HOME > Chowhound > Outer Boroughs >
What's your latest food project?
TELL US

Chengdu Heaven -- the best Sichuan food in a tiny basement stall at the 41-28 Main St Mall, Flushing

Brian S Oct 17, 2007 05:42 PM

I just ate at one of the best Sichuan restaurants in New York.

I walked along Main Street as the sun set, and when I got to 41-28, through a door and down a flight of stairs -- and suddenly I was back in Kowloon, in one of the warrens of food stalls between the huge apartment blocks on Nathan Road. That's what it felt like. If you've been to that mall, you know what I mean. If not, prepare for culture shock major.

The tiny stall named Chengdu Heaven was somnolent, almost empty. A woman carefully sliced a huge lung on a table while her husband ladled out soup. A young man hunched over a soup bowl, a tiny dog begging for scraps. (The dog is not usually there.) The menu was on the wall. Not a word of English written, not a word of English spoken. I recognized the characters for fish and bean in one dish, pointed to it. And then I waited.

Finally a man emerged carrying a big takeout soup container. Oh no I got soup! I thought. But it wasn't soup. That was the only dishes they had. It was a carefully layered masterpiece. On top, fresh cilantro and pine nuts. Below, pillow cubes of softest dofu were interspersed with nuggets of fish lightly coated with potato flour. Around all, a fiery red oily broth. Oh, it was wonderful. Swilrling currents of flavor in every bite. I'd asked for ma la (hot and spicy) and ma la it was, with chili and Sichuan peppercorns and clear sharp flavors I couldn't identify. As I was eating, people going to other stalls stopped and asked the owners what I was eating. I told them, and told them how fantastically good it was. That was fun. But the food was magical.

All too soon I finished and went back up the stairs. And it was the very same feeling I get when I see great art at the museum or a great film at a theatre, and then leave. The magic is over, the harsh light of reality intrudes. And yet... some of the magic stays with me.

Chengdu Heaven
Stall 31 (across from stall with "Happy Family" sign, also across from a shoe shop)
Mall at 41-28 main street, in the basement

Note on ordering. If you dont know Chinese, get a takeout menu at Spicy & Tasty. Take it with you and point to the dish you want. Of course, most of those dishes they don't have. I don't know what the dish I had is called, but they do have water-cooked beef which is called "Shredded Beef in fresh hot pepper" on the Spicy & Tasty menu.

  1. j
    JFores Oct 17, 2007 06:22 PM

    Oh my God I love you. I will be at this place the day I get back from the culinary wasteland which I now live in (London. Christmas Break. Mmmm.)

    Do you think you can put together a bit of an ordering scheme? Do they speak Canto? If so I can easily get a friend to come.

    1. squid kun Oct 18, 2007 02:22 AM

      Appreciate the update on Chengdu Tian Fu ( http://www.chow.com/digest/1743 ). That fish dish sounds great!

      As of 9/06 this was the menu ... http://i127.photobucket.com/albums/p1... I gather it's changed, as last year's version doesn't seem to offer a dish with both "fish" and "bean." (If you think it's mostly the same as before, I can provide at least a partial translation.)

      29 Replies
      1. re: squid kun
        Brian S Oct 18, 2007 08:35 AM

        It's a new menu, three columns in yellow. But, just looking at the hot dishes at the bottom of the left hand column in your photo, it looks like it's mostly the same.

        I had no idea you had been there before. I thought I was the first. If I'd known someone had been, I would have gone sooner. I've been putting it off because of the risk it wouldn't be good. At least I was the first to eat at the Sichuan stand at 41-82 Main. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/248021 But that stand, incredible as it is, doesn't have the hot dishes that Chengdu Tian does... things like water-cooked beef, which I want to try.

        The main point of course isn't who went there first. The main point is that this place is so totally off the radar and unknown. There should be lines out the door. People should be saying, the line is just too long, let's settle for Spicy & Tasty. Instead it's empty, and the few locals from the neighborhood who come in are there for their very cheap soups. That's why all the regular Chinese patrons of that mall stopped to look at what I had ordered. They were so surprised to see such stellar stuff at that mall.

        1. re: Brian S
          Brian S Oct 19, 2007 07:17 AM

          I forgot... thank you, Squid-kun, for your offer to translate that menu. It's the dishes at the bottom left that interests me, the hot dishes. I can translate the third through seventh. Twice-cooked pork (回锅肉), and then water-cooked (水煮) fish slices, beef and pork. But what about the others? They might be wonderful.

          1. re: Brian S
            e
            eade Oct 19, 2007 07:45 AM

            Is this the place at the bottom of the orange stairwell?

            I think we had it pegged at least as early as last year too, unfortunately I cannot find an earlier post where i went into its offerings in detail (including its exact address), but here is one 2006 reference: "[The J&L Sichuan stand] is one of the three most authentic Sichuan places we’ve found in Flushing -- the second one being Xiao La Jiao and the third one being 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 J&L 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." We walked right by it the first time we walked down the stairs, it is postage stamp tiny.
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/339644

            Perhaps it is time for an updated inventory of authentic Sichuan places in Flushing.

            Also in that same post, I listed common items at the Sichuan stalls and translations. I will try to clean the list up with better descriptions and post it separately, as these places can be intimidating for non-Chinese speakers.

            However, we haven't been to Flushing in so long and don't have plans to go until November. If someone happens to visit this stall and is able to snap a photo of the new menu and post it here, I'll try to weave its items into the translations list.

            1. re: eade
              Joe MacBu Jan 4, 2008 08:00 PM

              Thanks for offering to translate! Here are some photos for your viewing pleasure. The 1st one is a wide angle shot and the rest are closeups.

              I had the aforementioned bean curd and fish dish tonight. It was quite delicious. I think it had dried and partially reconstituted (they were oddly chewy) soybeans rather than pine nuts. The dish I ordered is the item taped onto the menu, in the far right column ($9.99).

              1. re: Joe MacBu
                Joe MacBu Jan 4, 2008 08:16 PM

                One more photo....

                1. re: Joe MacBu
                  Brian S Jan 7, 2008 08:01 AM

                  Thank you so very much for these photos! I hope those who know can help translate them. I usually order from the fourth photo, the one on the far right, which is where you got your fish. So here's my attempt to translate some of the things on it, from top to bottom:

                  1 double-cooked pork
                  2 fish with tofu (what you ordered)
                  3 something with shredded pork
                  4 shredded pork with dry bean curd
                  5 water cooked fish
                  6 water cooked beef
                  7 something with intestines
                  8 something in hot chili sauce
                  9 ???
                  10 Mapo Dofu
                  11 (the big red square) Ma la soup

                  1. re: Brian S
                    j
                    JFores Jan 7, 2008 02:53 PM

                    Much thanks! Going tomorrow!

                    1. re: JFores
                      Brian S Jan 7, 2008 04:45 PM

                      As you were writing the above, I was eating there. Thanks to you I had the mapo dofu and it was wonderful. After I ate, I walked around the basement. There are so many new stalls there! One from Xian, TWO with Guizhou food, a hotpot place, many others. Except I cant try it because if the Chengdu Heaven people found out they would say the Chinese equivalent of "Wassamatta, our food's not good enough for you anymore?" Besides, I love the Chengdu Heaven stuff so much, and they have added new things handwritten on those red pieces of paper. One with beef, I can't translate the others.

                      1. re: Brian S
                        j
                        JFores Jan 7, 2008 09:50 PM

                        I very nearly went today but I was hit with a stomach virus of sorts. I got lucky and had no vomiting, but I can't say the same for the rest of my family.

                        To Chengdu tomorrow! And yeah, they recognize me now and don't get that scared "Oh boy, how are we going to communicate with this kid" look now. Isn't their ma po do fu incredibly good? I thought it was leagues above Little Pepper and I love Little Pepper's.

                    2. re: Brian S
                      Joe MacBu Jan 27, 2008 10:18 AM

                      Brian, thanks for the translations of column 3. Here's the missing stuff:

                      3 Pointed pepper with shredded pork
                      7 Pointed pepper with intestines
                      8 Dry fried chicken
                      9 Fried green vegetables (?)

                      1. re: Joe MacBu
                        Brian S Jan 27, 2008 10:27 AM

                        Thank you so very much for this. I was hoping someone would fill the gaps since I usually order from Column 3. Now I must get out there soon and try it! (And one TV station said that the 7 train WILL be running next weekend, this weekend is the last weekend it's closed for repairs)

                        1. re: Brian S
                          j
                          JFores Jan 27, 2008 01:41 PM

                          We need to meet up for a meal there sometime this summer. Four non-Asians at one stall in there all at the same time. My God, we would practically attract a crowd (judging by the amount of "Wtf?" looks I get from being there at all.)

                          1. re: Brian S
                            Joe MacBu Jan 27, 2008 01:43 PM

                            There is free LIRR service to Flushing during weekends with the 7 line repairs.

                          2. re: Joe MacBu
                            Brian S Feb 20, 2008 09:10 AM

                            Joe thanks for putting in that missing stuff in column 3. To celebrate the return of express service to the 7 train, I zoomed out to Flushing and had, appropriately enough, your number 7, pointed pepper with intestine. The pointed peppers were jalapenos, sliced. I used to think those were the hottest peppers around when I was a kid but they were pretty mild compared to the rest of the dish.

