Archive | April, 2011

Name That Place

29 Apr

Welcome back to this month’s installment of Name That Place. I know I’ve been tough on all of you in the previous challenges I’ve presented in this little Fried Neck Bones game we play. So tough that I’ve stumped the masses the previous two times. This time, however, in identifying the joint in question, I will offer multiple images that should serve as hints.  There might even be a subtle hint or two amongst the prose here as well.

If you have lived in New York for at least a few years, I would think you would know the place I am hoping you will name. Many have passed through its narrow doors. It’s not an exotic, out of the way place. It’s not hidden in a fringe neighborhood (if such a thing exists in New York anymore).  And the food is meant to satisfy almost anyone’s dietary requirements.  And at that, I think I’ve said enough. Now let’s let the images speak for themselves.

“Celebrities” are honored to have their photos on display here.

Here is a small sampling of what you might find when flipping through this establishment’s generous menu.

This place was one of the original to have an “open kitchen.” And here the flame is always burning.

Yet contradictions abound here adding to its unique allure.

How many restaurants offer Muscle Milk and Red Bull along with red and white wine from their own barrel?

There they are: five images from the place I am confident you will name. When you identify the place, add it into the comments section below.  Look for the answer  right here at Fried Neck Bones…and Some Home Fries on Monday.

Dosa Overdose

26 Apr

Gerry took us to Jersey City in the summer of 2006 where we discovered an Indian enclave not too far from the Journal Square Path station.

Sri Ganesh’s Dosa House
809 Newark Avenue
Jersey City.

No clogged tunnel, backed up bridge, construction-littered turnpike or potholed parkway ever deters Gerry from his choice of destination for our intrepid group. We now suspect that the tougher it is to get to, the more attractive the choice is to Gerry—the food is secondary. He has taken us on the Saw Mill Parkway for Southern barbecue in Valhalla, over the George Washington Bridge for Korean in Fort Lee, on the New England Thruway to Portchester for Guatemalan, and in a legendary schlep, through the Battery Tunnel, over the BQE, and onto the Belt Parkway for overpriced Turkish food in Sheepshead Bay. So when Gerry announced his choice; a vegetarian Indian restaurant in the heart of industrial darkness in downtown Jersey City, no one was really surprised.

  After too many fume-inhaling experiences sitting in Holland tunnel traffic, driving was not an option for me. I called Sri Ganesh’s Dosa House, our destination, and was told that the restaurant was a five-minute walk from the Journal Square PATH station. Zio wisely joined me and after circling Journal Square trying to find our bearings, waiting for Zio’s GPS navigation system to talk to him and get us to 809 Newark Avenue, Zio commented that there was something surreal about where we were. Could it be the monotonous din of skateboards hitting concrete? The sight of glorious movie houses silently shuttered? The glassy look in the eyes of those emerging from the PATH? We didn’t really know. Finally, instead of waiting for Zio’s toy to work in the circuit-congested air of Jersey City, we broke down and asked someone on the street for directions. On Newark Street we saw a sign for a Dosa Hut and walked toward it. Soon we were in the middle of Jersey City’s Little India with dosa huts everywhere, Indian grocery stores, sweet shops and video stores. Who knew?

 Waiting outside Sri Ganesh’s Dosa House was Eugene, a scowl on his already dour face. Before we could even greet him, he began a tirade against Gerry for his ill-advised choice. Making him sit in traffic for hours. No place to park. And no GPS navigation system to help him out. What was he thinking? The cafeteria-like restaurant was bustling with business; Indian families lining up to place orders. We found table # 11 and took a look at the menu that featured South Indian vegetarian dishes; the centerpiece being the dosa, a long, torpedo-like thinly fried bread stuffed with a variety of different vegetables. Gerry called; according to his GPS navigation system, he was .9 miles from the restaurant. But he wasn’t moving. He was stuck behind a motorcycle convoy. Mike from Yonkers called, he was on the New Jersey Turnpike, but he wasn’t moving either; stuck in traffic from an accident with “fatalities.” There was not much we three could do at Sri Ganesh’s but begin to eat.

