Gong Xi Fa Cai! The year of the Wood Horse is upon us. To aid in your celebration of the 15-day Chinese New Year, here’s a short list of some of my favorite dishes in what I humbly consider to be the tastiest Chinatown in America.
1. Golden Corn Pancake, Fu Run
The granddaddy of Dongbei cookery in Flushing is best known for the Muslim lanb chop, but it’s specials, like the festive looking huang jin yu mi lao, or golden corn pancake ($15.95) that keep me coming back. Despite the name it’s not stack of hoe cakes, but rather some lovely fried corn croquettes. The loosely bound kernels are interspersed with carrots and peas and laid out in a star pattern. Other standout specials include the spicy fried crabs. Fu Run, 40-09 Prince St, Flushing, 718-321-1363
2. Cumin flounder, Rural Restaurant
Cumin flounder ($15.99) lands on the table coated in plenty of its namesake spice, plus a copious amount of chilies. Gawk at it for a moment and Instagram if you must. Then let the waitress cut it up into rectangles using a spoon. Crunch into it while it’s still hot. Each swatch of flounder is perfectly fried. In addition to cumin there are pickled chilies rounding out the flavor of the fried fish. Rural, 42-85 Main St., Flushing, 718-353-0086
3. Lamb dumplings with green squash, Tianjin Dumpling House
All of the dozen or so steamed dumplings at this outfit in the Golden Mall are great, but the yáng ròu shuǐ jiǎo, or lamb dumplings with green squash ($5 for 12) are simply amazing. Packed with gingery ground lamb and squash they’re almost as juicy as soup dumplings. Whip up a dipping sauce from black vinegar, chili paste, and soy sauce. Better yet, ask for some pungent garlic sauce. Tianjin Dumpling House, lower level, Golden Shopping Mall, 41-28 Main Street, Flushing
4. Dou Hua, Soybean Flower Chen
This tiny window in the front of a florist serves up some of the creamiest freshest dou hua, or “flower tofu” around with your choice of a sweet gingery syrup or my favorite a zippy housemade Chinese salsa consisting of pickled vegetables, chili, and teeny dried shrimp. Come Chinese New Year, Mr. Chen’s shop is filled with all manner of festive regalia. Soy Bean Chen Flower Shop, 135-26 Roosevelt Ave., Flushing, 718-321-3982
5. Longevity Noodles, Biang!
Long noodles, long life. And they don’t get any longer than the sautéed fresh young chicken long-pulled longevity noodles ($10) at Biang! Come to think of it whoever wrote the menu for the upscale sister of Xi’an Famous Foods should have called it longevity noodle. For that’s what it is, one long thick noodle surmounted with hacked up young chicken sautéed with bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and black mushrooms. Biang!, 41-10 Main Street,
6. Dim sum, Grand Restaurant
Dim sum is often served in rather opulent cavernous spaces that bare a close resemblance to wedding halls. Replete with flocked wallpaper and chandeliers this spot on the top of the New World Mall is grandest of such halls in Queens. All of the dim sum classics are fresh and tasty here. And there are plenty of unique dessert items like custard filled flowing sand buns and ice durian mochi. Grand Restaurant, New World Mall, 40-21 Main St., 3rd Floor
7. Chicken in Orange Flavor, Lao Dong Bei
In New York City the cuisine of the region more commonly known as Manchuria is most famous for its cumin-laced dishes, but some of the best things on the menu at this mom and pop spot sound like they came from the corner takeout joint. Chén pí jī ($8.95), aka chicken in orange flavor, is sweet, savory, and surprisingly good. Pieces of chicken coated with hot sugar syrup are interspersed with bits of fragrant dried orange peel and fiery chilies that cling to the bird. Think of it as the poultry version of bá sī píng guǒ, a popular Dongbei dessert of apples in sticky hot syrup that forms a crunchy candy coating when dipped in cold water. Lao Dong Bei, 44-09 Kissena Blvd., Flushing, 718-539-4100