                            It was the husband who did the cooking and the dish took a long time. I never mind waiting there, it's such a joy to be immersed in that tiny and very Chinese world of the downstairs mall. The dish came dry, though dry is perhaps the wrong word since it had been cooked in a lot of oil and the oil had been absorbed. (That's what took so long) So the intestines were moist and delicious. Strewn all around was an incredible harmony in hot pepper: the jalapenos, pieces of dried red chili, Sichuan pepper, some fresh garlic and ginger, other tastes I didnt recognize. This guy is a master chef and this dish is another big winner.

                            1. re: Brian S
                              j
                              JFores Feb 21, 2008 01:53 AM

                              I miss this place so much...

                        2. re: Joe MacBu
                          Joe MacBu Jan 9, 2008 12:16 PM

                          The following is my attempt to translate column 2. I am a novice at this, so take it for what it's worth (and don't blame me if you get an ear instead of what I told you were noodles). Corrections welcome.

                          For those who don't know, "ma la" means spicy hot and numbing, due to a combination of chili pepper and Sichuan peppercorn.

                          COLD DISHES
                          Sliced beef & kidney 6
                          Ma la beef tendon 6
                          Boiled pork with mashed garlic 6
                          Ma la diced rabbit 6
                          Shredded ear in chili oil 6
                          Ma la shredded stomach 6
                          Tian Fu chicken 8
                          Five spice beef small-4 large-6
                          Marinated small pork shoulder(?) 6
                          Marinated pig's large intestine 7.5
                          Crispy spiced duck (half) 7
                          Marinated pig's foot (1 piece) 2.5
                          Smoked rabbit 6
                          Ma la shredded bamboo 3
                          Salad of three shredded ingredients 2.5
                          Cucumber salad 2.5
                          Pickled vegetables in chili oil 2.5
                          Dried bean curd with peanuts 3
                          Chuanbei rice noodles 3
                          Chengdu noodles 3

                          Is anyone working on column 1?

                          1. re: Joe MacBu
                            j
                            JFores Jan 9, 2008 04:27 PM

                            Awesome! Much thanks! I'll use it when I get back.

                            On my last meal there (and in New York till I come home this summer) I had three things. The ma po do fu again, because it's just too good to pass up. The fish and bean curd with what seemed to be semi-fermented soy beans. The double cooked pork. All three were INCREDIBLE and it was pretty funny when the green peppers used in the pork hit the pan and about 1/3 of the mall was virtually pepper sprayed by fumes.

                            1. re: Joe MacBu
                              Joe MacBu Jan 9, 2008 08:44 PM

                              I went there late tonight, around 10pm. They didn't want to fire things up so I was restricted to ordering from the column of cold appetizers.

                              Boiled pork with mashed garlic: This was sliced boiled pork belly with some minced garlic on top in a pool of sweetish soy sauce. It didn't seem very garlicky to me, but that sauce made it an enjoyable dish.

                              The owner recommended the five spice beef. It was thin slices of what looked like a beef version of head cheese. I didn't really detect the five spices. It wasn't very exciting.

                              The smoked rabbit came in chunks, with bone attached. While it certainly looked smoked with a pink exterior, the flavor was very subtle. It tasted better dipped into the accompanying mix of salt, chili pepper and Sichuan peppercorn.

                              The salad of three shredded ingredients consisted of thin glass noodles, carrots and seaweed. It was dressed with a vinegary ma la liquid.

                              The Chengdu noodles consisted of thick irregular noodles in a ma la sauce. Similar to the dan dan noodles of J&L fame, but down a notch or two.

                              Though I did, I wouldn't recommend making a meal out of just these cold appetizers. They're better suited to supplement items from the other columns.

                              As I was walking around the mall midway though dinner, I noticed a platter of delicious looking braised beef tendons in the stall next door. Next time.

                              1. re: Joe MacBu
                                j
                                JFores Jan 10, 2008 02:03 AM

                                Excellent. The boiled pork in mashed garlic and the pig kidney one you listed on the translation both interest me. It's cool that they have the accompanying dips. That's incredibly authentic; many Szechuan places seem to drop them. I go to noodle places for noodles so I'll pass on those for now.

                                Has anyone tried the place in the back of the mall which is mass producing and selling tiny buns at an astounding rate? At 4 for a dollar there's no wonder why.

                                1. re: JFores
                                  Joe MacBu Jan 10, 2008 07:17 AM

                                  Yes, they have some of the best boiled dumplings in town (pork & chives). I have a big bag of frozen ones at home. They also serve good looking soups with or without dumplings, but I haven't partaken in those (nor translated the menu to know what exactly is offered). One of the dumpling mistresses is super grumpy though and I think she stiffed me on an order of xiao long bao because I only ordered $1 worth (she kept trying to get me to go for $2). They were heavy, doughy and past their prime. If you claim a seat at the tables, make sure you fork over at least $2 per person, or you risk being scowled at.

                                  1. re: Joe MacBu
                                    j
                                    JFores Jan 10, 2008 07:21 AM

                                    Brilliant. I was reading this just as you posted too! Haha! I'll check it out when I get back this summer.

                              2. re: Joe MacBu
                                Joe MacBu Jan 25, 2008 09:19 PM

                                Here's Column 1. Once again, please correct me if I goofed.

                                NOODLES & DUMPLINGS
                                Dan dan noodles 3
                                Fried minced pig's head wheat noodles 3.5
                                Red cooked beef wheat noodles 4
                                Intestine wheat noodle soup 4
                                Duck wheat noodle soup 4.5
                                Pork rib wheat noodle soup 4
                                Duck rice noodle soup 4.5
                                Stewed beef rice noodle soup 4
                                Intestine rice noodle soup 4
                                Stewed beef flat rice noodle soup 4
                                Pork rib rice noodle soup 4
                                Vegetarian (or plain?) hot and sour rice noodles 3
                                Intestine hot and sour rice noodles 4
                                Stewed beef hot and sour rice noodles 4
                                Fire pot rice noodles 3
                                Sichuan wontons in broth (long chao shou) 2.5
                                Sichuan wontons in chili oil 2.5
                                Hot and sour Sichuan wontons 3
                                Boiled dumplings in chili oil (shui jiao) 2.5

                                1. re: Joe MacBu
                                  j
                                  JFores Jan 26, 2008 12:55 AM

                                  Awesome!

                                  Try any yet? 3 bucks for dan dan noodles is a deal and a half.

                                  1. re: JFores
                                    Joe MacBu Jan 26, 2008 06:41 AM

                                    The dan dan mian are good; but no version I've had compares to the ones from the J&L Mall (RIP).

                                    I also enjoyed the long choa shou. The wontons come in a small bowl of light pork broth. The relative blandness goes well with the ma la dishes. The texture of the dumplings is properly delicate.

                                    Incidentally, I had a killer bowl of suan la (hot & sour) noodle soup at Szechwan Gourmet last week. Next time I will try some of the suan la dishes at Chengdu Tian Fu to taste how they compare.

                                    1. re: Joe MacBu
                                      j
                                      JFores Jan 26, 2008 01:08 PM

                                      I miss this place so much...

                                  2. re: Joe MacBu
                                    w
                                    wew Jan 27, 2008 12:19 PM

                                    i haven't seen a better visual presentation. Thank you for the work

                              3. re: Joe MacBu
                                Joe MacBu Feb 1, 2008 08:27 AM

                                Errata:

                                I was mistaken in translating some of the noodle dishes. Some of the dishes that say "rice noodle" are actually cellophane noodles (aka glass noodles, bean thread, etc). As far as I know, this refers to the last 4 noodle dishes on column 1.

                              4. re: eade
                                erica Apr 16, 2008 09:26 AM

                                Are those directions correct? I take it there is no sign in English, right??

                                1. re: erica
                                  Brian S Apr 16, 2008 09:40 AM

                                  Yes they are correct, if you go down the stairs that exit onto Main Street. It's stall number 31.

                          2. j
                            JFores Oct 19, 2007 01:47 PM

                            This post has made me so culinarily homesick that I'm going to attempt to cook all of my favorite Chinese dishes next week. I'm going to screw this up so badly! Alright so... rice cakes with pork... ma po do fu... Shanghai style pork shoulder.... Shanghai style eels... basically any seemingly odd combination of fish and pork in the same dish.... etc

                            Oh yes, it is time to freak out my dorm mates while waving a large wok about.

                            BTW, can anyone recommend a good authentic Chinese cookbook? Szechuan and Shanghai are my favorites by a long shot; they're about all I eat as far as Chinese goes if I'm not having congee, rice casserole, etc.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: JFores
                              s
                              SamScaff Oct 19, 2007 02:04 PM

                              Land of Plenty by Fuschia Dunlop is the best Sichuan cookbook i have ever used (and I have used alot). It is a really fantastic book. The stories and recipes are great.

                              The author, Ms. Dunlop, is the first foreigner to ever be trained at Sichuan Province's best cooking schook, the prestigious Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine.

                              I highly suggest this book. Fuschia Dunlop also has a Hunan cookbook I believe which is also supposed to be very good.

                              1. re: SamScaff
                                prunefeet Oct 20, 2007 02:29 PM

                                I second Land of Plenty, whole heartedly.

