Rincón Melania is an airy, modern restaurant located at 35-19 Queens Blvd, Long Island City, NY 11101 which is run by a family with roots in the Cañari tribe, every meal begins with tostado, a snack of roasted corn. A generous handful of kernels, dusted with salt. The kernels are as dark as brass, with hard shells and glossy vellum skins. They’re still warm from the pan, when the moisture inside the shells turned to steam and made the corn swell and pop. But there’s no outward sign of the tumult, no spilling of guts. It’s popcorn, minus the explosion into fluff; a worthwhile trade-off, sacrificing lightness for meatiness and crunch.
A bowl of sango de camarón and Encebollado.
A bowl of sango de camarón, which is neither quite soup nor stew, It’s shrimp in a sauce of young plantains, not sweet, pulverized and merged with ground peanuts. It is heavy and thick, and is suitable for a cruel winter.
encebollado, a ruddy stew of tuna, lightly poached until not too far from rare, with fat cuts of cassava, boiled in the briny poaching liquid, and a crowning heap of curtido; pickled red onions and tomato under a flutter of cilantro. It’s considered a hangover cure.
The dining room is airy and modern, with stuffed alpacas from Ecuador perched on the back of a long banquette and woolen rugs on the wall, the work of Otavaleños, indigenous weavers in Ecuador whose craft predates the Incas. The front windows are set back from the street far enough for a cinematic glow to suffuse the elevated train as it sweeps by.