"Palace" is not a palace, or even a restaurant: It's only a stall in a tiny food court (shown, in the first photo, to the right of Red Mango). And my qiegao ($3.50) didn't resemble the expansive confection, of the same name, hawked in Beijing by cycle-mounted Xinjiang vendors. That northwestern Chinese qiegao, also called matang, is very dense with nuts; it suggests a compacted trail mix.
Heavier reliance on glutinous rice seems typical of a style native to Beijing itself. This rose qiegao incorporated golden raisins, black sesame seeds, and a hidden seam of red bean paste; at the time of purchase, rose syrup was spooned on top. Yes, it was messy, too messy for the trail, but I found room to sit in the pedestrian walkway just around the bend.
Palace Restaurant 136-55 Roosevelt Ave. (Main-Union Sts., inside a mini food court), Flushing, Queens
Tactic for securing fresh garlic knots: Observe crowded baseball fields of neighborhood youth league, calculate time until "good game, good game" handslaps, subtract a half-hour or so. These (four for $1) were still glistening from the oven.
Kosher PizzaMania 7749 Vleigh Pl. (77th Rd.-78th Ave.), Kew Gardens Hills, Queens 718-487-3202
In many cultures, Catholics who observe the prohibition against eating red meat during Holy Week, preceding Easter, have created special dishes that make their appearance only at this time of year. The hearty Ecuadorian soup fanesca is one of the best-known. In El Salvador, one traditional "especial para Semana Santa" features tortas de pescado, or fried fish cakes, which might be stewed with tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers (lunch, $8.75) or served in soup, with similar accompaniments. Here the fish was tilapia, and a bit salty.
Novelty aside, the more full-bodied lunch specials I spotted on other tables seemed much more appealing. (Indeed, mine was the only order of tortas de pescado in sight.) El Vincentino also prepares an entree-sized portion of riguas, the Salvadoran equivalent of arepas de choclo; they're available year-round.
Also shown: a decorative gable on the residence next door; the elaborately painted underside of an eave outside the nearby New York Hua Lian Tsu Hui Temple.
El Vincentino 21-20 College Point Blvd. (at 22nd Ave.), College Point, Queens 718-353-8300 Also at 43-37 162nd St. (43rd-45th Aves.), Murray Hill, Queens 718-886-7825
Picture menus can be hard to fathom. Much like the "serving suggestion" for supermarket goods, a disclaimer along the lines of "illustration only" can help clarify that the preparation, accompaniments, and plating of a professionally styled photo might outshine what eventually appears at the table. The photo sets the expectations; the fine print gives cover to the management in case of customer complaints.
For silhouetted photos like these, size is an issue, too. A glance at the six plates depicted on this storefront might suggest that the cányǒng (Tsan-Yohng), depicted at upper right, are outstandingly large and plump, given their proportions in relation to the fish at upper left. Only if you'd had your share in the past would you know, instinctively, that these tidbits are only just so big and that the photo must have been enlarged to fit the available space. Without that past experience, you might be disappointed to be served just a small, appetizer-sized portion of silkworm pupae. Or you might not.
"Warm it in the oven, this" the counterwoman said. The classsic potato knick ($3.99) is similar to a kugel, but much more like a yeast bread than a baked pudding. Onion and black pepper (this one needed more) are other principal ingredients; butter and slices of apple are felicitous accompaniments.
Potato knick — or, as pronounced and more often spelled, potato nik or potatonik — is also known in a version that resembles a large latke meant to be cut into wedges. I haven't found citations of this style that long predate Mark Bittman's recipe, which seems to have been first published in 2006.
Queens Pita Bakery 68-34 Main St. (Melbourne-68th Aves.), Kew Gardens Hills, Queens 718-263-8000
Samsas are standard fare at Central Asian restaurants. Chopped lamb is the customary filling; a savory version featuring pumpkin is a welcome alternative. But until I'd set foot in this shop — which at a glance seemed to offer baked goods rooted in several Jewish communities — I'd never come across a walnut samsa ($1.50), and a sweet one at that. Hot from the oven would be even better.
Yosef Kosher Bakery III 73-15 Main St. (73rd-75th Aves.), Kew Gardens Hills, Queens 718-575-0077
Much rarer is this style of semolina-based halva
(about 65 cents per piece, at $12 per pound), made here by Bukharian Jews of Uzbek descent. (The photo with the edge-on view shows a halva of similar make, in an unlabeled container at a Rego Park grocery, provenance unknown.) Bits of almond and walnut, but not pistachio, are embedded within; I imagine that cardamom takes credit for the greenish-gold coloration. It's sweeter than the sesame-based stuff (how could it not be?) and to my taste more tempting. It's also much less messy to divvy up, should you be so inclined.
Avraham Kosher Bakery 77-47 Vleigh Pl. (77th Rd.-78th Ave.), Kew Gardens Hills, Queens 718-969-1074
Like the smaller nokedli, the soft, potato-based dumplings called nudli have their roots in Hungary and in the western parts of present-day Romania. Versions shrouded in poppy seeds are evidently still prepared in the old country; in the kosher shops of Kew Garden Hills, Queens, where these dumplings are known as shlishkes, the readily available style is savory, coated in breadcrumbs ($6.50 per pound). Shlishkes function as a side dish and are meant to be served hot, but sneaking a few before you get home won't hurt you.
Meal Mart 72-10 Main St. (72nd Ave.-72nd Dr.), Kew Gardens Hills, Queens 718-261-3300