At the end of every month, we are going to be spotlighting a different Astorian. We will be asking the same 5 questions, with I'm sure- greatly varying answers! This should be a fun and interesting addition to our regular posts and I for one, am looking forward to meeting all the interesting people. For our first installment, I thought who better to kick this off then one of my personal favorite local character's, Ali El Sayed. Here we go:
WHO: Ali El Sayed
Chef/Owner, Kabab Cafe (25-12 Steinway St. at 25th Ave)
Question #1 Were you born here? How has it changed? If not, where were you born and what brought you to Astoria?
Well, I was born in Alexandria, Egypt. I came here in 1978 and have been in Astoria almost 20 years and 18 years in this location.
Question #2 What is your favorite thing about living in Astoria?
(He looked at me with a look of wide eyed wonder, like DUH what a stupid question!)
Astoria itself, my favorite part is that the people make Astoria. Very interesting, don't you think?
Question #3 What is your number one go-to restaurant in Astoria? (other then his own)
Malagueta! The Brazilian guy, I love it. But the new Crepe guy is great too, you know- the French guy (he means Cafe Triskell)
Question #4 Best kept local secret that you don't mind sharing?
He answered with a chuckle- Mombar! (favoritism? maybe maybe not. I 100% agree on his brother's place being a gem) He's a great guy- he does good stuff and it's still a secret! But if you are hungry at 3 in the morning- and only at 3 in the morning then you have to go to Roti Boti.
Question #5 What would you like to see happen in/for Astoria in 2008?
What I really wish is that the restaurants in Astoria would not be segregated. This would help the community more. On one block you would have French, Brazilian, Egyptian all together. In 10 years? Oh yeah, it's gonna happen. I want Astoria to be the food capital of New York. What makes Astoria is flavor- you, me- no big fancy restaurants.
There you have it, our first 5 questions answered. Do you know a special Astorian who you think would be a good fit would want to sit for some questions? An interesting shop owner, a wise landlord, a great boss, an up and coming entrepreneur? Send over a quick note and maybe they can be one of the next 11!