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Best Kung Pao Lamb Testicles in New York

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Brian S Oct 13, 2005 09:17 PM

I'm a junkie for cheap food thrills. So when I read in today's Village Voice that a Chinese restaurant in Flushing offered excellent lamb testicles, I braved the threat of heavy rain and uncertain subway service to make the ten mile round trip.
       The restaurant specializes in lamb. It shows up on the menu in about twenty different guises. So I was disappointed to see that the only one which featured lamb testicles was Testicles with hot pepper sauce (aka, I could see from the Chinese characters, Kung Pao). I was sure I'd get a lame touristy version of that old Sichuan standby, since the staff was not Sichuanese. They are, I believe, from the far northeast of China -- Manchuria. The owner is Korean. Later on, when he saw I was knowledgeable about the food, he brought me a free bowl of kimchi.
       And so, with a heart as heavy and leaden as the soggy skies above me, I resigned myself to ordering the Kung Pao testicles. And then, as when balmy sea breezes push aside black malevolent  rainclouds to reveal the shining sun behind, the food came, and I beamed with delighted surprise. The kung pao was perfectly authentic, perfectly Sichuanese, perfectly "ma la". It had Sichuan peppercorns, black peppercorns, fiery red chili, all in a bright red oil laden sauce. It was the best kung pao I've ever eaten, better than in Chengdu. The only place that might rival it is Spicy and Tasty, also in Flushing...but it wouldn't be easy. (Note: they have the Kung Pao with other things too, such as shrimp, or lamb meat.)
       And the star of the show? Well, it would have tasted better if I hadn't known what it was. (It was artistically cut into strips.) But it was delicious. It had the rich intense lamb flavor of the best lamb roast, but stronger, and was so soft you could eat it, as I did, with a spoon.
       I'll be going back. I'm hesitant to try the lamb eyes in brown sauce, though. That's a Shanghai sauce, and these guys are definitely not from Shanghai. But who knows? Considering how well they cooked that Sichuanese dish, they might make the best Shanghai food too.

A Fan Ti 136-80 41 Av (718) 358-7925

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  1. j
    jason Carey RE: Brian S Oct 14, 2005 06:21 PM

    do they have more tame ingredients like chicken with the kung po treatment?

    6 Replies
    1. re: jason Carey
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      Brian S RE: jason Carey Oct 14, 2005 07:08 PM

      Yes. You can get lamb (ordinary lamb meat, not some weird organ) or you can get shrimp.

      1. re: Brian S
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        el jefe RE: Brian S Oct 14, 2005 07:40 PM

        Brian,
        I've been to A Fan Ti several times. I have their takeout menu in front of me. The only testicle dish on the menu is "bbq goat testacle", which I was disappointed with. They have about 20 goat dishes on the menu including "goat eye in brown sauce" which Sietsma described in his Village Voice review. The "goat leg with pepper and salt" is excellent. I've had several lamb dishes too. The one with just lamb and peanuts is awesome. I had it the first time I was there, but can't figure out whether it's the "lamb with hot pepper sauce" or the "lamb in fresh hot pepper". There's never anyone in there who speaks English and I always wind up with the "wrong" lamb dish.
        Anyway, would you happen to know if they changed the menu, or if it's just a poor translation of lamb vs goat? And, if you have a takeout menu, would you be able to figure out which is the dish with just lamb and peanuts?
        Thanks.
        jeff

        1. re: el jefe
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          JMF RE: el jefe Oct 16, 2005 09:28 AM

          A Fan Ti is one of my favorite restaurants in Flushing. I've been there about every 1-2 weeks for the past few months and have had almost every dish on the menu. Of course I can't remember them all since I usually have 1-2 bottles of soju with my meal.

          The menu has changed recently and now says lamb for all items that previously said goat. That said... when I was there the last two times the "lamb" tasted like goat... so maybe it is just a mistranslation...?

          The lamb and fresh hot peppers is basically just meat and hot peppers in a great tasty and spicy brown sauce. No peanuts, an excellent dish.

          1. re: JMF
            j
            JMF RE: JMF Oct 16, 2005 09:47 AM

            I did some research and spoke with a few friends and it seems that it was the first menu that may have been printed incorrectly and that the dishes were always made with lamb, not goat. Research seem sot point out that in this regional style of cooking lamb is used more often than goat. Any one else have any opinions?

            1. re: JMF
              b
              Brian S RE: JMF Oct 16, 2005 12:55 PM

              The Chinese character used means lamb. (The character looks like a Y with three horizontal lines through it.) The owner speaks some English and confirmed that I was eating, in his words, "lamb balls" I've never seen goat in Chinese restaurants (except Tangra Masala, which doesn't count), but I have seen lamb, or mutton, especially in the north. The peanut dish, which in Chinese is gong bao, is called "lamb with hot pepper sauce" You can recognize the "gong" character, which means palace or something, because it looks like two rectangles lying on top of each other with a beret on top. Brian

              1. re: Brian S
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                el jefe RE: Brian S Oct 17, 2005 08:43 PM

                Thank you to those who answered my questions. with these two characters, I can now read infinitely more Chinese than when I spent two months in China last year.

                We just got back from A Fan Ti. We ordered the "lamb with hot pepper sauce" and got the dish we expected -- the one with just lamb, peanuts, and sichuan peppers. It's our favorite dish there. We also had the "lamb leg with pepper and salt" -- a perfectly grilled, moist, whole leg. Cut off a chunk of lamb and dip it in the salt and pepper mix -- delicious.

    2. b
      Brian S RE: Brian S Oct 16, 2005 01:01 PM

      It's lamb, not goat. The Chinese character, which looks like a Y with three horizontal lines through it, means lamb. And the Korean owner speaks enough English to tell me that I was eating, in his words, "lamb balls". I've never seen Goat in Chinese restaurants, except in Tangra Masala, which doesn't count. But lamb is fairly common, especially in the north. The peanut dish is "lamb with hot pepper sauce" In Chinese, it is gong bao. You can recognize it since the first character (which does not mean peanut, by the way) looks like 2 rectangles lying down with a beret on top. Brian

      5 Replies
      1. re: Brian S
        designerboy01 RE: Brian S Jan 17, 2007 02:36 AM

        In southern China when they say lamb they mean goat. I think originally they didn't have lamb down south. Even when you go to places like Cantoon Garden and order lamb you are going to get goat. In the north when they say lamb they mean lamb.

        1. re: designerboy01
          Woodside Al RE: designerboy01 Jan 17, 2007 05:45 AM

          The character discribed above means both lamb and goat. Sometimes, when a distinction is deemed necessary, a preceeding character is used to differentiate the two.

          1. re: Woodside Al
            Brian S RE: Woodside Al Jan 17, 2007 05:18 PM

            Yeah you're right. 羊 means both lamb and goat. But I'm almost certain that A Fan Ti serves lamb.

            1. re: Brian S
              Woodside Al RE: Brian S Jan 17, 2007 05:37 PM

              My guess would be that you're correct. Lamb is seen quite often in northern China. And in any event is I would think a bit easier to source in NYC than goat.

              1. re: Woodside Al
                designerboy01 RE: Woodside Al Jan 18, 2007 07:19 PM

                When they say lamb in a Cantonese restaurant they serve goat. Its not that difficult to source goat.

      2. d
        desantmj RE: Brian S Jan 17, 2007 06:05 AM

        You cool cats can argue about Chinese characters all night. However, that was the best topic heading I have ever read on this site or any other.

        1 Reply
        1. re: desantmj
          Brian S RE: desantmj Jan 17, 2007 05:18 PM

          Thank you. I put a lot of thought into the heading.

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