The Dosa: Does size matter?

 Eugene ordered a channa onion-chili masala dosa. While we waited, we helped ourselves to complimentary yellow lentil soup that immediately brought on a chili-induced sweat. Our table number was called and Eugene retrieved the two-foot long dosa which came with coconut chutney and another condiment called sambhar. We took apart the dosa easily, pausing only to wipe the perspiration from our foreheads. Gerry called again; he was still .9 miles away. I went up and ordered a cheese and mixed vegetable “uttapam delight,” kind of an Indian foccaccia, a bread filled with chilis, cheese, and onions, accompanied as well by coconut chutney and sambhar. To try to quell the fire in our mouths, I also ordered a vegetable biryani, known at Sri Ganesh’s as a “rice-delight.”

Chili doughnuts, also known as “masala vada.”

Gerry arrived in time to scarf down a few of the remaining pieces of the uttapam delight while deftly ignoring Eugene’s incessant complaints. It wasn’t long before he caught up with the rest of us and with the addition of a masala vada, a fried savory donut stuffed, yes, with chilis and onions, and another dosa, this one a Banglore ghee masala dosa, Zio and I had our fill of starch. Dosas, we learned, are best enjoyed in small doses. As an afterthought, someone mentioned Mike from Yonkers. Gerry shrugged; there had been no further word. Gerry is to be complimented for introducing us to Jersey City and the world of dosas, but we are grateful that it will be a long time before he takes on his next journey.

For an unforgettable wine and spirits retail experience

22 Apr

Make sure you visit

Happy weekend everyone.  A new Adventure in Chow City will return on Tuesday.

Today’s Special

18 Apr

You can’t go wrong with any of Today’s Specials. And a hot roti wouldn’t be so bad either.

A new Adventure in Chow City will return on April 26th. In the meantime, Buona Pasqua everyone. To those who don’t understand the Italian language, in British that means Happy Easter. And to those of the Jewish faith, a joyous and safe Passover.

Kebab Inspiration

12 Apr

Salute Kosher Restaurant
63-42 108 Street
Forest Hills

“Time is flying! You’re getting older, but you don’t feel you’ve accomplished anything with your life.” Those were the opening lines to Everything is Possible, a pamphlet based on the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov that I was handed at the conclusion of our dinner at Salute Kosher Restaurant. The Hasid who fittingly choose that particular pamphlet for me was genial despite our initial reservations about accepting his pamphlets. He remained genial as he took our “tax deductible” contribution to Breslov City in the Galilee in return for the pamphlets. It was the least we could do after our feast of countless inexpensive shish kebabs at this self proclaimed, Uzbek-style restaurant.


Salute Kosher was Eugene ’s second choice. La Kasbah, a Moroccan restaurant in Astoria , was his first, but the phone at the restaurant was no longer in service meaning the restaurant was most likely out of business, so the ever-diligent Eugene steered us to the Forest Hills section of Queens to Salute. Just as the cuisine of Tibet intrigued him enough to choose it in his last pick, the food from Uzbekistan now, for some reason known only to Eugene, piqued his interest.

Suspicious eyes greeted Zio as he was the first to enter the restaurant. The regulars in this Uzbek-Russian enclave of Queens must have wondered what to make of the rotund stranger. The glares were too unsettling for Zio and he decided to wait for the rest of us outside the restaurant. Once Eugene announced his presence inside, however, the guarded looks eased. With his Sicilian-swarthy countenance, Eugene could pass for a Moroccan, not to mention an Uzbek. But when he opened his mouth, and despite reciting the one word of Russian he did know, it was obvious he was anything but an Uzbek. What he couldn’t express to the English-struggling waitress, he compensated by raising his voice until it was booming within the busy restaurant causing more than a few disturbing glances our way. He finally explained to the waitress that we were there to sample a good portion of the extensive menu. After that, language was no longer an issue.

