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Warung Kario dinner and Liberty Ave. Guyanese query

CitySpoonful | Nov 4, 201108:03 AM

We grabbed dinner at Warung Kario in Ozone Park, Queens, last night. Unfortunately, we arrived just before closing (8pm), and the pickins' on the steam table were pretty sparse.

We must've asked for about half a dozen dishes recommended by a friend who spent a lot of time in Suriname -- dawat (coconut milk drink), gembeer (spicy ginger drink), pom (mashed grated taro root), soetoe soup (chicken soup w/boiled egg), goedangan (string beans with a spicy coconut sauce), the usual veggies (bitter gourd, pumpkin, eggplant) -- but only a few of the things we had hoped to try were actually available (baka bana, bamie and bojo).

What we did try from the steam table was unfortunately less-than-fresh. Indeed, only one of us was brave enough to try the stewed chicken, which looked like it had seen far better days.

Still, our dishes featured a really interesting meld of sweet/mildly spicy/savory flavors. The fried noodles (bamie) and fried rice (nasi) may have looked unremarkable -- like standard Chinese take-out, in fact -- but the aforementioned flavor combo was distinctly different from those of Chinese, Thai, Indian, Filipino, Nepali, etc. cooking. We were totally at a loss to name the seasonings (Can anyone help with that?).

One of us loved the stewed "brown beans" (the proprietress used the Dutch "bruine boone" for them -- kidney beans, I'm pretty sure) spooned on top of our spicy sweet noodles (bamie). The beans added a salty/meaty kick to the sweet/mildly spicy noodles. Why ever did this idea never occur to us?!

The sauteed cabbage, pickled cucumber slices and pickled red onions on the side also added a complementary tangy/mostly sweet edge to the noodle and rice dishes.

Our meat eater was also a big fan of the shredded/fried liver and onions condiment (the stewed chicken was just "OK"). And our spice lover was impressed by the extreme heat of the red chili sambol (use it sparingly unless you know what you're doing!).

We had high hopes for the baka bana (a snack of fried sweetish plantains). Our plate of baka bana came fresh from the fryer, but the flavors were underwhelming -- slightly sweet/slightly savory plantain. Plus it was served with an oddly sweet, almost fruity peanut sauce that was the color of molasses. The freshly friend banana chips -- paper thin, low on oil, and lightly salted -- were far better.

The desserts were low on sweetness (a good thing in my book!) but also low on flavor. The lapis (vaguely coconut-y,bright pink-&-white custard squares) was especially bland, with the less-than-appealing texture of extra-firm custard. But the bojo (steamed cassava with coconut) had a mild sweet/burnt brown-sugary flavor and a nice chewiness -- like Indian halwa solidified into grab-and-go squares. And were those raisins tossed into the mix? Nice touch.

Walking from the subway, we noticed a plentiful array of Guyanese spots along Liberty Ave. Any recs for where to go? Kaieteur, Singh's, and Little Guyana Bake Shop have been mentioned on these boards. Any info on a nice-looking roti shop called Anil's? Other recs? (JFores, I know you know where to go for the good stuff on Liberty Ave.!)

(Photos of all the dishes are on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?se...)

Singh's Roti Shop
131-18 Liberty Ave, Queens, NY 11419

Anil's Roti Shop
125-01 Liberty Ave, Queens, NY 11419

Little Guyana Bake Shop
124-13 Liberty Ave, Queens, NY 11419

Warung Kario
128-12 Liberty Ave, Queens, NY 11419

87-12 Lefferts Blvd, Queens, NY 11418

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