HOME > Chowhound > Outer Boroughs >
What are you cooking today? Share your food adventure
TELL US

"Corner 28" - New Flushing Chinatown Restaurant

l
lwong Mar 5, 2007 11:10 AM

For those who frequent Flushing Chinatown, there is a new restaurant, named “Corner 28” that just recently opened at the southwest corner of Main Street and 40th Road. The restaurant consists of two floors where the bottom floor is the standard Chinese takeout BBQ (hanging ducks, chickens, Char Chiu, ribs, pork stomachs, and roasted pig) and there is also a takeout food counter with assorted cooked foods including some Dim Sum, and Formica tables at the back for the takeout customers with the Styrofoam boxes. The restaurant is very high tech with computer screens everywhere. The second floor contains a sit-down service restaurant accessed by a narrow staircase at the back of the first floor of the takeout business. However, there is no English sign pointing out the upstairs sit down restaurant, except for a small Chinese sign. We missed the second floor restaurant ourselves on the first go around.

One interesting feature that is new to Flushing is that the “Corner 28” restaurant is selling single "Peking Duck" sandwiches at $0.75 a piece (a Cantonese bao with one or two pieces of faux Peking duck where the meat is cut with only a tiny sliver of skin attached and of course the typical strips of scallion and sweet plum sauce) at two open windows on Main Street. Apparently, the Peking Duck item is new to a lot of Flushing Asian shoppers, as there were always ten people on line for the Peking Duck sandwiches whenever we happened to walk past the restaurant, daytime or evening. The Peking Duck sandwiches even piqued the interest of some non-Asians, as there was a splattering of non-Asians on the long line for the Peking Duck sandwiches. We have not tried the Peking Duck sandwich yet, as it looked just like ordinary roast duck on a small Cantonese bao with scallions and sweet plum sauce, but will probably try it in the future once the novelty wears off and the lines are shorter. Since the demand for the sandwiches exceeds the supply, all of the Peking Duck sandwiches are essentially made to order while waiting for the meat and skin to be sliced from the duck. Hence in one respect, the Peking Duck sandwiches will probably taste better when there are long lines to ensure freshness, especially if the duck is hot out of the oven. And at the present time, a very lucrative idea for the “Corner 28” restaurant, since a whole roast duck normally sells for $15, and our guess is that they are easily selling each duck for $25 to $35 with all the single slices of the duck. Have also not tried their BBQ items, but like the Peking Duck sandwich, will try the BBQ items once the lines to the BBQ takeout items lessen.

The organization and design of the second floor restaurant waiting area is a little lacking. With the present large crowds trying out the new restaurant and the long line to get a table, one must go up a narrow set of stairs to get a wait number and than go back downstairs to wait at the Formica tables, since you are not allowed to wait on the stairs. After we and other diners went up to check on our wait numbers, the receptionist finally agreed to come downstairs to call out the wait numbers. Not sure how they will deal with this very unsatisfactory wait system in the future, if the long lines continue. Probably the receptionist will quit when her knees start hurting from all the stair climbing.

From the design of the restaurant sitting, you would almost think it was an American restaurant on Manhattan’s 3rd Avenue for romantic dating couples with most tables closely spaced together for two and four people (the restaurant had only two or three large 10 person tables typical to Chinese Chinatown restaurants). The only thing missing were the dim lights. However, in keeping with typical Chinese restaurants, the lights were bright, although muted more than most Chinese restaurants. One modern feature of the upstairs restaurant is the very large windows overlooking the street crowds on 40th Road and Main Street.

The menu is very non-Asian friendly as the menu is entirely made up of pictures. There were no menus available in Chinese. The menu is the size of a children's large picture book (half inch thick) with very thick cardboard pages and glossy pictures of every menu item. Although the menu is very thick, the number of menu items is fairly limited compared to most Chinese Cantonese restaurants. The menu does not appear to have any organization, with the pictures of the dishes just randomly shown and mixed up. This is to the restaurant's detriment, since every customer, at least in the beginning, has to take excessive time to look at all of the pictures of the various menu items. However, the pictures are professionally taken and all the dishes look appetizing. The restaurant has a takeout menu for use downstairs, but most of the dishes on the takeout menu cannot be ordered at the upstairs sit-down restaurant. There is congee available on the takeout menu, but is not available in the upstairs restaurant.

The restaurant upstairs is very small and cramped, and most of the tables consist of two person cocktail tables (meaning very small) where if you have a party of four, they push two tables together, and for parties of two people, they separate the tables by a mere 6 inches. Plus, if you order three dishes like we did, every square inch of the table is used and we are not joking about this. We luckily had a table next to the window, which has a small windowsill where we put the teapot. As we were finishing our free orange desert and preparing to leave, the couple next to us who were just seated on the aisle, understood the situation, and told the waiters that they wanted to switch tables to our table next to the window. Yes, you are very intimately close with the tables next to you, where you can listen to every word the people at the next table are saying. The tables at “Corner 28” appear to be even closer than the tables at “Sentosa,” a Malaysian restaurant on Prince Street in Flushing, which also has a similar small table situation and which we thought was too cozy already.