Though Mike from Yonkers had been excused, Rick, whose presence was in doubt, showed up just in time to sample the home made babaganush served with “national” bread.  What distinguishes Turkish babaganush from, say, Egyptian, or Greek? The differences are subtle, and Salute’s Uzbek version had an intense creaminess that put it high on the world wide babaganoush meter. We followed that up with a platter of assorted smoked fish. The cured fish were salty and tough enough to survive the harsh winters of Uzbekistan. And I’m only assuming that Uzbekistan has harsh winters.



Our final appetizer was the Uzbek mantu, homemade meat dumplings whose gaminess, after the strong flavor of the fish, I, much to Zio’s horror, just could not tolerate. Even a swill from the Russian beer we were drinking could not extinguish the taste. Thankfully the parade of shish kebabs soon followed. We tried the lamb, the lamb ribs, the lula (ground seasoned lamb), the chicken with bones kebab, and the beef kebab (special cut). But this wasn’t enough for Gerry and Zio, who, in their gluttony, insisted we order another round of  lula, chicken (with bones) and, because it was special cut, more beef. Now picked clean of their meat, the sharp-edged skewers on our table were piled dangerously high. Our waitress arrived soon and, without comment, cleared the cutlass-like utensils before Zio could use one to clean his teeth with.

Assortment of kebabs.

As we pondered dessert, a honey-noodle pudding in a box from the grocery store next door, the Hasid entered and despite our initial protestations passed out appropriate pamphlets to all of us.  Flipping through “Everything is Possible” I noticed that, according to Rabbi Nachman, the drives—sexual, monetary, pride, eating, and drinking are “water-based” but can be controlled by giving your life back to “G-d.” I’m not sure if it was the forlorn look of the noodle pudding in a box or the words of Rabbi Nachman, that helped me decline dessert, but whatever it was, I made sure I stopped at the grocery store next door for a bottle of water for the ride back home.

Old School Food Truck

8 Apr

I’m an old school kind of guy and in a world now populated with  food trucks selling aioli-smothered crab cakes and truffle-shaved cheese steaks, I have a real soft spot in my heart for an old school hot dog braised in a piquant hot dog “broth.”

The goods

Enjoy your weekend everyone. Another Adventure in Chow City will appear here on Tuesday.

The Intestine Quandary

5 Apr

Just a few blocks from the Himalayan Yak and Braulio’s & Familia, Zio revisited the “epicenter” to discover Zabb Queens.

Zabb Queens



As is his modus operandi, Zio scoured the internet food blogs and websites to find an appropriate destination for our group. His meticulous research unearthed a restaurant in the shadow of the elevated number 7 train tracks on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, in the area he has referred to as our “outdoor food court,” also known in our circle as “The Epicenter” or “Ground Zero” for cheap, global grub. This one, a Thai place called Zabb Queens, was just a few train stops from our other favorite Thai restaurant, Arunee.

Upon entering, I noticed a review from the New York Times prominently displayed. I pointed this out to Zio. A notice in the Times usually is a warning—a red flag that what was once an authentic local establishment would almost immediately become gentrified and dulled down to appease the masses. Zio just shrugged and I decided not to hold it against the restaurant. I had to keep an open mind.

Zabb, unlike Arunee, advertised as “Esan” Thai food. Of course we were clueless as to what Esan might be but Eugene, always handy with the print outs of reviews of the restaurants we visit, pulled out his file on Zabb and we learned that Esan was actually Isaan, the northeastern province of Thailand and close to Vietnam and Laos. We had no idea what made the food of northeast Thailand different from what was prepared in the southwest until we took a look at the booklet that served as the menu and noticed a variety of organ meats; intestines, offal, hearts, liver, stomach, and pork skin. Along with the organ meats, catfish was also plentiful on the menu. This was Thai soul food.



