Andy Yang’s crispy fish with chili will set you back $1.25.
Ever since Zhu Da Jie—Flushing’s Queen of Sichuan cookery—set up a cart in Elmhurst on the corner of Broadway and Whitney last spring I’ve been begging her to make dan dan mian. After all the savory, spicy noodles have their roots in the street food of Chengdu. That hasn’t happened yet, but I was pleased to see that one of her classic dishes, spicy fried fish, has been revived after a fashion. And by a cart that had the nerve to open up right next door to her lump charcoal fueled operation. (more…)
Two great tastes in one via Taipei and New York City.
Until very recently I was a pizza purist. Then I ate the falafel slice at Benjy’s Kosher Pizza Dairy Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Flushing. This surprisingly delicious mashup of Israeli and New York City street foods can be found on Main Street in Flushing , not the Chinese portion but the Jewish neighborhood sometimes called Kew Garden Hills. Yesterday I created a decidedly non-kosher mashup in the heart of Flushing’s Chinatown. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Taiwanese chicken parm slice. (more…)
Steak and eggs steps away from Flushing’s Chinatown.
I’ve passed by it hundreds of times on the bus ride to downtown Flushing from my home base of Rego Park. “Kane’s Flushing Diner,” reads a sign looming over the brick building, which clearly predates the neighborhood’s Chinatown. “We Love Our High Class Customers,” is painted on the pavement.
Yet another sign announces, “WORLD FAMOUS STEAK & 3 EGGS $8.99.” I’m always quick to proclaim the regional Chinese culinary wonderland of Flushing as America’s best Chinatown. It’s certainly world famous for noodles, dumplings, and Dongbei cuisine, but Flushing’s not exactly known as a destination for old-school diners.
As a self-avowed Chinese food expert, I have a confession. I’ve probably eaten more smoky American style barbecue spare ribs than sticky sweet Chinese ones. My favorite Chinese ribs these days have to be the Dongbei style Muslim lamb chop as served at Fu Run in Flushing’s magnificent Chinatown. Recently I discovered a close second, and what’s certainly my favorite Flushing pork rib. It’s another Dongbei specialty, suan xian pai gu, garlic flavor spare ribs. (more…)
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…)