The Disabled Foodie’s First Anniversary Celebration at the Queens Night Market

The Disabled Foodie’s First Anniversary Celebration at the Queens Night Market – August 15, 2015

The Disabled Foodie is one year old! Thank you for a great first year and your unflagging support. To celebrate, I went with my husband and our friend, Matthew, to the Queens Night Market (QNM). The market is New York’s first Asian-style night market featuring vendors selling food from around the world, art, and merchandise.

I have to thank John, the founder of the QNM, for working with me to make this a successful celebration. He was kind enough to allow us to skip the line to enter the event earlier than the rest of the crowd. I also need to thank Karl and Tammy, from Karl’s Balls, for their hospitality, and taking some of their valuable preparation time to speak to me about their food.

Karl, from Karl's Balls, with David, The Disabled Foodie     Photo Taken by Tammy from Karl's Balls

Karl, from Karl’s Balls, with David, The Disabled Foodie      Photo Taken by Tammy from Karl’s Balls

Additionally, I want to thank my friend Matthew for joining my husband and I at this incredible event. Finally, thank you to my husband for his never ending support on this amazing journey through food and disability.

I must begin by stating that QNM quickly became one of my favorite food venues because it is highly accessible, and the variety of food from around the world is a foodie’s dream come true. John, the founder of QNM, has curated an incredible selection of foods from around the world to rival the selection found at Smorgasburg. John told us that he hopes the QNM serves as a place where the community comes together, and it showed last night through the hundreds of people, including entire families, who came out. John and his team provide activities at the QNM for all ages: music and dance performances for adults, and games and temporary tattoo artists for children. Furthermore, there is no entrance fee, and most food items that we tried cost between $2.00 and $5.00 each. We shared almost everything we ate.

Karl’s Balls makes takoyaki.

Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special takoyaki pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus (tako), tempura scraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger, and green onion. Takoyaki are brushed with takoyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce) and mayonnaise, and then sprinkled with green laver (aonori) and shavings of dried bonito (katsuobushi). (Wikipedia, 2015)

Karl prepares all of the octopi himself to be “sashimi-ready”. He and his team prepare all of the ingredients by hand, and the takoyaki are served in Karl’s “Man Mayo” and his “Ball Sauce,” which is smoky, fruity, spicy, and sweet. Forget any thoughts of rubbery octopus. Karl’s octopi are tender. The takoyaki were vibrant in flavor, wonderfully gooey on the inside, and were a fun way to start a great evening.

Takoyaki from Karl's Balls

Takoyaki from Karl’s Balls

Our next stop was the Burmese Bites booth where we tried the Burmese shaved ice dessert. This was another completely new experience for me! The shaved ice was combined with grass jelly, palm seeds, agar agar (gelatin made from seaweed), crushed peanuts, sweet syrup, and condensed milk. My friend, Matthew, said it best when he described the dessert as tasting, “like a frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Not only did it taste delicious, but it was visually impressive.

Burmese Shaved Ice Dessert

Burmese Shaved Ice Dessert

The eating just kept going, as there were so many great things to try. At the Pancake Rolls booth, we tried both braised beef and honey pork pancake rolls. Both came on a freshly made scallion pancake with scallions, cucumber, cilantro (I asked for that to be left out of the honey pork roll), hoisin mayo, and pickled carrots. The pancake was perfectly flaky and had a great toothsome bite! There is a video on my Instagram account of the pancakes being prepared. (Click here to view that video.) I preferred the beef roll to the pork. While the sweetness of the pork was nice, the beef’s savory notes against the vegetables provided a satisfying contrast.

Inset: Pancake Roll with Beef Background: Pancake Roll Booth

Inset: Pancake Roll with Beef      Background: Pancake Roll Booth

At the Chiflez (pronounced Chee-flayz) booth, we had roasted, grilled corn with Peruvian sauce and seasonings. The corn was sweet and smoky from being charred on the grilled, The sauce was piquant and just slightly spicy. Finally, it was sprinkled with cheese and salt to add savory and salty notes. It was the best corn I have had so far this summer.

