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Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the NY Chowhound community.

The Way of Hwe, and Other Korean Tips

When most Chowhounds think raw fish, they think Japanese sashimi. They should think again. Koreans call it hwe, and its seasonings and side dishes set it a world apart from the Japanese version.

The typical hwe feast starts with an order for the table, which should be at least three or four diners and preferably more, Linda advises. That’s because alongside a boatload of raw seafood comes a fleet of sides that might include katsu (meat cutlets), fried battered seafood, spicy seafood naeng myun (buckwheat noodles), the usual array of panchan, and—finally—a spicy seafood jigae (stew), sometimes made from the bones of the fish you’ve just eaten raw. The hwe is served with sesame or perilla leaves and a choice of accompaniments such as raw garlic and chiles, chojang (soy-vinegar sauce), and chogochujang (hot-sour bean sauce). Season and wrap the fish as you would Korean grilled meats.

And don’t fret over the bill. For $20 or $25 a head you can enjoy a blowout spread. Hwe restaurants deliver “good bang for your buck,” Linda notes. Her favorite fishing grounds are in Flushing: Cheong Hae Jin, Pado, and East, where the standard platter is likely to include sea urchin, sea cucumber, and other relative exotica: “my father, who is from the seaside in south korea, relishes this place b/c it reminds him of eating things he freshly plucked off from under the rocks.”

A bit farther afield is Samdado, perhaps not worth a special trip, but a dependable seafood option if you’re in the area. And the area, right off the LIE around Springfield Boulevard, is worth checking out. Among the chowish attractions of this small but lively Korean enclave are the newish Q Mart supermarket; Paul’s Meat, a butcher shop with nice-looking prepared foods; barbecue house Bi Won (no hound reports yet); and Joong Ha Ryu, a Korean-Chinese restaurant where Polecat has found a decent version of ja jang myun (noodles in bean sauce).

Naturally this neighborhood also has its own Korean fried-chicken house, and it’s a good one. Kyochon—the Korean chain credited with inspiring Bon Chon, Bon Bon, Boom Boom and the other chicken joints around town—opened here a month ago (it also has shops in Flushing and Bayside). Those who have tried Kyochon say the mother hen rules the roost. “It’s just as good as BonChon if not better. ... The original is awesome,” nhkteainc declares.

Like its competitors, Kyochon offers chicken seasoned with soy-garlic sauce (“Original”) or chile sauce (“Hot”). And when they say hot, they mean hot. ammel_99, who tried the spicy one, reports that her lips burned for hours afterward—but she’s not complaining. Indeed, she adds, Kyochon is way better than another local contender, Unidentified Flying Chicken in Woodside. lucyis loves the noisily crisp, seemingly greaseless chicken, great peppery fries, and well-chosen pickled radish and shredded cabbage accompaniments.

Meanwhile, the other chicken houses are not standing still. Bon Chon’s newest location, on Bell Boulevard in Bayside, appears to be in championship form, turning out chicken even crispier than its Flushing shop, Polecat reports. And ZenFoodist puts in a word for Flushing’s Very Well Chicken, whose wine-marinated fried chicken is a strong favorite among her Korean friends.

Cheong Hae Jin [Flushing]
160-20 Northern Boulevard (between 160th and 161st streets), Flushing, Queens

Pado [Flushing]
161-23 Crocheron Avenue (near Northern), Flushing, Queens

East Seafood Restaurant [Flushing]
150-60 Northern Boulevard (at Murray), Flushing, Queens

Samdado House [Oakland Gardens]
221-02A Horace Harding Expressway S. (at Springfield), Oakland Gardens, Queens


Q Mart Asian Gourmet [Oakland Gardens]
221-16 Horace Harding Expressway S. (between Springfield Boulevard and 224th Street), Oakland Gardens, Queens

Paul’s Meat, a.k.a. Han Kook Meat [Oakland Gardens]
61-23 Springfield Boulevard (between Horace Harding Expressway S. and 64th Avenue), Oakland Gardens, Queens

Bi Won [Oakland Gardens]
61-58 Springfield Boulevard (between Horace Harding Expressway S. and 64th Avenue), Oakland Gardens, Queens

Joong Ha Ryu [Oakland Gardens]
221-34 Horace Harding Expressway S. (between Springfield Boulevard and 224th Street), Oakland Gardens, Queens

