I’ll cop to ordering—and even liking—the occasional container of General Tso’s from my local takeout. I never thought I’d eat it at one of Flushing’s increasing number of Dong Bei eateries, specializing in the cuisine of northeastern China. Actually it was “chicken in orange flavor” ($8.50),which in any case sounds like something from an American Chinese takeout rather than Lao Dong Bei.
When my dining companions suggested chén pí jī for dessert I thought they were kidding and just wanted to try one more dish, as is often the case with food fanatics. It looked like something from the corner takeout, but it was a sweet and savory surprise. Pieces of chicken had been fried and coated with hot sugar syrup. Crunchy and sweet they were interspersed with bits of fragrant dried orange peel and chilies that clung to the bird. Think of it as the poultry version of bá sī píng guǒ, a popular Dongbei dessert of apples in sticky hot syrup that forms a crunchy candy coating when dipped in cold water. Next time I’m having the fried pork in orange sauce for dessert.