Flushing's Canton Gourmet serves fried chicken and fried rice that, bite for bite, is one of the tastiest meals in the neighborhood.
'Chinese' on Serious Eats
Looking for a "fried egg" made of soy protein with a cheese powder yolk? A whole "lobster" made of yam flour? Vegan "beef stew," wrapped in plastic and ready to eat? Whatever meat substitute you need, you can probably find it here.
There's a small but noteworthy class of Flushing-based restaurants that have successfully expanded across the East River into Manhattan.
Hunan Manor specializes in the spicy cooking of east-central China with a focus on all manner of smoked, dried, and pickled meats and vegetables. Less than a five minute walk from Grand Central Terminal, it's a restaurant worth missing your Metro North connection for.
At China Blue, the Cafe China team trades in Sichuan peppercorns for for sweet and sour flavors, soup dumplings, and lots of seafood. See what happens in the kitchen.
Yee sangis a large-format salad of raw fish, shredded vegetables, and crunchy bits eaten exclusively during Lunar New Year. It originated in mainland China, but these days it's most commonly found in Chinese communities in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. And in Flushing at Malay Restaurant, which serves my favorite version of the dish—Malaysia included.
There is an exemplary fried rice called chaulafan to be found in Mott Haven at the Ecuadorian restaurant Luchos Barrios, but to my taste the best fried rice in the Bronx is farther north. It is at Sabrosura, the Parkchester staple billed by its owners as an "American-Born Chinese Dominican Eatery."
RedFarm serves an easy cuisine to roll your eyes at: why would I pay $3 per dumpling when I can get five dumplings by handing over a single dollar to an honest-to-goodness Chinese person in Chinatown? Where are the fiery flavors and wacky animal parts? Where's the rock and roll of Sichuan peppercorns or fermented sauces? RedFarm has none of these things, yet to fault it on those issues is to miss the point: A meal at RedFarm is every bit as authentic; The cuisine it specializes in—Upper West Side Haute Chinese-American—was practically invented by the proprietors and chef.
This mild dish at Biang! acts as a refreshing pause in between bites of fiery noodles and more assertive salads
Since Mee Noodle Shop closed in 2006, New York's Chinese food has evolved. Diners now know that "Chinese food" isn't a single category; they look for Sichuan or Cantonese food in restaurants specializing in those cuisines. And a rush of new options for quality Chinese—Han Dynasty, Hot Kitchen, Xi'an Famous Foods, and even Grand Sichuan—make Mee's reopening far less relevant, except for the gentle price.
When shaved, salted egg yolks have the melt-in-your-mouth texture of Parmesan but a rich flavor that's all egg. And as three restaurants in New York demonstrate, it's brilliant on top of fried food.
Stir Fried Corn with Egg Yolk is far too demure name for what turns out to be a platter-sized mountain of battered and fried corn kernels tossed with small, juicy pieces of similarly fried shrimp.
When Delong Chang, a longtime cook in Chinatown, opened A-Wah, he decided to focus on bo zai fan, a dish that was popular where he grew up in southern China.
Part of Spicy Village's appeal—besides its excellent noodles and super-low prices—is its setting: servers are warm and friendly, and within such a small space that gets packed so quickly, that helps create a fun, convivial atmosphere. It's great for vegetarians, too, a handy bonus in Chinatown.
These "pumpkin" rice dumplings don't have much real pumpkin flavor, but they're great little desserts stuffed with molten black sesame paste, a fitting end to a meal of dumplings at this tiny basement stall.
Deceptively simple hand-pulled noodles depend on a few ingredients and the hands of a skilled noodle maker to bring everything together—by pulling everything apart. The process brings a natural rhythm to noodle shops like Chinatown's Sheng Wang.
On Fridays and Saturdays, Hot Kitchen's hot pot tables are in high enough demand that you may want to make a reservation. Weeknights are easier to score. Here's a look at what you can expect.
We tried not to write about Noodle Village once again, but hey, sometimes you have to give Chinatown's best wonton soup slinger its due. But this time we're not talking about wontons or soup, but rather noodles with a sweet meat sauce poetically called Pork in Hot Spicy Sauce Lo Mein.
Fung Tu is crossing seasonal American cooking with traditional Chinese cuisine. We're reserving judgment until the restaurant builds up its sea legs, but the menu has some intriguing interpretations of Chinese food to offer.
Vegetarian Dim Sum House specializes in fake meat, which might be an instant turn-off for some, but fine seitan and tofu cookery is a tradition that stretches back centuries in China, and with the right chef and the right dish, it really can be a beautiful thing. For a centerpiece dish you'll have to order off menu for a platter of mock beef in brown sauce baked inside a whole kabocha squash.