Not too long ago, Mu Ramen opened as a nighttime pop up in a bagel shop on Vernon Boulevard. The menu, which features steamed buns and three different types of ramen, was a hit. Now Chopsticks and Marrow reports the exciting news that Mu Ramen will move into a permanent location. From the Mu Ramen website: “We have found our location in LIC!! Horray!!! Until the new location is built and ready, our pop up’s hours will vary from week to week. we apologize for the inconvenience but we will keep you updated on twitter, instagram, FB and our website. Thank you for your encouragement and support! stay tuned…” There are no details yet on the new location or the opening date. Needless to say, we’re looking forward to this one!
Welcome to a new Q’Stoner food feature, Signature Dish! Once a week we check in with Queens restaurants and ask the owners about the all-time favorite dishes they serve. If you know of a dish you’d like to see featured here, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Spot: Tuscan Hills, 115-20 Queens Boulevard, Forest Hills.
The Deal: Forest Hills restaurant Tuscan Hills specializes in not just Italian cuisine but Tuscan cuisine. Throughout the space are small stories about the birth of the restaurant. For example, when the owners took on a renovation here they didn’t know they’d find a beautiful brick wall hidden behind layers of sheetrock. Also look for the horseshoe which has brought the owners good luck.
The Dish: Since opening, the most popular dish on the menu has been the Caciucco alla livornese, a variation on a traditional Tuscan fish stew in a tomato sauce. Where a traditional fish stew is served with a few pieces of bread, at Tuscan Hills the stew is baked under pizza dough. The restaurant features Tuscan red and white wines that pair well with the dish, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano as the white and the light red Rosso di Montalcino.
The Caciucco alla livornese is served on the dinner menu.
Much has been said about the onslaught of breweries opening up in Queens. Over the weekend Crain’s filed a report on why, exactly, so many people started brewing in the borough. The seven breweries now operating in Queens were able to find unique, large spaces for less money than in Brooklyn or Manhattan. The brewers use local ingredients (the Rockaway Brewing Company uses Rockaway-grown hops for all its brews) while others focus on creative flavors (Big Alice Brewing experiments with ingredients like pumpkins, kumquats and beets). Transmitter Brewing will open on 11th Street in Long Island City in March, selling bottles and growlers of farmhouse ales. The owners tell Crain’s that there’s no worry about an over-saturated market because each Queens microbrewery is so distinct.
Today, New York Times dining critic Pete Wells takes to the much-hyped M. Wells Steakhouse, which opened in Long Island City this fall. Here’s what he has to say about Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis’ latest efforts:
M. Wells Steakhouse needs some fixing itself. Discipline is not its strong suit, for better and for worse. It can lurch from magnificence to sloppiness, from inspired fever dreams to inarticulate notions that aren’t ready to leave the kitchen. One thing that needs improvement is the steak. This isn’t as fatal as you’d think, because when M. Wells Steakhouse succeeds, it does so in a deeply satisfying fashion, by feeding the lust in your gut for a meal that is not just a dinner but a feast.
He enjoys dishes like the French onion soup, the Solomon Gundy, the pork chop tower (called “deranged and wonderful”), the tomahawk chop and the sweetbreads blanquette; he’s less impressed with the steaks, the bone-in burger and the trout. Overall, he awards the restaurant with one star.
Welcome to a new Q’Stoner food feature, Signature Dish! Once a week we check in with Queens restaurants and ask the owners about the all-time favorite dishes they serve. If you know of a dish you’d like to see featured here, please email email@example.com
The Deal: Hell Gate Tiki is a new tiki bar in the old Hell Gate Social space. The bar is located in an off-the-beaten track location that is worth the trip. The recent transformation into a tiki bar has produced a menu of Pacific-inspired cuisine.
The Dish: The Signature Dish at Hell Gate Tiki is the Tiki Tater Tot, which replaces the potato of a traditional tater tot with sushi rice. The rice is prepared the same as if it were being used for sushi, says the restaurant’s new owner, Jeremy Osslund. “You must wash it 10-plus times, create the seasoning of rice wine, sugar and salt, cook the rice and then fold the seasoning into the mixture as the whole thing cools,” Osslund explains. “Needless to say its a fun process to be part of.”
