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The Spot: Bunker, 46-63 Metropolitan Avenue, Ridgewood.

The Deal: Sometimes, as they say, the best-laid plans just go awry. The original plan for the rather industrial location on Metropolitan was for a fish distribution company called Fish & Ship. Then Hurricane Sandy flooded the space. Then a business partner, and the fish connection, had to back out. So what to do with this address that TK Adam refers to as “the curse and the blessing”?

Fortunately Jimmy Tu, the executive chef, and Jacky Tu, the sous chef, had been sitting on an idea: “Quality Vietnamese food,” says Adam. “The exotic yet accessible flavors of Vietnam, the street food that they loved, but elevated with quality ingredients. Bunker was born out of belief and out of survival instinct.”

But where new ideas and delicious food goes, attention soon follows. Bunker first drew the attention of locals, and then the food blogs and then The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, The Food Network and others.

“Through hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, and just plain luck, Bunker has been a destination spot for the better part of a year now,” Adam says. “We have a loyal, ever-expanding customer base willing to trek from all over to a middle-of-nowhere restaurant with nothing to entertain them within miles as they tough out torturous wait times. And for that, we are so grateful and so thankful.”

Read about the Signature Dish after the jump…

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The food is great, and the portions are large. The suds are local, and DJ Neal Sugarman of Daptone Records keeps the music exciting. In other words, the 2014 Butcher Paper Dinner Series is served. On one Sunday a month from May through October, celebrated local chefs, such as Jimmy Tu of Bunker in Ridgewood, present feasts on the Long Island City-based Brooklyn Grange’s rooftop farm. Borough breweries provide beer with wine from New York-based vineyards. (Queens can’t make it all!) Here’s the schedule.

  • Crawfish boil (Sunday, May 25) with chef Mike Ciardi of Union Market. Big Alice Brewery samples Salt & Pepper Saison Farmhouse Ale, and Finger Lakes-based Heron Hill Winery uncorks Dry Riesling 2012 and a Pinot Blanc Reserve 2012.
  • Fried chicken (Sunday, June 8) by chefs Erika Geldzahler, Sarah Buck and Carolyn Bane Ross-Leutwyler of Pies ‘n’ Thighs, followed by (what else?) their delicious pies. Queens Brewery taps Queens Lager.
  • Vietnamese street food (Sunday, July 20) with Bunker’s Jimmy Tu. Queens Brewery again offers Queens Lager.
  • Massive crab boil with oysters (Sunday, August 17), thanks to chef Will Horowitz of Ducks Eatery. Yet another borough brewery, Finback, provides the suds, and Sawmill Creek Vineyards from the Finger Lakes pours a Riesling and a Sauvingon Blanc.
  • A table-length sandwich, piled with delicious meats and veggie chips from Brooklyn Grange, (Sunday, September 28) with chefs Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis of M. Wells. Rockaway Brewing Company serves beer and North Shore vineyard Bedell Cellars selects the wines.
  • Rib-a-thon (Sunday, October 5) with chef Dan Delaney of Delaney Barbeque and BrisketTown. Queens Brewery brings back the Queens Lager with wine from Fox Run Vineyards in the Finger Lakes.

Details: All dinners are from 3 pm to 6:30 pm on the Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm, which is located on Northern Boulevard in the vicinity of 38th Street in Long Island City. Spots are limited to 65 people, tickets priced at $80Edible Queens, the borough’s premier food magazine, is the other sponsor.

Photos: Edible Queens

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Update on the Hunters Point CSA

The organizers of the Hunters Point CSA sent out an update and it’s full of good news. They believe they have found a farmer – Golden Earthworm Farm, which is awesome. They’ll also be holding distribution out of Alewife, which is also very cool. BIG!Compost will also take care of their compost needs; they are working with a bunch of other CSAs in the area, too. So look for share sign up in late March! Very exciting.

Coconut Tapioca Pudding at Bún-Ker – yes, please

Serious Eats took a trip out to Ridgewood to Bún-Ker (AKA Bunker), and tried the coconut tapioca pudding there, which just from the name sounds tasty (if you like coconut and tapicoa, of course). Here’s their description:

The tapioca pearls are sized on the order of Israeli couscous. They’re cooked with care, just tender enough to drink up the lightly sweetened coconut broth. Dig deeper with your spoon to find curls of green coconut, juicy jackfruit, and chewy palm seeds—an ingredient common in Southeast Asian desserts but rarely found stateside.

And only three bucks! Sign us up.

The QueensWay really could become a reality – RFPs issued by TPL for feasibility study

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is ready to find a company to do a feasibility study on the elevated QueensWay park, and has issued an RFP (request for proposals) to do just that. They’ve got $467K to spend on the study, thanks to Governor Cuomo. The feasibility study would focus on analysis of engineering and environmental components. The study will also figure out a design that will incorporate various ideas and concepts. Not everyone in the borough agrees that this elevated park is a good idea, but it will be interesting to see what the feasibility study results are.