                                1. re: SamScaff
                                  Joe MacBu Jun 11, 2008 09:48 PM

                                  Looks like Ms. Dunlop made it to Chengdu Tian Fu:
                                  http://www.seriouseats.com/newyork/20...

                                  1. re: Joe MacBu
                                    j
                                    JFores Jun 12, 2008 07:30 AM

                                    Oh my! That has to be the best review I've ever read on this. It's a shame she didn't try a little more at Chengdu as I'd like to hear a wider opinion of how it stacks up in comparison to other spots around the world. I know for a fact that Chengdu Heaven is vastly better than London's (arguably but almost 100% fact) best Sichuan restaurant, Snazz Sichuan. The added benefits of Chengdu Heaven include literally 75% off London's prices, much better food, MUCH friendlier staff, and the liberal use of hua jiao.

                                    1. re: JFores
                                      Xiao Yang Jun 12, 2008 08:03 AM

                                      Have you tried Bar Shu, the restaurant that Fuchsia Dunlop supposedly is a consultant to?

                                      1. re: Xiao Yang
                                        j
                                        JFores Jun 12, 2008 01:41 PM

                                        Bar Shu is dreadful compared to Snazz Sichuan. Also pricier.

                                2. re: JFores
                                  Brian S Oct 20, 2007 10:26 AM

                                  Here is a link to a discussion on Chinese cookbooks that has links to five other discussions. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/377927 But even if you manage to duplicate what I ate, you can't duplicate the atmosphere... lots of stalls, lots of people milling about, browsing at the stalls or eating at one of them.

                                3. a
                                  avi Oct 20, 2007 08:23 PM

                                  When is this place (41-28 Main St Mall) open, or can I find out?

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: avi
                                    Brian S Oct 21, 2007 07:52 AM

                                    I don't know the hours. But my guess would be that the mall opens every day in the early morning, because the first we heard about these two malls was H Ling's lovely report of an early breakfast at the other mall, at 41-82 Main St. Then the mall stays open through the day. I've seen it open as late as 9 PM, I think. But different food stalls keep different hours, and you should not count on eating as late as 9 PM.

                                    -----
                                    Golden Shopping Mall
                                    41-28 Main St, Queens, NY 11355

                                    1. re: Brian S
                                      Brian S Oct 22, 2007 08:10 AM

                                      Oh, one more small bit of info, vital if you are coming from Manhattan. There is a public restroom on the ground floor of the mall, one flight above this Sichuan stall, in the back, near what I think is the famous lamb soup place. But no paper is provided!

                                      1. re: Brian S
                                        Xiao Yang Oct 22, 2007 08:35 AM

                                        " But no paper is provided!"

                                        Talk about an authentic China experience! I hope they are not "squat" toilets, though.

                                        1. re: Brian S
                                          p
                                          Peter Cherches Mar 3, 2010 01:48 PM

                                          I'm glad I booked a room at the Comfort Inn!

                                          http://petercherche.blogspot.com

                                    2. Brian S Dec 5, 2007 04:09 PM

                                      I've been to Chengdu Heaven twice since writing this review. The first time was a slight disappointment, but the second time was, well, heavenly.

                                      On my first return visit I had water-cooked beef. It was nice and fiery, but there was very little beef, mostly lettuce. The broth, though, was the best I've ever tasted in this dish.

                                      I went again tonight. The two big tables were jammed. Not families, but groups of friends, I think. I ordered double-cooked pork. It was wonderful. Succulent strips of bacon (and lots of them), Sichuan peppercorns, green peppers, chives, fire-red chili oil and even some of the tiny fermented beans found in black bean sauce. Each bite exploded in flavor. The Platonic ideal of a dish that is all too often lackluster.

                                      The chef seemed thrilled that I liked it. But I'd be a fool if I didn't.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Brian S
                                        j
                                        JFores Dec 30, 2007 03:22 PM

                                        Yeah, the water cooked beef is lacking on its name sake, but it's still delicious. My companion expected more beef to be under the top layer, but there really wasn't any. However, the beef itself was INCREDIBLY tasty.

                                      2. j
                                        JFores Dec 30, 2007 03:20 PM

                                        Chengdu Heaven was absolutely fantastic!

                                        Upon arriving with a friend, the owners looked pretty worried. I pointed out what I wanted on the board and things got easier from there, though. After that, they thought I could speak or read Chinese, both of which I can't even attempt to do. We did get a whoooole lot of "Woah, non-Asian" looks though!

                                        Onto the more important part! Contrary to your recc we got the water cooked beef and then I got ma po do fu. The water cooked beef had the best broth that I've ever had in this dish, It was explosively flavorful. My friend, however, was new to Szechuan and the amount of pepper corns made her unable to really taste anything when she was about 2/3 finished. It was excellent though. After she recovered using my ma po do fu, she finished hers and loved it. My dish was incredible. Probably the best ma po do fu I've ever had. The meat was incredibly flavorful, the do fu held up well and the sauce was incredibly delicious. At 6 dollars it was more than a steal and it's probably the best you can find in the area; it was incredible.

                                        On the way out I also got a double cooked pork to go. I ate half of it on the outrageously long train ride to Manhattan Beach (UFC 79 party) and it was incredible as well. It's hard to say whether it was better than Little Pepper's, but it was amazingly good. I felt that the spicing at Chengdu Tian Fu was lovely and well done; very authentic. I also liked the liberal use of what seemed to be quite freshly ground peppercorns which were very noticeable, numbing and still not dominant. Great flavors!

                                        So yeah, I need to get back there a few more times before I go. I was trying (failing) to find out what the owners were eating and in the end I think it was something like water cooked tripe and tendons. Not 100% sure, but it looked delicious. I know it had tripe in it, but I'm not sure what na do is.

                                        That was fun! I find it hilarious how I give myself language reading crash courses on the way to restaurants so that I can order off walls. I've done this with Bangla and Chinese now.

                                        1. j
                                          JFores Jan 3, 2008 07:59 PM

                                          I went to Chengdu Heaven again today. I had to run in and out fast and it was late so I wasn't able to get either of my first picks ("no more".) I scoured the menu with my extremely limited Chinese reading skills (read: about 20 food related characters) and found another pork belly dish. I wasn't 100% sure, but I thought it was a "fish flavored" Szechuan dish. Oh yes it was! It was the best fish flavored pork belly I've ever had. Delicious and it lasted for ages as I gave a food tour of Queens to two Londoners (previous victims of a Bed Stuy food tour. Muhahaha.)

                                          1. a
                                            Andrew Hyatt Jan 5, 2008 05:14 AM

                                            I've eaten here before, but I much prefer the other Sichuan stall in the other food mall (also called Chengu something). However, I didn't get the dish you are referring to... it sounds pretty good, I'll have to try it.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Andrew Hyatt
                                              Joe MacBu Jan 5, 2008 06:13 AM

                                              I think it certainly depends on what dish you order. I'd eaten a noodle soup dish at Chengdu Heaven in the summer and had found it to be just okay. Thanks to Brian's post, I decided to check it out again for other dishes, which were more to my satisfaction (their double cooked pork reminds me of the taste of prosciutto). Definitely worth exploring the menu further. However, most patrons seem to order noodle soups at this stall.

                                              I prefer the noodle soups at the stall on the other end of the same hallway (same side, last stall). I once had a very good spicy beef brothed kitchen sink version there.

                                              Has there been a post with the floorplan of this mall (Golden Shopping Mall)?

                                            2. j
                                              JFores Jan 10, 2008 02:05 AM

                                              I had to toss this in after rereading your post.

                                              The layering done in the fish and bean curd dish is really incredible. It's so distinctly layered and the flavors follow as such.

                                              1. cmballa Jan 29, 2008 02:16 PM

                                                So now that the menus have been translated here (well done), would it be simple for a rube like me with no Chinese language ability to point out menu items ?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: cmballa
                                                  j
                                                  JFores Jan 29, 2008 02:45 PM

                                                  Easily. I learned all of them on a train ride there and I didn't even have the menu before I went. I just had a list of symbols I got off the net and wrote down.

                                                2. Joe MacBu Jan 31, 2008 10:06 PM

                                                  There's a writeup on Gothamist which references this thread:
                                                  http://gothamist.com/2008/01/22/cheng...

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                    w
                                                    wew Mar 2, 2008 01:24 PM

                                                    I had the cold smoked duck (found on a sign to the left of the ones in the photograph), great contract for the water cooked fish. The duck is different from Little Pepper's and Spicy and Tasty's; more, smoke soft skin.