The dishes at “Corner 28” that we tried were all cooked with a very light hand and all three dishes were above average. We went for the first time on Friday evening and had beef with hollow spinach, clams with basil, and a seafood noodle. As expected for a new Chinese restaurant opening, the dishes were larger than normal, all had fresh and tasty ingredients, and from the dishes one could see that the cooks were experienced and trained and were not just off the boat. The pricing was moderate, where the total cost for the three dishes for two people, tax and tip included, was $44. And there was a doggy bag for the leftover beef with hollow spinach dish. There is an interesting menu item for a live black bass cooked two ways for $28.00, which is a possible dish to try the next time we go.

Our guess is that for "Corner 28" to survive, it has to continue to cook above average food, otherwise no one will put up with the cramped quarters, miniature tables, and the silly waiting situation. However, for the next several months, “Corner 28” should continue to provide dishes with fresh ingredients and larger than normal quantities, and the cooks should be stable for a while. Typically, new Chinese restaurants will begin to cut back on the quantity and sometimes even the quality of the dishes after a period of time.

  1. Polecat Nov 20, 2007 09:25 AM

    For all the insomniac/early birds and/or people who live or work in Flushing:
    I just had the most satisfying cheap breakfasts I've had in a long time, at Corner 28.
    On my way to hit one of my usual early morning haunts on Main, I noticed that they were open - this being around a quarter to 7. For under 4 bucks, I got a delicious bowl of Dried Fish and Peanut Congee - far more flavorful than what's offered at Sunflower (formerly Mayflower) or Everbest - three tiny steamed buns (also better than most bakery options) and coffee. Just perousing the take-out menu had me planning future visits to try various bbq items and wonton noodle soups. The eclectic menu offers satays, six flavors of ramen (including "Devilish Ramen") and - here's the topper - house exotic cocktails such as "Snow Phoenix", "Blazing Volcano" and, of course, "Pink Lady."
    Happy hour, anyone?
    P.

    1. a
      annulla Oct 8, 2007 11:24 AM

      Perhaps things have changed since this place first opened, because the Peking Duck sandwiches I bought yesterday contained so much meat (yes, freshly sliced off the bird) that the buns wouldn't even close. Lots of nice, thick, juicy chunks of duck.

      PS: I missed the upstairs, too. I'll look for it next time.

      6 Replies
      1. re: annulla
        t
        tigerwoman Oct 8, 2007 02:54 PM

        I was searching for roasted duck to make a dish at home and by accident found this place a few weeks ago. There are not that many places that are selling the whole roasted duck in Flushing anymore, I know because I was wandering the streets looking and my usual place which is by the post office way off the main area on main street had run out.

        The ducks where $15 as opposed to $12 but very succelent and fresh. What was even better was the 1/2# of roast pork I bought as a snack - hands down the best I have had in years - succulent, tender, fresh and just delicious.

        didn't notice the upstairs, but it seemed like a busy spot still.

        interesting post.

        1. re: tigerwoman
          l
          lwong Oct 9, 2007 11:15 AM

          Flushing Chinatown is predominantly Taiwanese and northern Chinese immigrants, where the primary language spoken is Mandarin and northern dialects, hence the paucity of stores selling roasted ducks, since stores selling hanging ducks and other BBQ items are mostly Cantonese. The other four Chinatowns (Manhattan, Sunset, Elmhurst, and Avenue U) in NYC are still heavily Cantonese speaking, and hence have a higher percentage of Chinese BBQ stores.

          If you have an interest in Chinese BBQ, there are about 10 stores selling takeout roasted ducks and other BBQ items in the Flushing Chinatown vicinity. Unless specifically mentioned, the hanging BBQ items can be seen in the front window:

          a. East Buffet (Main Street and Maple Ave) – Walk into the restaurant on the first floor past the steam table takeout and almost to the first floor restaurant, and on your right is a takeout BBQ section. One cannot see the BBQ items from the street.

          b. On Kissena Ave across the street from the Flushing library are two BBQ stores:
          1) A Vietnamese Restaurant (a faux Vietnamese restaurant where one can order Cantonese dishes and buy takeout Chinese BBQ items).
          2) A couple of store fronts further south of the faux Vietnamese restaurant is a restaurant selling BBQ items.

          c. East Manor - If you have a car, the East Manor restaurant, about a mile or so south on Kissena Ave, also has a takeout BBQ section.

          d. On Main Street there are a number of stores:
          1) Directly across the street from the Flushing library on the western side of Main Street is a small restaurant with Chinese BBQ items.
          2) Corner 28 on Main Street, corner of 40th Road
          3) On Main Street on the east side, corner 38th Ave.
          4) Possibly at the A&N Chinese grocery store on Main Street, same block as the Flushing Post Office.

          e. The Noodle Restaurant on Roosevelt Ave (south side), west of Main Street, a few store fronts from the subway entrance.

          f. There may still be a restaurant on Roosevelt Ave, 4 or 5 store fronts west of the Noodle restaurant mentioned above that sells BBQ items, but not sure if it is out of business now.

          Our preferred stores at the present time for Chinese BBQ items are the faux Vietnamese restaurant, Corner 28, and East Buffet. But even though one may have had good experience from a particular BBQ store, one has to really determine the freshness of the BBQ items at the different stores the best one can by looking at them, which is not always a 100% method, to decide which store to buy the freshest takeout BBQ items. As stated in our earlier post on Chinese BBQ in this thread, stores will sell old and unpalatable BBQ items to you.

