Restaurant reviews: New Queens restaurants
Queens has long been known for cheap international food, but a recent wave of eateries signals fresh ambitions for the borough. We checked in on some of the buzziest newcomers and found varying results.
Tue May 17 2011
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl
Salt & Fat
Sunnyside native chef Daniel Yi has brought his fine-dining chops—earned under Patricia Yeo at Sapa and Monkey Bar—back to the neighborhood with this New American restaurant, a proper date-night eatery in an underserved area. His eclectic menu leans on playful flavor combinations—some executed more cleanly than others. An addictive bag of bacon-fat popcorn, offered in place of a bread basket, kicks off the meal, and we continued to reach for handfuls even as other dishes arrived. The fried chicken—which is brined, cooked sous vide in buttermilk and seasoned with cayenne, paprika and garlic—showcases Yi's technical finesse. The pile of moist, crispy legs and thighs, accompanied by homemade herb-ranch sauce and pickled daikon cubes, is some of the best fried fowl we've had in the city. Despite these successes, though, the young chef sometimes misfires. A salad of tender lobster hunks with orange and red-grapefruit segments is obscured by a mess of mixed greens overdressed with a too-sweet Banyuls-wine vinaigrette. And the Crack 'n' Cheese—deep-fried potato gnocchi, sloppily sauced with bchamel and bacon—doesn't live up to its habit-forming promise. Still, it's easy to forgive a few average dishes at a restaurant offering so many charming extras: Miniature Korean yogurt drinks, served along with the check, are a fine end to a quirky meal. 41-16 Queens Blvd between 41st and 42nd Sts, Sunnyside (718-433-3702)