Kyochon Chicken [Oakland Gardens]
Formerly Koryodang Bakery
61-02 Springfield Boulevard (at Horace Harding Expressway S.), Oakland Gardens, Queens

Kyochon Chicken [Flushing]
156-50 Northern Boulevard (near 157th Street), Flushing, Queens

Kyochon Chicken [Bayside]
43-30 Corporal Kennedy Street (between 43rd Avenue and Northern Boulevard), Bayside, Queens

Bon Chon Chicken [Bayside]
45-37B Bell Boulevard (between 45th Road and 45th Drive), Bayside, Queens

Very Well Chicken [Flushing]
41-22 162nd Street (near Northern), Flushing, Queens

Board Links: queens sushi
Indian Oasis
Chic Chick
KyoChon Chicken on Northern Blvd
Korean Chicken Barrage

Robust Italian Flavors at a Village Hot Spot

If you snag a seat at Centro Vinoteca—not an easy thing—turn first to the menu of small bites called piccolini. It sounds as if it’s hard to go wrong at this two-month-old Village spot, where robust flavors in simple combinations are drawing crowds.

Standouts among the piccolini include truffled deviled eggs, eggplant cakes with ricotta, arancini (fried rice and cheese balls), prosciutto-wrapped grissini (breadsticks), Gorgonzola dip with grapes and walnuts, and rock shrimp sautéed with white wine and garlic. Good bets among the slightly larger antipasti include Dancing Ewe Farm ricotta sformato and a cracker-thin grilled pizzetta with spicy house-made sausage, Stracchino, and arugula.

More substantial primi and secondi from Chef Anne Burrell (Savoy, Felidia) also satisfy. Hounds recommend lamb Bolognese with crispy gnocchi, spaghetti with olive oil–poached tuna (with tomato, fennel, and bottarga), and pancetta-and-rosemary-crusted baby chicken. Fish dishes excel; two winners are seared red snapper (with cauliflower ragu, olives, caperberries, parsley salad) and crispy skate in acqua pazza (with scallops, calamari, rock shrimp, fregola, fennel salad).

As a vinoteca, Centro does not disappoint. The wine list is deep, all-Italian, and reasonably priced, says food10011. Service is attentive and smooth—a pleasant surprise at a restaurant that has been jammed practically since its opening. “This is clearly a hot place with a fun buzz,” notes jcooper.

Centro Vinoteca [West Village]
74 Seventh Avenue S. (at Barrow), Manhattan

Board Links: Centro Vinoteca -7th & Barrow
Last Night at Centro Vinoteca–good but…
Centro Vinoteca?

Avocado Shakes Three Ways

Ba Xuyen, beloved for its banh mi, also whips up a wonderful Vietnamese-style avocado shake. Known as sinh to bo, it’s a simple but satisfying concoction of avocado puréed with ice, sugar, and a little condensed milk. “I’m HOOKED,” confesses Puppimus, who doesn’t see this as a problem.

Indonesians make their own version, with a sweet note from chocolate, and most Indonesian restaurants in Queens offer decent ones. Peter Cuce likes Jakarta Mie’s.

For catherine, the alluring Filipino-style shake at Engeline’s hits the spot. And bigjeff is so taken with Ihawan’s version—“incredible stuff,” he swears—that he’s been known to down two at a sitting: one with his Filipino barbecue, and another for dessert.

Ba Xuyen [Sunset Park]
4222 Eighth Avenue (between 42nd and 43rd streets), Brooklyn

Jakarta Mie [Elmhurst]
86-20 Whitney Avenue (between Macnish Street and 43rd Avenue), Elmhurst, Queens

Engeline’s Restaurant and Bake Shop [Woodside]
58-28 Roosevelt Avenue (between 58th and 59th streets), Woodside, Queens

Ihawan [Woodside]
40-06 70th Street (near Roosevelt Avenue), Woodside, Queens

Board Links: Avocado Shakes … Mmmmm
Filipino food in Woodside

Treasure at the Bottom of a Persian Rice Pot

At Persepolis, they sometimes scorch the rice at the bottom of the pot. This is not a bad thing; it’s a marvelous and mouth-watering thing. The resulting browned, slightly caramelized crust—known as tah dig—is dangerously delectable, the object of fork-to-fork combat in Persian households. Persepolis doesn’t put tah dig on the menu but usually has it if you ask, Michael Ambrosio has found.