                                                  2. m
                                                    myclawyer Feb 25, 2008 11:19 AM

                                                    I went to Chengdu Heaven on Saturday. I had the Dan Dan Noodles and the Shredded Pork with Smoked Bean Curd. Both were incredible. The pork dish was not spicy, but had some kick from the peppers. The Dan Dan noodles sat in a bowl, the bottom of which was filed with Sichuan peppers/pepper oil and dried ground meat. The sensation from the peppers was unliek anything I had ever experienced. It's almost like a metallic taste that numbs your mouth without being overpoweringly hot, like a jalepeno or habenero. Strangely, the sensation wears off quickly. It's almost like a chemcial/metallic taste, that may sound repulsive, but it's actually quite delicious. I just don't know how else to describe it.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: myclawyer
                                                      Polecat Feb 25, 2008 11:31 AM

                                                      "The sensation from the peppers was unliek anything I had ever experienced. It's almost like a metallic taste that numbs your mouth without being overpoweringly hot, like a jalepeno or habenero"

                                                      I'm pretty sure - and someone correct me here if I'm wrong - that that's your standard peppercorn effect. It numbs the tongue and sets it to buzzing. If you like that, then there's plenty on the menus at Chengdu Tian Fu (Heaven) and Little Pepper that you'll love. For me, it's a question of degree. In the case of the Water Cooked Beef at CH, the peppercorns overwhelmed the taste of the beef; it took me several minutes for my pallette to adapt. In the case of the Chengdu Noodles, however, the heat was slightly more mild, and fanned out in all directions inside my mouth. Peppercorn heat can be a pretty wild experience. In my experience, it can be so intense as to numb the pallette for several minutes. Based on your description, I'm interested to try the Shredded Pork dish when I return.

                                                      Thanks, by the way, to Joe MacBu, for the excellent cheat sheets.
                                                      P.

                                                      1. re: Polecat
                                                        j
                                                        JFores Feb 25, 2008 12:31 PM

                                                        I ADORE the water cooked beef at CH, but my ex-gf had to trade plates with me when she ordered it because it numbed her mouth so much. I think it's a pallete thing. I might have killed mine seeing as I can pop pickled bird's eye chilis as snacks at home...

                                                        I think that it's not just numbing, but that it actually changes the tastes. That's what I like about it.

                                                        1. re: JFores
                                                          r
                                                          rschwim Feb 25, 2008 01:07 PM

                                                          I had the Chengdu Noodles and boy did that change the taste of what came after--Drinking water was a foreign experience post-noodle!

                                                      2. re: myclawyer
                                                        Polecat Feb 25, 2008 03:51 PM

                                                        Chalk this up to my not having anything better to do, but this will explain that peppercorn effect far better than I can: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sichuan_...
                                                        P.

                                                        1. re: myclawyer
                                                          m
                                                          myclawyer Feb 26, 2008 03:01 AM

                                                          Let me clarify the Shredded Pork with Smoked Bean Curdcomment. It was not spicy, but had some kick from the "green" peppers (banana peppers or something similar). I didn't mean to imply the Sichuan peppers.

                                                        2. t
                                                          toby1355 Mar 2, 2008 08:19 AM

                                                          Went to Chengdu Heaven for the second time last nite. Unfortunately, I missed seeing the translated menu that Joe posted earlier. So all I had was a copy of S & T menu. We ordered Dan Dan Noodles and Twice cooked pork. I thought that I was ordering the water-cooked Beef but I got the pork. I'd had both of these on my first visit. I 'd have to agree that while they were really good, the versions at the M & L Mall were hotter by far. Nevertheless, it's really interesting to see and experience the food scene in Flushing as it evolves; i grew up in the area so it's really a trip to see the changes. I also have some questions.

                                                          An earlier post said that some of the other stalls were serving food from Xian and Guizhou; could they be I.D'd as to stall location for future visits?

                                                          Also, One of the stalls had color photos, with prices but no way to know exactly what the ingredients of the dish were. If no does by my next visit, I'll take pictures and post them to help in their I.D. My wife will have to help me with that project.

                                                          Also, directly opposite from the picture stall, a young man was working on pulled noodles; stretching and pulling them and slapping them on a work table; I'd like to try them next time.

                                                          Also, again, As I walked around I noticed that several of the stalls had NO menues posted or available in any form. How do you order when there's no indication of what's available? I took some Mandarin in college thirty years ago and i was, at best, a "C" student back then. So verbal communication isn't really an option.

                                                          Finally, We drove into Flushing, from the south on Main Street. Just past the The Botanical Gardens, on the west side of Main, looked to be a brand new restaurant that billed itself as Northeast China Food Restaurant (or something like that, but Northeast China was certainly in the name). Has anyone been? If so, what's the food like? Does that mean Manchurian? or other provincial styles?

                                                          And finally,finally, WOW to that New mall across from the big municipal parking lot. Flushing is starting to go plush or what? We walked into the Korean/Japanese place and there was live piano music....in Flushing, OMG

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: toby1355
                                                            squid kun Mar 2, 2008 12:48 PM

                                                            Here's a report from the northeastern place ... http://www.chowhound.com/topics/46430...

                                                            -----
                                                            Northeast Taste
                                                            43-18 Main St, Queens, NY 11355

                                                          2. m
                                                            myclawyer Mar 3, 2008 02:13 PM

                                                            Went back to Chegdu Heaven on Saturday. I had the Fire Pot Rice Noodles, which was a bowl of what I thought were bean noodles...the clear spagetti noodles, in a tasty, but not too hot broth, with fresh bean sprouts, no meat. It was good, but I wouldn't order it again as it wasn't as good as other stuff I've had there. I also had the Chengdu noodles which were pretty tasty, but for some reason lacked the pop I experienced the last time I was there. The best surpise though was seeing a fellow Hound who had shown up with some friends. They forgot their translated menu, so I shared mine. We didn't exchange names, but it was nice to see a fellow Hound.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: myclawyer
                                                              j
                                                              JFores Mar 3, 2008 03:16 PM

                                                              We must really be freaking out (and pleasing) the owners at this point! When I first showed up there they look terrified (a while ago) until I started ordering off the wall menu. I think the first words they said to me were "No English", but now we get along just fine. They point out the stuff they're eating on the menu for me or try to explain it. They make some tasty looking dishes for themselves along the lines of ma la tripe and such. I need to ask for some when I get back from London. This place is probably my favorite restaurant in all of NY now. I learned food Chinese just for here and a Fujianese place (WHICH NOW TRANSLATED ITS MENU :( )

                                                              1. re: JFores
                                                                w
                                                                wew Mar 13, 2008 08:24 AM

                                                                I went at my usual time, about one p.m. The women chefs told me, translations supplied by bilingual fellow eaters, that what I wanted (tufu fish and dry cooked chicken) could only be made by the male chef who on previous visits was also cooking. I had two noodle dishes so hardly a loss. Question is when do you other folks go to heaven?

                                                                1. re: wew
                                                                  m
                                                                  myclawyer Mar 13, 2008 09:22 AM

                                                                  I've gone on Saturdays between 11:30 and noon. The last couple of times, the guy wasn't there when I arrived, but he arrived with a shopping cart full of fresh produce about half way through my meal. Her Dan Dan noodles were just as good, if not better than his.

                                                                  1. re: wew
                                                                    Brian S Mar 13, 2008 11:43 AM

                                                                    I believe the woman chef works on Mondays. At any rate, my meal one Monday was cooked by an older woman. I was hoping she'd be even better than the man... she looked really competent... but alas the food was slightly inferior (though still great). Which is why, when I sneaked a meal at another stall (the Xian stall) earlier this week, I did it on Monday. www.chowhound.com/topics/497820

                                                              2. r
                                                                racer x Mar 17, 2008 01:59 PM

                                                                Going back to the original post, Brian, surely it was not a lung that the woman was slicing? I don't think you can buy animal lungs for human consumption in the US (which is one reason some purists say you can't get authentic haggis here).

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: racer x
                                                                  Brian S Mar 18, 2008 10:03 AM

                                                                  Well, that's what she told me. Or at least that's what I thought she told me. I asked her what it was but since I speak little Chinese and she speaks no English at all, our communication was limited.

                                                                  1. re: Brian S
                                                                    w
                                                                    wew Mar 23, 2008 03:02 PM

                                                                    Dry cooked chicken and pepper-- How he has the chicken's flavor come through the intense complex of sichuan pepper, jalapeno peppers,an illusion of cashew, garlic? How does he make food taste so good?
                                                                    Tofu fish--- brillant water cook work. A light hand with the bean pastes makes for a blending from which indivisual tastes come forward. Anyone know what fish he uses

                                                                    1. re: wew
                                                                      Brian S Mar 24, 2008 09:46 AM

                                                                      Well, it's a white fish, so it could be carp, whiting, cod, tilapia, whatever he can get. But that guy could take the worst fish in the world and make it taste great.

                                                                      (And in fact, my guess is that the Sichuan technique of heavily spicing fish dated from the days when most people got whatever they could from the rivers. A lot of Sichuan recipes were used by common people, not just by the rich as in other regions, and if all you can get is some swampy fish dredged up from the river, you'll want to mask the flavor any way you can.)

                                                                  2. re: racer x
                                                                    Xiao Yang Mar 24, 2008 10:08 AM

                                                                    She was probably preparing a very popular Sichuan dish, "Couple's lung slices" (fuqi feipian) which doesn't necessarily have anything to do with lung. Wikipdedia has a good rundown on the name.

                                                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuqi_fei...

                                                                    1. re: Xiao Yang
                                                                      m
                                                                      mberli Apr 1, 2008 07:24 AM

                                                                      Has anyone tried the Flushing Mall, across from Ocean Jewel near Prince and 39th? They have some very good food stalls there, including a hand cut noodle place.

                                                                      1. re: mberli
                                                                        Chandavkl Apr 8, 2008 02:36 PM

                                                                        It's been mentioned a number of times on the board, though I don't know if there are any dedicated threads.

