07/25/13 10:50am

Crazy Crab’s Yunnanese Pork Face Salad Amazes

The flavors are so bright I can forgive the Western style greens.

The flavors are so bright I can forgive the Western style greens.

Burmese and Yunnanese food are a rarity in New York City, even in the wonderland of ethnic cuisine called Queens. The best places to enjoy Burmese cooking—a complex sometimes fiery cuisine that combines elements of Indian and Thai—is at the handful of charity food festivals held in late spring throughout Queens. It was at one of these that I found out Crazy Crab 888, a sort of stealth Burmese restaurant was opening in Flushing. It’s so named because the owners have billed it as a seafood and beer joint with all manner of maritime offerings: shrimp, clams, black mussels, blue crabs, king crab, and lobster to name just a few. This is probably a smart business move on their part, though I find it disappointing. The seafood’s on the back of the trifold paper menu, but the heart is given over to Burmese, Thai, and Yunnanese specialties. These include the Yunnan sliced pork special salad ($16.99), which I tried on a recent visit.
This must be some really special pork I thought when I ordered it. Pretty soon the waiter brought over a bowl of Western looking lettuce topped with a heap of pinkish, translucent sheets of flesh; fried shallots; roasted peanuts; cilantro; and red and green chilies. Had I not tried Crazy Crab’s wonderful Yunnan yellow tofu salad ($10.99) at the festival I’d have written off the pork dish as a dumbed down version. Given the seafood joint conceit I almost did. One bite though and I was hooked. Sour, salty, and unabashedly funky and spicy this a lovely dish. The swatches of pork were cool and just slightly chewy. I asked the cook why it was so expensive and she told me that it’s very labor intensive to clean and cook the skin from a pig head. It’s tempting to think of it as a Yunnanese version of the lamb face salad from Xi’an Famous Foods, but really it’s own animal so to speak.

I also had an order of the aforementioned yellow tofu and a Burmese tea salad ($9.95). I did so not just because I am a glutton, but because I seldom have the chance to eat Burmese and Yunnanese food . Next time I will save room for an order of a half dozen oysters. They’re sold on the half shell for the fortuitous price of $8.88. Who knows I might even get lucky, but really I’m already fortunate to have such a restaurant as Crazy Crab a mere bus ride from house.
Crazy Crab 888,40-42 College Point Blvd, Flushing 718-353-8188

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