I finally got around to trying Ali's cooking and I wanted to mention it because it's been a long time. We northern Queensites seem to have been agonizing and rhapsodizing so much over Mina that people hardly mention him any more. The food was great (the mezes, lemony artichoke bottoms, a warm sweet-and-sour beet-onion-apple sauté, tilapia again lemony with lots of fresh, tasty Mediterranean vegetables, a combo dessert platter) but Ali is about so much more than the food. It doesn't look so hospitable from outside but Ali's hospitality is something to praise to the heavens. I like the people at Mina, but where do you find food-loving characters like Ali? And we met such nice people there. He was playing Son House acoustic blues until a regular friend-client brought in Hindi film music and we had that for awhile as my Indian companion wrote down classic Hindi film titles for him. And Ali happily sucking on his hookah between customers until it got too busy.
If you haven't tried it, it's a bit more pricey than many Queens experiences but it's cheap for the freshness and spontaneity and personal Ali service that you get there. This is the kind of thing that makes me appreciate New York. First you can go to the multiplex and pick from 10+ films, and then you go to a place from another world down the street. Long live diversity!