Forest Hills is about as far from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan as you can get — an enclave of the aged and wealthy, and as much characterized by Tudor homes as by the marks of the Orange Line. But the V has one last gift left in its path, and it’s a good one: the Gulag Gourmet brilliance of Tokyo Teriyaki. We’ve been told that we overrate it. But where else in New York can you get a totally unironic spam maki roll?
Tokyo Teriyaki can be said loosely to reside safely away from the terror that is Queens Boulevard, on Forest Hills’ commercial strip, Austin Street. We say loosely because the entrance to the restaurant is set back nearly half a block; a series of signs and arrows lead you down an alleyway, but if you make it there, you’re rewarded by a level of Japanese fast food far below (or above, depending on your perspective) the norm. Yes, there are the usual tonkatsu and yakitori dishes, and even some utterly un-exotic sandwiches. But we go there for two incomparable dishes: the spam maki and the hot-dog maki. Both of these are exactly what they sound like: low-grade meat snacks rolled in seaweed and set on seasoned sushi rice. And both are out of this world. The salty succulence of the spam takes to the crispy nori, and the same sweet brown sauce usually found on nagi. And though not as utterly cool-looking as the spam roll (and really, what could be?), the hot-dog roll is even better — the New York equivalent to the California roll, but without all that bothersome flora. The idea of it is so crude and inappropriate that we find ourselves going back, again and again. After all, an unlimited MetroCard is all we need, now or ever.
Tokyo Teriyaki, 6860 Austin St., nr. 70th Rd., Forest Hills; 718-997-1601.