                                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/304070

                                                                  3. Brian S Apr 8, 2008 10:35 AM

                                                                    As part of a very long account of his gourmand trip to NY, Boston hound Lipoff has just written a lovely detailed review of this place, complete with descriptions of six dishes.

                                                                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/507226

                                                                    1. j
                                                                      JFores Apr 16, 2008 09:46 AM

                                                                      I was there yesterday and I had their amazingly good ma po do fu and their fish and tofu. I forgot my menu translation packet and I can't read much that doesn't involve pork belly, tofu, or pork in general so I stuck to what I could read. I might go again today with all my translations. I love that place!

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: JFores
                                                                        squid kun Apr 17, 2008 02:02 AM

                                                                        I agree it's a great place. Sometimes it's also great to go beyond the characters you know, just point and try something unfamiliar.

                                                                      2. j
                                                                        JFores Apr 17, 2008 04:38 PM

                                                                        The ma la shredded stomach is fabulous and the best thing I've had on the 2nd menu so far.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: JFores
                                                                          r
                                                                          rschwim Apr 17, 2008 10:17 PM

                                                                          Last time there had the Ma la shredded bamboo --Very good!

                                                                          1. re: rschwim
                                                                            j
                                                                            JFores Apr 18, 2008 05:14 AM

                                                                            Cool. The stomach was like no tripe I've had before and was sliced into thin strips. Either it was pork tripe or a different areas of stomach on a cow. It was almost bacony.

                                                                        2. k
                                                                          kathryn Apr 23, 2008 12:13 PM

                                                                          Robert Sietsema on Chengdu Heaven (the folks he was with translated it as "Sky House" which is a more literal translation I suppose):

                                                                          http://www.villagevoice.com/nyclife/0...

                                                                          16 Replies
                                                                          1. re: kathryn
                                                                            Xiao Yang Apr 25, 2008 06:18 AM

                                                                            Coincidentally, I stopped by there on Tuesday myself (my first day back in town for a visit) and had a couple of "lamburgers" from the Xi'an stall. They were great, though I'd swear the proprietors were actually Beijingers, from their accents.

                                                                            On the way out, I took a picture of the sign for the food court outside. The numbers didn't jibe with the Sietsema article. The Xi'an stall was listed as 26, not 36, and there was no 38 or 27. However, there was a 15 (ma la tang), 16 (Henan small eats) and a 29 (haven't deciphered) . I'll have to get back there and reconcile the numbers listed (not to mention trying more eats!)

                                                                            http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3250/2...

                                                                            1. re: Xiao Yang
                                                                              Brian S Apr 25, 2008 09:42 AM

                                                                              I believe that the outside sign is wrong about the Xi'an stall and its number is indeed 36.

                                                                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/497820

                                                                              1. re: Brian S
                                                                                Xiao Yang Apr 25, 2008 04:16 PM

                                                                                You are right, I went back there today. The sign is missing a couple of restaurants, as well. I think there are at least 10 stalls, not counting the three upstairs.

                                                                                1. re: Xiao Yang
                                                                                  Brian S Apr 26, 2008 09:25 AM

                                                                                  Yeah. I remember going back from my meal at the Xi'an stall to Manhattan to write about it, and thinking during the long ride, "36. Must remember 36. 36."

                                                                            2. re: kathryn
                                                                              j
                                                                              JFores Apr 25, 2008 07:00 AM

                                                                              Haha, he really ordered the wrong things. The dan dan and hot pot noodles are OK, and I love a couple of the ma la apps but he completely ignored the best menu.

                                                                              1. re: JFores
                                                                                c
                                                                                cervisiam Apr 30, 2008 05:33 PM

                                                                                out of the three times that i've been there, only ONCE has the 'head chef' been present. when he is not there, there are only certain things that can be ordered--cold apps, dan dan noodles, hot pot noodles, etc. you can't order the double cooked pork or fish with tofu, two of the standouts.

                                                                                so unless they have someone else cooking the specialties, be forewarned if the man isn't there...

                                                                                1. re: cervisiam
                                                                                  m
                                                                                  MostSalmonForYourRupee Apr 30, 2008 07:30 PM

                                                                                  Do you or anyone else here knows which days the head chef is present? I was there Monday and he wasn't working. It's crucial knowledge for those of us who take the train from Manhattan all the way to Flushing just to eat.

                                                                                  1. re: MostSalmonForYourRupee
                                                                                    Brian S Apr 30, 2008 07:34 PM

                                                                                    I' ve been there many times, always around 6 PM, and the only time I didn't see him was a Monday. (I've never been on Sat or Sun though, since there is no express 7 train.)

                                                                                    1. re: Brian S
                                                                                      squid kun May 1, 2008 02:09 AM

                                                                                      Don't bother with the 7. Take LIRR. City Ticket, $3.25 each way on weekends, 20 minutes from Penn Station - quicker than the elusive and undependable 7 express.

                                                                                      1. re: squid kun
                                                                                        scoopG May 1, 2008 02:48 AM

                                                                                        There is also a Chinese-run, Mini bus service from Chinatown to Flushing for $2. One location is at the northeast corner of Market and Division, with buses running every 15 minutes from around 7 am to 11 pm or so.

                                                                                      2. re: Brian S
                                                                                        Xiao Yang May 1, 2008 04:30 AM

                                                                                        It's only seven minutes longer, fer chrissake, by local. And the express only runs in one direction, so you are apparently content to take the local on your return trip.

                                                                                        I've headed to that mall for dinner the last 5 nights in a row on the 7 (albeit from Vernon/Jackson in LIC) and wish I had it this good in San Francisco.

                                                                                        Whaddya want, egg in your beer?

                                                                                        1. re: Xiao Yang
                                                                                          Brian S May 1, 2008 10:14 AM

                                                                                          Oh but I love that 7 express. In daylight, or the magic hour just around sunset. As it glides above the buildings, the jumble of square brick houses as the sun strikes them makes it cubist heaven. Starting around Corona, glimpses of woods and ocean and sometimes the far hills of the Bronx.

                                                                                          1. re: Xiao Yang
                                                                                            biondanonima May 1, 2008 10:17 AM

                                                                                            Seriously, you've been on a local that only took 7 minutes longer than the express to get all the way out to Flushing? That's AMAZING. I estimate it takes me a good 20 mins longer on the local. I live at 46th and I get off at 61st and wait for an express if I have to!

                                                                                  2. re: kathryn
                                                                                    e
                                                                                    eade Apr 25, 2008 11:43 AM

                                                                                    Neither is a correct translation. The word that is being mistakenly translated either as "Heaven" or "Sky House" is actually a word that refers to the Sichuan area in Chinese.

                                                                                    So the correct name of the restaurant is a rather redundant "Chengdu Sichuan".

                                                                                    1. re: eade
                                                                                      j
                                                                                      JFores Apr 25, 2008 11:50 AM

                                                                                      Isn't it a reference to the plateau which a large part of Szechuan rests on?

                                                                                      1. re: eade
                                                                                        Brian S Apr 25, 2008 02:09 PM

                                                                                        As I just learned, Sichuan has the nickname of Heavenly Province, or
                                                                                        天府之国

                                                                                    2. t
                                                                                      toby1355 Apr 27, 2008 08:55 AM

                                                                                      I Love Flushing! Went to 41-28 Mall last nite again and had a ball. The first two times I've taken out, but this time we ate there. Also, This is the first time we got food from places in addition to Chengdu Heaven. I'd been a little concerned, as had Brian on an earlier post, about ordering and eating food other than at Chengdu. But it wasn't a problem. As a matter of fact, there were "servers" from various stalls delivering food to people sitting at tables all over the mall. When I ordered Ma La Beef from Chengdu, the chef "asked" (using lots of hand motions) where we were sitting and told me (again using lots of hand motions) that when it was ready he'd send it over. (We were sitting in a new "dining" area behind the Tianjin dumpling stall). By the way, thank you Joe Macbu for the English translations; I printed them out and took them with me. I pointed to the last menu column and said "Liu' (six). I added "Ma La" and not knowing the word for beef, blurted out " Moo". This was one silly sounding sixty year old white man. Thanks to the young Asian women next to me who then told him I wanted MaLa beef. The Beef was interesting. A good amount of beef, lots of cabbage and lots of broth. Very spicy; too much for my wife I was okay with it. I went to the Xian stall to buy some white rice and was told that rice was Southern; and these stalls were Northern and thus wheat based. Interesting I thought. We couldn't finish the beef and I went to CH to get a cover. At first the chef looked worried seeing me with the bowl in my hands. I assured him with my best monotone "Zhega fan hen how" and his look turned to a smile. Trust me, I butchered my attempt at Mandarin. Zijians all around and we parted friends.

