73. Ethiopia - Abyssinia

Abyssina located in the heart of Harlem is named after the original name for the country. For those that have not had Ethiopian cuisine, this is a wonderful spot to be introduced.  As the food is authentic, the restaurant is attractive with with lots of natural light, and the manager Abede who formerly worked at the UN, is a wealth of information if you are interested in learning more about the country's rich culture.

Eating in an Ethiopian restaurant is different from other restaurants as there are no utensils used for eating.  Using your hand you use a spongy thin crepe like item called injera. It is messy, you will use lots of napkins, but it is delicious especially if you are one to enjoy some spice and kick to you food. 

I strongly recommend  the Meat Combo, as this will give you a good selection of tastes. I went with the Meat Combo and it was terrific! It contained three meat samplings, and two vegetables also. The meats included; Dora Wat (tender chicken with gently simmered onion, ginger, and the spicy berbere sauce) - and also a hard boiled egg on top. The other two meat items were the Ye Siga Alicha and Tibs Wat both were beef stews, but each had its own special taste -  the former being more delicate, and the later with more fire. The two vegetables; Ye Misir Wat (red lentils cooked in the bebere sauce, it had some heat to it) and  Gomen, (collard greens with cooked onions and garlic).

The atmosphere of Abyssina is appealing. Select posters, artistic works of Ethiopia and traditional Ethiopian music is played. And the plates they use to serve the food is very stylized as well.

Address - 268 West 135th Street  (at Frederick Douglass Blvd)  (212) 281 - 2673

Ethiopian (Amharic) Language lesson - "Hello" (tena nistlign)  "Thank you" (ameseginlew) "Delicious" (tofach)

Interesting fact - Ethiopia is the country where coffee was first discovered. 



72. Syria - First Oasis (Brooklyn)

For those of you that have lived in the city for awhile, perhaps you recall a wonderful Middle Eastern restaurant called the Magic Carpet. It was located t in the Village, on Carmine Street. Remember? I certainly do. It was there for 30 years, I loved that place! Well . . . because of the drastic rent rate increase (a story too often told) Magic Carpet had to move out . . . they are now in in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.  The wonderful same owner, the same terrific food - just the name has changed. It is now First Oasis.

It was wonderful to see Said Albahr again, a native of Syria. He is not only is the owner of First Oasis, but the head-chef as well. He has now had First Oasis twelve years. I asked him how things were going, and he responded that he missed the excitement of the city, and range of serving hungry tourists from all over the world.

First Oasis is an attractive place with ornate colorful light fixtures and some wonderful retro photographs of Old Damascus. And the food, ah yes, Said still has that magic touch!  I started with  Babaghanuj (char-grilled eggplant, blended with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley, followed by and a wonderfully fresh crisp, and crunchy Fattoush Salad (lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, mint, parsley, green pepper and garlic tossed with with bits of toasted pita bread). For my entree recalling the several times I ate at Magic Carpet the terrific Beef Kababs they served up . . . I am pleased to say, he still grills the marinated beef just like I love it, tender but with that slight burnt char-grilled taste.

I had a sense from speaking with Said that the business is not as booming as the Magic Carpet was. I encourage all if you are interested in food from this region, to make the trek on the R to Bay Ridge and treat yourself to a wonderful dinner and the kindness of Said Albahr.

Address - 9218  4th Avenue  (718) 238 - 4506

Interesting fact about Syria - Syria gained independence from France in 1946.



71. Honduras - Seis Vecinos

The translation to English of the restaurant's name Seis Vecinos "six neighbors," refers to the restaurant proudly serving food of all five Central American countries, as well as Mexico. However, the owner, and head-chef are from Honduras and Seis Vecinos presents the best of traditional Honduran dishes.

Located in the Mott Haven area of the Bronx, the small lively five year old restaurant has vibrant orange walls and does a brisk take out business. The seating is well spaced and has a capacity for about thirty diners.

