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Queens’ Elmhurst neighborhood, home to a large number of immigrant communities, has quietly emerged as one of the city’s top food destinations. While best known for its Chinese and Thai restaurants, Elmhurst also has a sizable Indonesian population, one whose best food spot is also the hardest one to catch – a festive monthly bazaar that’s a high point of the community’s calendar.
Every month, Indonesians from across Queens and other parts of the city converge in the social hall of Elmhurst’s historic St. James Episcopal Church for the New York Indonesian Food Bazaar, which brings together some twenty vendors offering visitors a taste of home. It’s a chance for members of the community to meet up with friends and relatives, catch up on news from Indonesia and, most importantly, stock up on dishes like Plecing Kangkung (spicy water spinach), Lemper Ayam (glutinous rice wrapped around shredded chicken), Lontong Cap Go Mek (Javanese rice cake), Sate babi (pork sate) and other essentials of the Indonesian kitchen.
In this special edition of the bazaar, organized by Culinary Backstreets and the NYIFB in conjunction with Atlas Obscura’s “Obscura Day,”, we’ll join the festivities and be given a special guided introduction to the food on offer and the vendors selling them by members of Taste of Surabaya, a Queens-based catering company that is one of the driving forces behind the monthly event.
(As a bonus, visitors to the bazaar can check out St. James’ churchyard cemetery, which contains graves dating back to the 1700’s and, down the block, the old church building, which was built in 1735 and is the oldest building in Elmhurst.)