Also recommended: very good fesenjan (chicken stew with pomegranate and walnuts) and superb chicken kebabs—oniony, saffrony, tender, and delicious, sighs rose water.

Persepolis [Upper East Side]
1407 Second Avenue (between E. 73rd and 74th streets), Manhattan

Board Link: Restaurants you love that are rarely mentioned on Chowhound

Rich, Robust Filipino at Pistahan

Any Filipino restaurant that nails dinuguan, the rich, saucy, pork blood stew, can be trusted with the rest of the menu, say hounds. Pistahan aces the dinuguan test, JungMann reports: “if it is this tangy and flavorful, I can only imagine how delicious the other dishes must be. Thick, adequately sour and topped with pieces of lechon kawali [fried pork belly], it far surpassed even my Lola’s [grandmother’s]!”

bokkyo, who also loves the dinuguan, endorses a couple of fish dishes as well: tilapia or bangus (milkfish) grilled in banana leaf. “The milkfish was excellent but the Tilapia, wow, this was a dish to transport its eater.”

Open since spring, Pistahan has a cheery vibe (the name means festival) and is holding its own against better-established neighborhood rivals. “While Elvie’s sat empty, Pistahan was brimming with a full house,” JungMann observes, “including 4 girls … squealing with delight over their ube [purple yam dessert], a man who was audibly moaning while eating maja blanca [coconut-corn pudding], and a lively party of 7 which ordered nearly the entire menu!”

Pistahan [East Village]
229 First Avenue (between E. 13th and 14th streets), Manhattan

Board Link: New Filipino restaurant: Pistahan

Pizza with the Works at Dominick’s

Fresh toppings, lots and lots of them, are the signature at Dominick’s Pizzeria. The pizza itself is perfectly fine, made with care by the Italian owner, but those toppings—“I was dumbfounded,” confesses Cheese Boy. Want steak and peppers on your pizza? How about chicken with fresh tomatoes, or chicken with broccoli, or even chicken marsala? Or maybe Cheese Boy’s idea of a “heart attack on a plate”—fried shrimp on a slice? Go on Saturdays, when the selection is best.

Dominick’s Pizzeria [Bronx]
1015 Allerton Avenue (between Paulding and Hone), Bronx

Board Link: Arthur Ave detour–Try Domenick’s Pizza

Flurt Enters the Frozen Yogurt Fray

A promising new entry in New York’s escalating frozen yogurt swirl-off is Flurt, which has two Manhattan shops and counting. It’s in the same mold as the fast-multiplying Pinkberry, serving a fat-free, lightly sweetened product with actual yogurt tartness. Fans insist it’s better: creamier and smoother in texture than Pinkberry’s. Toppings include diced fruit (berries, pineapple, banana, kiwi, mango, etc.), coconut, mochi, and a couple of breakfast cereals.

luvtosnack, following the server’s advice, tried blueberry, banana, and Cap ’n Crunch and “absolutely loved it … the combo rocked!! As soon as i finished it, i wanted more.” windycity grabbed a cup to go, intending to add her own berries at home. Didn’t happen. “Could not stop eating the thing as I was walking. ... Walk, bite, smooth creamy tangy melting in mouth. Damn, I finished it before I got home.”

lfjacob puts in a word for the Yolato minichain, which serves soft-serve frozen yogurt—with fruit and grain toppings—alongside gelato, sorbets, and other cold stuff. “It is absolutely delicious,” she swears.

The yogurt avalanche continues in Murray Hill, where another newcomer, Berrywild, has just opened. No reports yet.

Hounds have long loved Frogurt brand frozen yogurt, served at Bloomingdale’s 40 Carrots café and a few other places around town. 40 Carrots is still in business, but don’t look for it in its old lower-level space near the subway station. Last month it moved upstairs to roomier quarters on the seventh floor. Same nice creamy Frogurt, though.

