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April 16, 2021


March 8th is a holiday. Go ahead check your calendar. You won’t find it listed for the United States. Major countries around the world know it as International Women’s Day. In Russia, for instance, that day is observed as the men are expected to give a rose to female members of their family, including their children.

You can find events in the US that celebrate the day as well as Women’s History Month. Don’t be surprised, however, if it’s a foreign group that’s hosting. Here in New York, at 2670 Coney Island, Rasputin Restaurant and Cabaret offered guests a complete Russian dining and cabaret experience calling it “With Love…A Russian Soiree”.

Upon entering I was handed a beautiful rose and as a member of the press was seated in the balcony area so that I can get the full view of the evening’s itinerary. That Russian fare was brought to the table and served family style. The cuisine was somewhat similar to items served at a kosher deli but not necessarily the deli meats. Why not? Do you think that “Jewish food” was invented in the United States?

The runway introduced us to models fashioning European designs and from Pologeorgis Fur, along with a live auction, a continuing dinner and the dance floor opening up to The Rasputin Band. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that this well-known Russian social scene is owned by a female, Marina Levitis.

I will follow this up with attending Rasputin on an average evening and give you a full description of what I ate. One thing of note is that you shouldn’t expect to have a meal where you order one appetizer an entrée and dessert at a Russian restaurant such as this. Sometimes it seems as if the food will never stop coming out and by all means don’t sip the vodka. Shoot it down, make sure you eat and you won’t get drunk.

Speaking of restaurants that are owned by a woman, I stopped into Taste of Asia to find Filipino fare and Lina. I first thought as to whether the fare would be the same as the one at Mama Meena’s in Woodhaven. Since any other ethnic cuisine has it’s style of cooking or twist to the menu, why should this one be different as the owners come from different areas of the Philippines.

The restaurant itself, although not huge, makes use of the space with not only the table service but also a small bar serving beer and wine, a few couches and an area reserved for the weekend bands. I’m told that they even have karaoke.

One way to sample the menu is to go with someone else during the lunch hours of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. when they offer their specials of a choice of two entrees, served with rice for a mere $6.95. Granted that you won’t get full portions and you may not even realize it.

The Lumpia Shanghai are crispy egg rolls stuffed with ground pork and veggies. There was the Chicken Adobo, slow cooked chicken in a vinegar-soy sauce and garlic. Looking at a beef dish, it was the Caldereta that had slow cooked beef shank in a gravy sauce with red peppers. Tinolang Manok was a chicken soup with short beans and perchay leaves.

This was actually the second time I lunched with my friend at this “A” given restaurant. We had sampled the Fresh Lumpia of fresh veggies in a crepe drizzled with peanut sauce. I had commented to Deveka that mine was served cold. She said that it is supposed to be served that way. Wanting to compare a soup to Mama Meena’s that sounded a bit similar, I ordered the Binakol Na Manok, a lemongrass flavored boneless chicken soup with ginger. As it turned out both were just as delicious. I do enjoy the stick of lemongrass cooked into the soup, something that was different. I asked Lina as to why the chicken is served boneless vs Mama Meena’s rendition. She said that American people don’t care to eat off the bone. Either way is fine with me.

If you stop by early enough (The open at 10 a.m.) you can buy their steamed buns for $1.50 each. They are stuffed with either chicken or pork as well as Chinese sausage and hardboiled egg. Yummy. I said, “early enough” as Lina is well-known for her buns and go fast! They are located at 154-05 Union Turnpike just off of Parsons Blvd and stay open as late as 3 a.m.

Isn’t it interesting that these two Filipino restaurants that both got an “A” are owned by women?

March 17, 2011 - Queens Times


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