“They should call this place mei you xiao long bao,” I cracked to a buddy on one of my first visits to The Bund, a newish Shanghai spot in Forest Hills. Two chefs from Shanghai and nary a soup dumpling in sight. Apparently the guys who started it wanted to make the point that Shanghai cuisine consists of so much more than XLB.
I’m not sure if they made their point, but I’m happy to say that they’ve changed their minds about XLB. They recently introduced soup dumplings to the menu. Today I stopped in with some friends for a steamer full of pork and another of pork and crab. The skins were a bit on the thickish side, but they were fine otherwise, certainly the best in the hood. As long as they don’t start selling those ridiculous novelty dumplings with the straw the Bund is all right by me. (more…)
Taiwanese Gourmet is one of a handful of Chinese restaurants in Elmhurst that for one reason or another I have not explored. I’ve passed by it for years on my way to Elmhurst’s Thai Town and have seen it go through two name changes, but until just the other week I’d never dined there. (Believe it or not, even this intrepid omnivore has his hangups and blind spots.) But I’m here to tell you that I have seen the light, and it shines forth from Taiwanese Gourmet’s yen su ji , or salted crispy chicken ($8.95). (more…)
As 2013 draws to a close rather than offer up a list of resolutions—less chips more gym, save money, etc.—C+M offers a list of 20 of our favorite posts, a highlight reel of the year that was. Let the mostly Queens-focused cavalcade of offal, sandwiches, mashups, secret eats and deliciousness begin.
Crazy Crab’s Yunnan special sliced pork salad.
1. Best use of Pig Face Crazy Crab’s Yunnanese pig face salad is a spicy sour, salty, and unabashedly funky showcase for swatches of cool, slightly chewy pig skin.
2. Best Fizzy Water for Gluttons
Apart from being the preferred beverage of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin the selling point of Borjomi, a Georgian sparkling mineral water, is that it “Gets rid of unnecessaries,” or as expressed in more forthright language elsewhere on the company web site, “Borjomi also improves functioning of intestines and supports slag excretion.”
3. Flushing’s Cheapest Veggie Burger The $1.25 cài bĭng at Super Snack, a counter just outside Golden Shopping Mall is packed with crunchy piquant mustard greens and is as fine a snack as any.
Ever since I saw the ad for Subway’s Sriracha Chicken melt sandwich I’ve been strangely fascinated by it. I had every intention of covering it for this week’s Sandwich Wednesday, but couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger. That’s how I found myself in Flushing casting about for a sandwich idea and settled on trying the gua bao ($2.50), or Taiwanese pork belly sandwich from Taipei Hong, my secret Taiwanese fried chicken connection. And then it hit me. “Let me have a Number 1, spicy,” I said giving the secret password for the off-menu fried chicken, “and a gua bao.” (more…)
Apparently Old Master Fu Zi liked his pork belly and his chilies.
Last night I had dinner in Flushing with two fellow food writers at a newish Sichuan restaurant that shall remain nameless for the purposes of this dispatch. Almost everything we ordered was stunning save for one item. As luck would have it, it was the one dish that I, Queens’ foremost Caucasian expert on Asian food insisted on ordering. I expected a pork belly creation like the one pictured above. To be sure what came to the table was pork belly in a steamer, but all resemblance ended there. For one thing it looked like a washed up version of mofongo and tasted rather like an English school lunch sitting atop bland mashed peas. The entire lot had been steamed into flavorless submission.
What I’d expected was something like a dish I’d had at Hunan House a while back: xiang shan ma la fu zi rou, or “Hunan house Old Master Fuzi meat dish.” It consists of pork belly and rice powder steamed for so long that the rice powder has melded with the pork fat, and vice versa. Each slice of the fanned out pork belly is rich and unctuous and can just barely retain its form. It’s tasty, but superfatty, which is where those pickled chilies come in. It’s the type of thing that’s best eaten with rice and shared with more than one person.
As for the nameless Sichuan restaurant, all I can say is not every dish can be a winner. It was just such a shock to see such a weirdly lackluster dish emerge from an otherwise accomplished kitchen. And it was of course a slight slow to my ego. I suppose such occupational hazards are part and parcel of being The Guy Who Ate Queens.