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Oct 1, 2006 03:33 AM

new favorites: Northereastern dumpling place and update on bakery in Flushing

I've been eyeing this new mall since the grocery store on Roosevelt at Prince street closed. It was bad when the place where Fortune Gourmet used to be became a drug store. Then the grocery store next to it closed..another downer as it was the only one in that area without having to wade through the main street madness.

Things are looking up a little.

Recently, there's the opening of the new bakery, Vanilla Cafe, which is now open til 11 PM at night. After 8 PM, pastries are 20% off. I had an espresso + hot water ( an Americano, but they didn't know the term)and was so glad I don't have to go to dunkin donuts any more. This was aromatic, rich, and full bodied coffee.

Tonight I finally got to try the (in Chinese) Shang1 Dong1 jiao3 zi5 place. It's Shandong dumplings. Delicately made with many flavors, including the usual chive/shrimp/pork, the uniquely northeastern Pork with Suan1 Cai4 (sour cabbage in this case)dumplings, the Pork & Dill dumplings, the vegetarian (no eggs) dumpings, the regular cabbage/celery with pork dumplings...all boiled.

Compared to Tasty Dumplings on Mulberry, this place has really well seasoned dill and pork dumplings...perfect texture and proportions of the fillings to the dough. Everything taste fresh and light. The Pork with Sour Cabbage was especially good. I liked their version better than the full blown Northerastern restaurant just around the corner on Prince.

It's nice that they serve all those flavors fresh, as opposed to Tasty Dumplings which has some flavors in frozen bags only...

10 dumplings for $3, or $3.50.

I will be back!

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  1. On Saturday, I tried a new place in Flushing as well. It's a place called NanBeiHe (maybe on 40th road west of main st.). I wanted to try Nanxiang Xialong Bao, but I couldn't find it. So we went here instead. They have typical Chinese breakfast items. The shaobing youtiao was only okay, nothing too special. However, the taro subing was very good. Nice flavor and good crunchy bottom. The beef filled scallion pancakes were also quite good. They also have sesame da bing, which I would like to try as well. Oh yeah, they also have potstickers that are open, but unfortunately we didn't try those.

    OK, now I have to try Nanxiang AND the san dong jiao zi place now. What is the address for that?

    11 Replies
    1. re: spchang

      If it's the NanBeiHe that I'm thinking of, it's been there for years! Is it sort of across the street from Maxim's bakery on 40 Rd between Prince and Main?

      The place that's called Nanxiang soup dumplings Beijing d4a is on Prince between 39th ave and 37th ave. Unless it's no longer there (my last post mentioned the food not being steller and that they are changing chef) otherwise, in English it;s just called "Noodle House". It's on Prince between the Thai restautants and the Taiwanese place called Lai Food.

      The Shantong dumpling place I have no address for. It's on Roosevelt across the street from the 99 cents store, closer to Prince street than Main. It's inside the newest mini-mall, which also has a sushi counter, and a basement of Chinse herbs and some tea (not very good tea, though)

      Good luck to you!

      1. re: HLing

        Ah – thanks, I've seen that place. I ducked in two or three weeks ago. At the time it was full of cardboard boxes and the sushi counter looked like the only food vendor in there. I'll have to go back.

        1. re: HLing

          I made a detour last night to walk by this place and get the address. Yes, it's in the newest minimall near Vanilla Cafe. I didn't see a sign that says Shandong, though, only Northeast. But they had dumplings. And then I stopped for cherry chocolate cake at Vanilla Cafe -- and it's the best Chinese bakery around, I think.

          Shandong is always touted as one of the best cuisines in China. Is there anywhere in NYC that serves it? (Apart from dumplings; incidentally the original six for a dollar dumpling place on Allen Street was run by a guy from Shandong.)

          1. re: Brian S

            For a low-end bite, there's White Bear, the hole-in-the-wall around the corner on Prince (address is 135-02 Roosevelt, but the only entrance is on Prince). You'll see a Chinese sign advertising Shandong and Shanghai snacks. I haven't tried it; here's a report:

            1. re: Brian S

              The Shandong item that I miss the most is just the simple pork napa steamed bun. One place in Flushing has pretty good panfried buns, but the filling is different. These steamed ones are also nice because they don't need to be eaten right away which doesn't apply to the panfried ones.

              1. re: Brian S

                Shan1 means mountain, Dong1 means East. The ShanDong province is in the Northeastern region of China.

                Usually we mention Sui2 Jiao3 (water, dumpling)or, boiled dumplings as opposed to steamed or pan fried, in conjuction with the Northern/Northeasterners. Just about every other person I know from there know how to make dumplings from scratch, one skin at a time sort of thing....

                So, the Waterfront Interprises, Inc restaurant on Prince between Roosevlet and 40th Rd would have "Shangdong" food, if you want to call it that. As would have the the Emerald Island place on 40th Rd, which closed down I believe?

