Foreign Flavors

Travel the world without ever leaving town


Story and photos by Priscila Ortiz

Imagine yourself on a private plane, jet-setting across the world. Monday, you’re in India, cooling your curry-spiced tongue with tea. Tuesday, you’re in a small town in the south of France, licking the whipped cream and strawberry sauce from your crêpe off your fork. Wednesday, you’re in the mood for theatrics, so you go to Tokyo, Japan to watch a chef use a hibachi grill to make your dinner. And finally, on Thursday, you land in Greece to watch the sunset over the Mediterranean Sea while enjoying slices of pita bread dipped in homemade humus. Sounds like you have quite the life, doesn’t it? Sigh, if only…

For those of us who are too attached to the North Country to bid it adieu, there are plenty of options regarding ethnic cuisine right in our midst. Restaurants like My Greek Kitchen II, Quiche et Crêpe, Koto Japanese Steak House, and Karma Indian Cuisine bring traditional cultural grub right to you.

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"Onion volcano" in Koto

It may not compare to watching a sunset atop a Grecian mountain, but the food at My Greek Kitchen II, located on 316 Cornelia Street, will temporarily take you to a foreign place. The owner, Peter Kritziotis, claims to have the “best hummus in town.” Upon entering the establishment, you would think you’ve just walked into a normal pizzeria. Walk a couple steps to the left and your perspective will change entirely.

In a separate room, traditional Greek music fills the air as the atmosphere shifts to a more romantic, dinner-like setting.

Kritziotis said he got the idea to open a Greek restaurant in Plattsburgh because “At the time, there were no other ethnic restaurants.” The most-ordered dish at My Greek Kitchen II is the gyro, which is stacked lamb and beef cooked on a rotisserie. Served on the side is a dish called tzatziki, which is a sauce made from garlic, yogurt and cucumber.

But what if you’re in the mood for something a little sweeter? The Quiche et Crêpe has just what you’re looking for. Husband and wife Roger and Evelyn Metzger, are the owners of this traditional French restaurant at 5139 U.S. Avenue. Born in Normandy, Evelyn met her husband, originally from Iowa, while he was working as a salesman in France. They came to the U.S. in 1996, and in 2003, they made Plattsburgh their home. Roger said he decided to open a French restaurant in Plattsburgh “because it felt like something was missing.”

Sitting in a corner of this brightly-lit establishment was a man visibly enjoying a quiche, which, according to Evelyn, “is a baked dish resembling a pie." Joe Faywlowicz had been coming to the restaurant from Montreal every three weeks for two years just for their quiche, which he claimed to be “unparalleled."

“No where in Montreal can you get quiche like Roger and Evelyn’s. I like to call it 'designer quiche.'”

If this isn’t enough to spike your interest, Evelyn’s description of the Quiche’s new crêpe definitely will. According to her, a crêpe is “thin, pancake-like delicacy filled with homemade white sauce, cheese and other fine ingredients,” and their new crêpe has an apple filling, sautéed in Cognac, with brown sugar. Then vanilla ice cream is added with roasted walnuts, and last but not least, drizzled on top is maple syrup. You’ve got a little bit of drool there.

But what if you’re not in the mood for sweets? What if you want to have an explosion of spices in your mouth that instantly makes you feel like you’re in a Bollywood movie? You don’t have to know the moves to the dance in Slumdog Millionaire to check out Karma Indian Cuisine on 334 Cornelia Street. Karma’s customers have the option of ordering or utilizing the buffet. This is considered a favorite if you’re looking for the full experience of exotic cuisine. Bollywood videos and music in the background really set the theme. Menu staples are the spicy chicken curry and the raiti, which is a side dish that’s used as a sauce or dip. PJ Shah, a resident of Plattsburgh, is originally from Nepal. He said, “The food is similar to Indian cuisine. I love the naan, which is like a flatbread; it’s very traditional.”

 

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A chef in Koto's using a hibachi grill

If you’re in the mood for more entertainment, there is Koto Japanese Steak House on 319 Cornelia Street. At Koto, the chef puts on a performance, preparing the meal in front of the patrons using a hibachi grill, a traditional Japanese heating device used for cooking. The chefs typically resort to theatrics like making a “volcano” out of stacked-onions or making the flames explode out towards the customers. Employee Dan Connelly says most people get the hibachi chicken, which comes with a soup or salad and rice and noodles.

In short, you may not have the means to travel the world, but know that you don’t have to stock up on frequent-flyer miles to get the food you want.

 

What's your favorite kind of ethnic food?