                                                                                      We also ordered dumplings from the Tianjn stall. The owner spoke pretty good English. He had two kinds of dumplings; the first was celery and pork and the other was shrimp and chives. You could have any combo of twelve. I asked for six and six but got 11 and i for some strange reason. Nevertheless, they were really good. Twelve for $3 was the minimum order. We were only my wife and myself and figured that since we were ordering other dishes, we'd take some home. We wound up eating all twelve. The owner was a little distant at first but then warmed up. He asked where I was from. When I said L.I., he asked how I knew about the Mall. I told him the internet. After the food was ready he came to our table and we chatted more. He told me his father had a restaurant in Tianjin. Also that the food at the Mall was very "professional" (I think he meant authentic) . I asked him about the stall across from his, serving lots of hotpots and very busy. He said they served Sichuan but that the owner was not Sichuan. Also he made a gesture, at that moment, that I took to mean that either he didn't think that that food was very good or he didn't think much of the owner/competitor. ( professional jealousy?). He also came back a bit later to talk more and offered us a few samplings of a cold sliced sauage that he said he made at home. It tasted very, very much like kielbasa to us. We wondered if his middle name was Hillshire. Interestingly enough, a while later, an elderly Chinese couple sat down next to us and ordered a side dish of this sausage. So maybe there is sausage in China that looks and tastes just like Polish. Maybe Marco Polo went to China via Warsaw. We also got a kick out of that Chinese couple. As they settled in and were discussing what to order, the women looked at our food and asked what we were having! Does it mean you've arrived when Chinese are asking you what you're eating?

                                                                                      We also ordered Biang Biang noodles and the lamb burger from the Xian stall. The noodles were really good. I had read about them on this thread and then read further on the Wikipedia site. They were really good. Somewhat broad like Chowfun but thicker. Also, the sauce was thin but really delicious. A bit of a kick, spice wise. Some greens, llttle if any meat. The "burger " was, as mentioned by Brian (?) similar to the lamb dish at Little Pepper, i.e. cuminny. Except for one bite of gristle (thank goodness one of my bites and not my wife's) it was really good.

                                                                                      Finally, on the way out, I asked the Tianjin man for a card so I could post his actual name here. He didn't have one but instead what does he bring out to show me? The Village Voice Sietsema article! Also, It appeared that he didn't even realize that the Voice had actually mentioned his stall. He was pleased when I pointed it out.

                                                                                      All in all, a really good time was had by all. A final thought. The M & L Mall is all bordered up. It looks like a new building/ apartment /condo thing is to replace it. Other such building is ongoing all over Flushing. Does this doom the make-shift Nathan road type malls such as M & L and 41-28? I dread to think. Chow

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: toby1355
                                                                                        Brian S Apr 27, 2008 10:17 AM

                                                                                        I'm really glad you wrote this. Golden Mall reminded me too of Nathan Road, very strongly, though I never found a food court on Nathan that had as much variety.. it's as if all the energy of all of Nathan Road had to be jammed into one place here.

                                                                                        I've seen Chinese sausage before. I think it's something universal, like dumplings. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_...

                                                                                        1. re: Brian S
                                                                                          t
                                                                                          toby1355 Apr 28, 2008 08:45 AM

                                                                                          I found the sausage we were offered unique in that the only Chinese sausage I had ever seen or eaten was a sweet sausage known as lop cheong. It is pretty common in Asian markets, in the shape of a thinnish cigar and is dry and hard. I have a recipe I've made at home and eaten out that is steamed chicken with Chinese sausage and mushrooms (usually whole Shitake caps). I've only seen it on Cantonese menus.
                                                                                          And, in the name of honesty, I've only been on Nathan Road some 35 years ago as a college student on an Asian oddessy (sp?) and wish I knew then what I know now about Chinese food. My only recent "expose" to Nathan Rd. is via Anthony Bourdain.

                                                                                      2. j
                                                                                        JFores Jun 12, 2008 01:43 PM

                                                                                        I had a lovely meal of ma la shredded stomach and the pork with vegetables from menu 3 today. The pork was nice and cut in thin strips which blended into a mound of similarly cut tofu, scallions, etc. Delicious and refreshing for a stir fried dish. Excellent wok skills.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: JFores
                                                                                          chefjellynow Jun 12, 2008 01:56 PM

                                                                                          what time were you there lol, i was at XFE at 2pm , they were making the rolls for the burgers to order, i had lamb and pork..especially good today, the pork was not the same, instead of bieng just nice juicy roast pork it was same but had a soy'ish flavor and a little saltier actually blew me away so good.

                                                                                          1. re: chefjellynow
                                                                                            j
                                                                                            JFores Jun 12, 2008 02:38 PM

                                                                                            I was downstairs at Chengdu around noon to 1pm, I think. Surprisingly crowded. I ended up sharing a table with a bunch of Chinese who wanted to know how I could read the menu (oh the joys of memorization.)

                                                                                            I had a lamb yesterday as well as two of his enormous steamed buns. Very tasty.

                                                                                        2. f
                                                                                          fredid Jun 13, 2008 05:49 AM

                                                                                          As a newbie at Chengdu Heaven, I felt a little shy - not my usual state at all! - ordering off the Chinese menu. Luckily, another "gringo" was there, and he kindly ordered me ma la (Spicy) beef. The other people in the restaurant said, "YOU'RE eating that?!" and told me it was too hot for them! But picking the delicious, chewy strips of beef out of the melange was just fine for me - with just one small pause to cool my mouth! When I was done, the 9" round plate was half covered in red chiles - maybe thirty! - and Schezuan peppercorns, and the other half had 1/4" of red oil... I know other CHers who would have eaten all of it - Not me! I was a happy camper! I was too full (and it only cost $8) to try other delicacies - Next time I'm in the Big Apple! And I'll be braver about ordering by myself...

                                                                                          1. b
                                                                                            banquo Jul 2, 2008 04:50 PM

                                                                                            Went here for the first time last night. Sichuan is probably my favorite cuisine of all, and I've tried all of the main contenders for the best. I went armed with Joe MacBu's translations (thanks!) and things went smoothly--at first. The two of us ordered many things, but unfortunately (as we, and they, came to learn) they could only serve us items from the 'cold menu'. I didn't understand why, but the male owner kept pointing at the pots (I think) and shaking his head. Oh well. At any rate, what we had would inspire me to return: cold cucumber 'salad' and Tian Fu Chicken (recommended by the owner since they didn't have any rabbit). The chicken came first, topped with what looked to be a medley of red peppers. I braced myself for the face-melting heat, but none came. Miraculously, it wasn't that spicy. Rather, it was an exceptional balance of sweet, tart (from the vinegar), spicy and salty. From my limited understanding of Sichuan cuisine, this flavor profile is unique in New York. The chicken itself was very much like the rabbit I've had elsewhere: a lot of bones and an occasional meaty portion. I don't mind the bones, but the skin on the chicken was rather tough and thus difficult to eat. I suppose the idea is to suck on it and delight in the flavor of the sauce. The cucumber salad had a similar flavor profile, but it was milder in the heat department. The cucumbers were crisp and the dish was very refreshing despite the imposing looking red color. When we were signaled that nothing else was available, I was obviously disappointed. I will definitely return though. We skirted over to the Xian booth and I ordered a lamb sandwich. Yum. For $2.50, I'd order that everyday. A subtle lamb flavor profile and cumin overtones (although not too overpowering). The 'bun' was delicious: sweet and fluffy. The owner was there and he speaks English, so that facilitated matters. That area of the food court is more capacious and comfortable, so I will definitely go back there to try some of their stuff.

                                                                                            Because of the unhappy ending, we headed over to Little Pepper to get our fix. I won't say much, since this isn't the right thread, but while we liked it (I've been there before), I don't think it alone would be worth a trek from Manhattan, given what's available there. In several respects, for example, Szechuan Gourmet in Manhattan is superior. Incidentally, Little Pepper serves hot pot. The table next to us was going to town. I've never seen four Asian women eat so much. Bravo!

                                                                                            1. Ike Oct 17, 2008 08:13 AM

                                                                                              I really want to visit Chengdu Heaven, but none of the photos posted above by Joe MacBu are appearing for me. I need some pics to go along with his menu translations, don't I? Or is it pretty easy to go in there and figure out which columns you've translated when you refer to "column 1," "column 4," etc.?

                                                                                              Squid Kun's Photobucket snapshot of the menu is outdated by now, yes? Any chance we can get some new photos here? Or even a small hound gathering at this place?

                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Ike
                                                                                                k
                                                                                                kathryn Oct 17, 2008 08:31 AM

                                                                                                http://gothamist.com/2008/01/22/chengdu_heaven.php
                                                                                                http://flickr.com/photos/10756240@N00/2837213157/
                                                                                                http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2008/06/draft-golden-shopping-mall-in-flushing.html
                                                                                                http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/20...

                                                                                                1. re: kathryn
                                                                                                  Ike Nov 18, 2008 08:35 AM

                                                                                                  Thanks. Does the Gothamist article's photo show the entire menu or is it cut off on the right-hand side? Do Joe MacBu's translations (posted way up above) match up with it? The menu is a bit blurry so it's hard to tell. Are Brian S.'s translations (in his post from Jan. 7) of the third column?

                                                                                                  1. re: Ike
                                                                                                    f
                                                                                                    fredid Nov 18, 2008 08:57 AM

                                                                                                    As an FYI for Ike and all the rest of us who need translations - When I went, I found that several of the customers, as well as one of the women working there, spoke English. One possibility, if you know what you're interested in ordering, is to be brave and ask if anyone there could help you order - Once the other people at the stand saw that I was eating very spicy food, for instance, many chatted with me. And, of course, if you like hot (spicy) and Szechuan peppercorn numbing, the phrase is "ma la"!

