Ignoring the warnings of a Flushing food buddy that ingredient quality and preparation had taken a nosedive, I recently revisited the ungainly named but formerly reliable downtown Flushing standby, Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan (HKGS), with a small group of repeat visitors for a late-night meal. Although I have at least 10 HKGS sojourns under my belt, it was my first since 2014, and I was shocked by how far it had fallen.
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Sitting astride the Lafayette Ave subway entrance at the sharply-angled corner of Fulton Street and S Portland Ave, Greene Grape Annex is one of just a few specialty coffee shops in Fort Greene and caters to a wide cross section of the local population. Open late, they offer a full array of drinks: coffee during the day and local-focused craft beer, along with wine, and a full cocktail menu later on. In addition to morning baked goods, there is a cooked food menu which switches from breakfast dishes to lunchier items at noon and is served until closing, 9pm most days, 10pm Thursday through Saturday.
Driving on Grand St in Williamsburg a while back I spotted an intriguing storefront – an Asian grocery store with the words Indonesian and Malaysian on the awning. If you know much about these populations in New York City, you’ll know they are quite small, and the number of extant grocery stores serving them is proportionally tiny. As most Indonesians and Malaysians live in Queens, it piqued my interest further that this store would be here in East Williamsburg.
Occupying a former mechanic’s shop in a semi-desolate Bushwick micro-neighborhood, the open, inviting, sparsely-decorated Supercrown Coffee Roasters uses its industrial space in the best possible way. One of the partners, Darleen Scherer, brought her gorgeous design sense from Park Slope’s Gorilla Coffee, where she has since sold her stake.
I love Sierra Tishgart’s piece in Grub Street entitled RIP, Matcha, the Ancient Delicacy That America Has Ruined. This part especially speaks to me:
The quality of the tea at Cha Cha Matcha (the newest, and most popular, of the cafés) is poor, but that doesn’t matter: The entire place is built to be Instagram bait, and you can get pink-lemonade soft-serve with a shot of matcha drizzled on top!
It’s been apparent to me for a long time that matcha in America was on the road to ignominy, but it really came to the fore when I saw that The Bean, that temple of horror, had begun offering a matcha latte. I’d been mulling a piece of my own, but Sierra Tishgart did it for me, in style.
I recently lunched at Buttumak (부뚜막), a Northern Blvd spot in the Murray Hill section of Flushing that has replaced the same owner’s late, unlamented, strangely named Korean-Chinese restaurant, 짜장.com. Not that there was anything particularly bad about 짜장.com – they produced fine renditions of Korean Chinese standards (what Koreans call Chinese food) – but Buttumak has so much more going for it.