          1. re: lwong
            Polecat Oct 9, 2007 11:59 AM

            I'm pretty sure the Vietnamese/BBQ place you're referring to is Pho Hoang/Everbest Restaurant, which is located at 41-01 Kissena. Everbest is also an early morning breakfast destination, by the way, and must be overflowing with customers while the Mayflower is renovating.

            -----
            Pho Hoang
            41-01 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY 11355

            1. re: Polecat
              l
              lwong Oct 9, 2007 10:16 PM

              Thanks for the information on the actual name and address of the Vietnamese restaurant referenced in our post. The Pho Hoang/Everbest restaurant is indeed the name of the restaurant we referred to and as you had stated, the restaurant has a bakery and also sells other breakfast items.

              The owners of the Everbest restaurant are a good example of the persistence and resilience of new immigrant business owners. When they took over the restaurant a number of years ago, the Everbest restaurant was first a simple “3 items for $5” type of steam table restaurant plus typical Chinese lunch dishes cooked to order, a bakery, and a BBQ section, but they were not doing too well, and after a year or so, they renovated the restaurant as a straight Cantonese restaurant with inexpensive, fast, and quick lunch dishes, retaining the BBQ section. However, the restaurant was renovated with a wide open area that did not make customers feel very comfortable, and as a result this reincarnation also did not do too well. A while later, the restaurant was again renovated with the addition of the glass wall by the entrance that sectioned off the dining area, and the restaurant was converted to a Vietnamese restaurant, although the original Cantonese dishes are still available, and finally they are quite successful now, with the restaurant quite full most of the time.

              The interesting aspects of the Everbest restaurant transformations are the few simple changes that can make the difference between success and failure for a restaurant and the importance of not giving up. The dishes at the Everbest restaurant would certainly not be considered among the best in Flushing, but at the low prices charged, there is much value in the simple comfort foods served (noodle soup dishes, noodle dishes, and meats over rice dishes), where a family can have dinner there for quite low sums. We went there one time with 7 people for a late dinner after returning from a tiring outing and while everyone ate quite heartily, the bill was only $40 plus dollars.

        2. re: annulla
          Brian S Oct 8, 2007 07:27 PM

          The upstairs is great -- and no longer crowded.
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/438540

          -----
          Corner 28
          40-28 Main St, Queens, NY 11354

          1. re: annulla
            a
            atraxia Oct 9, 2007 11:45 AM

            i have been there twice - the first time in late spring and the 'sandwiches' were lacking good duck meat - mostly fat. however, i went back in sept - and holy cow did they add a ton of duck meat. so much better.

          2. k
            kobetobiko Mar 17, 2007 05:51 AM

            An excellent post, lwong! and a stream of very interesting posts along. I won't be surprised that other restaurants will start offering a similar roast duck sandwich on their menu as any restaurants which sell roast ducks (or roast chicken, roast pork, etc.) can easily copy the strategy. Just like lwong said, this is indeed a lucrative and smart idea and can help maintaining a steady stream of roast duck/chicken/pork demand. May be they won't serve the sandwiches as takeout but as appetizer or dim sum item.

            I just hope that they will keep using fresh roasted ducks as the innard of the sandwiches, and not some leftover unsold duck meat instead. I just know that a lot of Chinese restaurants like to use yesterday's char chiu for the char chiu fried rice (like with eggs and scallion). ugh.....

            2 Replies
            1. re: kobetobiko
              l
              lwong Mar 17, 2007 11:09 AM

              On the assumption that the “Corner 28” management is smart, the selling of less than fresh roast duck in the Peking Duck sandwiches should not happen. The Peking Duck sandwiches only taste good if the roast duck is reasonably fresh out of the oven. The lines for the Peking Duck sandwiches would dissipate very quickly if the “Corner 28” restaurant were to do this.

              As long as the lines are there with demand greater than the number of ducks they can cook, the Peking Duck sandwiches should be reasonably fresh and made to order, but once the long lines are no longer there, this may be a different story, since as noted in our previous post earlier in this thread, Chinese businessman are not always smart and they hate to throw money away and if they miscalculate the number of ducks to cook and there are leftover old roast ducks, there is always the temptation to sell the old roast duck in the Peking Duck sandwiches rather than use the duck in some other less obvious manner that will not bring the ire of the customer upon the restaurant. As noted in your post reply, the smarter restaurants get rid of their less fresh BBQ items in their other dishes. But remember the children’s story about the goose that laid “golden eggs.” Many Chinese businessmen are not satisfied with slowly getting only one “golden egg” per day and end up killing the golden goose also in trying to squeeze out every penny of profits. But in the fierce competitive environment of the Chinatowns, business owners resort to every trick to make money. Only time will tell.

              The selling of less than fresh BBQ items is an old ongoing problem with the Chinese BBQ places. Since BBQ items become stale very quickly, and the stores do not want to lose money, we cannot count the number of times we have been sold less than fresh BBQ items from the Chinatown stores, since it is not always easy to tell if an item is fresh just by looking. The stores will brush fresh liquid on the roast pork and other hanging items to make them look fresh. There are also other less savory practices to make money as when they chop up your item, even if you are able to choose fresh BBQ items, sometimes they will replace portions of the fresh items with less fresh items or steal outright some of the choicer parts for use by the restaurant. For this reason, one of our Asian friends always buys their roast ducks whole and will the chop the duck themselves. The Chinatowns are a very tough business world with an old wild west gunslinger mentality where everything goes and it is everyman for himself. It is always a question of how many times the store has to cheat you before you will stop going there, but since selling less than fresh BBQ items to customers is prevalent in almost every single store in the Chinatowns, there is not much one can do. Most Asians accept it as the price of buying takeout Chinese BBQ items.

