Queens Boulevard and 69th Road, Queens, NYC
Review by Susu
The joke's on you if you bypass this tiny store, in half of what used to be Lazaar's Kosher Meats & Butchery. Knish Knosh used to be across the street in a tiny shop that was mostly ovens and a big Hobart "boat motor" mixer. In fact, when the potatoes and onions that make up the heart and soul of a knish were delivered, they simply sat on the palettes outside the back door, waiting for enough room to be made so they could be brought inside. Progress is defined as moving across the street to a space large enough to house the potato delivery as well as the ovens!
Yes, a knish is a distinctively Jewish food, specifically German (though I understand the word is Ukranian for "dumpling" -- another example of the ethnic stew that is NYC). After WW2, the German Jewish population in Forest Hills swelled. The new Jews carried memories of the old world flavors, but not necessarily the ways or means to cook them. Many simply forgot; parents and grandparents died without passing on the basics. Most didn't have time.
So a place like Knish Knosh was born. For over 50 years, they made knishes, and only knishes. More recently, they've also added things like franks in a blanket (using only Hebrew National pure kosher beef dogs, very yummy!), rugelach (dried fruit-stuffed pastries), and there's a soda case with Dr. Brown's funky flavors: black cherry, cream soda, and cel-ray tonic, as well as the ubiquitous Coke products. But basically, they make knishes.
A knish is basically a massive dumpling. In the old days, leftovers of all kinds were chopped fine and mixed with leftover mashed potatoes and wrapped in a savory pastry, then fried or baked. New York City pushcarts sell the rectangular fried variety, wrapped in a sort of thick, bready dough. It's an alarming yellowy-orange color, and notable, if not digestible.
Knish Knosh bakes their knishes. The mashed potato and fried onion mixture is wrapped in a thin, stretchy dough, each weighs about a pound, and is normally eaten on its own, rather than as a side dish. They serve several varieties: potato, broccoli, spinach, kosher meat, kasha, turkey, pastrami, chicken and corned beef. There are also "cocktail" sized knishes -- about 2-inch cubes of potato wrapped in pastry -- less formidable, but still hefty fodder. (Like Berty Bott's, they also used to make liver knishes!)
These things are tasty, a perfect portable meal. There are a few tables and chairs, but eating these sitting down is kind of not the point. We each had one for breakfast, to fortify ourselves before church on Sunday, along with the above-mentioned frank in a blanket and a Dr. Brown's soda. This combination is called a "Snack Pack," costs $3.25, and keeps you full through the long sermon, formal eucharist, and coffee hour reception. It sounds pedestrian and even scary, but it's a delicious, succulent way to eat a potato and hotdog. Don't ask for ketchup, these are served with mustard, if anything. We ate them straight up, and fell in love with the homely and homey fare.
German-Ukranian Kosher Jewish food was toted en route to Irish Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. We love New York!
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