You don’t need a plane ticket to taste your way around the globe. Simply grab your MetroCard and head to the Queens Night Market, the weekly food festival in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
“I’m sure we’ve had something from every continent but Antarctica,” says founder John Wang, 36, who’s had some 80 countries represented since the bazaar’s 2015 debut.
On Saturday the popular fixture returns for the season with up to 55 food stands, as well as musical performances and art merchants. This year the festival features more than a dozen new vendors whose cuisine spans from Italy to Laos, with lots in between.
Some staples, such as pad Thai noodles, can be expected. There are also dishes that are otherwise tough to find in New York, leading to a tasty learning experience — and “a compelling story,” says Wang.
Here’s a look at some of this year’s new arrivals.
You might guess that Samosa NYC would sling Indian fare, but you won’t find the curry-spiced potato filling here. These fried pouches are Sudanese and stuffed with ground beef or feta cheese. They rest atop a salad made with tomato, scallion, feta, peanut sauce and cumin.
The $5 dish also illustrates Sudan’s cross-cultural cuisine, with influences from Europe and the Middle East — including Greece, Turkey and Armenia.
“Everything is mixed!” says 27-year-old Samosa NYC owner Gladys Shahtou, who was born in the African nation.
“Insects have always been a good source of protein,” says 29-year-old Bold Foods founder Weslie Khoo, who hails from Singapore. His mission: to show New Yorkers that eating them isn’t as gross as it might seem.
For $5, he’s selling an Asian-inspired rotini pasta dish, with noodles made from crushed crickets, topped with spicy Thai pad kee mao sauce.
“It doesn’t taste like crickets, it tastes like pasta,” he says.
For $3, visitors can also grab an order of roasted crickets.
“We will be selling [them] for people who are adventurous,” Khoo says.
Here, the popular Thai street snack will be served just like it is in Asia: seasoned with soy sauce.
Filipino Jonathan Jimenez, 47, who co-owns Grilla in Manila with brother Jerrick, 38, will offer traditional street-food favorites — including $3 balut (a boiled, fertilized duck egg ) — but focus more on the archipelago nation’s trendier dishes.
One of them is a $5 burger made from longganisa (a pork sausage) that’s topped with a fried egg.
“Recently, about last year, it started popping up,” says Jimenez, whose rendition features the addition of a spicy vinegar sauce.
Finish it off with a sweet bite of the brothers’ $5 version of turon — a fried spring roll typically filled with jackfruit and saba banana. Since the latter isn’t available here, theirs will use plantain, alongside a scoop of purple ube yam ice cream.
When it comes to the Italian roast-pork dish known as porchetta, less is more. Eleanor Friedman, 31, seasons hers with rosemary, garlic, black pepper and sea salt, and sandwiches it in ciabatta bread ($5). Finally, it’s topped with marinated vegetables such as kale and broccoli.
Friedman doesn’t just prepare the loin, as is typically done in America.
“In Italy you use the whole animal, so we do the same thing,” says the owner and founder of La Salumina.
She’ll also serve a $2.50 assortment of pickled vegetables — such as turnips, carrots and cauliflower — meant to be “shared among people as a palate cleanser,” Friedman says.
Warung Roadside, operated by husband-and-wife duo Trevor Lombaer, 30, and Pias Mongfer, 29, will bring tofu pad thai ($5) — a dish already well-known in America — to the market. But the couple, who met in Mongfer’s native Bangkok while Lombaer was there studying Thai cuisine, also have lesser-known specialties on their menu.
One $5 dish called saiua blends sticky rice, som tam (papaya salad) and Chiang Mai pork sausage.
“It’s really fragrant and bursting with Thai flavors,” such as lemongrass and chili, says Lombaer.
For a sweeter touch, opt for their small kanom krok coconut pancakes (three for $5) — a typical breakfast specialty with a crisp bite.
New York may have it all, but 30-year-old Manila Southammavong says there’s only one restaurant in town that serves food from Laos (Soulayphet Schwader’s Khe-Yo in Tribeca).
“I want to showcase the food and what we have to offer,” says Southammavong, chef and co-owner of the I Eat Lao Food pop-up.
One of those offerings is nam khao coconut fried rice ($5), which has red curry, kaffir lime leaves and cured pork.
There’s also the $5 mushroom laap. Laap, the country’s national dish, is typically served with meat, but this offering is a twist for the vegetarian crowd. Served with sticky rice, it blends mushrooms, shallots, toasted rice powder, mint and cilantro.
“It’s fiery, it’s funky, it’s sweet and it’s sour,” says Southammavong. “It’s a party in your mouth.”
Eggloo, which has brick-and-mortar locations in Chinatown and the East Village, is bringing its Instagram-popular egg-waffle desserts to the Night Market.
Popular in Hong Kong, the $5 waffles are made with a sweet egg-based batter that gives the treat a crispy exterior and soft interior. They’re served with whipped cream in flavors such as cookies and cream.
Also on tap: cookies for $2 apiece. One, with a matcha base, is drizzled with white chocolate; another blends black sesame and peanut butter flavors.
“We’re trying to take Asian flavors and present them in a more approachable way,” says David Lin, 26, who co-owns Eggloo with 27-year-old Michael Tan.
The Queens Night Market is in Flushing Meadows Corona Park at the New York Hall of Science. The nearest subway is the 7 train to 111th Street. Saturdays 6 p.m. to midnight. Admission $5 in advance on April 21 and 28; free after those dates through Aug. 18. QueensNightMarket.com
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