              1. re: lwong
                bigjeff Mar 18, 2007 09:58 PM

                lwong, hilarious breakdown and description of the restaurants biz, in particular in chinatown, as "an old wild west gunslinger mentality." I'd definitely believe all of that, and who knows where else they might be cutting corners? on second thought, better just ignore the idea . . .

            2. Polecat Mar 17, 2007 05:20 AM

              I finally found a strategy for beating the duck line: get there in a snow storm. I didn't have to wait at all yesterday.
              P.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Polecat
                l
                lwong Mar 17, 2007 11:06 AM

                Your post is not a good sign in advising everyone that you go out in snowstorms with icy dangerous road conditions in order to buy Peking Duck sandwiches at “Corner 28” without having to wait on line. At least “Designerboy01” only eats them as a cheap thrill, but you appear to be acquiring a serious addiction to them. (LOL)

                With your addiction and “Duckfanatic01” stating that they are better than “White Castle” hamburgers, there is no question that we will have to try the Peking Duck sandwiches now!

                1. re: lwong
                  Polecat Mar 17, 2007 03:51 PM

                  You got me dead to rights,lwong, but not with respect to the Duck Bao. I was actually passing through Flushing on my way home. My real lunchtime destination was a noodle soup and dumpling joint in Elmhurst.

                  The duckwiches are okay, and, as Steve R. mentioned, better if you ask them to lay a little more meat on, which wasn't a problem for them on a day when they weren't getting too many customers. Otherwise, you get a little meat and a lot of bread, which is - dare I say - hardly snow-storm worthy.

                  Hope you enjoy.
                  P.

              2. d
                duckfanatic01 Mar 16, 2007 08:22 PM

                I would have to disagree with the menu being non-Asian friendly. The whole menu has both English and Chinese descriptions for EVERY picture. I have to give the owner credit for thinking outside the box. As you see, all Chinese restaurants in Chinatown and Flushing has the same round table and metal rim chairs. Giving a more upscale decor and ambience with moderate pricing is hard to find in this area.

                Yes, I would have to agree that the lines and wait are out of control but what new Chinese restaurant is not. No matter how experienced the management or wait staff, whenever I go to a new Chinese restaurant that is within their first month of business, I always find chaos. I tend to give them another chance or two after 6 months of business to see if things get better. Please understand that being Chinese myself, I have to say we are not the most civilized people especially with all these new immigrants from mainland China, there is no such thing as waiting on line and being orderly. Shame to say that it's an embrassment sometimes.

                For those who haven't tried Corner 28, the Peking Duck sandwiches are worth the wait. It beats having to pay $30 dollars at a restaurant when you're only a party of 2. When you have a craving for a simple snack, it's awesome, I would say better than a White Castle. The dinner menu upstairs also has alot of unique varieties. Each dish has a unique Chinese name that you won't find at other restaurants. I would recommend going there on a weekday to beat the weekend rush.

                1 Reply
                1. re: duckfanatic01
                  l
                  lwong Mar 17, 2007 11:04 AM

                  There appears to be some semantics issues. We are both in agreement that the picture menu is very easy and friendly for non-Asians to use.

                  Since the operative phrase for Chinese diners is “the food is the thing,” and not the décor, ambience, or service, is it possible that the more upscale décor and ambience might be wasted upon Chinese diners? (LOL). And especially with the added issue that most Chinese diners probably do not want to pay for the added décor and ambience. The more upscale Gala Manor restaurant on Main Street with much nicer décor and ambience and corresponding higher prices is a case in point, since they are struggling business-wise right now.

                  Better than a White Castle! We are definitely going to have to try them now. (LOL)

                2. Steve R Mar 11, 2007 12:07 PM

                  Standing behind a couple of Asian teenagers on the duck line this afternoon had its rewards, since they had the cajones to get the place to put more duck and scallions on each of their little sandwiches. So, when I was next, I gave them my best NY'er (well, Bklyn) look and more duck went on my 4 as well. For $3, this was very good.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Steve R
                    prunefeet Mar 13, 2007 01:00 PM

                    Oh you went!! Good! What is your verdict?

                    1. re: prunefeet
                      Steve R Mar 13, 2007 06:21 PM

                      With Ginny busy at a birthday party and you all not going, I decided to take a drive and just walk around, sampling. No sit down food (unfortunately that meant no lamb soup) but lots of little things from each of the 2 malls and 28. The duck sandwiches were fun and worth the 5 minute wait. The stalls in the malls yielded nice juicy pork dumplings, an excellent cold bean curd skin w/celery and carrot "salad", some interesting bread products, boiled peanuts and a couple of other things I'm forgetting. Bottom line is that I spent enough time hanging around and scoping it out to get an idea of what I'd go back for. That, plus the posts on the malls, should be good enough for a return trip w/you all soon.

                      1. re: Steve R
                        prunefeet Mar 14, 2007 11:12 AM

                        Yay, sounds like fun. Now I am about the only one who has not been. Must be rectified soon.

