Sri Lankan Ambassador Dinner at Bownie Restaurant

Bownie Restaurant
A stack of idiappams with mutton curry, coconut chutney and Sri Lankan-style sambhar.

Just one short bus ride away from the bustling satellite Chinatown of Flushing, Queens is Bownie restaurant, a modest Sri Lankan eatery that has been owned and operated by Nanthini and Sri Kandharajah and their family for 11 years now.

While there are plenty of appetizing traditional Indian dishes on the menu, you’ll find that the Sri Lankan specialties really stand out. That night, dinner at Bownie was one in a continuing series of ambassador programs organized by Jeff Orlick, and Joseph Aranha of the Asian Arts and Cultural Alliance was our ambassador for the evening.  So, how exactly does an ambassador dinner work?  According to Jeff, this is what goes down: a guide (ambassador) “will order for the table and discuss what we are eating and why we are eating it. Not a classroom experience, but more of a familial gathering centered around the food.”

Read more


Queens by Bike: Asian Feastival’s Tour du Jour

It’s almost been two years since I first moved to Queens, but I find that there is still so much to see and explore.  Since most of my friends either live in Brooklyn or Manhattan, I’m usually biking across the Pulaski Bridge into Brooklyn or hopping on the subway to Manhattan; I really haven’t had much of a chance to explore my own borough.  But this all changed when I began to prepare and plan for Asian Feastival.  In the past few months, I’ve spent more time in Queens than ever before.  As a result, I’ve gotten a chance to know more Queens people and Queens places, and I really love it.

When the idea of doing an Asian Feastival bike tour came up, the first person that came to mind was Youngsun Lee.  A Korean chef born in Seoul and raised in Queens, he first began biking to get in shape for the snowboarding season but now he is an equally expert biker.  Together with Emily Lew, Asian Feastival graphic designer and correspondent, we discussed our shared passion for biking between bites of teok (Korean rice cakes) at the Asian Feastival press conference.  By the time the conference was over it was settled, we were going to take it to the streets and do the bike tour.  The fourth biker in our bike brigade was Jeff Orlick.  Having lived in Jackson Heights for the past two years, he’s been spreading a good dose of Queens love through food.  Organizing Queens-centric food gatherings and events, he’s been exploring the culinary landscape of Queens and bringing people together through a shared love for exploratory eating.

Bike Crew
Emily, Jeff and Youngsun

Read more

1 Comment

Gamelan Kusuma Laras: A Musical Foray into Indonesian Cuisine

gamelan in action
Gamelan rehearsal in action

The Javanese Gamelan group Kusuma Laras holds rehearsals at the Indonesian Consulate twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays. Beginning at 5:30, members trickle into the basement of the Consulate, each taking their respective place in front of the majestic bronze instruments, sitting shoe-less and cross-legged while rhythmically beating to the numbered musical notations.  An hour and a half later, a cooker of rice and tupperwares filled with aromatic Indonesian home cooking are placed on the table buffet-style, indicating that dinner has commenced.

Read more


Indonesian Food Bazaar at Masjid Al Hikmah

pilule on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldtotable/4806838639/”>sticky rice with meat filling

Braving the summer heat and crossing borough lines for the sake of some home cooked Indonesian food at the Masjid Al Hikmah bazaar, rx Talisa explores Queens cuisine and recaps our epic Indonesian eating adventure. – Veronica

Being a Greenpointer, I’m only a Pulaski bridge away from Queens: that mythical, magical place of delicious food that has somehow managed to evade my ever-growling stomach since I moved to New York almost five years go. Aside from a few bites here and there and some lovely home-cooked feasts courtesy of the Chan’s themselves in Long Island City, I’ve been without a proper introduction to Queens Cuisine—a source of distress for a grub-lover like myself.

Read more


Soup Dumpling Secrets from Nan Xiang Dumpling House

Soup dumplings

Shanghainese soup dumplings are a culinary phenomenon: a bite of pork and a spoonful of soup all within a neatly pleated wheat wrapper.  You’re probably curious: how does the soup get in there?  Over the years, I’ve come up with a fair share of outlandish theories – at one point I was convinced the dumplings were injected with a soup-filled syringe. But all my conspiracy theories were finally laid to rest two weeks ago when the high priestess of Nan Xiang Dumpling House, Chef Huang Jian Ping (黃建萍), came over to make soup dumplings from scratch.  In anticipation for Asian Feastival, an epic culinary event in Queens on September 6th Labor Day Monday (check out asianfeastival.com for the complete rundown), we decided to put her off-site dumpling-making capabilities to the test and invited some friends over to witness her pork and dough sorcery.
Read more


Sex in the (Long Island) City

Every morning you can find my mom upstairs, tending to our rooftop garden, fully equipped with garden gloves, a wide brimmed hat and a hose in hand.  They say Mom knows best, so here she is, doling out gardening advice and talking about plant sex.  -Veronica

Season One

To our delight, the rooftop garden last year was a meeting place for buzzing bees, fluttering butterflies, vocal songbirds and, ahem, migrant workers – a colony of mail-order ladybugs that worked for food and board.  Since we’re in a mid-rise building in Long Island City with plenty of sun, seasoned gardening experts assured us that bees and butterflies can still grace our plants. The bountiful abundance of vegetables — beans, tomatoes, peas, zucchinis, cucumbers, radish, lettuce, eggplants, pepper, green onion and a host of other experimental fruits and herbs — throughout May to October last year pretty much exceeded our expectations. We had enough not just to indulge in “flower pot to cooking pot” dining, but also to share with others. Our little baskets of fresh-cut garden produce became a great diplomatic gesture to reach out to our new neighbors in the community.

Peas, lettuce, tomatoes, bitter gourd

Read more


Plates & Records Brunch

It’s been a long way since my freshman year in college, when skipping out on greasy cafeteria grilled cheese to indulge in restaurant brunch was a regular occurrence. Since then, I’ve wised up on my spending habits, and sadly, this has meant goodbye to the weekend brunch, for the most part.  But there are times that I’ll make an exception to the rule — for a very worthy meal.  Last Saturday, Talisa, my first friend in college and a current Greenpoint, Brooklyn resident, asked if I wanted to go to brunch in her hood hosted by the Plates & Records supper club.  After looking at the menu, I didn’t need much convincing to say yes.

*Kimchi Omelette
*Brioche French Toast with Maple Syrup, Berries and Bacon
*Savory Tart with Caramelized Onions, Gruyere, and Roasted Tomatoes
*Wild Blueberry Scones with Clotted Cream and an Assortment of Jams
*Tea & Coffee with Buttermilk Rusks

Plates & Records is a nomadic and themed supper club organized by Joann, Ram and Andrzej, a writer, a human rights lawyer and an artist respectively.  To attend, all you need is a plate, a record, an empty stomach, and an Andrew Jackson ($20).  The original P&R trifecta includes Andrzej, but in his place at the stove that morning was their friend Georgie.

Joann and Ram
Joann and Ram

Read more


Two Ways to Use Indonesian Fried Rice Paste

WorldFoods Indonesian Fried Rice Paste

Traditionally, Indonesian fried rice, or Nasi Goreng, consists of pre-cooked rice stir-fried with prawn, eggs, tamarind, chili, and coriander.  But there are an infinite number of variations to be made by simply adding a dollop of WORLDFOODS Indonesian Fried Rice ‘Nasi Goreng’ Paste, a concentrated medley of herbs and spices that I often throw into the pan with my leftover rice and whatever I have lingering in my kitchen drawers.

Read more


Mind-blowing Sushi at 6 am

One late December night, I was in New York at Rolf’s sharing a beer and schnitzel with Lee Anne under the hypnotic glow of the festive holiday lights.


Read more

1 Comment

Annie’s Suckling Pig Stuffed with 8 Treasure Rice

Some people stuff turkeys.  Others stuff peppers.  Annie stuffs baby suckling pigs with 8 treasure rice. One of the most passionate people I know when it comes to cooking, Annie Leong is a cookbook author, avid home cook and a close friend to the Lin sisters (three sisters who are practically my aunts).  What sets Annie apart is her dedication to create the PERFECT recipe — multiple baby pigs were sacrificed for the perfection of this dish, but trust me, they died for a worthy cause. Behold my encounter with the “Roast Suckling Pig Extraordinaire”!

heeey there

Read more