My waitress Heidi, a native of Honduras was demonstrative in her praise of the "must have Honduran dish" being the "Pollo Codos O Tajados con Carne Molida." The plate on its arrival was daunting in its size. Filling the huge plate, it also rose in the shape of a pyramid rising a good six inches in height. WOW! - This dish contained the following: Two big pieces of fried chicken, ground beef, fried green plantains, cabbage, salad, and all lathered up with tomato sauce and house dressing with lots of grated cheese. Around the dish were five shrimp which Heidi suggested I have in addition.  I had a love/hate relationship with my platter - the chicken, the big leg, and big breast were very good . . . but the house sauce did not agree with me, and overall I found the dish not very good. However, I am still glad that I tried this classic Honduran dish and I think many people will enjoy it. The restaurant itself was comfortable and all staff was very friendly.

Address - 812 East 149th Street (Bronx)      (718) 684 - 8604

Interesting fact about Honduras - Honduras sits on the second largest coral reef in the world. 



70. Serbia - Kafana (Manhattan)

Having recently spent nearly five weeks traveling about the Balkans I found there was a similarity in the respective countries cuisines, but also found that each Balkan country had a certain dish which they took special pride in . . . such was the case with Serbia, and this is presented as such at Kafana, a charming and lively Serbian restaurant located on Avenue C between 7-8th Street.

Kafana in Serbian means "where people gather for food and drink" was certainly appropriate as the restaurant hummed with a wide range of people which included a good portion of Serbian being spoken. Serbian's by nature are high-spirited and gregarious and you could feel this energy coming through under the piped in Balkan music. 

Of the appetizers, I was tempted by the "Dimljena pastrmks" (smoked trout), but instead went with the "Gibanica" a cheese pie with phyllo pastry with feta cheese, it was similar to a burek (which is eaten all over the Balkans) but more plump and juicy. For the entree the menu included the Serbian traditional dishes, including, "Karadjordjeva "(pan seared schnitzel rolled with kajmak cheese) and "Janjeca kapama" (lamb and spinach stew). I decided on this dish and it was extremely flavorful. Especially good with the outstanding home-made bread the make.

With the good food, is an extensive wine list with almost all from the Balkan countries. At least 35 white wines and 50 red wines. All the Balkan countries represented, though Croatia and Slovania dominate. Serbia most famous beer Jelen Pivo is served as well. With the attractive white brick interior, the restaurant also has an outside deck for dining, perfect on a warm summers evening. Please note restaurant is CASH only.

Address - 116 Avenue C (7th -8th St)  (212) 353 - 8000

Serbian language - "Hello" (zdrah-voh)  "Thank you"  (hvah-lah)

Serbia interesting fact - Close to 95% of world's top quality raspberries come from Serbia.



69. Taiwan Main Street Imperial Taiwanese (Queens)

Though I have eaten my way through China in virtually every region, this was my first encounter with Taiwanese cuisine. From the research I did, speaking with a slew of native and asking what they felt was "the most authentic Taiwanese restaurant in the city", the choice was clear - Main Street Imperial Taiwanese located in Flushing.

Though is was a sleepy mid-afternoon Tuesday when I entered, the restaurant buzzed with ravenous diners as they chowed down on an assortment of Taiwanese specialties; such as Oyster Pancake, Stewed Pork with Napa Cabbage, Bitter Melon with Salted Egg, "Fry's Head" a dish containing minced pork, leeks, garlic, in black bean sauce,. I had this as my first dish, it had a nice spicy bite and a texture that produced a distinct crunch. For my entree I had one of the true classic dishes and one of my "favorite new dishes of 2016" and this was "Three Cups Chicken." The dish served in a large cast iron bowl - contains significant sized pieces of chicken which  been marinated for hours in alcohol with in ginger, basil. The dish is so succulent, the broth is fantastic! (photo)

Main Street Taiwanese run by the affable Mr. Lee, (photo) who is the head-chef as just celebrated their fifth anniversary.  The restaurant is atmospheric with a small Buddhist shrine in the corner, hanging colorful strips of paper written in Chinese which are "sayings" that Mr. Lee finds of interest. Another thing I loved about the restaurant was the demonstrative personality of the staff, especially the waitress Lin (ask for her if you go) she is highly-spirited with a terrific sense of humor , and she knows the menu and the kitchen and is outstanding in suggesting the items that "you must try." 

