Sweet Yummy House 三好小馆 in Elmhurst, Queens, NY- Cheesy Name and Poor Hygiene Gets an A from NYC Department of Health

Sweet Yummy House’s Chinese name, 三好小馆,  means “Three Good Things Little Restaurant.” It does not refer to anything sweet nor yummy. As I begin describing my experience at the Sweet Yummy House  in Elmhurst NY, I want you to remember that this restaurant received a grade A from NYC Health and Mental Hygiene Department on October 8th this year. Although my visit was in September, this rating should still apply. Here is the screen shot of the Grade A from NYC Department of Health website.Sautéed Cabbage in Hot and Sour Sauce四川泡菜。 This is definitely not sautéed; it is pickled. This is an inaccurate translation. But the dish was darn good. A perfect representation of the Sichuan cuisine: bold, flavorful, and spicy!Spicy Pork Kidney 麻辣腰花。 I was not a fan of the kidney but my friend loved both the kidney and the wood ear mushrooms. The slightly metallic taste strongly cut right through the spiciness. The photo sure is colorful and inviting. I think the photo looks more tasty than the actual dish.Diced Rabbit with Red Chili Sauce 麻辣兔丁。 This was just bad… The bone was still on the rabbit. The peanuts and the sesame created a weird contrast to the bones – they were all chewy and crunchy just at different levels. If you get a mouth full of bones, peanuts and sesame, your mouth would be confused by the size and the hardness. Your teeth would not know which to chew first because there is no right answer. The peanuts were the best part of the dish. I could not tell that there were rabbit meat involved. It was mostly bone!Sautéed Potatoes Leaves. This was excellent. Fresh veggies quickly sautéed in the wok. Can’t really go wrong unless you overcook it.Wonton in Red Chili Sauce江油抄手。This was acceptable.

The food, overall, was not bad. Mostly tasty. Sweet Yummy House offered authentic Sichuan dishes that are rarely seen outside of heavily concentrated Chinese neighborhoods. So that was a treat for me, for an Asian living in a white-washed suburban town. The restaurant had mostly Asian diners, even young kids who spoke only Mandarin (with Beijing accent, with the Fujian accent and with the Taiwanese accent). I inevitably eavesdropped and translated the conversations around me.

So I left the restaurant thinking that this was a good experience until… Both my friend and I had mild tummy aches and further digestive trouble for the next 12 hours. It’s either the rabbit bones or the hygiene of the restaurant. My money is on the hygiene or the lack of it.


This experience took place at

Sweet Yummy House 三好小馆
83-13 Broadway
Elmhurst, NY 11373
(718) 878-6603

The Grill in Forest Hills, NY- A Surprise Find in Capers, Rice, Cabbages, and Tandoori Bread

The Grill in Forest Hills, Queens classifies themselves as a Mediterranean restaurant. I guess that’s correct. They serve a combination of Greek food and Shish Kebab (which is more Middle Eastern for me). Amongst the restaurants in Forest Hills on a Saturday night, The Grill was not very busy at all. This would usually be a red flag but the dining experience turned out to be a surprise.Burratta: served over ripe grape tomatoes and fresh basil. Cutting into this burratta is an experience by itself. It felt very organic; had a lot of give and take like a woman. The ripe grape tomatoes and the basil sauce completed the dish by giving the Burratta the oil and the acidity. Octopus: fresh charcoal grilled octopus with authentic herbs and seasoning drizzled with fresh lemon and olive oil. This was acceptable. The best part, unfortunately, was not the octopus. Instead, it was the capers. The mistake is all the onions that were used and the complexity that was unnecessary for a fine ingredient like grilled octopus. You can even see it in the photo- too busy. Lamb Shish Kebab: tender chunks marinated with chef spices. Grilled to perfection on an open flame. This came with the Greek yellow rice and the red cabbage which turned out to be the best part. The lamb chunks were a little dry on the outer rings but acceptable.Seafood Bouillabaisse: Clams, mussels, shrimps, scallops in spicy beer broth in tandoori bread. Aha, there is a theme here. The best part, unfortunately, was not the seafood. Instead it was the tandoori bread. The beer broth was an interesting touch.

In summary, The Grill is worth a repeat visit because the food is decent and the restaurant is not too crowded. The service was both excellent and terrible, depending on who was paying attention to the customers.

On a side note, there was a “first date” happening next to my table. I felt awful for the guy because the girl was bored, picking at her nails, and looking into space. There was no conversation between the two. It was painful to watch. I wanted to intervene and say, “Time Out.”

This experience took place at

The Grill

107-12 70th Rd
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Phone:(718) 544-4600

Psari Seafood Restaurant in Long Island City, NY- Extremely Fresh Seafood, Pleasing Oysters and Clams

Psari in Long Island City is a Greek seafood restaurant that offers fresh seafood and an open atmosphere. I sat at a bar with a friend for his birthday celebration. The experience is excellent until we got to the Red Snapper. This is going to be mostly a visual post because the photos will speak for the food. #FreshSeafood

Garlic Bread: On a scale of 1 to 10, this was a 5.

Mango Martini: Ketel One Vodka, mango liqueur, clear curacao, splash of lime juice. It’s an 8.

1/2 Dozen of Raw Blue Point Oysters and 1/2 Dozen of Raw Clams. This is heaven on ice.  Why Then World’s Mine Oyster,” William Shakespeare. Ten. Ten. Ten.

The aftermath of the oysters and clams. Would like more, please!

Grilled Octopus: This was a 10 for this preparation.

Shrimp Bisque: A 6.  It needed spice.

Smelts/Atherina (”Fish Fries”): Cute.  But it’s only a 6.

Horta: This is the Greek version of the greens, leafy and kale like. It’s a 7.

