Chow fun—broad Chinese rice flour noodles—was as much a staple of childhood trips to Chinatown with my father as it was the local takeout. He cooked it at home too, purchasing wonton skins that he cut into noodle-sized strips. I have a feeling he’d have liked the kwetiau Jakarta ($9) I tried at Java Village the other night. It eats like chow fun’s spicier Indonesian cousin. (more…)
This Chinese fried chicken deserves to be described as famous.
As much as I go on about a certain secret Taiwanese fried chicken, I do have another favorite Chinese fried chicken. It comes from Canton Gourmet. A poster sized come-on for this dish first encouraged me to try it. “Famous garlic aromatic crispy chicken,” read the English name. The poster depicting an entire golden fried bird showered with fried garlic, shallots, and scallion had me at “crispy chicken.” Throw in those three not so little words “famous garlic aromatic,” and I was sold.
Whoever’s on the fry station at Canton Gourmet knows what they’re doing and does it well. The salty skin is shatteringly crisp, yet the meat remains juicy. It was a great pleasure to crunch my way—bones and all—through an entire $11.95 platter. This top flight Chinese fried chicken is entirely deserving of its lofty moniker. I resolve to eat it more often.
Canton Gourmet, 38-08 Prince St, Queens, 718-886-9288
Ba si from a hawker stand, a Flushing Chinatown first.
“Everybody thinks it’s fried chicken,” the girl behind the counter said with a laugh, when I pointed at the rows of clamshell containers filled with golden brown morsels and said ba si. Coated with a sticky glaze and studded with sesame seeds one could see why it might get mistaken for a hyper-regional take on General Tso’s.
Ba si—fried apple, taro, or sweet potato glazed in syrup—is something I’d never seen at a hawker stand. At Flushing’s many Dongbei restaraunts it comes to the table still hot with a bowl of cool water. Dip a chunk into the water and the glaze hardens, forming strings of spun sugar. Think of it as Manchurian molecular gastronomy. (more…)
Great N.Y. Noodletown’s shrimp dumpling soup is a classic.
The other night I attended a panel discussion “Historic Preservation, Meet Restaurant Preservation,” where food writer and longstanding Greenwich Village resident Mimi Sheraton and Robert Sietsema, senior restaurant critic at Eater, discussed restaurant preservation in New York City. Rapacious landlords and the idea of forming a body to help restaurants as well creating a list of places that should be preserved, and just who determines who to include on said list were all discussed. When it was over the question of where to eat weighed mightily on my mind. Katz’s came up in the discussion several times, and I briefly considered it, but I ruled it out as too heavy.
Then I started to think along the lines of restaurants and Manhattan neighborhoods that I feel should be preserved. And I headed down to Chinatown. Fish Corner Market’s long gone. Mei Lei Wah ain’t as pretty or tasty as she used to be. Yet Wo Hop, whose sweet and sour pork my dear old Mom reproduced at home, and Great N.Y. Noodletown still abide. I opted for the latter. It’s survived a couple of name changes. The menu and the room remain the same. And they’ve still got one of my favorite dishes, shrimp dumpling soup. It’s a generous bowl of thin-skinned beauties packed with shrimp and mushrooms. I like to liven things up with a few spoons of the citrusy house hot sauce.
Time and tradition seem to have done a good job of preserving stalwarts like Katz’s and my Chinatown haunts, but who knows if scrappier underdog eateries will survive. So here’s what I’d like to know what New York City restaurants, dishes, or neighborhood’s are on your preservation list? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.
Is that chicken crackling atop my rice rolls? Why yes, yes it is.
I can trace both a passion for Chinese food and a tendency toward dietary excess to my old man, who was of the more is more school of cooking and eating. Oh Craig Claiborne’s recipe calls for a teaspoon of preserved black beans? I’ll put three it’ll be better, right? Wrong! Which brings me to the subject of today’s post, a calorific, cholesterol-laden little number I call hung jiang chang fen ji pi, or mixed sauce rice rolls with crispy chicken skin. (more…)
Noodle Village’s rice rolls are a sweet chewy delight.