Flurt [Gramercy]
284 Third Avenue (between E. 22nd and 23rd streets), Manhattan

Flurt [Battery Park City]
300 Albany Street (entrance on South End Avenue between Albany and Rector), Manhattan

Yolato [Greenwich Village]
120 MacDougal Street (between Bleecker and W. Third streets), Manhattan

Yolato [Upper West Side]
2286 Broadway (between W. 82nd and 83rd streets), Manhattan

Yolato [Chelsea]
168 W. 27th Street (between Sixth and Seventh avenues), Manhattan

Yolato [Bergen County]
725 River Road (near Russell), Edgewater, NJ

Berrywild [Murray Hill]
427 Third Avenue (at E. 30th Street), Manhattan

40 Carrots [Midtown East]
In Bloomingdale’s, seventh floor, 1000 Third Avenue (at E. 59th Street), Manhattan

Board Link: Flurt Frozen Yogurt

Lebanese Deliciousness at Joeyness

At Joeyness in Fort Lee, the falafel says it all. “They are beyond tasty,” attests drod, who has sampled all the leading contenders around. It’s just one highlight of the stellar Lebanese home cooking at this tiny seven-month-old shop.

Salads are fresh and tasty, like green beans lightly seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and spices; other choices include tabbouleh, dandelion greens, and several lentil variations. Hummus, baba ghanoush, and other spreads also excel; some are packaged and sold in stores.

The engaging proprietor, Joey Ghazal, encourages customers to invent custom sandwiches, which might just wind up on the menu. OffTheBroiler invites us to try his own creation, the Beirut Tour Bus: kofte kebab (herb-seasoned lamb patties) with sun-dried tomato hummus, tabbouleh, and tahini. Excellent fair trade coffee, too.

Joeyness Cafe [Bergen County]
515 Main Street, Fort Lee, NJ

Board Link: Joeyness–Great falafels!

From Isabella’s Oven, a Classic Naples Pizza

Isabella’s Oven is making the best Neapolitan-style pizza to come along in a while. The Margherita DOC, one of around 15 pies on the menu, is exemplary: tomato, buffalo mozzarella, basil, and olive oil on a crisp thin crust. guttergourmet likens it to those at Una Pizza Napoletana and Luzzo’s in the East Village.

Toppings are topnotch; besides the Margherita, combinations include the San Daniele (prosciutto, tomato, fresh mozzarella, arugula, olive oil), the Tirolese (speck, pecorino, fresh mozzarella, tomato, olive oil), and the Tartufata (portobellos, mushroom pâté, ham, fresh mozzarella, white truffle oil). The wood-burning brick oven produces a crust that’s “light and blistered and elastic and all the things you want for a Neapolitan pie,” promises traceybell. Salads, pastas, heros, and a handful of hot entrées (chicken parmigiana or milanesa, eggplant parm) round out the menu.

On the Upper West Side, pizza pro Nick Angelis has struck again. Dean’s, open since June, is turning out regular and “grandma” pies with help from the guy behind the hound-endorsed Nick’s in Forest Hills and Adrienne’s Pizza Bar near Wall Street, among other places. The grandma (“old fashioned square pizza” on the menu) features fresh and processed mozzarella, two kinds of Parmesan, milled tomatoes, and a touch of garlic and oregano atop a nice thin crust. Round pies boast a well-browned crust with character and crunch, says dan f. He faults only listless sauce and toppings, which can be pepped up at the table with salt, red pepper, and grated Parmesan.

Dean’s pizza leaves some hounds cold. “If you have to travel more than five blocks,” Cpalms advises, “it’s not worth it.” There’s also a full menu of salads, pastas, and entrées. Fallon recommends rigatoni Bolognese or bucatini with meatballs. Daniel76 says stick with the pizza. “Airplanes serve better pasta,” he shudders.

Isabella’s Oven [Lower East Side]
365 Grand Street (between Essex and Norfolk), Manhattan

Dean’s Restaurant & Pizzeria [Upper West Side]
215 W. 85th Street (between Amsterdam and Broadway), Manhattan

Board Links: Isabella’s Oven
Alternatives to Una Pizza Napoletana
Isabella’s Oven
Dean’s Pizza Square Pie

In Kew Gardens, the Popcorn Is Boffo

Two big thumbs up for the fresh-made popcorn at Kew Gardens Cinemas: pellegrino31 loves the theater’s indie-leaning programming but also keeps things in chowish perspective: “[T]he best part is the popcorn—it’s excellent!” abu applesauce (a name that belongs in lights) readily agrees.

Kew Gardens Cinemas [Kew Gardens]
81-05 Lefferts Boulevard (at Austin), Kew Gardens, Queens

Board Link: Just moved to Forest Hills—Looking for recommendations