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Sneakeater

What's the Most Obscure Cuisine You've Eaten in New York?

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As we were happily gobbling down a Nepalese dinner last night, my date asked me what the most obscure cuisine I'd ever eaten in New York was.

 

I couldn't answer.  It seemed to me that nothing I've eaten here has been THAT obscure.  Eritrean?  Doesn't seem that obscure (and I'm now assuming with the Eritreans and the Ethiopians that Eritrean food is really different from Ethiopian -- which in truth is not apparent to someone from New York).  Salvadorean?  Again, not that obscure.  Guatemalan?  Nah.  Uighur?  It'll only be obscure after China completes the genocide.

 

I really have no idea.

 

What's yours?

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I would say maybe Sigiri as it’s like one of a handful of places doing that cusine. So it’s rare. Delaware and Hudson was doing food from a specific region. Schnitz and knepp was a surprise. These are just two of the top of my head.

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What cuisine was Sigiri doing?  And Schnitz and Knepp?  (I don't accept D&H's Mid-Atlantic as "obscure", FWIW.  We all knew all that food.  It's from a bordering state.)

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Part of the problem is that we here have heard of a lot more stuff than other people.

 

We have, say, Bukharian food and it's like, OK, so that's food from Bukhara.  But most people are like, where's Bukhara?  And there are Jews there?

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I think some of what I've eaten had been obscure before people figured out they liked it, and more restaurants opened, and then it wasn't obscure.

 

Certainly, there was regional cuisine from China and Thailand that was obscure to me. For example, did I ever eat Fujian food before Fujian restaurants started opening in NYC? Probably not - though i may have read about it somewhere in a cookbook.  Same with Issan cuisine, I guess. Of course, Issan cuisine probably was obscure even to some in Thailand, but then became more widespread over there.

 

As mongo points out, we can thank Bill Clinton for all this globalization...and lack of obscurity!

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There's a Tajik place I've eaten at, but really other than a dish our two, its not that different from other central asian places. (Same goes for Bukharan food if I'm honest)

 

That said I think you need to be narrower than one country to win this.

 

I haven't eaten there but I believe there is a dzunghan place in BK. The dzunghan  folks are ethnic Hui (I.e. Muslim Han Chinese not Turkic) who emigrated to Central Asia.  The only real defining dish AFAIK is a very simple mung bean noodle thing - which isn't that odd in a chinese context but stands out in a Central Asian context.

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The Gotschee stuff in Queens doesn't read as weird - but its a pretty specific obscure ethnic enclave. I'd guess its the smallest extant population of any of these places we're talking about,

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At this point it's probably less about obscure cuisines, at least here in NYC... there are some rare ones, and even those are generally not significantly different than neighboring cuisines, despite the local pride over particular dishes. The exceptions would be countries far removed from their nearest neighbor - like, say, Hawaiian cuisine...once upon a time rare here, now there's a poke joint on every third corner. (Though non-poke Hawaiian remains fairly rare, still)

 

Then there's ones that just kinda "took off" - there wasn't much Yunnan cuisine here a few years ago, then Crossing Bridge Noodles became a thing, and now they're all over the place. Whether the proprietors of any given place are actually from Yunnan, that might be rarer. Not That I care.

 

I guess Qingdao is still fairly rare here. So maybe that. 

 

Lamoon claims to be the only Northern Thai restaurant in NYC. Is that significantly different than Northeastern Thai? No. (Regardless, they're awesome) 

Now, it's more about obscure ingredients. And there's a long list of those I've shoved down my gullet. 

 

I'd like to see a couple micro-regional cuisines represented... like, is there a purely Okinawan restaurant here? 

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I've only had Bhutanese in Tokyo, and maybe there's one here, but that is one I'd describe as obscure.

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there was one in Elmhurst.

 

Not very good as they attempt to replicate the local cheese with a combo american, feta, and blue cheeses - and it just wasn't pleasant.

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