Tag Archives: sushi

Design your own sushi roll

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Bradley Hawks


The Queens Courier recently got a chance to visit Pink Nori, Astoria’s brand new “make your own sushi bar.”  We were fortunate enough to get an intimate afternoon alone with Jesse Tang, the 22-year-old owner.  The most surprising thing he revealed is the fact that as a child, he didn’t even enjoy seafood and he didn’t clam up – he said he still doesn’t even enjoy shrimp very much at all, although shrimp appears all over the menu at Pink Nori (we counted at least 20 shrimp items).  But what he enjoys has very little to do with the menu at Pink Nori, where Jesse describes himself as the “X factor.”

“I know the business, marketing, and social media aspects,” he explains.  And that is the very thing that won him $10,000 in the Long Island Entrepreneur Challenge.  That money was just a tiny fraction of what has been invested into the company in total.  There are actually several investors, including Tang’s parents and brother, along with his executive chef.  It sounds like there are a lot of people to answer to.  Tang disagrees.

“My customer base is the real boss,” smiles Tang. He has surrounded himself with people who know Japanese food, restaurants and service much better than he does.  Take his head sushi chef, Andy Tan, for example.  Tan has over 25 years of experience, including significant time at such notable restaurants as Morimoto, Gari, and Nobu.  Put quite simply, the man knows his stuff.

Jesse Tang’s mother, Shirley, and father, Danny were born in Taiwan and Hong Kong, respectively.

So what, precisely, keeps drawing customers in?

“It’s the ‘make your own sushi,’” explains Tang.  Customers can choose from a whole list of unique ingredients to instruct the chef as to how to prepare the rolls.  Ingredients include taro chips, guacamole, jalapeños and mangoes, and several varieties of seafood and other veggies.  The theory is that someone can personalize their own roll, and return to have it again, or try something new.  But that’s all merely the hook to get people to come.

The hope is that guests will try building a roll, and then return for all of the other unique dishes, like Peking duck sliders, filet mignon tarts, and a whole range of homemade dumplings.  They even have a line of “New Style Sushi” also called “sushi with flavor.” It features single pieces with combinations like amber jack with yuzu jelly and potato chips, or octopus with a vinaigrette jelly.  It is dishes like these which Tang hopes inspire guests to become returning patrons.

“In many Asian restaurants,” explains Tang, “guests just come in, eat, and leave.  I want to get people involved.”

Then there is the restaurant itself, decorated with pink walls, white furniture, and neon accent lighting.  Everything at Pink Nori is shiny and new—from the ambiance, to the ingredients, to Tang’s promising, budding career.

Pink Nori
36-06 30th Ave., Astoria




Panda Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar: More than just great food

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Panda Asian Bistro

Among a plethora of chain restaurants, fast food joints, small eateries and convenience stores, there’s a new player on Queens Boulevard in Rego Park that is looking to change the game.

Panda Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar, which opened roughly six months ago, boasts a fusion of oriental specialties, and owners are considering expanding it as an entertainment venue.

“On Queens Boulevard, there are not many things you could do after night [fall],” co-founder Sam Cheng said. “We are trying to change it into an entertainment place rather than just pure restaurant. That’s the goal.”

The first floor of the restaurant has black and white striped walls and red bamboo sprinkled around near the windows. Every Friday night the eatery features a performer who does magic tricks.
Cheng said since it has been well received by patrons, they are considering expanding the performances.

A 1,200-square-foot, 80-seat party room for private events is located on the second floor of the restaurant. Cheng, who grew up in nearby Elmhurst, also said they are experimenting with turning the second floor into a lounge with live music.

Besides the entertainment value of Panda, the food is worth looking forward to. The eatery boasts a range of Asian specialties, including Chinese, Thai and Japanese food.

Appetizers are a mix of favorites such as gyoza dumplings, crispy duck rolls and Thai herbs calamari with an original spicy duck sauce.

Entrees, such as tender General Tso’s chicken and yaki udon, grace a wide menu, which includes many vegetarian choices as well.

Cheng said the sushi fish is bought from Japanese vendors, and rolled by a Japanese chef. There are plenty to choose from, including Yellowtail, ikura (salmon), ebi (shrimp), and maguro (tuna).

And so customers can fully enjoy the selection, Panda offers all-you-can-eat sushi every day for $19.95 on weekdays and $21.95 on weekends.
On top of the entertainment value and wide selection of dishes, customers should know that meals at Panda are free, if it’s your birthday.

Panda Asian Bistro
95-25 Queens Blvd., Rego Park
Hours: Sunday –Thursday 11:00 am- 10:30 p.m.
Friday& Saturday: 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Credit card: yes
Delivery: yes




Something fishy at JJ’s Asian Fusion

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Bradley Hawks

“I like to add a twist, a touch of new, modern ingredients to make regular sushi become more fun,” explains Philip Chen, the executive chef of JJ’s Asian Fusion, as he personally delivers the appetizer to the table. “Sushi of such high quality and flavor doesn’t need any soy sauce.”

Chen went on to detail the “New Style” Sushi Sampler that includes Indonesian-style salmon with blow-torched lemon zest; yellowtail with jalapeno, Dijon, and yuzu zest; marinated and grilled bonito sprinkled with mint, black pepper and Himalayan rock salt; white tuna with deep-fried pearl onion and yuzu miso; and tuna topped with whipped tofu puree, yogurt and a drizzle of lime soy.

