I'm charmed by the many ways that bakers signal what's inside their wares. You can't, however, always judge a nut by its shell. The oreshki of Lithuania, Russia, and neighboring countries, for example, take the form of walnuts but are filled with cooked, sweetened condensed milk called sguschonka. (Many writers of Eastern European descent frequently and not unfairly refer to this filling as dulce de leche.)
Similarly shaped hodokwaja, or walnut pastries, are a popular snack on the streets of Korea. (You may also see the spelling hodugwaja, and I suspect that "Cocohodo" is a nonstandard, brandable transliteration of "cake walnut.") Though you might track down plastic-wrapped trays of locally made hodokwaja in Korean markets, they can't compare to little cakes that are still piping hot — like this free sample — especially when there's a chill in the air. Inside the baked-dough "shell" you'll find red bean paste and, yes, a chunk of roasted walnut, too. It's a nice combination.
Cocohodo 158-07 Northern Blvd. (158th-159th Sts.), Murray Hill, Queens (The first New York location of a California-based chain) 917-808-5306 www.CocohodoUSA.com
I'm not sure what's more curious about this Korean-Mexican menu item — that the churros are apparently oven-baked rather than deep-fried, or that someone has given so much thought to how a hands-on, grab-and-go food should be properly plated. Seen in passing, not yet sampled.
The floral come-on of a Xinjiang fragrant pear (Sheen-jeong, $1.49 per pound) is more pronounced, according to greengrocer wisdom, in specimens with a blush. This oblong fruit of northwestern China is crisp like an Asian pear, even when ripe, yet as juicy as any Anjou.
New A&N Food Market 41-79 Main St. (Sanford-Maple Aves.), Flushing, Queens 718-359-1300
In Tianjin, the northern Chinese city once home to Yi Lan's proprietors, yangza tang ($5) is popular morning fare. Literally it's a "mixed" or "miscellaneous" lamb soup, but those names might not provide adequate notice to squeamish non-Chinese speakers. "Offal" gets the message across, but bluntly.
Like Taste of Guilin in Sunset Park, this new restaurant features the cuisine of the scenic, mountainous region near China's border with Vietnam. As its name implies, however, Gui Lin Mi Fen narrows its focus to noodles.
Each of nine bowls offers the choice of thin mi fen, served with broth on the side, or flat qie fen, which arrive at the table already drenched. By default, this mi fen with smoked pork ($7.25) was decorated with toasted soy beans, scallions, parsley, and pickled green beans; if this weren't a third lunch, I might have added extra meat, or a braised egg, or a thatch of sour-spicy bamboo shoots. All is meant to be mixed together with the "secret marinade" hidden underneath, plus chili oil and hot broth as needed. The broth is not so exquisitely rich that you'll drink it from the bowl, but it fills out the meal well enough — no kaedama needed.
It is not the meatiest of its breed, and mine didn't smack of the flame. Could have been spicier, too; that can be tweaked. No one, however, can argue that this grilled eggplant with minced pork ($7) isn't ample enough to share, especially when you allow for a softball-sized cup of white rice on the side. Also on offer at this Sichuan stall: mao cai, which you might think of as a single-serving personalized hot pot.
Although the stall's name is posted in Chinese characters only, and the stall number is absent, 成都钵钵鸡 is a breeze to find. Go down the escalator and head all the way straight back; it's between Zhengzhou Nourishing Noodles (the lamb-noodle-soup stall, number 28), and the transplanted Chinese-Korean Noodles & Dumplings (number 30), which now has its signage in good order and is doing land-office business.
Chengdu Bo Bo Chicken New World Mall food court, stall 29 136-20 Roosevelt Ave. (Main-Union Sts.), Flushing, Queens