The historic Lewis Latimer House in Flushing

Queens is full of historic homes, including the Lewis Latimer House in Flushing. Lewis’s parents, George and Rebecca, escaped slavery in 1842 and ended up in Massachusetts – abolitionists supported George and raised money to pay for his freedom. Lewis enlisted in the Civil War and served in the Navy, where he taught himself technical drawing. After that he worked for patent attorneys Crosby Halstead & Gould. He also handles the complicated illustrations for Alexander Graham Bell’s patent – the telephone. He worked for Thomas Edison, too.

In 1903, Lewis and his wife Mary moved into a house in a primarily white neighborhood in Flushing. He lived there until his death in 1928. Definitely check out the rest of his life’s story – it’s fascinating!

Currency Kites in LIC

We first saw these Currency Kites by artist Erika Harrsch at the No Longer Empty: How Much Do I Owe You? exhibit in LIC. Little did we know that one can actually fly these kites! Check out this short video, taken at Gantry Plaza State Park in LIC.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/61642171]

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Tasty Vietnamese food at Bunker in/near Ridgewood

There’s lots of excitement from the Ridgefood folks about Bunker, a new Vietnamese restaurant that opened up on Metropolitan Ave just up the street from the gigantic Western Beef supermarket and corporate headquarters. Bunker is technically in Maspeth, but is really only a block or so over the border between it and Ridgewood. The chefs behind this venture –  Jimmy and Jacky Tu, both Queens natives – have a great background:

Jimmy, the head chef, is classically trained in French cuisine and has worked at various restaurants such as Eleven Madison Park and Elizabeth Daniel (in San Francisco). Sous-chef Jacky Tu helped open Tigerland, a beloved East Village Vietnamese & Thai spot, with his brother — and he’s also the former CEO of Korean taco truck company Korilla BBQ.

So head on over and enjoy things like pho, banh mi sandwiches, spring rolls. Watch for bacon on the menu, too.

The Jackson Heights Trilogy comes to Theatre 777

Theatre Mania reports that Director Ari Laura Kreith brings a trio of plays to Theatre 777 as The Jackson Heights Triology, “made up of the last three plays produced by Kreith’s company, Theatre 167.” The plays are  167 Tongues, You are Now the Owner of This Suitcase, and Jackson Heights 3AM. The director says, “Ever since I moved to Jackson Heights I got this feeling that this neighborhood needed to be a play. I was in Boulder, Colorado and I was trying to explain it to people. That was the moment I knew that there needed to be a document that showed what this place feels like.” There are many voices involved with the creation of this show – it is a “massive collaboration between 18 playwrights, with 38 actors play 93 different roles including a Bangladeshi cab driver, a Rwandan night nurse, and a Colombian drag queen.” The play is close to 2 hours and runs until Feb 27.

So yeah, it snowed this weekend

From our perspective, most of Queens got pretty lucky during this weekend’s blizzard, compared to a lot of places in Connecticut and Long Island, who got 2 feet of snow and more. La Guardia got a foot of snow, Astoria got a foot, Maspeth got 15 inches, and JFK got about six and a half. The average snowfall in Queens was about nine and a half inches. Check out some photos of the snowfall around the NYC area, too – feel free to send yours to us, too, and you might see them on the site!

Brooklyn Grange will have a CSA again this year

We Heart Astoria wrote about Brooklyn Grange’s CSA this coming season. It’s going to last 24 weeks – Saturday, May 18 to Saturday, October 26 – and the produce will be grown on their rooftop farm. They’ll offer things like radishes, turnips, herbs, kale, eggplant, and ground cherries – but there is much, much more planned for the shares. The cost will be $576.00 for the season ($24.00/week for 24 weeks). You can sign up now!

Kaufman Astoria Studios and its new back lot

We’ve learned more about what Kaufman Astoria Studios plans to do with 36th Street between 34th and 35th Avenues, the street that was de-mapped for them back in 2012 – it will become their back lot. It will give the studio 34,800 square feet to work with, at 60 feet wide and 580 feet long, and give them the freedom to consolidate their buildings on either side of the street. They also plan to build a gate to block pedestrians and vehicular traffic from entering (they can currently do that now), but emergency vehicles will be allowed to pass through. The gate they are planning will cost in the millions, too. It will be interesting to see how this affects this part of Astoria – some local folks are feeling apprehensive about the plan. Others feel good about it, and welcome the economic boost it could bring.

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Image source: Ridgefood Cha Ca, made with salmon, peanuts, vermicelli, and dill

The folks at Ridgefood recently had a meal at Bunker, a new Vietnamese restaurant in Ridgewood – actually it’s in Maspeth, but the restaurant considers if Ridgewood – it’s only a block over the border. The general consensus is that the food is GOOD, the space is pretty relaxed, and is run by Jimmy and Jacky Tu, two Queens brothers.