Bangladeshi fuchka street cart phenom Tong completes its expansion rip – six outdoor outposts in Queens and the Bronx, including two franchises and a Bellerose spot to launch next week – with its first permanent location in Jamaica . The restaurant opened Friday, July 29 at 153-35B Hillside Avenue, between Parsons Boulevard and 155th Street, with an expanded menu that includes new, labor-intensive and time-consuming street foods.
For founder Naeem Khandaker, a self-proclaimed “one-man army of Bangladeshi street foods,” it’s the next logical step in his mission to spread his culture’s favorite snacks.
From the menu to the decoration, the restaurant has not lost sight of its street food roots. A green street cart illustration appears on the awning – which Khandaker and his two friends hoisted last October – as well as on the counter at the back of the restaurant. Shards of the cart’s green corrugated roof protrude from walls on which hand-painted murals depict scenes of people enjoying street food in Bangladesh. In its new dining room, up to 20 customers can do the same.
Khandaker has added six new items to Tong’s original menu. The two savory dishes are the burning fuchka – where each stuffed puff essentially becomes a candle – and a platter of luchi. Four drinks and desserts include lemonade; pagla pani, a sweet, sour and spicy combination of 16 masalas; a watermelon drink called valobashar sharbot and falooda where small sago pearls are interspersed with ice cream.
For the luchi platter, he marinates ground beef in masala with mustard oil, onion, ginger and garlic for up to 10 hours, shapes it into patties and frys it to the beef chaap which is served with the palm-sized luchi. puffed bread. A dal in sauce and a cucumber yogurt salad complete the entrée.
From rent to utilities to decorating, “it’s a lot more responsibility” to run a storefront, he says. It’s worth it. The kitchen gives her the space to experiment with new recipes that will make their way onto the developing menu.
In 2018, Khandaker made waves on the culinary scene when he showed up with his rare Bangladeshi street food in New York and led other entrepreneurs to follow in his fuchka-laden footsteps. His success stems from his business administration courses at Baruch College and a craving for Bangladeshi food that grew so much while attending university in Italy in 2012 that he learned to cook.
Guided by the singular goal of spreading Bangladeshi street food across New York, he says, “I’m on a journey. And it’s far from over.
Tong is open from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily.