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

Cabana in Forest Hills, Queens, NY – Website Hangs with No Error Messages. Truly Annoying!

Cabana is a Latin American/Cuban restaurant with locations in midtown Manhattan and in Forest Hills, Queens NY. I met a friend for dinner on a Wednesday night in Forest Hills. Parking was not easy around the business section of Forest Hills and the restaurant was filled. Music was a little loud, the diners were loud, and the wait staff moved very fast, weaving between tables.

Calamari Fra Diavolo: Average.

This was the special for the night. Salmon with wild rice and empanadas. Above average. The empanadas was a little soggy and greasy. The wild rice was the best part of the dish. The salmon was acceptable.

Churrasco latin american style skirt steak marinated in garlic and fresh herbs accompanied by chimichurri and cebollitas.

The cone of yellow rice and the refried beans.

What’s special about this place?  Cabana has decent food and the atmosphere is buzzing and inviting.  On a random Wednesday, it was very crowded with birthday parties.  Would I return?  Probably but I eel that the recent Latin American food that I had (i.e., Lola’s Mexican Kitchen and Cabana here) has not exceeded expectations even if  Cabana is above average.

Note:  CabanaRestaurant.com does not work.  It hangs and hangs in the past 24 hours.  As a digital marketer, that really upsets me.  If you have an URL that is listed by Google, Yelp, Urbanspoon, and Menupages, your site needs to be up 99% of the time.  It’s no longer that difficult to host a simple content site.  Use WordPress like I am, for crying out loud.

This experience took place at


107-10 70th Rd
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 263-3600

Jack & Nellie’s in Forest Hills, Queens, NY – What a Great Find. Upscale, Modern, and Fabulous Food

This is a great find! Jack & Nellie’s in Forest Hills, Queens, NY is a wine/beer bar that serves small and large plates of delicious new American cuisine. Although some site calls it mediterranean, I feel that the menu is new American. I was recently there having a quick dinner with a friend. I got there early and was burning with hunger. I immediately ordered: Pate Charcuterie, Chevre D’ Argental Fromage (France soft, creamy & pasteurized goat cheese) and the Lamb Meatballs Over Cauliflower Puree.

The lamb meatballs were so good that I forgot to photograph it. The cauliflower puree was masquerading as potato mash but was so much healthier and lighter in texture. The center of the meatballs were so juicy that I almost did not want to share.

Pate charcuterie, Chevre D’ Argental fromage, with chornichons, pickled pearl onions, Granny Smith’s apple slices, grapes, olives and spicy sauce. In addition to all these wonderful goodness that made my mouth water, the baguette was very decent for the French standards.

Chocolate Mousse Cake: So much better than anticipated. Very worthy of the calories. It had the perfect mouse density, chocolaty but not too sweet. It was still cake like and the whip cream’s sugar sweetness significantly enhanced the darkness of the chocolate. Every component worked well together. I later found out that this is one of their best desserts.

There is only one down side – they should have a better web site.  Their menu is not on their web site but on menopause.com.  Further, there is no content on their site.  Guys – it can be done very easily.  Do it today.

Will return again and again. The decor was new American bistro. Modern and upscale.  Happy that I went.

This experience took place at

Jack & Nellie’s

108-25 Ascan Ave
Forest Hills, NY 11375

Red Pipe Organic Cafe in Forest Hills, Queens, NY – Average Coffee and Below Average Pastry

Red Pipe Organic Cafe in Forest Hills, Queens, NY is a popular local destination.  I was recently there twice and the experience was consistently average.  These are photos from the first time.

Cafe latte with soy: C+. My Italian friend said that this was a nice attempt at mimicking the espresso from Nespresso.  Nespresso coffee is what I drink at home and at work.

My latte with a chocolate croissant. I asked for the croissant to be warmed up. Seriously, who would eat a cold chocolate croissant? Don’t you want to melt the warm, sweet gooeyness inside? I was handed a staled and room-temp croissant. Even after it was warmed up, it was still rubbery. Bad bad pastry!

My other friend ordered a strawberry and banana smoothie. He made the mistake of asking whether they can add protein into the smoothie. There was a miscommunication on what protein they had that can be added into the smoothie. My friend got mad because the server did not understand him. As it turned out, it was the worst smoothie my friend has ever had. Grade = F on the smoothie.

Only go for the average coffee and the empty seats.

This experience took place at

Red Pipe Organic Cafe

71-60 Austin St
Forest Hills, New York
(516) 900-7160