                                                                                                    Oh, and one more idea for the language challenged - If you're looking for the dan-dan noodles (which are excellent) just bring a copy of the NYTimes article - They'll know what you want! You won't be the first, and you certainly won't be the last, either!

                                                                                                    1. re: fredid
                                                                                                      j
                                                                                                      JFores Nov 19, 2008 12:54 AM

                                                                                                      Woah, one of the employees speaks English now? Which? This is quite a surprise seeing as they didn't know what "rice" was only 6 months ago. I had to have rice translated by a customer. Also, the columns are quite apparent when you get there especially if you note the prices on a piece of paper before you go. It's pretty much a no brainer. You'll see what I mean. I've got everything written down at home, but not in PDF format. I'll see if I can get it off my old laptop and repost it.

                                                                                                      1. re: JFores
                                                                                                        f
                                                                                                        fredid Nov 19, 2008 08:43 AM

                                                                                                        She was there when I went in June - not a cook (I don't think) but a woman - maybe in her early 40s - taking my order and hanging out.

                                                                                                    2. re: Ike
                                                                                                      Joe MacBu Nov 18, 2008 11:23 AM

                                                                                                      Yes, my translations match up with the Gothamist photo.
                                                                                                      Only the prices for the items on the last (3rd) column are cut off.

                                                                                                      Yes, Brian's translations (and mine from Jan 27) are of column 3.

                                                                                                      1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                                        r
                                                                                                        rschwim Nov 18, 2008 04:45 PM

                                                                                                        Does anybody know where those great pdf's of all 3 columns w translations are hiding nowadays?

                                                                                                        1. re: rschwim
                                                                                                          f
                                                                                                          fredid Nov 19, 2008 08:45 AM

                                                                                                          Brian S began the translations on Jan 07, and Joe MacBue continued with more posts through Jan -

                                                                                                          Joe - had you posted those photos or pdfs originally? They're no longer there, where you indicate you posted them (in Jan) - Maybe they got lost with the CH re-do?!

                                                                                                          1. re: fredid
                                                                                                            Joe MacBu Nov 19, 2008 09:48 AM

                                                                                                            I had posted JPEGs (is it possible to post PDFs?) originally.
                                                                                                            I was requested to remove those photos from this site and have regretfully obliged.

                                                                                                            However, I think that there is enough information available in the text of the posts above for anyone to order confidently. To clarify, there are 3 columns on the main menu. Column 1 is on the left, column 2 is the middle one, and column 3 is on the right. The prices might have changed, but the order of the dishes has not (as far as I know).

                                                                                                            On a related note, I get the feeling that some stalls prefer to cater to compatriots and don't necessarily like being popular with outsiders (and being written up in the press). I've tried to give translated menus to some vendors so that they would have more business, but they have been bluntly refused. Then there are those who appreciate the exposure, realize the untapped market and spend some money to get their own English menus made (e.g. the hand-pulled noodle stall).

                                                                                                        2. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                                          j
                                                                                                          JFores Nov 19, 2008 12:54 AM

                                                                                                          Some of the prices went up when I was there last.

                                                                                                  2. j
                                                                                                    JFores Dec 21, 2008 08:12 PM

                                                                                                    Just wanted to toss an update in. They've added a pseudo counter and a "we have toilet paper" sign! My recent meals have included their incredible ma la tom, the ma la mung bean jelly which is made freshly there and incredible, and the sausage (for upcoming new year) which is not on the written menu. All really great stuff.

                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: JFores
                                                                                                      h
                                                                                                      hoi lai Jan 5, 2009 03:35 PM

                                                                                                      I was wondering if you could describe the ma la mung bean jelly dish..Would appreciate it as well as any info about the "sausage" thanks,hoi lai

                                                                                                      1. re: hoi lai
                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                        JFores Jan 6, 2009 03:04 AM

                                                                                                        They make large sheets of mung bean jelly fresh, let it set, and then slice it up into thick noodle like rectangles. They then cover it with chili oil, chili flakes, hua jiao, etc and charge you 3.50 for it. It's towards the bottom of the middle menu. The sausage isn't on the menu (and might only be available till Chinese New Year.) I forget how to say sausage though. Anyone here who can give us the word?

                                                                                                        1. re: JFores
                                                                                                          l
                                                                                                          Lau Jan 6, 2009 03:56 AM

                                                                                                          well the sausages you normally see are called la chang (lop chong in cantonese), but im not sure if these sausages are the same (i doubt they are), they'll know what you're talking about if u say la chang

                                                                                                          btw i think the taiwanese ones are called xiang chang

                                                                                                          1. re: JFores
                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                            hoi lai Jan 6, 2009 06:38 AM

                                                                                                            Thanks for the info. I might have an old copy of the menu as mine doesn't have ma la mung bean jelly. My copy has a dish called "dried bean curd with peanut" is that perhaps it? Is the sausage served just by itself or with other ingredients? hoi lai

                                                                                                            1. re: hoi lai
                                                                                                              j
                                                                                                              JFores Jan 6, 2009 01:47 PM

                                                                                                              The sausage is on its own and 3 dollars a serving. The mung bean jelly is I think the middle column second from the bottom. $3.50.

                                                                                                              1. re: JFores
                                                                                                                Joe MacBu Jan 7, 2009 09:14 PM

                                                                                                                Middle column, second from the bottom, is chuanbei noodles. I thought it was made from rice, but perhaps it is mung bean.

                                                                                                                1. re: JFores
                                                                                                                  chefjellynow Jan 28, 2009 07:06 AM

                                                                                                                  one of the best things he has is his lamb shanks...he doesnt have them every day, he seems to have the beef and pork daily but lamb shanks rock there..if i remember right it was $6/lamb shank

                                                                                                        2. k
                                                                                                          kathryn Dec 21, 2008 08:42 PM

                                                                                                          A repost from a post I tried a while ago, maybe someone can give an update:

                                                                                                          Putting together some notes on the Golden Shopping Mall at 41-28 and finding some confusion....I'm trying to pull together a list of stall names, numbers, and styles of foods available for my next trip out there.

                                                                                                          Stall 36 - X'ian Famous Eats (Xian style)

                                                                                                          Extensively documented on CH.

                                                                                                          Stall 31 - Chengdu Heaven aka Chengdu Tian Fu aka Chengdu Sky House (Sichuan style)

                                                                                                          Ditto.

                                                                                                          Stall 29 - Happy Family (Fuzhou style)

                                                                                                          Mentioned briefly on CH as being across from Chengdu Heaven, used to be a vegetarian spot. It was identified before the discovery that the basement of the 41st Street entrance linked up with the street level Main St. entrance, etc.
                                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/329064

                                                                                                          Stall 32 - Ru Yi Wenzhou Little Eats (name from outside sign) (Wenzhou style

                                                                                                          )

                                                                                                          Got the name from a photo of the food court sign that Gary Soup (Xiao Yang) took. I'm hoping this is the same place that is in his write up. Sietsema describes stall 32 as being Wenzhou style food.

                                                                                                          Stall 38, (no name given), Tianjin-style cuisine (Sietsema)
                                                                                                          Stall __, Wang Zhen's Muslim Snacks aka Wang Zhen Qing Zhen Xiao Chi

                                                                                                          Dunlop says Wang Zhen's is is Tianjin-style cuisine. Is Wang Zhen's the same as stall 38 described by Sietseam?

                                                                                                          Stall __ - Old Wong Kee (Fuzhou style)

                                                                                                          Visted by Dunlop. Is this the same as Happy Family? Across from Wang Zhen's, said Dunlop.

                                                                                                          Stall 15 - Four Seasons Noodles / Ma La Soup (hot pot, shabu shabu, noodles)

                                                                                                          Is still around? Did anybody ever try it? I definitely tried a big noodle place in back that had "15" as the stall number. It had nice big booths and a counter, but I don't remember seeing any hot pots. The sign that Gary Soup posted has two stall 15's though. Maybe the Ma La Soup place is the one that is much closer to the Main St. entrance.

                                                                                                          Stall 27 - Lanzhou noodles

                                                                                                          Stall 1A - Nan Bei Dumplings (lower level)
                                                                                                          Stall ___, Dumpling and Noodle House

                                                                                                          Are these two stalls the same?

                                                                                                          Stall C4 (?) - Shangdong Dumplings

                                                                                                          References:
                                                                                                          http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2008/06/draft-golden-shopping-mall-in-flushing.html
                                                                                                          http://www.villagevoice.com/2008-04-22/restaurants/regional-chinese-fare-hits-flushing-like-a-ton-of-bricks/
                                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/516764
                                                                                                          http://www.flickr.com/photos/garysoup...

                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: kathryn
                                                                                                            Joe MacBu Dec 22, 2008 09:04 PM

                                                                                                            The dumpling place on the lower level, between the DVD store and the Xi'an place, is not currently functional. I could not understand if it was under renovation to open as the same dumpling place, or whether it was changing hands. Of course, it was my favorite dumpling stall (but I'm excited to experience the next incarnation).

                                                                                                            1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                                              j
                                                                                                              JFores Dec 22, 2008 09:19 PM

                                                                                                              Actually it's the Board of Health... They've got papers posted all over it...

