Vegetarian in need of good Chinese, in Flushing (or Elmhurst?)
I'm looking for some solid Chinese veggie dishes (ideally not of the mock meat variety, unless anyone is aware of something excellent and extroardinary that I have not yet discovered), in Queens. Something that incorporates hand-pulled noodles, perhaps. Any recommendations?
Vegetarian items (with crude translations -- probably easiest to ask for the Chinese words) to order at any of the three decent Sichuan places in Flushing include:
1. pao cai (Sichuan kim chi, but does not contain shrimp),
2. liang fen (noodles with spices and I mean SPICE, great with carbonated beverage be it soda or beer to take the edge off. Diet coke or pepsi seems to be the best match for the spiciest of foods),
3. dou maio (vegetable),
4. mabodoufu (spicy tofu stew, not always vegetarian),
5. dry string beans (not always vegetarian),
6. leng mian (cold noodles, can be vegetarian),
7. boiled peanuts (vegetarian, but only found at the downstairs mini-mall, and watch out for the msg)
The three decent Sichuan places in Flushing are 1) Xiao La Jiao / Little Pepper located at 133-43 Roosevelt Ave. between Prince and College Point Blvd., 2) the Sichuan stall in the J&L food court at 41-82 Main Street located directly at the end of the main corridor, and 3) the small restaurant/stall located in a mini-mall on the corner of Main and 41st, on the corner closer to Sanford than Kissena (the mini-mall where this third place is located is on the same side of the street as the food court. It is a downstairs mini-mall; look for the orange stairwell descending from street level, and walk down the stairs, the Sichuan place will be immediately on your left at the bottom of the stairs).
For any of these dishes you may want to confirm they are indeed vegetarian by asking, since non-vegetarian varieties are common with some of them. Proclaim you're a vegetarian by saying, "Wo shi chi su cai de."
If you go to J&L, visit the grocery store across the street for cai bao zi (steamed vegetable buns), made right there at the store. They are sold in packages in the leftmost aisle as you face the back of the store, on the right side of that aisle.
There is also a good Korean place called Natural Tofu on Northern Blvd.
I'm sounding like a broken record here, but since you asked for noodles, (Nanxiang) Noodle House on 38-12 Prince has a $3 scallion noodle dish that's the new dan dan noodle....When this dish is brought to you it seems that they'd forgotten to dress it..it's just plain noodles in a bowl. You have to stir it to find dark brown pieces of scallion, and some oil and dark sauce in hidden inside. Stir it up real good and it's deliciously simple.
now I thought I had posted about this dish and the transition it's gone through on the board, but I can't find it. Anyway, the fact is that they had changed chef since the very beginning, when i first had that amazing bowl of noodle. Since then I've come to it once and to my horror, found it came all stirred up, dark brown and salty beyond believe. It was inedible. I promptly complained as I'm sure many others have. So, the next time i returned it was again plain innocent looking, but then when I stirred it up, the ratio of oil to sauce still wasn't right.....
I didn't get it 2 weeks ago, so I don't know where it's at at this point. At your own risk.
But , do get the steamed vegetable dumplings and scallion pancake, and sweet douhua, and the red bean pastries (maybe called pancakes there). They have a good dough chef usually.
If the house offers a house made vegetarian chicken, as most Shanghainese restaurant do, I imagine it'd be quite good, judging from how good the soybean curds are, but I'm not sure if it's on the menu. Shanghainese restaurants in general should have good Kaufu, (wheat gluten dishes that are the staple of the vegetarian monks and nuns) but again, I didn't see that on the menu. You might have to ask for them.
Now, for the hand pulled noodles...adding to what Eade had posted, "..the Sichuan stall in the J&L food court at 41-82 Main Street located directly at the end of the main corridor..." I'm not sure if they're still there, but if you do go straight all the way to the end, then turn left, there's a hand pulled noodle place that I think offers a noodle soup with sauteed pickled mustard greens....Don't hold me to it because it's been a long long time since i've been there. If you back track a little, (so when you go into the mall, go to just past the midpoint, on the left side) at the Chinese muslim booth you can get "Dou Fu Nao", tender soybean curd topped with savory sauces, with options for spicy and for minced garlic....almost hot and sour soup like, except better. Just so you know though, that here you are in the food stall mode, not sit down restaurant any more. Another vegetarian dish at this Chinese Muslim place is Guo Ba Cai.
If you go to Spicy and Tasty, on Prince between 39th ave and Roosevelt, the loofa dish is one non-spicy vegetarian dish. From the cold appetizer section, besides the usual egg plants dish and the cucumber dishes, there's also the "fiddle head + crunchy vegetable strips " dish (sorry I never remember what it's called, but the crunchy vegetable strips are so crunchy that if you want to tune out what your dining companion is saying, just chew and you won't be able to hear what's being say..) that's very good. And of course, you can always ask for a vegetarian Mapo Dofu as Eade had mentioned. Also, maybe not as easily done, but try asking for vegetarian version of "Ants on the Tree". (Ma2 Yi3 Shang4 Shu4), which is a mungbean thread dish.
Have fun and good luck!