My hubby and I came to New York to celebrate our birthday’s with my mother. We came during the week because my hubby has a project going on in the area so instead of him going back and forth from New York to Massachusetts twice more, why take care of two things at once? I never mind spending more time in Astoria, it is where I grew up and I like walking around the park, get some exercise going and take some pretty pictures. So that is what I did while my hubby and my mother were at work. I decided to take pictures of Astoria Park’s pool because it is a very beautiful piece of refreshing fun in the middle of a lovely park surrounded by urban craziness. New York can be described as urban craziness and to see an immense pool being enjoyed by senior citizens and small children makes for a beautiful picture.
Once my hubby and my mother came back home, my mother took us out to eat. My sister had recommended a Vietnamese restaurant that she found in the New York Times Food and Dining section, it is called Bun-ker and it is located on Metropolitan Avenue in Ridgewood Queens. According to the article that I read from top to bottom, the chef went back to Vietnam, to the city where his parents are from and followed the street vendors around for a year to hammer out their menus and their techniques, the article said that after what they had sampled the chef had proven to be a first rate student. I can safely say that my hubby and my mother would be in complete agreement. By now you have to know that I am so happy that my sister discovered the article because the food was excellent. As I sit here typing away, my belly is touching the keyboard, my mother kept pushing various bowls in front of me, pushing me to finish the plates.
The plates of food, there were so many. We started with crab spring rolls, they were very good, almost as good as my Tantine Louise’s and that is saying a lot. We also ordered papaya salad, normally a Thai dish, but the chef created something beyond what I had ever tasted before in other restaurants, it was crisp, refreshing, citrusy and oh so delicious. The third item on the appetizer list was a crepe filled with shrimp, bacon and bean sprouts, that we cut into thirds and then wrapped in lettuce leaves with mint leaves and dipped in a spicy dipping sauce. We had never tried anything like that before and it was magnificent.
The main courses didn’t fall short of all this goodness. Our waiter brought us a bowl filled with organic sautéed salmon on a bed of greens, basil, scallions and noodles with a vinaigrette and crunchy nuts, my mother adored this one. The second dish was a tender Heritage pork tenderloin sliced and served with steamed rice, tomatoes, onions and a fried egg, I liked it a lot. The only criticism that my mother and I had for it was that it was hard to properly share, the way it was presented since we were at a Vietnamese restaurant, we each had our own chop sticks but we were sharing one knife and two forks. The flavors were great though. The third entree was shrimp, marinated and grilled with tons of garlic that got really nicely caramelized with steamed rice that had been sautéed with tomatoes and onions. This was fantastic as well.
As we were eating and repeating the same thing over and over again, this is so good, I said to my mother that I was so glad that we had gone to the restaurant armed with an article because unlike all the other times that we have eaten at a vast number of other Vietnamese restaurants, we were finally exploring outside of our comfort zones and experiencing a whole new range of flavors and ingredient combinations.
I realize that the pictures of me are horrible but my mother sure looks cute. I was busy enjoying the remnants of the extraordinary papaya salad while my hubby was clicking away with his cell phone. As I was chewing, my taste buds were ecstatic and didn’t care what my face looked like, so you are looking at a very happy eater.