Rarely does the same dish get ordered twice on one of my food tours. It’s happened precisely twice. The first time, a Filipino family and I ended a summer afternoon of eating our way along the 7 train at John Brown Smokehouse. They were so smitten by the burnt ends—crisp, fatty chunks of double smoked brisket—that upon finishing an order they immediately asked for more and also got some to go. The second time was just a few weeks ago at Hunan House in Flushing.
Some friends and I had spent the day in America’s greatest Chinatown and decided to end our day of eating with an explosive grand finale at Hunan House. “Let’s get this,” I said pointing to an item on a separate menu that listed the chef’s newest items. It read, “Beef with crispy papper $16.95.”
Huang hui hong jiao chao niu rou, is one of the best Hunan dishes I have ever had. It’s a far cry from any Hunan beef I’ve ever eaten before. The heap of stir fried beef is shot through with peanuts, pickled red chilies, garlic, and the star of the dish—crispy red pepper. The color of the red pieces of pepper belies their heat. Crunchy, salty, and somehow lined on the inside with sesame seeds these peppers were so good that I wanted an entire bowl to myself.
No sooner did we finish one order of this wonderful dish, then one of us piped up, we should order another. And so we did. The staff of Hunan House tells me that the dish is named for a famous martial arts master, Huang Hui Hong. It’s a fitting tribute for such culinary mastery.
Hunan House, 137-40 Northern Blvd., Flushing, (718) 353-1808