Oct. 21, 2011 By Christian Murray
The second Taste of Sunnyside was held Tuesday night at the Sunnyside Community Services Ballroom.
Twenty local restaurants, which offered a variety of ethnic fare, provided food samples to about 600 attendees over the course of the evening. There were two individual tastings this year that were both sold out. Each session accommodated close to 300 people, with one event going from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm, while the second going from 7:30pm to 9:00 pm.
Lines formed outside the Sunnyside Community Services Center prior to both events. Crowds then poured in and went straight to the restaurant counters and five tables serving juices and spirits. Attendees were offered Japanese, Thai, Irish, Turkish, Lebanese, Italian, soul, eclectic American, organic vegetarian, French, fast-American food and pastries.
The aim of the event, put on by Sunnyside Shines and the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, was to introduce people to many of the neighborhood’s restaurants that they may not ordinarily go to — as well as showcase Sunnyside as a restaurant destination.
The event certainly achieved its mission, with most of the attendees trying out new places. “I have tried a lot of restaurants in the neighborhood yet I haven’t gone to the newer places like [Souk] El Shater or Salt & Fat,” said Mario Gonzalez, a Sunnyside resident. However, “my favorite so far has been de Mole; and I like Real Santé Fe.”
Meanwhile, one woman said that she was drawn to the event since it provided her with a “chance to get a snippet of everything.”
Many of the restaurants were first time participants in the event since they have been open less than a year. These included Salt & Fat, Souk El Shater, Sunrise Restaurant, Saffron Garden, Bliss 46 Bistro, Nodus, Anise Fusion and Pink Icing (a bakery, scheduled to open in November).
The owner of Souk El Shat said the event was definitely worth going to. He said that he got to meet several local people and was pleased that many attendees liked his food.
The organizers lined the food serving tables along the walls and put up signs denoting each restaurant. Attendees then went from table to table.
John Vogt, the chairman of Sunnyside Shines, thanked the restaurants that participated and said that he expects an even “bigger event next year.” He also thanked the Chamber as joint partners for helping bring the evening together, and Sunnyside Community Services for hosting it.
People’s favorite foods ran the gamut.
Mary Walsh, a Woodside resident, liked the chicken pot pie from the Copper Kettle the best. “The chicken is to die for,” she said. Meanwhile, Noberto Saldana, from Woodside, said that he liked the pasta at Dazies and Mama’s Empanadas the best.
However, Mandy and her friend Lauren, both from Sunnyside, were big fans of Salt & Fat. Meanwhile, Mark Wilensky, a well known Sunnyside resident, went straight for a White Castle burger upon arrival.
The gathering also attracted plenty of politicians. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, State Sen. Michael Gianaris, City Comptroller John Liu and councilman Jimmy Van Bramer all arrived and discussed the benefit of small businesses and the evening’s success.
However, given the shortage of space, the politicians and their staff had to pay $25 for a ticket like the public.
While most restaurants, at least in the short term, viewed the event as a community success—the investment value of being part of the event won’t be known for about two months. The restaurants had to cover the cost of the food and labor in order to participate but paid no fee as is customary with tasting events.
Becky Barker, the president of the Chamber, said the organization will be polling restaurants “to see if they are getting more people coming into their restaurant from this.”
The following is a list of most of the restaurants that participated– and what they offered.
The restaurant offered strawberry and mango Margaritas, Sangria as well guacamole and chips.
The Indian/Chinese restaurant served deep fried battered chicken “lollipop” and vegetable rice.
Served a lamb shepherds pie.
The restaurant offer salmon and chicken potpie. The potpie was popular.
Bliss 46 Bistro
The French restaurant offered steak grilled with garlic butter and brownies.
Sushi, Japanese fried chip and a chow mein.
Shrimp cerviche, meat de mole.
It served a beef curry, rice and vegetable dumplings.
Penne alla Vodka with Chicken.
Penne alla Vodka with Chicken.
Burgers and mozzarella sticks.
Parmesan wings, ribs.
Salt & Fat
A buttery shrimp that featured browned corn and a carrot purée.
Souk El Shater
The offered a falafel, meat pie, tabouley, hummus and baklava.
A rice pudding that contained cream and toasted coconut.
Offered cupcakes and walnut sour cream apple pie.
Served roast sausage and pear chutney.