The clientele in Zabb’s narrow dining room was a mix of Asian and adventurous non-Asians like our intrepid group. Before ordering, we, pompously, explained to the eager waitress that we did not want to experience generic Thai food; we would not accept any compromises in heat or anything else—we wanted it the way she would have it. She understood and, though we passed on the chicken heart on a skewer, we bravely ordered the House special soup with liver heart and a choice of either pork or beef intestine. Don’t ask me why, but we decided on the intestine of the pig as opposed to the cow, and then to complement that, ordered the “pedestrian” tom yum soup with shrimp. A sip of the tom yum was anything but pedestrian. I immediately began to hiccup; a reaction I experience when something is so hot it is off the spice meter if there is such a thing. Hoping the House special soup would possibly cool my scorched palate I took a sip and chewed a piece of the aforementioned pig’s intestine. The heat from this soup, though not as brutally sharp as that of the tom yum, had more of a slow, yet just as fiery, burn. As my body adjusted to the heat, the hiccups calmed but the soups had elicited a sweaty sheen on all our brows with the exception of Mike from Yonkers , whose face remained dry and cool as he slurped down bowl after bowl.



The BBQ beef in a spicy sauce was mild in contrast to the soups as were the trio of salads we ordered, green papaya with salted crab, crispy duck, and crispy catfish. The latter two, the duck and catfish, crisped beyond recognition. Zabb’s rendition of pad Thai noodles was not on the same level as Arunee’s, but the sautéed drunken noodles, the Thai version of chow fun, with a mix of seafood in a dry curry sauce, was the consensus winner and almost instantly devoured. Eugene would not leave until his request for a plate of chicken panang was met. We had no choice but to accommodate him and though he grumbled that we never received rice, he was ecstatic, immediately claiming that it was the best panang he ever had, if that’s worth anything. Dessert was orange-coated sweet doughy balls that were stacked in plastic take out containers by the door and the less said about them the better.

Zabb Elee, formerly Zabb Queens

Though the original Zabb Queens we visited in 2006 is gone, it has been replaced with an even less pandering Thai “Isaan” (or “Esarn” as it is spelled on the menu) place called Zabb Elee that doesn’t even bother to include pedestrian Thai like panang or pad Thai (sorry Eugene) but keeps those favorites like grilled chicken liver and chicken hearts along with pork legs soup.  In fact, Zabb fever has gripped the city—at least the East Village—with two Zabb restaurants, a sister Zabb Elee and another called Zabb City. It’s encouraging to note that, at least in the East Village, there is now a demand for chicken hearts and snake head fish.

And the Answer is…

4 Apr

No one came close to identifying in what restaurant you might find this display below.

There is no more Hard Rock Cafe in New York and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex annexed out of town soon after it opened. Where would you find music memorabilia on display in a restaurant? The same place where you will find these. See below.

Yes, they are stadium seats, Yankee Stadium to be precise. I happen to have a pair myself.  Can you Name That Place now? Remember, I said on Friday that in “celebration of the opening of the season.” I inferred the opening of Spring, but I meant something else. A different season that opened here in New York the day before my post. And the answer is…


Mr. Yankee

Mickey Mantle’s on Central Park South just off 6th Avenue. They have round tables, countless televisions, and, besides sports’ memorabilia, the music memorabilia shown above.  I knew this would stump serious foodies who wouldn’t dare dine at  Mickey Mantle’s. And, after sampling much of their menu, I really can’t blame them. But the beer is usually cold and because when I was a young man in a depressed state over my many shortcomings, I once peered into the restaurant and saw my boyhood idol, The Mick inside who noticed me and gave me a friendly wave giving me an instant boost in morale. For that I will forever have a soft spot for Mickey Mantle’s. So until we play another game of Name That Place, better luck next time, sports’ fans.


Name That Place

1 Apr

This is no April Fool’s joke. This is the real deal. That game everyone wants to play: Name That Place.  Though you wouldn’t know it from the weather out there, we are into the spring season. And in celebration of the opening of that season, I give you this month’s Name That Place. Take a look at the photo below.

Music memorabilia? Hmmm, is that a clue or just a deception. You want hints? Maybe I already gave you one and you don’t know it. All you ultra serious foodies out there will battle with this one. How could a serious food place sell music memorabilia in their restaurant? Makes one think, doesn’t it?

So think on it all you gamers and leave your answers in the comment section below. Winners once again will be rewarded with a year’s free subscription to the one and only Fried Neck Bones…and Some Home Fries blog.  Look for the answer on these pages on Monday.

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