“I never get anything else there,” she said, “because my inner six-year-old makes a bee line for the rice rolls.” We were talking about Noodle Village So Good, a stall just at the bottom of the escalator in New World Mall, which traffics in congees, soups, and noodles, with a side line in xiao long bao. I told her that as a six-year old I’d eaten my fair share of shrimp and pork chang fan at Mei Lai Wah Coffee House in Manhattan’s Chinatown. I’d always thought of them as more of snacky type meal than a treat, but I could tell from the way she spoke about them Noodle Village’s rice rolls fell clearly in the treat category. (more…)
Flushing’s Noodlebot and his caretakers are local celebrities.
There are more than a half dozen places in downtown Flushing’s teeming Chinatown to observe the magic of noodle-making. I love to marvel at X’ian Famous Foods hand-ripped biang biang mian, the pulling and stretching of Lanzhou Noodles into thin strands, and the long broad noodles of Su Xiang Yuan. I’ve never seen anything quite like Ultraman Spaceman Knife-Cut Noodles 奥特慢太空人刀削面 though.
This newish stall in the Flushing Mall Food Court takes its name from the 1960s Japanese sci-fi series Ultraman. According to Wikipedia, the pointy headed silver spaceman has more than 20 super powers, including Spacium Ray, Ultra Psychokinesis, and Ultra Slash. Making knife-shaved noodles is not on the list of super powers, but it’s clearly an adaption of Ultra Slash. Let’s watch our hero in action (courtesy of my pal, Colin Goh) shall we? (more…)
Sichuan ox tongue and tripe is a classic spicy Chinese dish.
Welcome to the fifth installment of C+M’s ongoing series of audio guides on how to order authentically spicy food in ethnic restaurants. As a service to C+M readers Anne Noyes Saini has been compiling a series of audio guides demonstrating phrases in several relevant languages, which can be used to navigate ordering situations fraught with tricky cultural and language barriers.
Today just in time for the upcoming Chinese New Year festivities, a primer from Rain Yan Wang on how to order spicy food in Mandarin. At most of my favorite Flushing haunts, like Lao Cheng Du and Cheng Du Tian Fu, they don’t pull any punches when it comes to fiery chili heat and tingling Sichuan peppercorns. That’s not the case everywhere though. Click through to learn how to get real deal spicy Chinese. (more…)
Tuesday was as fine a winter’s day as any for a food tour.
What do you when duty calls and your battlefield is in the grips of a polar vortex? Well if your duty is to give food tours of America’s tastiest Chinatown, you soldier on. Which is precisely what I did Tuesday morning when I showed a couple around Downtown Flushing. There was no way I was going to cancel on them, particularly since they’d travelled from Buffalo, a burg notorious for snowfall. To submit your delicious and/or snowy finds to Photo Friday simply tag your Instagram photos with #CMSHUNGRY. And while you’re at it, check me out on Instagram, joedistefanoqns.
When I was lad there was no such thing as a “polar vortex,” we called it winter—and reveled in it. Decades of relatively mild winters have spoiled me and many other New Yorkers. As a public service to help you thaw out from Winter Storm Janus, C+M presents a bone-warming roster of some of our favorite soups in Queens from Long Island City to Flushing, and points in between.
1. Yunnan rice noodle soup with pork at Crazy Crab Find this lovely bowl at New York City’s only crab shack/Burmese/Yunnanese spot. Warm up with tender chunks of pork and a spicy broth enlivened by a fresh squeeze of lime. It’s a taste of Southwestern China by way of Flushing. Not a bad deal at all, for $8.99. Crazy Crab 888,40-42 College Point Blvd, Flushing 718-353-8188
2. Tonkotsu 2.0 at Mu Ramen When the sun goes down and it’s brick cold out, head to over to Bricktown Bagels, which turns into Long Island City’s only ramen-ya. Joshua Smookler’s Tonkotsu 2.0 ($15) is made from six different types of pork bones, including shanks that cook for more than 20 hours. Topped with a slick of mayu (black garlic oil) and wobbly bits of tontoro (pork jowl), the soup is rich and complex. Best of all it has plenty of marrow thanks to all those shanks. Mu Ramen, 51-06 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City, Tues-Sat 6:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m. (more…)