                Shandong Province have land and Sea..The resources for good food is probably quite rich and vast. It's also where Qing1 Dao3 beer began.

                1. re: HLing

                  I didn't see the character for mountain, just the characters for East and North. The mall was closed so I couldn't look up close, maybe I missed. I thought that dongbei, northeast, referred to Manchuria. (They have land and sea food there too, especially around Dalian.) The people at Emerald Island always seemed pleased when I told them I'd been to Harbin. If they were really from Shandong, they must have thought I was weird! Like someone from China going into Mississippi Barbecue and boasting of visiting Minnesota.

                  Shandong food:

                  Qingdao was a German treaty port, hence the beer. I've never been there. I've been to Jinan and the food was lousy. But that was long ago.

                  1. re: Brian S

                    It's possible there was a change either in name or in actual ownership before everything started..because I remember seeing the price on the window...10 dumplings for $5.99 a while back, and thinking to myself.."that's not going to last in this neighborhood..where everyone else charges $2.5 to $3 for 10..." When the place actually opened it was a much better price.

                    Regional food doesn't have to stay physically stuck to its location. From Shandong province and up further north can all be considered Northeastern. The people at Emerald Island wouldn't have thought you weird for saying you've been to Harbin.

                    Both Emerald Island and Waterfront both advertised themselves as offering Dongbei cuisine, as well as "Lu Cai" as is quoted in the article in your link ,"..As an important component of Chinese culinary art, Shandong cuisine, also known as Lu Cai for short, boasts a long history and far-reaching impact. .."

                  2. re: HLing

                    In San Francisco Chinatown retaurants, you sometimes find shui jiao referred to as "Shandong shui jiao" to distinguish then from the vastly different Cantonese "Sway gow."

                    My wife and her sister both learned to make shui jiao back in Shanghai from a neighbor lady from Shandong. My wife takes shortcuts, and buys commercial wrappers, but her sister is a perfectionist to the point of using her little rolling pin, which is tapered to make the edges thinner than the center, to make the wrappers from scratch. The results are vastly different.

                    Anyway, this is a great thread and a good example of why CH needs a dedicated forum for Chinese food (not just restaurants) or why more people should hang out on my message board ;-)

                  3. re: Brian S

                    Shandong is the hometown of Confucius and he has a really famous Confucius Mansion Banquet. There are not many chefs that can give you the real McCoy. They have them out there but most are not the authentic one. Vanilla Cafe looks nice and clean. I'll give that a try and the dumplings a try. Thanks for the tip!

                  4. re: HLing

                    If you are talking about the Shandong dumplings lady that I know of, she's been around for a while. She used to run this tiny 1-2 person frozen dumplings venture (no signs, no counter, no tables) in a basement of one of the commercial buildings further south on Main. She would cook up some fresh dumplings right there too. At the time her dumplings were #1 on my list.

                2. Sounds like a place worth cheking out when I get to NYC next.

                  Are you sure it was suan cai, and not jiu cai though?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Gary Soup


                    They have both Jiu cai (Chinese chives) with Pork and Shrimp Dumplings, and Suan Cai(Sour Vegetable) with Pork Dumplings.

                    The Northeasterners love their Suan Cai! A classic dish that every Northeastern China restaurants have on their menu is the Suan Cai/Pork belly/cellephane Noodle dish. When I was in Zhengzhou, in Henan province of China, I had this dish with all of the above plus baby oysters thrown in....Superb!

                    Although, the Suan Cai here tend to be too sour. In China it's really very much like those Alsacian Sauerkraut (that Fairway used to carry, don't know if they still do) that are Not soaked in vinegar, but in lard, so that they have a nice umame taste without being too salty nor sour....but I digress.

                    Another thing about Suan Cai..To the Taiwanese, Suan Cai is a whole head of Pickled Mustard Greens; To the Northeastern Chinese people, Suan Cai is whole head of Napa Cabbage. It was said that the Napa Cabbage is left in the field to receive the first frost before pickled.

                    I've had good Suan Cai & Pork dumplings where there's a pleasant though unfamiliar floral scent to the Suan Cai. Something that makes one pause and reflect.

                    1. re: HLing

                      Great tip! Here's the menu and business card ...

                      I tried #1. Really good and fresh-tasting. I'd like to go back and work my way through the list.

                      Note that this is a stand with maybe three folding chairs, more a takeout place for now. That might change. A larger operation called Old North-east is getting ready to open at the back of the shopping center. I wouldn't be surprised if a few more tables turned up in there at some point.