Inset: Chiflez Booth Background: Peruvian Corn from Chiflez

Inset: Chiflez Booth      Background: Peruvian Corn from Chiflez

And it just kept coming. At the Flauteria (pronounced Flau-teh-ree-ah) booth, they prepare Mexican food and drink. I had a cup of tart, sweet hibiscus tea, and we shared flautas (pronounced flau-tahs) filled with chicken. Flautas are similar to tacos, but they are formed into  cigar-like rolls. The chicken was so tasty and moist!

Top Inset: Jar of Hisbiscus Tea at Flauteria Bottom Inset: Chicken Flautas at Flauteria Background: Flauteria Booth

Top Inset: Jar of Hisbiscus Tea      Bottom Inset: Chicken Flautas      Background: Flauteria Booth

I am a huge fan of duck, and CBao did not disappoint with their mind-blowing Peking Duck Bao.

A baozi or simply known as bao, bau, humbow, nunu, bakpao (Hokkien), bausak, pow, pau or pao (Hakka) is a type of steamed, filled, bun or bread-like (i.e. made with yeast) item in various Chinese cuisines, as there is much variation as to the fillings and the preparations. In its bun-like aspect it is very similar to the traditional Chinese mantou. It can be filled with meat and/or vegetarian fillings. (Wikipedia, 2015)

The bao was fluffy and light. This worked beautifully with the tender, gamy duck that was carved at CBao’s booth right in front of me. The scallions and cucumbers added crunch, and the house sauce added a touch of umami flavor.

Inset: Peking Duck Bao Background: Cook at CBao Carving Duck

Inset: Peking Duck Bao      Background: Cook at CBao Carving Duck

The savory duck bao was followed up with a delectable Portuguese treat, Pastel de Nata (pronounced pah-stehl day nah-tah) from the MoNata booth. This small egg custard filled puff pastry tart packed luscious, creamy, sweet flavor into a bite-sized dessert. My friend, Matthew, who has been to Portugal twice, told us that he was able to find these all over his travels there.

Inset: Pastel de Nata Background: Sign at MoNata Booth

Inset: Pastel de Nata      Background: Sign at MoNata Booth

Finally, we tried a mango and raspberry crêpe from T-Swirl Crêpe. These rice flour crêpes are served with fruit and pastry creme. The fruit was fresh and juicy, and they did not overload the crêpe with the creme. (Click here to watch a short video of crêpes being made.)

Mango and Raspberry T-Swirl Crepe

Mango and Raspberry T-Swirl Crepe

Accessibility Rating for Queens Night Market

I used my wheelchair to visit QNM. This was the QNM’s last night at this location near the New York Hall of Science in Corona, Queens. QNM will be moving to Jamaica, Queens starting on September 5 for the remainder of this season.

  • Entryway – 5: The QNM is held in a parking lot. Since this is the case, the entry is smooth, and there are no stairs. It is the most accessible entrance a person with a disability could desire.

    Inset: QNM Welcome Banner Background: Aisle with Booths at QNM

    Inset: QNM Welcome Banner      Background: Aisle with Booths at QNM

  • Bathroom 4: There are wheelchair accessible port-a-potties in two locations at the QNM. There is a grab bar that wraps around the toilet. QNM provides stand-alone sinks with faucets that operate by using a foot pump. The foot pump is difficult for those who have limited or no use of their feet, but the fact that there are sinks at an outdoor venue is great! I was fortunate enough to have my husband help me with the sink.
  • Walkways/Space – 5: The aisles are wide and spacious. Even with hundreds of people all around, I had plenty of room to move around. During the daylight hours, the QNM was well lit, and due to humongous flood lamps, the same could be said for the night hours. The closer we were to the musicians and performers, the louder it was. But, overall, the noise level was not loud considering the size of the event and the number of attendees. (For a short video of the QNM click here.)

    Views of Booths and Aisles at QNM

    Views of Booths and Aisles at QNM

  • Staff – 5: The staff was welcoming and I encountered no issues. John was kind enough to allow us to enter the QNM a few minutes early to explore and meet with Karl and Tammy. Staff and security were available throughout the event to help people with any questions or concerns they might have.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.

What is your take?