Prior to deep frying, the tots are dusted with rice flour to make them extra crispy. Tiki Tots are designed not to be eaten alone — they are paired with house-made sauces like spicy mayo, tiki sauce, and peanut sauce. The sauces can also be found alongside the other menu items, from Spam-fried rice to Tokyo Joes, a sloppy duck slider.
As the restaurant transitions from its soft opening to grand opening, Osslund plans to continue expanding the menu, giving customers new and exciting reasons to come back.
Welcome to the Q’Stoner food feature, Signature Dish! Once a week we check in with Queens restaurants and ask the owners about the all-time favorite dishes they serve. If you know of a dish you’d like to see featured here, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Deal: The Indian waiter-service restaurant opened at the end of 2013. The owner, Jagdish Shetty, is from South India and serves regional specialties of both north and south India. The exclusively vegetarian menu can attract even meat-eaters with its spiced, spicy, and flavorful recipes. Each dish is made to order, and the kitchen will customize the dish to the customer’s preferred level of spiciness.
The Dish: The menu at Samudra features a large section dedicated to dosas, a South Indian crepe made from rice and lentils. Since opening, the top-selling dosa has been the Masala Dosa, filled with a spiced potato. The dish (pictured above) is served with coconut chutney, sambar, and tomato chili.
“If someone is unfamiliar with dosa, this would definitely be a great starter choice! It is mild, so even those with the most sensitive of tastes will enjoy it,” says Mandy Sprecher, the restaurant manager.
Diners who are more familiar with Indian foods (or who have a hardier spice tolerance) can try Shetty’s favorite, Rava Masala Dosa, which is also filled with the potato masala but the crepe is made with semolina and rice flour.
The Village Voice rounded up its top ten picks for bars in Long Island City. The results? Woodbines, pictured above, came in at No. 8 as a “serious bar for serious drinkers.” PJ Leahy’s got props for being “really Irish,” and L.I.C. Bar, on Vernon Boulevard, is called a hidden gem with a mix of “hipsters, locals and weird Queens types.” (The beginnings of the L.I.C. Bar are worth mentioning: a pristine bar, with tin ceilings and original fixtures, was sitting undiscovered for years before some folks crowbarred the landmarked, abandoned building open.) Coming in at No. 1, at no surprise, is the Dutch Kills cocktail bar. As the Village Voice says, “The staff is made of men and women one simply trusts to make something superlative… They really, really care about this stuff.”
Arunnee Thai is up and operating out of the old Novo space in Jackson Heights, 78-23 37th Avenue. Jackson Heights Life commenters report that it opened over the weekend: “Food was great as per usual and my friend told me they did a great job with the interior. Very nice bar…etc.” (Here’s a menu from the old location.) Arunee moved from its location at 37-68 79th Street off of Roosevelt Avenue. Do you have pictures or reviews of the new space? Send ‘em over!
The 51st Bakery and Cafe is now open at 5-33 51st Avenue, and DNAinfo has all the details. The owners, a couple who are long-time residents of the neighborhood, operated the cafe LIC Brick in the area about 15 years ago. They return to the dining scene with coffee from Intelligentsia Coffee, a selection of pastries and baked goods, and a daily changing lunch menu. The owners plan to serve dinner at this location in the future, as well as wine and beer.
14th Road and 119th Street was the location of an undeclared landmark in College Point, Queens for 127 years before most of Queens was even settled. Flessel’s was there when Queens was double its current size including all of Nassau County and before it was a part of New York City. It was built during the Ulysses S. Grant administration and was there before the Brooklyn Bridge connected Long Island to New York City.
But Flessel’s didn’t make it into the 21st Century.
I had long known about Flessel’s, even before I moved to Queens in 1993, from its description in Willensky and White’s AIA Guide To New York City, and always admired its out-of-time quality. After moving to Queens, I had always talked about getting up to Flessel’s for a drink or a meal.
But it never happened. Flessel’s closed for good in December 1998, the property was sold, and the building was demolished.