12/21/16 4:41am

Warm Up with C+M’s Favorite Asian Winter Soups

thaicongee

Sugar Club added Thai style congee to the menu just in time for winter.

Like much of New York City, Queens is now in winter’s icy grip. Unlike most of the rest the city though we have two Chinatowns and the most robust K-town in New York City, which is all a very long way of saying that there are many many options when it comes to Asian soups. Here are our seven of our favorites.

1.  Thai Congee, Sugar Club
“Thai people like the pork one,” the kid behind the counter responded when asked which variety of Thai congee was better. Earlier this week Sugar Club started selling the rice porridge, known as jok in Thailand, just in time for winter. The shop’s version ($6.50) of the ubiquitous Asian breakfast porridge features an egg stirred in, mushrooms, and a tangle of noodles. As for the pork it turns out to be lovely little meatballs. Doctored up with chili flakes and salty Golden Mountain sauce this combination porridge/noodle soup its a great way to ward off winter’s arctic chill. Sugar Club, 81-18 Broadway, Elmhurst, 718-565-9018

beijinglamb

This lamb spine’s mighty fine.

2. Lamb Hot Pot, Beijing First Lamb Shabu
I’m no fan of Chinese style hotpot, but the stuff they’re making at Beijing First Lamb Shabu, (Lao Cheng Yi Guo in Chinese) is truly special, mainly because the specialty of the house isn’t traditional hotpot, but rather a rich lamb stew. Upon entering the Flushing branch of this Beijing chain I was floored by pervasive aroma of gamy lamb and five spice.  Like many hot pot joints there’s a ballot-like menu with all sorts of add-ins and soup bases. The difference here is that all of the soup bases feature a combination of mutton ribs and spine in a rich heady broth. Lao Cheng Yi Guo thoughtfully provides gloves so you can pick up the vertebrae and get at the ridiculously tender bits of meat that cling  to the lamb spine.  Someone once told me that eating lamb spine is a fertility tonic for men. I’m not sure about tha,t but Lao Cheng Yi Guo certainly put a smile on my face and warmed me up. Lao Cheng Yi Guo, 136-55 37th Ave., Flushing

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3. Fatty Beef in Sour Stock, Su Xiang Yuan
When it comes to soups Henan, China is best known for lamb noodle soup. Instead of lamb, suan tang fei niu, makes fatty slices of beef in a broth enriched with plenty of sour cabbage and chilies the star. Glass noodles and strands of tofu skin  join the party too, while the sourness of the cabbage plays a perfect foil to the rich ribbons of beef. Find this bracing bowl at Su Xiang Yuan in Flushing’s New World Mall Food Court. There’s no English signage for Su Xiang Yuan, but you can easily spot i. It’s the one in the back right corner playing a loop of Anthony Bourdain eating their soup. Su Xiang Yuan, No.28, New World Mall Food Court, Flushing

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4. Soon Dae Gook, Tang
Pork and the pork blood sausage soon dae are the main event in this hearty Korean soup based on an ox bone stock. The broth—bobbing with, bits of blood sausage, pork, and chives—is pretty mellow, but adding some of the hot pepper paste and teeny-tiny fermented shrimp that come with the dish really livens things up. Tender chunks of pork, rounds of soondae, and bits of the noodles that the sausage contain make a fine winter’s meal. Tang, 196-50 Northern Blvd, Flushing, 718-279-7080

5. Asam Laksa, Pulau Pinang
As any regular C+M reader knows I am a big fan of predawn kari laksa runs, but lately I’ve begun to appreciate the Malaysian noodle soup’s more sour, fishier cousin, asam laksa. At Elmhurst’s Pulau Pinang the spicy sour broth hums with lemongrass and chilies. I’m not sure what kind of fish is used but it’s been crumbled beyond recognition and that’s okay. Pineapple, red oniosn, and slippery translucent noodles round out the most satisfying  bowl of Malaysian noodle soup in Elmhurst. Pulau Pinang, 82-84 Broadway, Elmhurst, 718-672-7380

EIM

6. Chicken and rice soup, EIM Khao Mun Kai
This specialist in khao mun kai, a Thai chicken and rice dish, makes its presence known with waves of ginger and chicken fat scented rice that perfume the air just outside the door.  As much as I love the signature dish the, chicken and rice soup is where it’s at for me come winter. The gingery broth sports plenty of chicken and the aforementioned rice. When I’m feeling really under the weather I like to doctor up my bowl with crushed garlic and green chilies. Eim Khao Mun Kai, 81-32 Broadway, Elmhurst, 718-424-7156

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7. Soto ayam, Asian Taste 86
Despite the generic name Asian Taste 86 is an Indonesian restaurant. The menu skews toward Surabaya cuisine from the capital of East Java. Soto ayam, an Indonesian chicken soup, is served Surabaya style—tinged yellow from plenty of turmeric—with a heap of koya, a pungent powder of mixed prawn crackers with fried garlic, and a side of rice. It’s one of my secret weapons when I have a cold. The piping hot broth, brimming with shredded chicken and cabbage, is most restorative, particularly after the addition of a tablespoon of bright orange sambal. Asian Taste 86, 86-10 Whitney Ave., Elmhurst, 718-779-8686

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