NOTICE: My office this month is JoJu – the modern Vietnamese bahn mi shop which opened up last week.
Elmhurst, NY 11373
The back page of the menu is filled with coffees and various forms of slushies, milk shakes, jasmine teas, and bubble teas. For one dollar, there’s the Vietnamese coffee filtered in the normal drip, but for 2 dollars, you can get the special filter Vietnamese coffee. In this pricey conquest, they will regrind the Cafe du Monde coffee with chicory grinds, then slow pour over a Vietnamese filter to create some strong and smooth coffee.
In this current heat wave, I’ve only gotten iced items like the blended ice Vietnamese coffee. An iced coffee I had the other day had some intense flavor to it. This finely ground, dark base with condensed milk negates the need for more sugar. We get more of the savory feeling in the drink, I dig that.
Also strong is the Iced Pickled Lemon Soda. Which, as I understand it, is essentially what anyone familiar with the food scene (ugh) in NYC will call a Shrub. Weeks ago, I had my first version of a shrub at Queens Kickshaw, and it was a revelation. What a mature soda! At JoJu’s it is even more intense. Although called lemon, it’s actually made with ice, pickled lime, a big spoonful of salt, simple sugar, soda water, and mint – more or less in that order. It’s definitely an experience. The limes are ground whole as seen below left. This makes the drink seem a bit dirty – you’ll drink in soft pieces of lime rind as you shake up the cup or siphon towards the bottom. This intense flavor from the outer edges reminds me of the Thai miang kana in liquid form. I feel like it’s healthy – I mean, rinds and vinegar has to be able to clear out the grease in your system, right?
It took me a long time to finish a cup, and I even tried to add more seltzer to make it palatable for me. 2 of the owners tried my cup and they said that was just how the like it. I can see how the vinegar drink is a great way to cool off during this heat wave, but next time I’ll need more spring roll or chicken wing to equalize the pickling.
Delving deeper, namesake Joanna of JoJu said that these limes are sometimes pickled for almost a year. Here, it either comes from her mom’s private collection, or the grocery store if she can’t keep up with demand.
Their bahn mi is pretty good too. I’m happy to have them in the neighborhood, and whether they like it or not, they’ll be my office for the next month thanks to free wifi.
Queens Kickshaw, I still love you guys, don’t worry.