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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.”

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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.
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A Spicy and Tasty Sichuan Lunch

fish cooked with sichuan spices

Back from London and tired from bland British food, Hope had only one request when I asked her where she wanted to go out for lunch.  “I need some SPICE!”, she pleaded.  Somehow I managed to convince Hope and Davis to wake up early on a cold day and venture into the inner depths of Queens for a taste of Sichuan cuisine.

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