                  2. Brian S Mar 9, 2007 08:46 AM

                    Thanks for the alert. I know you always recommend exceptional places, and if I were in NYC, I'd be there. You were the first to tell me that "Typically, new Chinese restaurants will begin to cut back on the quantity and sometimes even the quality of the dishes after a period of time" I've seen that so often! Great restaurant opens, every table is full. Then quantity and quality declines. No one goes there any more. The restaurant goes out of business after a few dreadful weeks. Why do they do it? Sometimes the chef gets a better offer from another restaurant and quits to go there. But otherwise, why?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Brian S
                      l
                      lwong Mar 11, 2007 08:14 AM

                      In an earlier response to Sirina Tsai’s post (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/248660) , we had made some observations about this aspect of Chinese restaurants:

                      “Good luck in choosing a restaurant. Our experience in eating at Chinese restaurants is that you have to have good “karma,” since some days the cooks are off and sometimes they are on. Plus, Chinese cooks are notorious for being there one day and gone the next, where they are basically shifting around to all the different Chinese restaurants in the metro area. In addition, many Chinese restaurant managers and owners, like the ocean tides, increase and decrease the freshness and quality of the ingredients and the quantity of the dishes depending on their profits. When business goes down, they will increase the quality and quantity of their dishes and after the business becomes very good, the opposite occurs. This is done slowly of course. Sometimes a restaurant will go too far in reducing the quality and quantity of the dishes and cannot pull out of the dive even after raising the quality and quantity of their food and subsequently go bankrupt.”

                      Chinese restaurant owners are businessman first, and secondarily business owners who provide food to the public. Chinese restaurants in general are not usually opened by a chef owner who has tremendous pride in the food that is served to the customers. The typical business model for a large percentage of the larger Chinese sit-down restaurants in NYC is that the ownership is comprised of a partnership with quite a large number of individual owners who have bought shares (sometimes it is incorporated and sometimes it is not) in the restaurant. With so many partners, the emphasis is obviously to recoup the original investment and hopefully, continuous high profits in the future, where the quality of the food served is not of the utmost importance other than another business parameter in making profits. And many of the partners even work in the restaurant. Seen in this light, the larger quantities and even the better quality of the food would be just a marketing device to get good word of mouth. All Chinese who frequent Chinatown restaurants know this marketing device of new Chinatown Chinese restaurants, which is why after the opening of new restaurants, there is always a rush by the Chinese to eat at the new restaurant. There is a very good possibility that you will get larger and even better quality dishes. For non-Asians who do not frequent the Chinatowns, one can tell a restaurant is a new opening when the restaurant is festooned inside and sometimes even outside on the sidewalk, as “Corner 28” was, with plants where the flower pot is wrapped in red wrapping (in Chinese culture, red means lucky; brides wear red at the wedding banquet, money is given in red envelopes during Chinese New Year’s and other gift occasions are just one of many instances of the happy use of the red color). Obviously, the restaurant cannot continue to provide larger than normal quantities of food forever, and thus must start to cut back the quantities to normal portions slowly once past the marketing phase of the initial opening of the restaurant.

                      As for the quality of the food, as you had alluded to your post already about cooks leaving to go to another restaurant, and mentioned this issue in your very nice post “Secrets of Chinatown” on the Manhattan board. For various reasons, restaurant employees come and go at Chinese restaurants quite frequently. Since Chinese Chinatown chefs work in obscurity, unless one has inside connections to the Chinese restaurant trade, most of the Chinese community does not have any idea which chef is working in any particular restaurant or when they leave, but only knows from eating food at the restaurant that appears to have declined in quality. The minuscule and business beholden Chinese press does not have a food section that reports this kind of information like typical American media. Another reason is that like all successful businesses in this world, they become complacent and begin to take the customer for granted and forget the prime directive for a businessman: take care of your customer, especially businesses that require repeat customers like restaurants (the American auto industry is a good example).

                      There are certainly many reasons for the demise of a Chinese restaurant, but we would guess that these are based upon the normal business factors affecting all restaurants (leases, fickle customers, location, bad management, bad cooks), and some reasons specific to the Chinese restaurant business:

                      a. Marketing Game: The larger and better quality of the dishes at the initial opening of the restaurant is a marketing game and sometimes the final cut-down mode of the restaurant in terms of the quantity and quality of the food is not perceived by the public to provide sufficient value for the money charged. And restaurants can even cut down on the quantity and quality even further to increase profits at any time. Remember there are hundreds of restaurants, all within easy walking distance in the Chinatowns, if a customer is dissatisfied.
                      b. Ronin Master Chefs: If we can steal a line from Shakespeare, “It is not that Chinese restaurant owners love food less, but that they love money more.” The ironic aspect is that the larger Chinese restaurant owners do know good Chinese food. We have heard through hearsay rumors from many various Asian friends that there are Master Chinese chefs who roam around NYC restaurants like the Japanese Ronin, masterless Samurai warriors for hire, who set up the initial menus, train and supervise the staff, and cook in the kitchen for some initial period, and then leave for the next restaurant opening. This would explain why the food quality begins to decline after some initial opening period. Unsure if this is an apocryphal story, never having met a Ronin Master Chef, but it sounds like something Chinese businessman would do.
                      c. Regular Chefs: For whatever reasons, cooks and waiters at Chinese restaurants move around from restaurant to restaurant quite often and if one eats out often enough, one can almost taste that something is awry, when a restaurant where you were used to getting good food suddenly declines.
                      d. Chinese Restaurant Businesses: As stated above, since Chinese restaurants are comprised of many business partners, some active and many silent, and inevitably in many cases when there are such a large number of partners, there are arguments or disagreements over the division of the work or the profits and the restaurant will descend into chaos and subsequently fail. Also, the Chinese restaurants are run as a business where nothing is wasted (meaning that less than fresh food is foisted upon the customer, sometimes artfully and sometimes clumsily), where the hope is that the customer will not notice. Most Chinese restaurants are not run as a creative food venture where the food is the first consideration. Usually, restaurants that have this attitude are high end restaurants that charge accordingly to provide this consistent high level of food day in and day out, but Chinese restaurants have not yet reached this level, not because they cannot, but the NYC Chinatown customer base, essentially 99.44% Asian, is not wealthy enough to support a high end restaurant yet. Like many businesses, the relationship between quality and price is non-linear, where a 100% increase in the décor and quality and presentation of the food costs 300% more money. Reasons for why the Chinese Chinatown customers might not be able to support a high end Chinatown restaurant were given in an earlier reply post at the bottom of an earlier Chowhound thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/336797 . Please note the reference we made to the Egullet post of Ruth Reichl, former NYT’s food critic, (http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?s...) where she provides her blunt reasons for why NYC non-Asian diners cannot support a high end Chinese restaurant.

