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Eat and Drink

The Queens International Night Market: A glossary of global foods

A visit to the annual Queens International Night Market, which returned to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on Saturday with a special preview edition, promises a whirlwind tour of the world’s cuisines in one evening under the stars — and may require a little advance preparation.

Frugal foodies will find tastes of 50 different street foods for no more than $6 each, a varied (and somewhat esoteric selection) that founder and organizer John Wang curates with the city’s diversity in mind.

“My unofficial mission is to eventually have a stand or vendor from every country that’s represented in New York City,” says Wang, 36, a former lawyer who models his months-long event on the night markets his family frequented during childhood summer trips to Taiwan and the local food markets he’s drawn to on trips abroad. “Over the last three years, we’ve had 80 countries that we’ve represented so far, which means I’ve learned about eating food from 40 to 50 countries that I would never have otherwise.”

Eats at this year’s night market, which also hosts 25 art and merchandise vendors and live performances, include Brazilian coxinha, Indonesian kue pancong, Thai sai ua and — we would list more, but we personally got lost at “coxinha.”

Like Wang, we had to do a little research. Behold our starter guide to the tasty snacks on sale, for the uninitiated (ourselves included):


Country of origin: Brazil Who's selling it: The
Photo Credit: Kouklet

Country of origin: Brazil
Who's selling it: The husband-and-wife team behind Kouklet, Edgar and Mardhory Cepeda
What it is: In the center of this chicken-thigh shaped croquette, you'll typically find a creamy filling, made with shredded chicken and a Brazilian version of cream cheese. (For vegetarians, Kouklet is offering an alternative with two kinds of cheese, corn and basil.) The doughy exterior, part flour, part potato, is molded into the unusual shape of a chicken drumstick before it's breaded and fried. A possibly apocryphal but highly entertaining tale traces the snack served in cafes and bakeries around Brazil to the 19th century, when the chef to the imperial family ran out of chicken thighs and scrambled to find a replacement for the princess' picky son. He created a facsimile with leftover poultry that the prince liked so much, her highness added it to the royal menu.
How it's pronounced:Co-shi-nya

Kue pancong

Country of origin: Indonesia Who's selling it: The
Photo Credit: Moon Man

Country of origin: Indonesia
Who's selling it: The two Indonesian-born cosmonauts/cousins behind Moon Man
What it is:The shape and size of a hockey puck, this dessert is made with coconut milk, rice flour and shredded fresh coconut. The pancake base is then sprinkled with raw sugar, torched and embellished with toppings, like chocolate, peanuts and black sesame.

Sai Ua

Country of origin: Northern ThailandWho's selling it: Warung
Photo Credit: Trevor Lombaer

Country of origin: Northern Thailand
Who's selling it: Warung Roadside
What it is: This pork sausage boasts all the flavors typically associated with Thai cooking -- lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal (a root herb that resembles ginger, but tastes more citrusy), and bird's eye chilis. Warung Roadside owner Trevor Lombaer and his team make it by pounding a curry paste with all those spices, then combining it with fatty, ground pork. The sausage is then cooked on the grill and served alongside sticky rice and som tam or green papaya salad.

Fuchka (or Puchka)

Country of origin: Indian, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal
Photo Credit: Jhal NYC

Country of origin: Indian, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal
Who's selling it: Jhal NYC founder Mahfuzul Islam
What is it: This South Asian street snack goes by many names, from pani puri to golgappa to fuchka. The base is a hollow shell of fried dough the thickness of a potato chip. At Jhal NYC's stand, it's stuffed with a mixture of yellow peas, cilantro, onion and chilies, then coated with a sweet and sour sauce made from tamarind, date sugar and black salt, Islam says. Grated egg and shreds of fried chickpea flour are sprinkled on top.

Sambuksa (or Fatayer)

Country of origin: Sudan Who's selling it: Samosa
Photo Credit: Samosa NYC

Country of origin: Sudan
Who's selling it: Samosa NYC
What is it: This stuffed, triangle-shaped pastry has Arabic origins, which makes sense considering Sudan's close proximity to the Middle East. Its thin, crispy skin is traditionally filled with either meat or feta cheese and fresh herbs. At the night market, Samosa NYC founder Gladys Shahtou's meat fatayers will follow her family's recipe, calling for ground beef seasoned with onion, garlic and cilantro. In Sudan, the pastries are a celebratory food, served at family get-togethers, weddings and the arrival of honored guests.

The Queens International Night Market gathers vendors from around the world near the New York Hall of Science on Saturday evenings, 6 p.m. to midnight, from April 21 to Aug. 18, and from Sept. 29 to Oct. 27. Tickets to the special sneak preview editions on April 21 and April 28 are available for $5 each here.


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