Business is off by 50 percent, the manager told me. In March 2014, construction of the Second Avenue Subway had dirtied the street and sidewalk, driving away many spur-of-the-moment customers. Several months later, construction barriers on the roadway added a further disincentive that has lingered for more than two years. The first photo was taken last weekend, from a passing bus.
When the Second Avenue line finally opens (New Year's Eve is the target, but not a firm one), a new 72nd St. station will begin to funnel more foot traffic to nearby businesses. The last New York City restaurant devoted solely to Burmese cuisine, however, will not be among them. Cafe Mingala, which outlived its sister restaurants on the Upper West Side and in the East Village, closed up shop several weeks ago.
Also shown, from sunnier times: the restaurant and attendant delivery bicycles in September 2008.
Cafe Mingala (closed) 1393 Second Ave. (72nd-73rd Sts.), Manhattan
A is not for "apartment house" with a commercial tenant tucked in the prow; A is for "Aztec architecture" enlivened by a chile-pepper apostrophe. As you've guessed, the deli counter focuses on Mexican fare. (A supplemental menu offers Dominican lunch specials, also prepared by an able hand; shards of concon, hidden behind the counter, await those who know to ask.) The edifice of my torta de lengua con todo ($7), a beef tongue sandwich with the works, was demolished in short order.
Andrea's Deli Grocery 1182 West Farms Rd. (at Home St.), Foxhurst, Bronx 718-589-2409
Navigate through the crafts-and-rummage main level — you can return later, especially to the shelves and tables crowded with Scandinavian packaged foods and home-baked seasonal specialties — to the downstairs gallery and a selection of smørbrødene, drinks, and sweets.
If this Korean mom-and-pop did business on the Lower East Side or in one of the rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods of northern Brooklyn, it would be embraced as a treasure. Here on an otherwise bleak side street, cut off by Queens Blvd. from prospective customers at two nearby high schools and LaGuardia Community College, it's simply underused. On my most recent visit, vintage Top 40 pop serenaded just a handful of customers; the mini pool table had no takers. The well-groomed planting by the door, however, was the harbinger of a cheery welcome that, I imagine, varies little under the daily ebb and flow.
Other than the shop's signature, homemade (and low-sodium) sauce, you might not remark on any particular culinary high points. But haven't you, too, found that everything tastes just a little better when bleak surroundings make way for an oasis? Shown: my chicken teriyaki sandwich ($5), whose juicy tidbits tumbled hither and thither until I abandoned any attempt at a more revealing photo. The teriyaki burrito would have been better-composed and cheaper still.
Seven Coffee Shop 43-40 34th St. (Queens Blvd.-43rd Ave.), Long Island City, Queens 718-472-9226 Breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday only
What this new Northern Chinese snack shop proffers as a leek pancake ($2) is also well-known, in literal translation, as a chive box. Since the filling of chopped greens, egg, and glass vermicelli can be on the oily side, elsewhere in New York these stuffed pastries are often soggy, and wan-colored, too. Qing Ling's chive box is better-browned and more firmly packaged, in a word, boxier — the better to slice it in two, my dear.
Qing Ling 45 Bayard St. (Elizabeth St.-Bowery), Manhattan
Like the Kathina celebration of Thailand, the Kahtein celebration of Myanmar is an occasion for lay Buddhists to pay respects to the monks of the local temple. The congregants offer robes, food, and other items to the monks, and share food and fellowship themselves. Since this congregation's temple is small, their rather intimate celebration was held in a public school cafeteria. The sole main dish on offer, mon di (shown) could be enjoyed in many permutations; my post from a previous celebration explains further.
Kahtein celebration of the Buddhist Missionary Society P.S. 69, 77-02 37th Ave. (77th-78th Sts.), Jackson Heights, Queens 718-821-2580 www.BMSNY.org/activities (The 2016 celebration was held on November 6)