"American Chinese Restaurant Inc., typical Chinatown food our specialty, comfortably air conditioned." The legend on the business card jibed with the setting at our table: an oversupply of fried noodles (four bowls for a party of six) but no chopsticks in sight. And the check, I noted at the end of the meal, was written entirely in English, albeit in the sort of scribble used by doctors to communicate with pharmacists. This tally may have been purely for our sake — when taking our rather lengthy order, our waiter simply nodded along, eventually serving our food without misstep.
My dining buddies and I were hunting down some of the Americanized Chinese food of our youth. I'm still searching for an idyllic rendition of butterfly shrimp (and appreciate any and all recommendations), but at Silver Star I've nailed down a go-to war shu opp. For photos, see the EIT page on Facebook.
Typical: These limited-edition sriracha chicken sliders were fuller-bodied in promos than in practice. The basic slider ($1.49) and the slider with jalapeño cheese and jalapeño crisps ($1.79), as served, were only about half their advertised height. (Being squeezed into individual cardboard caddies probably had something to do with it.) But they weren't half-bad; if not for a pending lunch date I probably would have ordered another round, with fries.
Also note the promo's emphasis on "spicy" and its implication, for some remote White Castle franchise, that sriracha is still little-known.
White Castle 42-02 Fort Hamilton Pkwy. (at 42nd St.), Borough Park, Brooklyn 718-438-7550 (One of many locations) www.whitecastle.com
Waste not, want not. "Compost cookies" demonstrate one approach to making good use of crumbly leftover bits and pieces: Bake them all together. For rainbow cookies, which are cut to size from what's essentially a sheet cake, the process is even simpler: Heap the colorful, chocolatey, almondy trimmings in see-through containers ($2) and stack them by the cash register. This was the last of the lot.
Mama Rao's Desserts & Pasta Fresca 6406 Eleventh Ave. (64th-65th Sts.), Dyker Heights, Brooklyn 718-680-7193 www.MamaRaosDesserts.com
As served, "green pilaff 'bahch' in bag" ($7.95) is very evidently out of the bag. The reference is to the manner of preparation: Unlike well-known versions of this rice dish that are cooked in a cauldron, often with sizable hunks of lamb, bahch is bagged and boiled. In this instance I believe the boiling liquid was chicken broth; coriander, dill, and parsley are typically responsible for the coloration. If bits of chicken were mixed into the pilaf itself, I didn't note them at the time. Boiling bahch in advance allows the prepared pilaf to be served on the Jewish sabbath, when cooking is prohibited and this glatt kosher Uzbek restaurant is closed.
Also shown: french fries ($12) that delivered a massive garlic hit; eggplant salad ($6), likewise heavy on the garlic; especially juicy manti ($6); veal heart, horovok, lamb steak, and lulya skewers ($3.50 to $5.00 each); non ($2).
Vostok 5507 13th Ave. (55th-56th Sts.), Borough Park, Brooklyn 718-437-2596 www.GlattVostok.com Closed Friday and Sunday, and open on Saturday only after sunset
(This venue is closed.) This old-school cafeteria-style restaurant has Calabrian roots, according to Robert Sietsema, which makes it "practically paisan" to Sicilian, according to the younger Vito Corleone. Do me this favor: When you request the lightly battered, tender, fried-just-right calamari (small, $8.50) — the default order, with all respect to the eggplant parm — ask for the spicier dipping sauce. Sietsema and young Vito would both approve.
Always at your convenience, that is, except on the Jewish Sabbath. The "24-6" concept was first committed to print no later than the publication of this New Yorker cartoon, in 2005, though the phrase was surely the talk of Borough Park some time before.
"Heimishe" is a word whose meaning is the subject of much disputation. Within the context of a kosher menu and a roster of "heimishe hoagies," however, you'll manage just fine if you understand it to mean homey or homestyle. This sandwich (half is shown; $10.25) featured diced chicken grilled with tomatoes, Spanish onions, and geshmaka sauce (from the Yiddish for "tasty"), unfussily spilling from a house-baked French loaf. The sauce, fairly described by the counterman as sweet and sour, brought back old memories of takeout Chinese; the crunch of the onions suggested chop suey.
"Fleishig" signals that this restaurant serves meat; the kosher dairy counterpart is "milchig." During observances such as The Nine Days (which in 2013 begins on the evening of Sunday, July 7), observant Jews abstain from meat and poultry, and many such restaurants close up shop. Big Fleishig's Express, on the other hand, will make appropriate modifications to its kitchen and menu, and remain open — perhaps providing a rare opportunity to try the heimishe equivalent of sweet and sour fish.
Big Fleishig's Express 5508 16th Ave. (55th-56th Sts.), Borough Park, Brooklyn 718-435-2779 Closed after 2:00 p.m Friday and all day Saturday