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Casa Enrique, Adda Among 2019 James Beard Award Semifinalists

Feb. 28, 2019  By Nathaly Pesantez

Long Island City’s Casa Enrique and Adda have been named among this year’s semifinalists for the coveted James Beard Awards, one of the culinary world’s top honors.

Adda, which opened in September at 31-31 Thomson Ave. across from LaGuardia Community College, is up for the Best New Restaurant award among dozens of restaurants across the country.

The restaurant boasts a menu of “unapologetically” authentic Indian food that has earned acclaim from diners and food critics alike. Chintan Pandya, Adda’s chef, was recently named one of the 2019 New York City Rising Star Awards Winners by StarChefs, and was profiled by the Michelin Guide this month.

Roni Mazumdar, Adda Indian Canteen’s owner, is already known for his critically acclaimed artisanal Indian restaurant in Manhattan, Rahi.

The restaurant team said on its Instagram page that the nomination has left them “speechless.”

“To represent Indian cuisine in this category amongst other esteemed restaurants is a true honor,” Adda wrote, adding that is it thankful to be nominated for what is “often called the Oscars of the food world.”

Casa Enrique, located at 5-48 49th Ave. since 2012, is represented by its chef, Cosme Aguilar, in the Best Chef: New York City category.

The Mexican restaurant has been heralded since its opening seven years ago, and has been a mainstay on the Michelin guide and other culinary lists. In the 2019 Michelin guide, Casa Enrique was the only Queens restaurant to receive a Michelin star.

Outside Casa Enrique (file photo)

Aguilar, a native of Chiapas and inspired by his mother’s passion for cooking, grew up learning how to make traditional dishes from the southernmost Mexican state. He then came to the United States in 1998, where he worked his way up from being a porter at a French restaurant to a chef at Cafe Henri before joining the team at Casa Enrique.

Other Queens restaurants among the semifinalists include SriPraPhai, the acclaimed Thai restaurant that first opened in Woodside in the 1990s and has spread to several locations since, which is nominated under the Outstanding Restaurant category.

Xi’an Famous Foods, which specializes in cuisine from northwest China, started as a small stall in Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall in 2005 before expanding to Manhattan and Greenpoint over the years. Jason Wang, the chain’s CEO, is nominated for Outstanding Restaurateur.

“I am honored to be included as a Best Restaurateur semifinalist,” Wang said by way of his restaurant’s Instagram page. He added: “I’m grateful to be recognized for operations of XFF, and most important, due to my top notch team at Xian Foods and family.”

A Xi’an Famous Foods location is expected to open on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City soon after facing several delays along the way.

Another Flushing-based restaurant is represented among the semifinalists—Helen You, chef at Dumpling Galaxy, is also nominated under the Best Chef: New York City category.

The awards, in its 29th year, is set up by the James Beard Foundation and recognizes culinary achievement across several categories including dining destinations by region, outstanding baker, and rising star chefs.

The final award nominees will be announced in Houston on March 27, with the awards gala to take place on May 6 in Chicago.

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Aunt Cathy

These are both excellent choices! I’ve recently been to Adda and have to say it’s super good. Enrique has been great since it opened, but so hard to get a table there now. Bellwether is also great and got a Michelin. Love Madeira as well!

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