Zhi zi liang fen, slippery cool, and garlicky as all getout.
“What’s your favorite noodle dish?,” is a question I’m asked all too often. As a food nerd I have about a dozen favorites encompassing Thai,Uzbek, and Chinese. One of my top Chinese noodles these days is the ma la liang mian or cold noodles—humming with ma la flavor of tingling Sichuan peppercorns combined with red chilies—from Szechuan Taste.
It’s so good that it’s taken me a year to start ordering the stall’s other cold noodle specialties like zhi zi liang fen, or gardenia bean jelly ($3.75). Despite the English name, there are no flowers in it whatsoever. Just Like its bone-white cousin liang fen, this sunnier version is made with mung beans. (more…)
There are so many dumplings in the bustling and delicious Chinatown of downtown Flushing that keeping track of them all would be a lifelong task. A task for which I am ill-equipped. Perhaps that xiao long bao obsessive guy whose exhaustive soup dumpling survey is making its way around the interwebs will come to Queens one day, calipers and scale in hand. Until he does I will muddle along as best as I can. That being said, let’s talk about two of my favorite new dumplings. (more…)
“This one wants to try something really weird,” the parent of a young man on my most recent Flushing Chinatown food tour said. We had already tried fu qi fei pian, the Sichuan mélange of offal that combines tripe, tendon, and beef shin, so I knew the kid was a tough customer. He seemed satisfied by the plate of crunchy Chengdu style pig ears we shared at Golden Mall. (more…)
Cheng Du Bo Bo Ji’s fried chicken is a ma la head’s fever dream.
“Are sure you can handle it,” the kid behind the counter at the newest stall in Flushing’s New World Mall Food Court said skeptically. “Yes, yes ma la,” I replied, indicating that I was down with the classic Sichuan numb-hot flavor that combines fiery chili heat with the floral and tingly Sichuan peppercorn. The dish in question was listed on the menu as Chong Qing Spicy Chicken ($10.99), but he referred to it as house spicy fried chicken. (more…)
Festive hong bao being sold on Main Street last week.
Gong xi fa cai!! Here at C+M’s Photo Friday we wish to extend to you warm Chinese New Year wishes for this Year of the Sheep. There’s been much confusion as to whether it is the sheep or the ram, I may just start calling it Year of the Ovine.
Queens being the most diverse place on earth, it’s not just Chinese who celebrate the Lunar Year, but also Vietnamese, Malaysians, and as I learned the other day, Thai people of Chinese descent. Two days ago I walked in to Sugar Club in Elmhurst with a tour group and there was entire New Year’s spread laid out. Want to be featured on Photo Friday? Tag your Instagram photos #CMSHUNGRY.
Hunan House’s steamed eggplant is packed with homestyle flavor.
A few weeks I ago visited Hunan House with a crew of ravenous foodies. As soon as we were in the door encountered my pal Colin Goh. “Try the steamed eggplant with salted duck eggs,” he exclaimed. I couldn’t convince anybody to order the eggplant, but we did discover the amazing beef with crispy pepper. It’s a dish so good we ordered two rounds.
This past Saturday I ran into to Colin, his wife, Yen Yen, and their little girl, Kai Kai at the Lunar New Year celebration at Flushing Town Hall. When given a choice between a homestyle Korean place and Hunan House, young Kai Kai chose Hunan House. And that’s how I fell in love with xian dan huang qie zi, or steamed eggplant with salted duck egg yolk on Valentine’s Day. (more…)
Even though at first glance it looks like a cookie cutter clone of New World Mall, there are many good things to be had at Flushing’s newest food hall, New York Food Court. On a recent multistop tour of Queens’ Chinatown I turned a posse of avid foodies on to the awesome Sichuan cold noodles and the offal extravaganza that is fu qi fei pian. And they, in turn, turned me on to the crispy pancake, or as the sign renders it, “Th Crispy Pancake,” one of the craziest Chinese sandwiches I have ever had. (more…)
Hunan House’s stupendously good beef with crisp pepper.
Rarely does the same dish get ordered twice on one of my food tours. It’s happened precisely twice. The first time, a Filipino family and I ended a summer afternoon of eating our way along the 7 train at John Brown Smokehouse. They were so smitten by the burnt ends—crisp, fatty chunks of double smoked brisket—that upon finishing an order they immediately asked for more and also got some to go. The second time was just a few weeks ago at Hunan House in Flushing. (more…)
When I was a kid my father and brothers used to catch blue claw crabs. Eating them was a fun, but messy process. These days I don’t have much patience for that process, but I do enjoy N.Y. Noodletown’s salt baked soft shell crabs, and I love munching on the pickled crab in a Thai papaya salad. Believe it or not after more than 30 years of eating Chinese food, I had yet to eat a Dungeness—or donkey as my father used to say—crab until last week. Fresh seafood is a staple of Cantonese cuisine, so what better place to try the giant crustacean than Flushing’s Canton Gourmet. (more…)
Kulu’s sawdust pudding is way better than it sounds.
There are more than a few a misconceptions about Chinese desserts floating around. There’s the completely wrong-headed notion that Chinese civilization was exposed to sugar later than its Western counterpart and therefore its desserts are simply not as good. Another perhaps less foolish notion, of which I am personally guilty, is that all Chinese desserts are either heavy and buttery like egg tarts and jindui, the fried Chinese “doughnut” filled with red bean paste.
As I’ve learned from experience with the wonderful dou hua or flower tofu from Soybean Chen, these Western misconceptions are just that. Last week Jayson Chong, owner and creator of Kulu Desserts, helped me to further dispel these lao wai misconceptions by introducing me to his more modern, lighter take on Chinese sweets. (more…)