Address - 5914 Main Street Flushing (718) 886 - 8788

Taiwanese - (Mandarin) "Hello" (Ni how)  "Thank you" (shay-shay) "Delicious" (how chew)

Interesting fact about Taiwan - Taiwan's is nicknamed "Formosa" meaning beautiful island.  




68. Morocco Barbes (Manhattan)

Named after the north African neighborhood in Paris, Barbes located in the Murray Hill area of Manhattan, for fourteen years has consistently served delicious Moroccan classic dishes; such as Couscous Royal, Tagine de Poison and Zalook in a stylish soothing setting.

The restaurant is owned and operated by Abdellah Ksiyer, a native of Oujda (northeastern Morocco close to Algerian border) was formerly the head-chef for thirteen years at the upper east side French restaurant Ferrier.

Mr. Ksiyer not only does a first-class job overseeing the kitchen, but takes pride in the decor of Barbes. With sponged pinkish walls, "the color of Marrakesh," he says, stylized Middle-East designed lighting fixtures, and select works of Moroccan inspired paintings and drawings - this is a handsome restaurant that bespeaks style. Cool contemporary French music adds to the atmosphere without being overbearing. Service is professional and warm. Photo attached of the gracious and ever-smiling Amid our waiter.

Address - 19 East 36th Street  (212) 684 - 0215

Moroccan (Arabic)  lesson - "Hello" (salaam) "Thank you" (shukra) "Delicious" (Lareez)

Interesting fact about Morocco - Morocco is the largest processor and exporter of sardines in the world.



Sky Cafe - Favorite Indonesian in NYC

I had the best Beef Redang ever had in New York City at the Indonesian restaurant Sky Cafe in Elmhurst, Queens. Savory and just the right spice and burn it was delicious. Sky Cafe is a small family-run restaurant and the family here makes you feel very comfortable and happy. This is a wonderful restaurant.



Most Authentic Cuban in NYC - Ricon Criollo

Last night ate at my favorite Cuban restaurant in NYC - Rico Criollo. The place seems to get better with age, now forty years old. This family-owned restaurant has such a vibrant atmosphere and always on the verge of breaking out into a party. Had again my favorite dish Ropa Viejo (shredded beef) Truly one of my favorite restaurants in the city!



Angkor Cambodian Bistro

After searing for eight years a Cambodian restaurant has FINALLY opened up in New York! Thankfully it is a very good one as well. Ate there last week. Angkor Cambodian Bistro on Upper East Side run by the charming Mandy and Minh - there place is very attractive, soothing with nice Cambodian-themed decor. The food make sure to try the national dish Baked Amok, terrific! Also, the Siem Reap (where Minh is from) specialty Bonh Chao is very good.



El Gauchito - New York's most authentic Argentinian restaurant!

Last Thursday I ate at El Gauchito in Corona (Queens) New York. This is without question my favorite Argentinian restaurant in NYC! The carnivore in you will be in heaven with their fantastic grilled meats. And it is very atmospheric with its creative and vibrant Argentine theme decor. Some 80 colored tiles of face of famous Argentinians snakes its way all through the restaurant's two rooms. The service is wonderful and high-spirited headed. The Civelle family has run since 1979. Place gets especially festive when Argentina is playing an important soccer game and is on the TV. 



Lali Guras Nepalese restaurant


Lali Guras in Jackson Heights serving up delicious  momos and Thali. Love the atmosphere of this cozy place with local Nepalese who are very kind and warm. Jackson Heights is clearly the center of the Himalayan community in the city.



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Had some delicious momos and thali at the Nepalese restaurant Lali Guras in Jackson Heights. I love the atmosphere of this small place, eight small tables crammed together with Nepalese locals. Jackson Heights is the center of the Himalayan community in NYC.

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