Regretting having spent almost his entire life in Manhattan with nary a trip to the four outer boroughs, Anthony Bourdain took on the robust culinary scenes of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island in this week's episode of No Reservations. It seemed like a familiar problem, reminding me of what goes on in our town. Certain Houstonians unjustly malign everything outside the 610 Loop. If Bourdain found something to eat in Staten Island, we can certainly find something in Chinatown.
Queens is famous for something else besides the Gotti family - its Asian food, particularly in Flushing. With celebrity chef David Chang of Momofuku in tow, Tony ate some extraordinarily fresh seafood at Sik Gaek Restaurant. The waiters brought a pot of steaming, already dead seafood and placed live octopi on top to cook slowly. The tentacles were still wiggling as they ate them.
Bourdain-ism: "Of all the world citizens, Koreans seem to have fucked up their food culture the least."
Everyone who knows Anthony Bourdain knows that he is a huge fan of the New York Dolls (although, so is his nemesis Rachael Ray). So it was with great fanfare that Tony announced the appearance of lead singer and Staten Island resident David Johansen. At Jade Island, a '70s tiki bar "unsullied by irony," they noshed on a pu pu platter and sipped tropical smoothies.
Bourdain-ism: "David goes for a non-alcoholic drink in a pineapple. How rock n' roll. Does anyone drink anymore?"
Tony took a ride in something known as "Famous Fat Dave's Checkered Car" for a food tour around Yankee Stadium. At Sam's Restaurant, it was collard greens, oxtail and dirty rice for Tony and Fat Dave. I wonder if Jennifer Lopez ever ate there.
This borough's best-kept secret is Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos, possibly the only good Mexican food above the Mason Dixon line. And it's here that Bourdain decided to launch a tirade against fajitas, "basically for people who don't like Mexican food," and using sour cream instead of queso fresco.
Peter Meehan, onetime writer of the Under $25 column for the New York Times, joined Tony at Marlow and Daughters, one of the most talked about restaurants in Williamsburg right now. Feasting on his favorites, beef heart and bone marrow on country bread, Tony says he's "confronted with my own mortality, the squalid depths of my ignorance."
Bourdain-ism: "'Local,' 'grass feed' -- terms for which I only give a little shit."
Next week: Sardinia