                      Despite many of our negative comments about Chinese restaurants, most Asian diners are well aware of these problems and continue to go to the Chinatown restaurants expecting little service and inconsistent dishes, but understand the reasons for this state of affairs due to the brutal competition, unstable staffing of waiters and cooks, and the nature of the restaurant game (make a lot of money), and that there is a natural ebb and flow of advantage between the restaurant and the diner. Sometimes we get good value and sometimes we do not, and sometimes restaurants that try to get too much advantage will suffer the consequences of having to close their doors. But for the low pricing that Chinatown restaurants charge, most of the time one can obtain quite good value and even a sublime dish every once in a while.

                      An example is that last night, based upon your recommendations and many other Manhattan posters, we went with friends to “6 Chatham Square” for dinner and ordered 6 dishes, of which several dishes were quite good. The steamed Dungeness Crab over sweet rice dish was not overcooked and the rice was properly infused with the crab flavor. The garlic fried chicken dish was also very good, where the chicken was cooked to Chinese standards with slightly red bones, ensuring very tender and flavorful chicken and very crisp skin with most of the fat rendered. While the dishes were not overly large and some quite small (it must be past the initial marketing phase) and the cost was a little higher than normal for Chinatown restaurants, $130 with tip and no tax for four people, the dishes were mostly above average and cooked with good consistency.

                      1. re: lwong
                        Brian S Mar 11, 2007 01:43 PM

                        Thank you for taking the time to post this. I think I will be linking to it many times when posters ask about Chinese restaurants, or whenever I can find any excuse at all, it's so well written.

                        1. re: lwong
                          c
                          Chandavkl Mar 12, 2007 09:42 AM

                          This is a great post! You articulated some things I already knew and other stuff I never thought of.

                      2. l
                        LloydG Mar 9, 2007 05:38 AM

                        I went back last night at around 9:00, and the place was still crowded, although the duck line was only one or two people deep and well worth the wait. I can see why polecat thinks it's like an airport upstairs; I saw someone getting soup from a tureen and though that she was a flight attendant staying at one of the nearby hotels until I realized that she was a waitress.

                        After some duck buns, I ordered roast pig on rice, which was a reasonable version of a fairly standard dish. The ordering system is as chaotic as the OP mentioned - order one place, fight through the crowd to pay, return to the place you ordered to pick up your food - I can imagine that this is a nightmare at lunch. Still, I can't wait to go back and try some more things.

                        1. Polecat Mar 8, 2007 03:17 PM

                          I hit this place today for a late lunch/early dinner, around 4pm.

                          The original poster is not kidding about "chaotic"; I almost turned around and gave up after walking in through the Main Street entrance. People knocking into each left and right, seemingly no rhyme or reason; I didn't know whether I was the pinball or the bumper. The gigantic coats and bags only served to clog further the narrow aisle between buffet and take-out counter. The street line for duckwiches was inordinately long and stagnant for a take-out window; I've seen DMV queues move faster. While waiting, I struck up a conversation with a young woman from mainland China, who, giddy like a school girl, told me that she's been looking forward to having these treats since coming to the states. Giving up on the duck line, only to return on a warmer day, I snuck into the 40th street entrance to the upstairs restaurant.

                          I don't know why, but the upstairs kind of reminded me of an airport, perhaps because of the hostess' dark blue uniform, or the huge picture windows that afford far more generous views of Old Navy, Foot Locker and an LIRR train trestle than one could ever ask for in a single lifetime. The service, though gracious, was somewhat disorganized, the servers looking alternately put-upon and confused.

                          Still, in all, the food's the thing: I like this place.
                          Ordered the small quarter-duck and the Squid in XO sauce, the former being tender, succulent and loaded with flavor, the latter fresh and tasty as well, and on a par with XO dishes I've had at such Manhattan stalwarts as Cantoon Gardens.
                          Plus, as the OP mentioned, the menu photos are of a very high quality, and helpful.

                          Thanks, lwong, for this post.
                          Next time I go, I want to sit closer to the window, so I can gaze straight down onto Main Street and count heads as they emerge and descend from the 7 train.
                          P.

