Hilton Unveils Herb N' Kitchen to Go Beyond Room Service

All photos by Billy Lyons
Herb N' Kitchen, a new fast casual market located at The New York Hilton Midtown
We know--you have a love/hate relationship with chains. You're a food-focused person, and you want to sample the best any given town has to offer. But budget and timing often dictate when and where you'll be dining out--and if you're a weary traveler, sometimes the comfort of knowing you can eat off of a menu you're familiar with is more than enough to pull up a chair and ease hunger pains.

Unless you're staying at the Hilton, which is introducing its very own market concept, Herb N' Kitchen (New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, 212-586-7000), to give travelers that sense of familiarity they crave while bringing in elements of the local dining scene to help guests taste something new--without even leaving the hotel.

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Sea Cucumber: What Is It and Can I Put It in a Salad?

Click on image to enlarge
Three kinds of sea cucumbers, ranging in price from $25 to $110 per pound

There's nothing vegetarian about a sea cucumber, and, though you can cut it up and use it in a salad, it isn't green and doesn't crunch. Also known as sea slug (or less felicitously as sea rat), the creatures are shell-less jelly-like gastropods about the size of a finger. Usually sold in dried form, they are quite expensive; in fact they are considered a luxury ingredient in Chinese restaurants.

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Flowering Herb Spotted at East Elmhurst's Atlixco Deli

From time to time, Fork in the Road asks it readers to identify something we've stumbled on. In this case it's a flowering herb -- almost too beautiful to use in cooking -- discovered at Atlixco Deli, the premier purveyor of herbs used in southern Mexican cooking.

So, what is it? And how is it used?

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Frog Spawn, Minus the Flavor

Categories: What Is It?

On the hottest days of the year, my family sat in the shade and drank Falooda, an iced milk drink made with a bit of rose syrup and a ton of basil seeds. I still have a soft spot for the seeds, which swell up with a thick coat of jelly when they've been hydrated in water (and look almost exactly like frog eggs).

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Marijuana's Tasty Cousin

Categories: What Is It?

Jonathan Billinger
Is it time for hops, marijuana's legal cousin, to come back into the kitchen? Writer Peter Smith over at Food & Think has a nice post about the seasonal ingredient, which he picked himself from his father's hop bines.

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At Flushing's Minzhongle: Best Dish Name in the Entire City?


The Organ Meat Society recently enjoyed a splendid meal at northern Chinese restaurant Minzhongle, on Main Street in Flushing. But one dish really stood out, name-wise, bringing a chuckle to everyone's lips -- Big Buekstraps Paddywack. What could it be? We wondered as we ordered it.

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Anyone Seen This Fruit Before?

No, it's not a potato, though it looks like one.

Fork in the Road often finds itself turning to its readers for identification of foodstuffs we stumble on in area markets but can't figure out. We have another request. This fruit was being sold at the open-air market in Chinatown at the corner of Mulberry and Canal.

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Can Anyone Help Me Identify This Pickle?

What's the brown pickle the arrow's pointing to? I sure don't know.

I encountered this lovely pickle plate in Brooklyn at a former-Soviet restaurant from the Caucasus. It includes two types of plum, two types of cabbage, pepperoncini, green tomatoes, and cukes. But what's the brown-skinned thing with darker brown spots and a prominent, woody stem spot at the top. Anyone know?

A better picture of the thing follows.

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What Is It?

A friend picked this up at an open-air market in Goa, a former Portuguese colony (now a beach resort) on the west coast of India. It's definitely edible, but does anyone know what it is and what it's used for? Thanks -- we're dying to find out.

Anyone Know What This Is?


I was munching with some friends on a giant heap of dishes at new Shandong restaurant M & T, when the waitress sidled up to me and whispered: "You want to try some seafood from my town of Qingdao. Something we only have there?"

How could I resist? The tubes were rubbery, slippery, and slightly salty, but took most of their taste from the surrounding ingredients in the stir fry. The picture above gives a fair approximation of what it looked like. It is not intestines of any sort, nor is it pasta, though a three-year old at our table mistook it for pasta. Anyone know what this marine animal is called? 44-09 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, Queens, 718-539-4100