10/13/14 11:17am
GALAXYSPARE

A satellite of golden fried porcine love.

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…)

09/15/14 12:23pm

With such a diversity of culinary cultures Queens boasts all kinds of noodles from all kinds of places. Cold, hot, spicy, even dessert they come in all shapes, sizes and flavors. Here are seven of our favorites.

BIG-TRAY

1, Da pan ji, Su Xiang Yuan
One of the most surprising things about da pan ji, the Henanese specialty known as “big tray of chicken,” is that it’s actually a big tray of poultry, potatoes, and noodles. And not just any old noodles either, they are the very same springy broad ribbons that grace the specialty of the house at this stand whose name is often translated to Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup. There’s no soup to be found in the tray though. Instead find hacked up bits of bird and chunks of potatoes atop a bed of hand-pulled noodles. The whole thing is crowned with fresh cilantro and shot through with dried chilies awash in a curry-like concoction with just a touch of star anise along with pleasant bursts of saltiness from preserved beans. The noodles are a perfect vehicle for all that sauce. Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup, No.28, New World Mall Food Court, Flushing (more…)

08/07/14 10:55am
NOODLETOWN

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.

08/04/14 10:12am
Decoy1

Decoy’s duck comes with shots of duck consommé.

“What happened to the duck?” my mother would say when the platter with meat and skin—mostly skin—and the accompanying pancakes was brought out. “It must have flown by.”

Moments before the entire carcass had been wheeled through the dining room on a trolley with great ceremony. This included striking a gong. Sometimes I like to think that the gong was my father’s idea, but I know it was the restaurant’s way of saying that the dish, even with its apparent bait and switch, was something special to be served with fanfare.

At the suburban Chinese restaurant in Levittown we frequented during my boyhood the delicacy had to be ordered several days in advance. As an adult I’ve had few stellar experiences with Peking duck.  Much as I love the $1 “Peking duck” bun window in Flushing, the fowl secret is that, tasty as it is, it’s not really Peking duck. I am happy to report though that the Peking duck dinner I had recently at Decoy, the newish offshoot of Eddie Schoenfeld and Joe Ng’s wildly popular Redfarm, was spectacular. (more…)

07/22/14 12:57pm
RICECRACKLING2

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
sichnoodles1

‘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
TIANJINDUMPLINGS

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
MASJIDBAKSO

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…)