Saturday, June 22, 2013

The North Jersey 'ethnic-food run' is alive and well

The takeout counter at Pollos El Chevere, where the menu of Peruvian specialties goes far beyond its signature rotisserie chicken.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss some of the great ethnic food available in North Jersey, and shop with a coupon booklet from H Mart, a Korean supermarket chain.

North Jersey's increasing diversity pays big dividends: Great ethnic food at nearly every turn.

I often did my "ethnic-food runs" on Saturdays, starting in the city of Passaic with a snack of tacos, stopping in Paterson for a takeout soul-food dinner, and ending with food shopping and a meal in South Paterson's Middle Eastern bazaar.

The soul-food restaurant closed, and three and a half years ago, I stopped eating meat. But I can still do a food run.

Last Saturday, my wife wanted to shop some of Passaic's cheap clothing stores.

That set up a visit to Pollos El Chevere, an inexpensive Japanese-Peruvian-owned restaurant that is one of the nicest and cleanest in that poor city.

We ordered takeout for the meat eaters in the family:

Pollo Entero Solo, a whole rotisserie chicken with a side of white rice, french fries, green or sweet plantains or yuca ($10); an order of Tostones or fried green plantains ($2.75); and two Empanadas with ground meat and boiled egg ($2.50 each).

We also ordered an extra container of a pale green, spicy chili-cheese sauce ($3) that can be poured over the chicken, green plantains or just about anything else.

Plenty of seafood

I fondly recall meals at Pollos El Chevere, especially enjoying my favorite dish, Ceviche de Pescado ($12), a Japanese-Peruvian twist on sashimi, served with  sweet potato and popped corn kernels.

Another great dish is called Tallerin Verde, a green or pesto-like pasta dish available with shrimp, fish or steak ($12.50 to $14).

The menu also offers many seafood dishes, including stews, fried fillets and steamed fish.

Pollos El Chevere, 228 Washington Place, Passaic; 1-973-249-6330. 

Web site:

Al-Shark Moroccan Sardines in tomato sauce or spicy oil are still only 99 cents a can in the grocery section of Fattal's Bakery in Paterson. We use them in pasta sauce and salads.

Our next stop was Corrado's Family Affair, a big, ethnic supermarket on the Clifton-Paterson border where I used to go for salted cod from Canada in 1-pound plastic bags.

After two earlier visits to Corrado's, only to find they were out of those bags of salted cod, I called ahead and was told by a fish counter worker the cod had finally come in.

But what the employee called cod turned out to be salted Alaskan pollock, a cheaper substitute I buy at Costco Wholesale, and I left empty handed.

We drove less than a mile to Fattal's Bakery on Main Street in Paterson, where I picked up 21 cans of Al-Shark Moroccan Sardines in tomato sauce or spicy oil (99 cents each).

Aleppo Restaurant offers a great Syrian meal in a pleasant setting, above the below, free of the annoying hookah smoke so prevalent in other restaurants in South Paterson or over the border in Clifton.

If you like spicy food, Aleppo Restaurant's Muhammara is a must.

We finished our "ethnic-food run" with another great meal of soup, salad, fish and kebabs at Aleppo Restaurant in Paterson.

See a previous post: 

My heart goes out to the city of Aleppo, Syria 

Aleppo Restaurant, 939 Main St., Paterson; 1-973-977-2244.

Fattal's Bakery, 975-77 Main St., Paterson; 1-973-742-7125.

Corrado's Family Affair, 1578 Main Ave., Clifton; 1-973-340-0628.

One of the coupons in a book sent to some H Mart shoppers offers 20% off on big seedless watermelons, but that's just $2 off the price of $9.99.

The best coupon for me gave a $1 discount on 2 pounds of wild mussels harvested in Massachusetts just a week before I bought them. The discounted price was $1.99.

Whole whiting, here swimming in a sake-organic diced tomato sauce, were $3.99 a pound. There is no coupon for fresh fish.

H Mart has sent a "summer savings" coupon booklet to holders of the Korean supermarket chain's Smart Card, which gives a 1% rebate on purchases of $1,000.

On Wednesday, at the Englewood H Mart, I used coupons to get 20% off the price of green peppers ($1.59 a pound), and to buy 2 pounds of wild mussels for only $1.99.

I steamed opened the mussels in a little inexpensive sake, and they were deliciously tender and grit-free.

Non-coupon items I bought included a box of 20 intensely sweet Champagne or Ataulfo Mangoes for $8.99, a dollar less than before.

The store was having an even better special -- 2 boxes or 40 mangoes for $14.99. The regular price is $15.99 a box.

Jinga's Cheese Kimbap -- a seaweed, rice and vegetable roll -- were half price after 4 p.m. or just $2.49.

Fresh collard greens were 99 cents a pound.

H Mart has other stores in Fort Lee, Ridgefield and Little Ferry.  Coupons are good through July 14, 2013.

See its Web site:


  1. Great post. Any soul-food recommendations in the area?

  2. Love the collard greens and black-eyed peas, but can't think of any off hand. No longer venture into other parts of Paterson that might have one, and think a place on State Street in Teaneck has closed. Sorry.


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