Noodle House - Nanxiang Xiaolong Bao in Flushing
Noodle House 38-12 Prince Street, Flushing.
This is kind of tricky...In Enlish you only see "Noodle House" on the restaurant, but the CHinese big letters say "Nanxiang Xiao Long Bao" , Nanxiang being one of the big names in soup dumplings in Shanghai. The name is entirely a separate issue, of course. On with the food.
I was excited when I walked in not because of the name, but because I think I saw the older woman dough maker that wowed me with her potstickers years ago and then disappeared since...(I believe that was when the now long gone Yantze River restaurant first opened)
Anyhow, the xiaolong bao I order to take home didn't get eaten until almost 2 hours later, so it's not the best indication. The skin is very thin and delicate, the filling not too salty, but definitely with a lot of soup in the soup dumplings. The Red Bean pancake I got were little silver dollar sized flakey pastries studded with fresh sesame seeds that actually had sesame fragrance. Nice.
So the next morning I returned to try their Shaobing Youtiao. The waitress was not very cheerful about informing me of the temporary outage of Shaobing (Sesame wheat cake). I ordered the sweet Douhua (silky soft tofu) with the youtiao (fried crueller) but asked for the shaobing whenever it can arrive. I had faith in the shaobing because the night before I saw people ordering the shaobing/sliced beef sandwich and it looked really well made. My friend ordered the turnip pancake.
The Douhua came. It was the best texture of douhua I have had. Unlike most places that overheats and make the douhua beehive-like in texture, this was melt in your mouth soft, yet held its own shape.
It actually had a nice soy fragrance.
The Youtiao at first seemed doughier than the usual ones in restaurant around here, but upon subsequent bites, it seemed more delicate and wholesome, and much less greasy.
The turnip pancake looked different from most, too. Also Silver-dollar sized, puffy and flakey on top, the bottom side was studded with white and black sesame seeds, the inside filled lightly with shredded turnips and maybe a few bits of minced ham. It would have been perfect had the turnip been daikon radish instead, as the turnip was a bit more stringy than i had hoped. Still, it was very well made pastry.
The Shaobing came late but not too late. It was as good as it looked. Full of flavor of the sesame and fresh dough with tender insides and flakey shells. Had I not been with a vegetarian I would have ordered the shaobing with beef slices.
If I can make it there next time, I will have to try the potstickers...that will be the proverbial "glass slippers" that will tell me if the pastry chef was indeed the same person that went missing years ago...
This restaurant has a small menu. It does have rice cakes, and noodle soup as well as pan fried noodle dishes. I didn't see a take out menu, so I'm not able to look carefully.
The dumplings looked delicious though. The skin had a nice sheen to it...i can almost taste it with my eyes. It seems that the dough was expertly prepared and the cooking was well executed, too.
I just wish I hadn't been away from the scene. This place has been opened for 5 months and this is the first I've known about it. There are already some items crossed out on the menu...not a good sign for the fate of restaurant. I'd say get there sooner than later...
Sounds like a good find & on my list for my next NYC visit. A couple of questions. First, If the "turnip pancakes" were't made with daikon (luobo), what then? I've always thought that "turnip" was the usual menu tranlation for daikon. Second, the sweet version of douhua isn't very common in Shanghainese places. Do they also have the savory (fiery) version on the menu (see pic below)?
re: Gary Soup
I wondered about the turnip strips myself. I just thought maybe they were Da4 Tou2 Cai4..or luo2 bo1 that's been dried a bit. Instead of the melt-in-your-mouth tender luo2 bo1 it was very thin but firmer strips.
They do have a savory verison of the douhua. I didn't order it this time. Your picture looked good...are the black pieces Mu4 Er3?
For my savory douhua experience I usually go to the Qing1 Zhen1 place (see post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... )where they are called Dou4Fu3Nao3 (doufu brain, literally). Their douhua is very tender, but they don't offer the sweet version. The Dou fu nao has peanut sauce, chili sauce, garlic sauce, and other dark black peppery sauce on it...really warms you up. This is still the place where I can eat breakfast for under 3 dollars with left over Da Bing to take with me.
Well, I finally tried the potstickers..The skin is good, but overall potsticker package is different. I was hoping for the long, open end potstickers, but these were neatly sealed folded in a crescent moon shape. It's too delicate for the potstickers I had in mind. The filling was quite subtle..good quality, but too "polite", not much character. I orderd the Sheng jian bao, and it's the same story. Don't get me wrong, they're good, just not what I had in mind. Everything had a sweetness to it, not "sugar" sweet, but something that's ambiguous on the palate.
I'm wondering if it's because the meat was grounded instead of chopped? or maybe grounded too fine? Or didn't have enough fat?
I was able to get sweet douhua and shaobing with beef slices even though it wasn't breakfast time. Douhua was still pretty good, but not as fresh, as to be expected. Shaobing was not the same shape or quality as the one I had during my first sit-down experience. This time it was flatter, less varied in texture, and not as 3-D in everyway...oh well.
Should I write it off and just lament the fact that I'd miss the best days of this place already? That it's already on its way down? Or should I give it another chance during breakfast time?
I should say that during this visit, the older woman dough chef was there, but there was another man chef, too. So, maybe I just didn't get to eat what she created...sigh..still hanging on to the last hope here..
Maybe these are the kind of potstickers you are thinking of. Unfortunately, you'll have to get to Shanghai to find them.
I will say, however, that the crescent-shaped ones are at least as prevalent as the cigar-shaped ones in Shanghai, so the Nanxiang Noodle House wasn't being inauthentic in serving them (except for the inauthentic "politeness" of the puppies).
I like your term "polite" in this context, and it particularly is applicable to shengjian bao found in the US. Now here's some downright rude beasts slouching toward nosh heaven:
Jeez, I gotta get back there!
re: Gary Soup
"....Maybe these are the kind of potstickers you are thinking of. Unfortunately, you'll have to get to Shanghai to find them...."
well, New Green Bo in Chinatown does serve those long cigar-shaped pot stickers. I have not had it there, though...just saw that they look pretty tasty.
Anyhow..I've had a few more chances to try out Nanxiang soup dumplings/food.
I would say, go there for breakfast or brunch. Nice flavorful soft tofu and soymilk. The soup dumplings have been consistantly full of juice inside. Another thing I like about this place is their black vinegar on the table. It's rich and full bodied, and goes well with the dumplings.