This weekend—specifically, Saturday, July 11—marks the launch of Smorgasburg Queens, which will be held in Long Island City in a combination outdoor lot and indoor warehouse venue. The vendors all hail from Queens, which is one of the most culinarily diverse places on, oh, earth. And this diversity is more than adequately represented by the vendors chosen for Smorgasburg Queens who will be serving up everything from Georgian dumplings to Taiwanese shaved snow to lobster rolls from Danny Brown to Venezuelan patacon to Filipino stingray sandwiches and week-old duck embryos (more on those later!). We sampled a bunch of the food last night, and wanted to let you know what to look out for, should you dare to make the trek all the way to Brooklyn’s sister borough. (It’s like, literally 2 subway stops from Greenpoint, and a couple blocks off the train. NBD. Check it out.)
Georgian Dumplings and Pickled Vegetables from Marani Georgian Restaurant
Ok, so less a “bite” and more a huge, heaping plate of stick-to-your-ribs dumplings and vegetables and chicken and rice, this Georgian food was nonetheless delicious. The beet and carrot salad, while labeled “spicy,” didn’t really burn my tongue, yet were incredibly flavorful and a perfect, light way to cut through the richness of the delicious meat and potato dumplings, which were crowned with beautifully caramelized onions. The nutty chickpea salad was also a lovely touch.
Thai Papaya Salad from QI
Made to order with a wooden mortar-and-pestle, this papaya salad was easily one of the best I’d ever had. The balance of sour, sweet, and spicy was spot on, and it was a welcome alternative to the many meat- and starch-heavy dishes on offer.
Korean Fried Chicken Wings from Roosevelt Ave Fare
These plump little drumsticks (I didn’t see many wings) were perfectly fried and crispy on the outside, but surprisingly juicy on the inside. Studded with sesame seeds and scallions and glazed with a finger-licking-ly good sauce, it was pretty easy to imagine demolishing a dozen of these in a sitting. But I abstained from doing that and settled for two.
Hallacas from Son
This Ecuadorean spot was serving up beef tongue tacos and hallacas filled with chicken, eggs, and raisin. I was particularly partial to the tamale-like hallaca, which was wrapped in a banana leaf, making it super easy to hold and scarf down. And if you like hot sauce (which I doooo), don’t forget to slather your hallaca with Son’s own house-made version. I put on quite a bit and was warned that it would probably be too much for me, and told I could take another hallaca since I’d most likely ruined mine. But guess what? I hadn’t! It was just all the more delicious. I’m not afraid of a little heat. Fire can’t kill a dragon after all. (Does anyone else really miss Game of Thrones right now? Oh, is it just me? Cool.)
Sandwiches from Queens Kickshaw
I know, I know: A mozzarella, tomato, and pesto sandwich doesn’t sound like much to be excited about. And yet! This little bite was made on freshly toasted Balthazar bread, and was so carefully assembled, with garlic rubbed on each slice of bread, and each ingredient precisely layered and perfectly proportioned, that it wound up being one of my favorite things I ate all evening. I think you’ll like it too.
Shaved Snow from Wooly’s
Try to imagine a combination of shave ice and soft-serve, and you’ll understand what shaved snow is. But you really need to taste it to believe it, because this creamy dessert managed to be both light and refreshing, while also totally creamy and indulgent, redolent of condensed milk-goodness. Plus, it was topped with mochi imported from Korea that were not only a welcome color-blast, but which were also addictively chewy and just plain delicious.
Stingray Sandwich from Papa’s Kitchen
A beloved Filipino institution in Woodside, Papa’s Kitchen served up two of the most memorable bites that I had last night. One, which was lovely, was the stingray sandwich: Served on crispy toast with a round of fresh cucumber on top, the fish tasted not all that different from tuna, and was dressed with citrus and spicy chiles and was fresh and delicious. The other was… an acquired taste? Called balut, it is a Filipino delicacy and is really maybe only for the most adventurous among us because it is a 6-day-old fertilized duck egg, and it looks like this:
What does it taste like, are you wondering? Well, you’d have to ask someone else because I got too close to it and could see the little feathers and the veins and just… couldn’t. Which maybe makes me unadventurous, but that’s ok. I’m fine with that. No regrets here. None.
But if you’re more adventurous than me, go check out this and so much more at Smorgasburg Queens this weekend. And if you eat the balut, let me know!