[yiddish] To eat like an animal, i.e., quickly, noisily, and in great quantity.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cafe Arzu is only scary from the outside

From the outside, Cafe Arzu looks like no place you want to go into. But the few menu options from inside are sufficient reason . This Uzbek restaurant is Kosher and BYO.

I ordered the carrot salad on a whim, wondering how some carrots could justify a $5 price tag. But they are in fact awesome and they are in fact worth it. They do some kind of tangy preparation that makes the shreds of carrots addicting.

For me, the star of the pickle platter was the pink cabbage. They had a strong sour flavor and are oh so pretty. 

The lagman soup is the only one I ever order, though I bet the others are also outstanding. You can taste that the noodles are homemade and the beef-tomato broth is light and comforting

You can't go wrong with the skewers here. I think they are of a better quality than the Rego Park favorite Cheborechnaya. I particularly like ordering the beef, lamb rib, and kofta.

The cheborek is a decent fried snack, though the meat inside is not as good of quality as that of the kebobs. The samsy suffers the same problem. 

The manty come with a minimum order of 5. The filling choices are meat and squash. The meat are a bit more delicious, but both are worth ordering.

Don't be intimidated by the outside, you could be missing out on some solid home cooking.

101-05 Queens Blvd

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Margon's Pernil Sandwich: How to order

I finally got a chance to check out Margon. I decided to get the pernil sandwich over the standard cuban, just because I wasn't in the mood for extras on this day- pork only please. I was a bit confused by the ordering system. Cubans get made and ordered up front. For the pernil sandwich you order it at the first table, pay for it at the second, and then bring your receipt to the back where the meat is thrown on the grill, covered in its own juice, joined with some onions if you like (I do like), and handed over to you.

The meat had solid flavor going on, though it was lacking pieces of crisp skin we all love. Its a pretty huge and satisfying sandwich for $6.50.

Momos To Go: Namaste in Jackson Heights

After landing in LaGuardia airport I took a bus right to Jackson Heights for my first meal back in the states. Wondering around with my suitcase and hammock I passed on all of the tempting Latin American restaurants that I love, being that I had just eaten food of that genre for two weeks. Luckily, I saw a sign for momos. Himilayan food was the perfect choice.

The first section of this establishment, which I believe is called Merit Kebab Palace, looked like an Indian steam table. I passed on that and headed to the back.

I ordered the chicken momos and alu achar, both were brought out to me quickly.

As much as I enjoyed the meaty momos, I couldn't help thinking that for the price ($6) I could have gotten triple the amount of dough wrapped meat in Flushing...

The alu achar, spicy potatos, were a vibrant heat-packing side dish. The cilantro cut the spice enough to make this a nice summer dish.

I would love to return here with more people, so I can try out more of their dishes here.

37-67 74th Street

Monday, August 10, 2009

Nicaragua Fressing

Home safely from traveling in Nicaragua. We had so many adventures, many food related of course. Allow me to show off a few highlights...

After our arrival to Managua we quickly left for a stay on the Laguna de Apoyo.

Down at the bottom of the lake we enjoyed cold Toña's (the beer of choice in Nicaragua*, actually pretty good) and shrimp ceviche.

*The other being Victoria, which is a bit darker

Three of us shared a ginormous whole fried tilapia covered in garlic. We were told that the fish was caught from the lake itself, very cool if that was actually true. The fish cost about $10 in total, it would most likely be triple that back in NYC.

We then traveled a bit north to the colonial town of Leon. One of out favorite dinners was street food behind the main church. Two ladies, each with their own table full of food, were ready for us to point at what we wanted and then threw the items on their barbecues.

Hmm, what do choose? Maybe one of everything

A whole plate costs about a dollar. One fried patty I particularly enjoyed may have been made of green beans.

One this plate: fried plantain, fried cheese, taco thingies, and fried things stuffed with rice and meat galore.

Leon's main square is the spot for getting vigoron, a dish with mushed yucca and pork skin.

Though we enjoyed eating this local dish, the pork skin was quite intense. It might have been better if it was cut into tiny pieces. The green pickled thing made me happy.

While wondering the streets there was no way we could pass up 50 cent pupusas.

This one is stuffed with cheese, beans, and chorizo. The greasy, salty, meaty snack was matched with some spicy cabbage on the side. Rico!