                  2. about two weeks ago, i finally made it out to the new shandong dumpling stall that hling described in the first post of this thread. before i give my impression of the food, here's some basic info about the place:

                    the english name is "best north dumpling shop" (at least according to their business card). there's no english name on the stall's sign, though - only red chinese characters set against a white backdrop.

                    the stall itself is located on the left side (toward the back, adjacent to a sushi counter) of a brand new chinese plaza called "prince shopping center". it's at 135-08 roosevelt ave (south side) between prince and main streets. the shopping center is so new that apparently not all of its vendors have set up shop yet.

                    as for the dumplings:
                    my friends and i thought these were among the best northern chinese dumplings we've had anywhere in flushing. as hling already mentioned, the pork and suon cai (sour cabbage) boiled dumplings were the real standout - VERY juicy and flavorful on the inside, with a nice, light skin that wasn't too thick, sticky, or clumpy; a really nice balance of texture and flavor without being heavy or cloying.

                    we also tried the pork and chive (jiu cai) dumplings as well as the mutton dumplings. both were also quite good, but the suon cai dumplings were the best; i've been craving them ever since. all the dumplings were freshly-made, not frozen, and it showed.

                    even the little details at this place stood out. with each order of dumplings, the owner gave us a small side dish of spicy/sweet shreds of cabbage, which made for a crispy and refreshing complement to the dumplings. and she explained to my mandarin-speaking friend that she prepared the light, pepper flake-inflected dipping sauce herself.

                    this place is definitely a winner. the owner told my friend that she's been open for only three months and hasn't really advertised; instead, she's been relying on word-of-mouth to attract customers. and yes, she and her husband are originally from shandong.

                    best north dumpling shop accepts cash only, of course, and is open daily from 10am to 8:30pm. 10 dumplings cost $3, $3.50, or $4, depending on the filling; 15 dumplings cost anywhere from $4-$5.75.

                    two phone numbers are listed: (917) 834-4991 and (347) 753-1313.

                    1. just wanted to mention another flushing northern chinese dumpling stall that i recently tried:

                      it's simply called "shandong dumpling" and is located at stall C4 on the 2nd floor of the golden shopping mall (41-28 main street at 41st road; entrance to the 2nd floor is on 41st road, 1/2 block west of main st).

                      while i thought the boiled dumplings were merely ok - they paled in comparison to the ones at best north dumpling shop - the fried dumplings here were really outstanding. they were light and crispy, yet not excessively greasy, with good flavor and texture as well as a nice, light brown hue. they were also longer and thinner than most of the fried dumplings i've seen in the city.

                      although these dumplings are a little bit different from the ones on 41st ave (1/2 block west of main street, with no english name on the awning), i'd say that they're at least as good, if not better. i've only been there once, though, and would like to make a return trip soon to verify or dispel my initial reaction. btw, the owner of this stall only allowed us to order eight (fried) or nine (boiled) dumplings at a time, for whatever reason. we didn't understand the reason for this, so perhaps someone out there who speaks good mandarin can inquire about this when you visit.

                      and for what it's worth, i also tried a northern chinese dumpling stall with no english name in the basement of the golden shopping mall. again, these dumplings were hand-made on the premises and boiled. i found the pork-and-chives dumplings i ordered to be decent - better than the the boiled dumplings upstairs at shandong dumpling but a far cry from the ones at best north, and meatier than both - and worth a repeat visit. incidentally, there were a number of food stalls and shops in this basement area, including a hot pot place serving shabu shabu, noodles, ma la dishes, etc., as well as a place serving noodle soups and what appeared to be buns/sandwiches stuffed with meat. my mandarin-speaking friend asked the proprietor what type of cuisine this was, but he brusquely responded, "can't you see i'm busy? just look at the menu!" unfortunately, my friend couldn't read much of the menu, and i was absolutely useless in that department, so we'll have to try this place some other time.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: surly

                        just wanted to clarify something from my previous post:

                        the shandong dumpling stall (with the delicious, golden, elongated fried dumplings) inside the golden shopping mall is on street level, not the 2nd floor as i'd stated. the mall is such a maze - if you're on the 41st rd side, there are 2 entrances: one leads downstairs to the basement food vendors and the other leads upstairs - to street level - to the other food vendors. this is where the shandong dumpling stall is located.

                        if you enter the golden shopping mall from the main street side, though, you simply walk straight ahead to what i had assumed was the 2nd floor, but is in fact street level. very confusing, but i thought i'd point that out for anyone looking to make a trip here. i guess 41st rd is on a little bit of a downward incline.

                        also, on a return visit here, i simply ordered "fried dumplings with meat and vegetables" and got a different type of dumpling - they looked and tasted more like the fried dumplings a block away at that stand on 41st ave, right by starbucks. in other words, they were crispy on the bottom but semi-glutinous/doughy elsewhere. not what i'd eaten on my first visit, and, while still quite good, this isn't what i'd come for.

                        on my first visit to "shandong dumpling", my mandarin-speaking friend had ordered for me. so i called him up and he promptly told me that i'd definitely ordered the wrong dumplings.

                        "next time", he said, "ask her for the guotie jiaozi, a.k.a. the fried POTSTICKER dumplings. this is different than what you got."

                        he said that "guotie" is pronounced like "gwuh-tee-eh", btw.