07/22/14 12:57pm
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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…)

07/14/14 10:30am
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‘Sweet noodles’ lashed with sesame sauce and topped with garlic paste.

Cold sesame noodles are an American Chinese staple that I haven’t eaten in quite some time. It’s not that I don’t like them. It’s just that the hyper-regional, hyperauthentic hawker stands that I frequent don’t serve them. Yesterday I learned that there’s a warm Sichuan version of this dish. It goes by the moniker sweet sauce noodles. Or at least it does at Cheng Du Tian Fu, my favorite Sichuan snack stall in Flushing’s Chinatown. (more…)

05/27/14 1:24pm

Offal—tongue, tripe, heart, even face, among other so-called off cuts—happens to be one of my favorite things to eat. As with most of my stranger culinary predilections, I blame it on my old man who always made sure to include plenty of hearts whenever he cooked up a batch of chicken soup. Thus I present a list of some of my favorite nasty bits.

FUQIFEIPIAN

Husband and wife offal slices at Golden Mall.

1. Fu qi fei pian, Cheng Du Tian Fu
The story goes that fu qi fei pian, or husband and wife offal slices, are so named because the couple who created this classic dish back in Chengdu, Sichuan, had an especially harmonious union. While that tale may be apocryphal the union of meaty beef tongue; funky chewy ribbons of tripe; and translucent swatches of tendon bathed in chili oil and shot through with peanuts cilantro, and just enough Sichuan peppercorn to set your mouth atingle is especially delicious. My favorite place to dig into this fiery heap of beef offal is Cheng Du Tian Fu in Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall. Cheng Du Tian Fu, No. 31, Golden Shopping Mall, 41-28 Main St., Flushing (more…)

05/12/14 10:02am
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Tianjin Dumpling House’s snazzy new customizable dumpling menu.

One of the coolest things about Golden Shopping Mall apart from all the delicious regional Chinese food is watching the ebb and flow of the various family run hawker stands. Over the six years I’ve been eating at the labyrinthine Flushing food court there have been stands that keep chugging along—Sichuan specialist Cheng  Du Tian Fu and Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup come to mind—and wild success stories like Xi’an Famous  Foods.

Lately one of my favorite stands has been Tianjin Dumpling House. Back when I took Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert to the Golden Shopping Mall the most notable thing about the dumplings at what was then called Xie’s Home Cooking, or Xie Jia Tsai, was an off-flavor that Ripert said resembled cigarette ashes. About a year or so Xie’s was rebannered Tianjin Dumpling House. A menu boasting a dozen kinds of dumplings, including the amazing lamb and green squash, was added. And about two weeks ago things got real deep when my friend Helen rolled out a customizable dumpling menu. For a mere $5 a dozen (a buck extra for shrimp or fish) you can design your own dumplings, which are freshly made and steamed on the spot. Some folks—not me, mind you—might call them bespoke dumplings. (more…)

05/06/14 10:49am
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The bakso at Masjid Al Hikmah’s stunningly good.

I used to live in Indonesia and am craving Indonesian food. Read about the parking-lot festival and would love to know when it will be happening next. I’ve tried calling Masjid Al Hikmah several times, but have had no luck. Do you have any idea when it will be starting up? – Suzanne C., Bayside

I too am eagerly awaiting food festival season at Masjid Al Hikmah. I’m not sure when it starts up again, hopefully soon. In the meantime though some of the sisters from the masjid operate a scaled-down version of the bazaar on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that offers bakso and other treats. You might also want to take a trip to what I like to call SEA Elmhurst to check out OK Indo and Java Village. (more…)

04/16/14 1:49pm
SW-BAO

The Bao Shoppe’s O.G.comes correct.

I went into the Bao Shoppe a newish Astoria restaurant with a skeptical attitude. After all Astoria is home to almost as many bad restaurants as good ones, places like Mexican hookah lounges and the like. But the décor, a giant graffiti mural of a Joe Cool Snoopy chilling beside the N train, and what I ate soon changed my mind. To get a base line of the place I started with The O.G. ($3.50), a braised pork belly number. Dressed with little more than a carrot daikon slaw more commonly seen on Vietnamese sandwiches and a fresh pickle, the O.G. is more stream-lined than a traditional Taiwanese gua bao. It’s a tasty two or three bite sandwich and the pork is braised to wobbly perfection. (more…)

04/14/14 10:48am
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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…)

04/08/14 10:45am
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Green bean sheet jelly with red oil, for vegetarians and chiliheads alike.

To a certain kind of Chinese food aficionado the very mention of Fu Run conjures up three words: Muslim lamb chop. And it is well that it should. For the ruddy rack of lamb that’s been braised, deep fried and rolled in cumin and sesame is truly spectacular. When I showed Dave Beran the executive chef of Next around downtown Flushing a while back he told me he wanted to take it easy on cumin forward dishes. I insisted the Muslim lamb chop was a must-eat, and he relented, and was glad to have done so. As a card carrying carnivore I am loath to admit two of my favorite dishes from our Fu Run meal were vegetarian. (more…)

02/24/14 10:35am

China’s Hunan province is renowned for its fiery cuisine, so much so that’s there’s even a classic folk song “La Mei Zi,” or “spicy girl,”from the region. A savvy C+M reader tipped me off to this rousing video by superstar Chinese soprano Song Zuying. Much as I enjoy hearing her sing the title refrain I am even more amused by the proliferation of hot peppers and the reckless abandon with which they are handled. There’s enough chili peppers in this video to keep the Sriracha plant in business for a year.

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02/20/14 12:13am
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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…)