This hot mess is mango bread, a dessert from Imagine, one of the more expensive restaurants in Granada. For a dessert splurge though, it was fun and unexpected. In a country full of mango trees making mango bread is a brilliant concept.

Another relative splurge was lunch at El Zaguan, which was recommended by many locals for the steak. It was not mind blowing.

Cute kids in the Granada market

Boat to the Island of Ometepe

On the island we had an interesting experience at El Zopilote. This "eco-friendly farm" has cabin and hammock accommodations. A flashlight is absolutely needed here. It is an uphill hike to get to the facilities, which means food is not easily obtainable. They provide free fruit as well as baked good and yogurt for a fee. A few nights a week an Italian gentleman makes brick oven pizza. Like other aspects of Zopilote, I was not impressed.

This part of the island, Balgue, does not have very many eating options.

This cart guy in the middle of the road sells tacos. He claimed all of his ingredients were as fresh as could be.

Salty meat stacked with avocado, not too shabby.

Nearby, Eduardo serves up some awesome home cooking at his little comedor.

I don't usually order tamales, but Nicaragua's nacatamal changed my mind. They are usually filled with pork... there is a good chance that fact alone stirred my change of heart.

Even better, was Eduardo's home made chorizo. We had to come back for this one.

While staying on the Merida side of the island we loved the food from this tiny comedor whose menu is penciled on the wall.

This bright chicken soup with squash and other veggies was just what I needed on a rainy Island day.

This is what sunset looks like in the beach town, San Juan del Sur.

I made the mistake of taking Lonely Planet's advice for where to eat. Our first meal in San Juan del Sur was at Cafe Buen Gusto. Lonely Planet recommended highly for fresh seafood. Like all the restaurants on this strip, the view can't be beat. It is right on the water; the relaxing sounds of waves washing up under the wooden planks during high tide make any meal a bit better. The food, though not terrible, was a bit dissapointing. I was so excited to get my lobster on, but the pricey dish came with 3 teeny tails. I was hoping to crack apart some shells and get messy. A fish dish was not only small for the price, but did not taste half as good as other fish we had in this country.

A better bet is sticking with the stalls located in the main market.

Lonely Planet mentions these as a great place to pick up granola and fruit plates... what?
I'd rather stick with some local style home cooking, thank you very much.

We frequented Comedor Itxel with its lovely lady staff often.

A mango orange shake for one dollar and an insanely good nacatamale for another. Hell yea.

We also had some great fish platters here, they come with rice, beans, and some cabbage for about $4.

Sadly the food markets do close, so for a late night dinner I was enticed by the sign advertising poutine at La Panga. A half order of cheesy, gravy covered fries and some battered fish were a tasty fried alternative from the typical local food. The owner Adam is a sweetheart. If you find yourself in the area, check out his fundraiser events for a local orphanage.

Play Maderas is a gorgeous beach worth treking out for. On the beachfront we enjoyed fresh fish tacos.

I am pretty proud of this one; after getting 3 hours of sleep the night before, I woke up and purchased fish ceviche from a laundramat. Note the elegant way it was served in a tied up plastic baggie. Needless to say, it was tangy and refreshing and the perfect breakfast.

We got a great tip to check out the infinity pool at the Pelican eyes resort, located on a hill overlooking San Juan del Sur and its beach. As long as you make a purchase at their restaurant, La Cascada, you have access to the gorgeous pool. A pina colada was an easy choice. The place offers real salads, which is a bit hard to find in Nicaragua

Back in Managua, for our last night in the country, we decided to do a taste test of the two ubiquitous fast food fried chicken chains. Pollo Campero and more-so, Tip- Top, are EVERYWHERE.
Both offer table service, which is amusing.

I thought Tip Top's chicken was decent. A comparable combo was cheaper than Campero and came with more fries.

Campero's chicken= frightening. The breast meat was way too plentiful and juicy, which sounds like a good thing, but it really was not. It tasted like an alien creature resembling a chicken took a full course of hormone treatment and was then injected with bullion cubes.

But the children's play room was top notch.

Our last meal was unfortunately some icky airport food, but other than that we had some bodacious eats in Nicaragua. Perhaps in the off chance that you are planing a trip there, these reflections might be useful to you. If not, you are allowed to be jealous that a future broke ass law student ate better than you for two weeks.