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.
Jason Wang, CEO of Xi’an Famous Foods, took a business that his father David “Liang Pi” Shi started in the 36th chamber of Flushing’s fabled Golden Shopping Mall, and made it truly famous spawning a mini-empire, specializing in cold skin noodles—squidgy, porous blocks of wheat gluten and chewy ribbons of wheat starch, tossed with bean sprouts, cilantro, slivers of cucumber and a “secret sauce” made from sesame paste, vinegar, and chili oil, among other things—and other regional specialties. The 25-year old noodle mogul took a break from the Forbes 30 under 30 Conference and was kind enough to answer 7 Questions.
Tell me about the two new Xi’an Famous Foods stores you have in the pipeline? How will they differ from the other locations? They’ll be very similar to our later locations in terms of the food, but each location has its own feel. The new Greenpoint location, for example, will have a backyard dining area, the first one of Xi’an Famous Foods with one, and the upcoming 34th Street location will have the biggest space out of all of our stores, with a mezzanine level featuring skylights.
You went to culinary school for a little bit, did that change your approach to the cuisine at Xi’an Famous Foods? It widened my view of cuisine a bit, as it gave me an idea of how western cuisine is prepared, the fundamentals, and how in the end, it is still similar in some ways to Chinese cuisine. While it did not directly affect our ways of preparing our foods, it does make me more aware of possibilities and possible future applications of western approaches to our eastern ways of cooking. (more…)
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…)
Crazy Crab, a stealth Burmese restaurant masquerading as a Cajun crab boil/pan-Asian eatery might just be one of my favorite places in downtown Flushing. The crab boils themselves—get the off menu green curry sauce—make for some fun, messy eating. But it’s the Burmese specialties like tea leaf salad, ohn-no kout swei, and Yunnanese yellow tofu that get me really excited and really hungry. So when Gina Liu asked me to stop by for a taping of Eyewitness News New York’s Neighborhood Eats with Lauren Glassberg I immediately said yes. (more…)
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.
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…)
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…)
Daisy’s pupusa topped with curtido and a housemade relish.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of dining in Flushing’s only pupuseria. El Ranchito De Daisy Salvadoreno sits mere blocks away from the bustling K-tropolis that is Northern Boulevard. It is by no means the best pupusa I have had in Queens, but it gets extra credit for its improbable location in what is otherwise a Korean stronghold. (more…)
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…)