                          1. l
                            LloydG Mar 8, 2007 09:00 AM

                            I went by there this morning at about 10:00 and it was doing a booming breakfast business. I was hoping to get a Peking Duck bun but they don't start selling them until 11:00. I had just had congee down the street, so I didn't order anything, but there was a wide variety of dumplings and some congee, all cafeteria style. It looks like a pretty good (and popular) breakfast location.

                            1. m
                              micheal Mar 5, 2007 04:39 PM

                              lwong:
                              you seem quite a character!
                              your report is a very enjoyable and informative read.
                              I also missed the upstairs even though I went inside to do a fuller inspection.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: micheal
                                l
                                lwong Mar 7, 2007 10:04 AM

                                Glad you enjoyed and received useful information from the post. We are still amazed at what turns up in the many Chinatowns in NYC and very surprised at the large crowds at “Corner 28” for the BBQ items and the takeout food after being opened for several weeks now. Typically, the crowds die down after the first week for something like the takeout steam table food, since the takeout food items are available at many stores in Flushing. Although we can understand the long lines for the Peking Duck sandwiches, since this is the first time that the duck sandwiches are available as a takeout item in Flushing.

                              2. s
                                surly Mar 5, 2007 12:32 PM

                                i went here a couple of weekends ago. i thought the peking duck sandwiches were the best thing from the take-out section, as the duck was very hot and fresh, although i did feel a little cheated by the super thin slices in each bao. at times i felt i was eating an empty bao with scallions and plum sauce. but the duck itself was of solid quality - i just wish there was more of it.

                                i did not sit in the upstairs dining area, but instead ordered some stuff from the street level steam table area. it was an absolute madhouse; people pushing, yelling, no semblance of order whatsoever. i got the congee, some tofu, and pieces of deep-fried battered fish; all were decent but none were really memorable. i will say that the ribs in the window looked really good and fresh, but i didn't get a chance to order since i was in a rush and had been waiting for a while for the duck sandwiches.

                                also, the ordering/payment system downstairs is a complete mess. they're supposed to give you a receipt, which you then take to the register to pay; after payment, the receipt is to be stamped and you give it back to the lady at the take-out area to get your food. but in my case, confusion reigned supreme on both sides as i was asked to give money directly to the food lady, then they gave it back to me, then i was asked again before finally getting a receipt. in the end it all worked out, but they had better figure out a more efficient way of doing this.

                                i agree with lwong that the crowds right now are due to the novelty of the place and that it really needs to be consistently above average or better if it wants to succeed long-term. i definitely plan on coming back and eating in the upstairs area to better assess the food here.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: surly
                                  l
                                  lwong Mar 5, 2007 01:04 PM

                                  Well, from your comments, we see that “Corner 28’s” organization is consistent with both upstairs and downstairs being chaotic, but the important thing is that money finally does go from your hands to “Corner 28’s” hands. And so much for high tech computer screens. It still takes smart people to operate them efficiently. Hopefully, “Corner 28” will get their act together in the future.

                                  Your comment that you enjoyed the roast duck in the Peking Duck sandwiches, however thin or non-existent, is a good recommendation that the takeout hanging roast duck is worth buying once the lines thin out. Probably that is what you should do in the future, buy a whole or half roast duck from “Corner 28” and make your own faux Peking Duck sandwiches with triple or quadruple duck slices. (LOL)

                                  1. re: surly
                                    missmasala Mar 8, 2007 10:10 AM

                                    maybe this is slightly off-topic, but I would go there just for the thrill of getting the duck with the bao. Most of the peking duck places i have been to in NYC give pancakes instead of bao, and I vastly prefer the bao (good ones, anyway)

                                    So, any of you knowledgeable chinese food posters--where can one get good peking duck served with buns instead of pancakes?

                                    1. re: missmasala
                                      l
                                      lwong Mar 11, 2007 08:18 AM

                                      For Peking Ducks served with the Cantonese bao, rather than pancakes, you just need to go to Cantonese restaurants that serve Peking Duck. But it is more authentic to serve Peking Duck with the pancakes. However, it is a more problematic issue to find a good restaurant that consistently serves good Peking Duck, either with pancakes or bao. The problem is that in most restaurants, the Peking Duck is pre-cooked first and than is finished cooking once the order is placed for a Peking Duck dish. This would not be too bad if the duck is only pre-cooked earlier in the day, but because restaurants hate to lose money, sometimes the duck served to you has been pre-cooked much earlier or possibly even frozen. There are also restaurants that take short-cuts in the preparation and cooking of the Peking Duck.

