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Outer Boroughs Japanese Tibetan Queens

World's First Japanese/Tibetan? (Sunnyside, Queens)

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World's First Japanese/Tibetan? (Sunnyside, Queens)

Jim Leff | Jun 5, 2006 11:59 PM

Yamakaze (39-11 Queens Blvd,361-8232) has been a real point of light for me in Queens. Their hakata ramen (w pork and mushrooms in rich broth) and chanpon (thick noodles with stir-fried vegetables, seafood, and delicious, smoky-tasting pork in a porky broth) are top-notch, and that's not stuff easy to find good outside Manhattan.

The place is always heart-breakingly empty, while Ariyoshi, an inferior Japanese place with all the personality and caring of a factory, crowds in customers a few blocks east.

I'd been feeling guilty for not giving Yamakaze more customer support, so I stopped by recently and everything was much the same...except a page of Tibetan dishes had been added to the menu! Good looking dishes, too...clearly aimed at Tibetans (smart move...Tibetans and Nepalis are flooding into Queens).

I ordered goma ae (sesame spinach) from the Japanese side, and it was good as ever, plus steamed beef momo from the Tibetan side. They were the best Tibetan dumplings I've ever had. They brimmed with soul, and I swear to god they tasted as if they'd been prepared over a fire. There's real, serious, smoke flavor in there, and it's not faked. I half wondered if I'd fallen into a Twilight Zone episode, and the momo had been transported directly from a kitchen fire on the steppes of Tibet. Not just "smoky", they were a certain kind of smoky that was completely anachronistic, and thoroughly transportive.

And the dipping sauce for the momo was utterly inexplicable to me. I still don't understand it. It looked like generic commercial hot sauce, and while I didn't probe it much (just dunked momo), I....words fail. It was a low-profile stealth elixer that deflected all attention.

Nice people, fair prices, great place. And i have a feeling from the goma ae that the Japanese food's still great.

Worth a trip.

ciao

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