhurst, and the Chinese and Korean culture of Flushing. “Jackson Heights is really exciting at the moment,” Joe says. “In the past five to ten years there’s been a big influx of folks from Nepal and Tibet. There’s all sorts of little hidden restaurants tucked away at the back of cell phone shops.
Flushing is also a foodie paradise. “I’d say it’s New York’s most interesting Chinatown,” Joe says. “There’s been an influx of people from Dongbei in north-east China”. Ten years ago, practically nobody in New York had heard of Dongbei food. Now this hearty, fiery cuisine is available from several Flushing restaurants.
Indonesian food remains one of Asia’s most underrated cuisines. Joe recommends the OK Indo Store in Elmhurst, a mom and pop place where the food is cheap and very authentic. “It’s all about the thrill of discovery, like finding a Tibetan restaurant in a cell phone shop,” says Joe, who’s become an expert on Asian food without ever having been to Asia. “A lot of these places are tucked away; secret restaurants you have to really search hard for. The great thing about Queens is that you can be a global explorer without having to leave your neighborhood.”
Joe is about to launch a new food blog. Keep your eyes on http://www.chopsticksandmarrow.com.