Red Snapper: Grilled and prepared with olive oil & fresh lemon juice. This market price was in the $20s for a 1.5 pound whole fish. It was tasteless.  The fish was fresh – you cannot fault that.  But why wouldn’t they put some salt on?

Lemon Potatoes: starchy and palatable. A 7.

Definitely recommend. The seafood is extremely fresh. You just have to figure out how to pick the right fish. Should have gone with the Bronzino or the Porgy.

This experience took place at

Psari Seafood Restaurant
32-10 36th Ave
Long Island City, NY 11106
(718) 786-6015

Cafe Triskell in Long Island City, NY- Dessert Crepes Made with Organic Buckwehat That Were Yummy

It’s time for dessert! Who does the best desserts in the world? The French. Cafe Triskell in Long Island City (Astoria, Queens) offers simple dessert crepes made with organic buckwheat that satisfy the sweet tooth. Yes, buckwheat crepes that actually tasted good.

Dessert Crepe: Homemade chocolate sauce & toasted almonds. I thought this was excellent (loved the chocolate and toasted almonds. The buckwheat crepe was surprising succulent and bouncy) but was reminded that I had better in Montreal.  Outstanding organic buckwheat or not, the white flour crepes still rule.  Click here to read about my best crepe experience.

Dessert Crepe: Apricot Jam with toasted almonds.  Homemade jam… reminds me of Uncle Dany in France.

Oh yes, will return to try brunch dishes, including savory crepes.  Highly recommend it.  The Chef Phillipe Fallait means business.  🙂

This experience took place at

Cafe Triskell
33-04 36th Ave
Astoria, NY 11106
(718) 472-0612

Reef Restaurant in Forest Hills, Queens NY- Funky Odor Mussels Ruined the Meal

I was at the Reef Restaurant in Forest Hills, Queens NY once before and I ordered the Grilled Octopus (octopus leg chargrilled will olive oil and vinegar). It was tender; it was charred but not too charred; it tasted like success. I was very excited to return to try other items on the menu. I went for the seafood again since that’s what Reef is all about.

Special for the Day, Seafood Risotto: lobster, mussels, clams, squid, and octopus. This item sounded so delicious when the waitress described it… but there was only one big problem. The mussels tasted funky: not bad, just not right. Fresh seafood should never smell and taste like seafood; it should be clean. But the mussels had an odor. The rest was fine and I did not have a tummy ache afterwards.

Filet of Sole Stuffed with Crabmeat: My companion squeezed too much lemon onto the sole and completely killed the sole taste. What an idiot. But even so, the stuffed crabmeat was a bit of an overkill. The asparagus was great, the best part of the meal.

All it took was a few not perfectly right mussels to ruin a meal… the odor! Will not return.

This experience took place at

Reef Restaurant
108-02 72nd Ave
Forest Hills, NY 11375

Flagship Diner in Brairwood, NY- Located in the Food Wasteland of Queens

Let me make this simple and to the point: if you want a quick and fulfilling average breakfast in a place with little ambiance and lots of overweight and elderly folks, this is the place for you. Flagship Diner on Queens Blvd in Briarwood, Queens, is located in a food wasteland. Therefore, it does better than expected. This is like a small watering hole in a big desert of “no restaurants.”

Whole Grain French Toast (3) Slices dipped in rich egg batter & grilled to a golden brown. From what my dinning companion said, this was dismal and soggy.
Scrambled Eggs with Ham, Home Fries and Grits. This was ok. I can make something like this myself.
Grits: better than what I could do at home. Yay! Finally a win for Flagship Diner.

If you are desperate, dying of hunger, and live in the food wasteland of Queens, then be my guest – eat here. If not, take a short ride to nearby Forest Hills where many options await.

This experience took place at

Flagship Diner
138-30 Queens Blvd
Briarwood, NY 11435
(718) 523-6020

Nan Xiang Dumpling House 南翔小籠包 in Flushing, NY- The Semiotics of Eating 

I am not a fan of Flushing restaurants for many reasons: the diners often chew with mouth open; they burp while eating; they speak loudly and encroach on your space; the wait staff treat you with little to no respect; the menu is never online; food has questionable hygiene (Grade C from the City Health Department); one can never find parking. Therefore, when I found myself at Nan Xiang Dumpling House 南翔小籠包 at 9pm one Saturday, it really shows me how much I have grown as a person and flexibility is now my middle name. Or did I just have a serious lack of judgment?

And yes, not only did I order for my friend, I also ordered in Mandarin. I guess it was a good practice for my night market visit in Taiwan. I felt very out of place.

Bamboo Shoots with Chili Sauce 辣油香竹: Wow. So good. So authentic.

Boiled Pork Bun with Chili Sauce (not sure what the English translation is) 紅油炒手: even now when I am recalling the experience, I salivate for a dish in which I have no English name for.

Beef Crispy Noodles 牛肉兩麵黃: This is Cantonese cuisine. My friend liked it.

Spicy Beef Noodle Soup 小辣椒牛肉湯麵: Excellent. This is one of my items on my last meal list.

While we were dining, dishes were broken at the next table; a man was speaking loudly on the mobile in Mandarin about painting his room and his appointment from this afternoon; a young boy woofed down his food, slurped and licked his lips with smacking sounds. The restaurant also did not give us all the food we ordered. They forgot the famous dumplings, 小籠包.

I miss Asia for the authentic food from my childhood. I miss a civilized dining experience with the authentic Asian food. The food and the memories they bring back for me is what this blog is all about – the semiotics of eating. I am now officially too biased to make a recommendation.

This experience took place at

Nan Xiang Dumpling House
38-12 Prince St,
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 321-3838