                                      The “Imperial Palace” restaurant in Flushing Chinatown serves Peking Duck with bao, but we have gotten good Peking Duck dishes and also bad Peking Duck dishes there. According to posts on the Manhattan Board, the “Nice” restaurant also serves Peking Duck with bao with good results, and although we have not tried the Peking Duck there, we would expect that the results would probably be the same as at the “Imperial Palace” in Flushing. Sometimes it is good, and sometimes it is not good. One has to be lucky that a Peking Duck has not been pre-cooked too long prior to being cooked the last stages and served to you. There used to be a Shanghai restaurant on Division Street in Manhattan that served good Peking Ducks, but with the pancakes that you do not like. But we also encountered bad results the last time we ordered Peking Duck there and have not been back for many years. We have been looking for a restaurant that serves good consistent Peking Ducks for many years, but have yet to find one. For Peking Ducks to be very good, the restaurant has to have sufficient customers that orders a steady stream of Peking Duck dishes, to ensure that the Peking Ducks do not have to be precooked and a steady stream of Peking Ducks in the pipeline, however, there are just an insufficient number of customers in NYC who enjoy Peking Duck enough to support a steady stream of Peking Ducks being cooked at the many restaurants that serve Peking Duck. In this respect, the restaurants are really not to blame for the less than stellar Peking Ducks, but just the reality of the situation. The “Peking Duck” restaurant on Mott Street (served with pancakes) probably has the most daily orders of Peking Duck, but the last time we tried them, the Peking Duck skin could have been crisper and tastier. Probably the best thing would be to build up a relationship with a restaurant that serves good Peking Duck and pre-order the Peking Duck to ensure that the Peking Duck dish is fresh from the oven, otherwise, there are compromises in the serving of the dish. The best restaurants will carve the Duck piping steaming hot in front of you with the chef cutting the Duck almost unable to hold the Duck even with a towel because it is too hot. We have encountered too many occasions where the Duck is not even hot and of course would not be carved in front of your table, since it would be too obvious that the Duck is not hot.

                                      In our reply to “Brian S,” at the bottom of this thread, we mention eating at “6 Chatham Square” last night with good results, but the waitress placed sweet plum sauce and scallions on our table by mistake and when we asked the purpose of those condiments, the wait staff stated that it was for the Peking Duck dish, and took them away after we told them that we had not ordered Peking Duck. Based upon our good results with the dishes that we did order, you might want to try the Peking Duck at “6 Chatham Square,” and since “6 Chatham Square’ is a Cantonese restaurant, the Peking Duck should be served with the bao rather than the pancakes. And of course, we would enjoy hearing from you about the quality of the Peking Duck, since we very much enjoy Peking Duck also.

                                      As stated in the several posts and replies with Designerboy01 regarding the Peking Duck sandwiches at “Corner 28,” you are aware that the Peking Duck sandwiches being sold there are not true Peking Duck sandwiches, but simply roast duck sandwiches, but which according to Designerboy01, are good “cheap thrills,” and the lines appear to attest to that verdict.

                                  2. designerboy01 Mar 5, 2007 11:47 AM

                                    Its a psuedo Beijing Duck sandwhich...but you get what you pay. However, not bad for a cheap thrill.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: designerboy01
                                      l
                                      lwong Mar 5, 2007 12:39 PM

                                      True, Designerboy01, but for a cheap thrill, “Corner 28” is laughing all the way to the bank (LOL).

                                      You waited on line in the cold for the cheap thrill? (LOL) Assumingly, the duck for the Peking Duck sandwiches is the same roast duck that they sell for takeout, hence having tried the roast duck, is “Corner 28’s” roast duck worth buying separately as takeout?

                                      Since most Asians are aware that the Peking Duck sandwich sign is a misnomer and that it is just a plain roast duck sandwich, hence based upon the long lines, most people must agree with you that it is “not bad for a cheap thrill.” And people are buying more than one sandwich, as we typically saw people buy 4 or more sandwiches at a time.

                                      1. re: lwong
                                        designerboy01 Mar 5, 2007 01:07 PM

                                        I'm guilty of buying more than one too. Maybe its the size that makes them fun to eat...like White Castle. Yep they are laughing to the bank.

                                        I took the duck carcass home and made a really old style Canto soup.

                                        I haven't got the duck for take out yet.

                                        1. re: designerboy01
                                          l
                                          lwong Mar 7, 2007 08:47 AM

                                          You are an honest guy, Designerboy01. We also have a secret craving every once in a while for White Castle hamburgers.

                                          The duck carcass must have cost $2.00 as indicated by the erroneous sign on the window for “duck stones - $2.” Apparently someone at the restaurant mistranslated bones or carcasses as a “stone.” Understandable, since a bone is sort of like a stone. The non-Asians who pass the “Corner 28” restaurant must be wondering what exactly a “duck stone” is and why Asians would be willing to pay $2.00, almost three times the cost of the Peking Duck sandwich, to eat probably some duck organ called a “duck stone.” We will have to give the “duck stone” a try also and make some duck soup with it. Was there still a lot of duck meat on the carcass?

                                          1. re: lwong
                                            j
                                            jmax Mar 12, 2007 08:35 PM

                                            I was here on Sunday - It was a madhouse. Must of been 20 people in line for the duck sandwichs. I was wondering what duck stones meant - I assumed it was an organ - very funny.

                                            1. re: jmax
                                              d
                                              duckfanatic01 Mar 16, 2007 08:05 PM

                                              Duck stone is all bones intacted but the skin and meat sliced off. Basically, the remains of the duck after all the meat is sliced off for the Peking Duck sandwiches. Cantonese people like to take it to make duck soup. It's quite tasty.

                                            2. re: lwong
                                              designerboy01 Mar 13, 2007 11:32 AM

                                              The duck stone is a big hit with people who cook. You can make some delicious soups and congee with it. Its not for eating it straight.

                                              1. re: designerboy01
                                                j
                                                jmax Mar 17, 2007 08:47 AM

                                                Thanks. I have an interest in making a cantonese soup from the bones. I started a thread a few weeks ago in the home cooking section asking the question - how I go about making a soup from leftover roast duck bones and what I should add to it. I got a few helpful responses, but not many. I would love to hear your thoughts or techniques.

                                      Show Hidden Posts