The rich and tender slice of yellowtail practically fell apart between my chopsticks. A fish with high oil content, it would be nearly futile to dip it in soy sauce. That would stubbornly bead up and roll off. So it’s brilliant that this piece of sushi is topped with fried jalapeno and spicy mustard to add texture and heat along with citrusy shavings of yuzu rind to cut the richness. Each piece is uniquely delicious and unlike anything being served even remotely nearby.

This cozy restaurant, unassumingly tucked away on 31st Avenue, features an often French culinary approach to a marriage of pan-Asian cuisines. Just beyond a neon blue glowing waterfall in the entry and bamboo-partitioned tables in the dining room, Chen enthusiastically creates an artistic array of dishes that satisfies both sushi purists and fusion enthusiasts.

The dumplings are made in-house. The most popular are the edamame pot stickers, which are $5.50 for a serving of four. The dumplings are stuffed with pureed edamame beans, blanketed in a wasabi cream sauce and drizzled with basil-infused olive oil.

With the shumai ($4.95), six tender meatballs of delicately seasoned minced chicken and crabmeat are wrapped in thin, savory noodles, steamed on a broad bamboo leaf that infuses a hint of sweet earthiness and served with a small bowl of ponzu sauce for dipping.

Try the rock lobster starter. These juicy lumps of sweet lobster meat are lightly tempura battered and fried, tossed in a yuzu mango glaze and dotted with red and black tobiko (flying fish caviar). Magenta and jade micro greens crown the creation.

Along with several basic sushi rolls, a kaleidoscopic array of chef’s special rolls is on the menu.  Tropical roll #2 features shrimp tempura with diced mango and slivers of avocado. They are wrapped in rice and thin soy paper and drizzled with mango and strawberry sauces. The tempura batter and sweet glazes create a decadent harmony in your mouth.

For entrees, consider the tamarind-glazed roast duck over steamed baby bok choy or the miso-glazed salmon with stir-fried vegetables, accompanied by herbed mashed potato spring rolls with an orange glaze.

With at least five days notice, Chen will personally craft an omakase tasting at a fixed price point.

“We have certain things flown express from Japan,”  he explained.

So whether it’s a $50 to $200 private tasting or just an afternoon of dumplings and green tea, JJ’s has something for everyone. Just be sure to end the meal with stacked green tea crepes. Even the sweet ending is flawless.

JJ’s Asian Fusion
37-05 31st Ave, Astoria
Open daily for lunch and dinner
Closed Mondays




‘Best Asian of New York’

| editorial1@queenscourier.com

QNE_p072.pdf - Adobe Acrobat

It’s been said that “location is everything.” BANY of Long Island City has captured locals with its prime waterfront setting. It has kept them coming back with an assortment of intriguing Asian dishes. Whether you’re in the mood for sushi or ceviche, this modern Asian haven has something for everyone.

Begin your meal with the “Incredible Tuna” – a little piece of bliss consisting of spicy tuna surrounded by tuna tataki and a sea of nuta sauce. Served with ponzu sauce, this is most definitely a must try.

If you’re in the mood for something light, aim for the Granny Salmon, seared salmon served with tangy green apple and spicy ponzu sauce. Don’t forget the basil oil for that extra kick.

BANY fuses cultural influences into its cuisine, as seen in many of the appetizers, including the Indian pancakes, chicken satay and Vietnamese spring rolls. Although a large portion of the menu consists of Japanese classics, the establishment incorporates Vietnamese, Indian and Thai influences to build a diversified menu for the customer base.

After speaking with some of the locals, I was informed that BANY is known for its sushi. Everything from your typical California roll to the Spicy Bad Girl roll was rumored to be a combination of fresh fish, fresh vegetables and spicy sauces. Specialty rolls combine classic Japanese influences with foreign ingredients to create distinctive, aesthetic sushi creations. I was intrigued by the Pink Panther – spicy tuna & ground nut wrapped with soy bean seaweed – however, I chose to sample some of my original favorites. Salmon, spicy tuna and salmon avocado rolls were delivered to my table in what created a colorful, textured platter. Fresh, tasty and reasonably priced, I was a happy customer.

The entrees at BANY conquer a large realm of culturally inspired cuisine, hence the “fusion” in BANY’s title. Vietnamese, Thai, Indian and Asian influences mesh to form the menu at this waterside restaurant incorporating ingredients such as curry, basil, banana leaves and pineapple sauce.

Entrees include mango shrimp, duck curry, Thai style chicken and the grilled Chilean sea bass – carefully wrapped in a banana leaf and served with miso sauce. All entrees are served with rice, and many include a combination of fish, vegetables and tantalizing sauces.

BANY offers a selection of vegetarian dishes and classic Asian entrees including chicken teriyaki and pineapple fried rice. If you prefer something spicy, order the jumbo shrimp with sambal sauce or the sizzling salmon steak- served with sweet beans in a Thai sweet chili sauce.

Happy Hour is offered every day with 20 percent off sushi A La Carte and rolls, dine-in or take out. Lunch specials are offered during the week and include classic Asian dishes such as beef teriyaki, sushi specials and Thai basil sauce over rice.

Reasonably priced and conveniently located, BANY offers something for everyone. Whether you’re picking up lunch, sitting down for sushi or trying the entrees, make sure to stop by Long Island City and try out BANY, the “Best Asian of New York.”