                                                                                                              1. re: JFores
                                                                                                                missmasala Jan 5, 2009 08:02 AM

                                                                                                                does anyone know if this dumpling place has reopened? i don't want to go to golden mall if it hasn't reopened yet, cause it's one of my faves and i count on buying my frozen dumplings there for home meals. it's a long trip from brooklyn and i need to be able to stock up if i go.

                                                                                                                1. re: missmasala
                                                                                                                  f
                                                                                                                  fredid Jan 5, 2009 11:49 AM

                                                                                                                  If Joe McBu is referring to the dumpling stall one down from Xian going towards Chengdu (e.g. where the two hallways/aisles intersect) that one's open with the same guy running it. If he's talking about a stall between Xian and the back of the floor (e.g. towards the bathroom, and away from Main St.) I couldn't tell you... This is of Sat the 3rd.

                                                                                                                  1. re: fredid
                                                                                                                    missmasala Jan 5, 2009 12:13 PM

                                                                                                                    i'm def talking about the one between Xian and the back of the floor and i think that's the one Joe McBu referenced as well.

                                                                                                                    Which dumpling stall is down from Xian where the two hallways intersect? Does it only do dumplings or other stuff as well?

                                                                                                                    1. re: missmasala
                                                                                                                      Joe MacBu Jan 5, 2009 03:51 PM

                                                                                                                      Yep, I was referring to the one by the toilet. Still wasn't open a week ago.

                                                                                                                      The other stall that fredid mentioned is directly to the east of Xi'an. I've had their dumplings, but preferred the ones from the shut down stall. These guys serve a few other things too like cold snack dishes (pickled veggies, spiced dried tofu, etc.) and some kind of meat. The proprietor speaks fluent English and is eager to get you to try her stuff.

                                                                                                                  2. re: missmasala
                                                                                                                    k
                                                                                                                    kathryn Mar 8, 2009 05:59 PM

                                                                                                                    They were definitely up and running today! Located on the lower level of the Golden Mall, furthest stall away from Main Street, with a large-ish seating area.

                                                                                                                    If you enter from Main Street, go down the stairs, turn left, go past Chengdu Heaven, turn right past Lanzhou Handmade Noodle, walk past Xian Famous Foods, and tiny hot pot place, and it's the last food stall before the level ends, right?

                                                                                                            2. k
                                                                                                              kathryn Jan 4, 2009 10:47 PM

                                                                                                              Here's a photo of the current menu:
                                                                                                              http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathyylc...

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: kathryn
                                                                                                                a
                                                                                                                aacharya Jan 7, 2009 10:02 AM

                                                                                                                kathyrn, if you email me, I created a three-column word document with the translations from this super-long (maybe now too long) thread.

                                                                                                                If you post it or the text within flickr, we have a permanent place where we can keep this. Another option, is to place this pic and the translations in the chow store directory, if there is one for chengdu or the flushing mall.

                                                                                                                i do love these places and the thread, but it's now a lot to weed through.

                                                                                                                1. re: aacharya
                                                                                                                  k
                                                                                                                  kathryn Jan 7, 2009 10:36 AM

                                                                                                                  Actually that's my friends, photo, i took one too but the menu is smaller than hers.

                                                                                                                  I added the translations from this thread onto the Flickr photo
                                                                                                                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathryn/...

                                                                                                                  Agreed that this thread is giant! Doesn't help that the mall seems to change often, too.

                                                                                                                  1. re: kathryn
                                                                                                                    r
                                                                                                                    rschwim Jan 7, 2009 10:06 PM

                                                                                                                    Has anyone tried the crispy spiced duck?

                                                                                                                    1. re: kathryn
                                                                                                                      s
                                                                                                                      SpiceJunkies Jan 8, 2009 05:47 AM

                                                                                                                      I started the same thing in Excel, but the photo above really helps. I may be asking too muchm, but it would be great to have a translitteration next to the English. This would relieve some of the pointing. Going in and just saying Ma La tan is so easy and plus it makes me feel cooler.

                                                                                                                2. j
                                                                                                                  JFores Jan 8, 2009 11:02 AM

                                                                                                                  Guys, the middle column Chuanbei rice noodles is definitely wrong. It's ma la bean jelly.

                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: JFores
                                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                                    csabi26 Jan 8, 2009 07:22 PM

                                                                                                                    I had this dish tonight - middle column, second from the bottom - it definitely looked like you described it. Long white gelatinous noodle-like stuff in chilli oil with peppercorn, scallions etc. They were pretty good, they gave you that pleasant numbing feeling they were a bit salty though.

                                                                                                                    This was my 3rd attempt -all of them on Thursday around 6:30-7:00 PM - to eat from the 3rd column, but the chef wasn't there again. What I understood from the 2 women is that the chef is usually there in the morning, not in the afternoon. They told me to try on Tuesday, I will confirm next week if he stays that late.

                                                                                                                    1. re: csabi26
                                                                                                                      j
                                                                                                                      JFores Jan 8, 2009 11:11 PM

                                                                                                                      He's never there on Thursdays. I think that's his one day off now. He used to have two, but I think it's only Thurs now.

                                                                                                                      1. re: JFores
                                                                                                                        h
                                                                                                                        hoi lai Jan 9, 2009 12:26 PM

                                                                                                                        I ate there yesterday at around 3P.M. with a chinese speaking friend we had the 2nd from bottom of 2nd column and 5 spice beef,both delicious.The chef was there and prepared the noodles and then he ate.He left after making ma la rabbit takeout for a lady who had requested the dish a day earlier.Also discovered can buy the hot pepper sauce on tables .$5 for a 2 cup container (the smallest they sell ) but it is really hit or miss with him on thursdays. HOI LAI

                                                                                                                        1. re: hoi lai
                                                                                                                          Joe MacBu Jan 9, 2009 03:37 PM

                                                                                                                          Did you happen to find out the Chinese name of this dish?
                                                                                                                          I don't see the characters for "ma la" in it, which is not to say that it doesn't have the flavor.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                                            hoi lai Jan 10, 2009 12:16 PM

                                                                                                                            No, I didn't get the Chinese name for the dish although I thought of it later (when it was too late). My friend didn't think the noodles tasted like mung bean jelly but I will ask next time I'm out there with him. Hoi Lai

                                                                                                                  2. i
                                                                                                                    ian9139 Jan 10, 2009 10:05 AM

                                                                                                                    We had an excellent meal in the Golden Mall food court, including some good food from Chengdu Heaven. Thank you to those who translated the menus. We ordered dan dan mien and after some confusion and a lack of other items, ma la diced rabbit.
                                                                                                                    Dan dan mien was excellent, and the rabbit was very good, but a little too salty and oily for my tastes. Some pieces also consisted of only fat and bone, but for the price, I had no qualms about searching for the good chunks of meat.
                                                                                                                    Funny story: my sister, after tasting the rabbit, declared herself a vegetarian (due to the thought of eating rabbit, not the taste), and has been a pescatarian (sp?) for 3 months since

                                                                                                                    1. d
                                                                                                                      daiquiri ice Jan 23, 2009 04:11 PM

                                                                                                                      Stopped in around 12:30 today (Friday) and, although every other stall was packed, Chengdu Heaven's four tables were empty. Behind the counter were two women and an older man, who seemed to be managing the stovetop operation. Thanks to everyone's great translations and and instructions, I simply pointed at fish with tofu and said please and to stay, and managed to communicate otherwise without any stammering or embarrassing hand gestures. "Five minutes," I was told, and so I sat down in front of the countertop refrigerator. Whose doors are made of glass -- so I was also able to observe the chef's final "layering" process at the end of the preparation.

                                                                                                                      He began with the do fu - mounds of it went into the plastic bowl - which had already been cooked in a light brown sauce that seemed to have some thickener in it. The slightly crispy, slightly chewy whole soybeans were in with the do fu, I think. Then chili oil and peppercorns and a few other aromatics - vinegar and wine? - and then more chili oil and peppercorns. Then the battered and fried fish. Lots of it. Next he minced some pickled greens - tossed them in - then sliced some pickled chives? - tossed them in - sliced some green onion - tossed it in - chopped some cilantro -- and tossed it in. .. Then. I'd give anything to know exactly what was in the little packet this guy pulled out from the refrigerator. He pulled from this little packet a few pieces of something, minced it, and sprinkled it over everything. Little brownish flecks in the bowl - perhaps they were dried fish? Not sure. But they were delicious, and their slighly funky, salty tang plus the slow heat of the peppercorns, the vinegary pickles, savory chives and onions, cilantro, and the soft, subtle do fu and fish combined in my mouth in a slightly different way every bite - sometimes I'd taste the tang of the vinegar first, the bite of the onion, and then my mouth would glow with ma la. Other times I'd taste everything in succession, one sensation after the next, glowing, glowing, ma la, each bite unfolding in my mouth like falling in love feels...

                                                                                                                      Half an hour went by. Chengdu Heaven was getting crowded, and I still had almost half a cup of rice plus a giant full bowl of fish and bean, . And I mean GIANT. The dish is $9.99, but it seems meant to serve 3 or 4 people. I got a lid for the bowl, paid up, and as I was turning to leave was offered a hot wonton in oil by a nice guy sitting at the table behind me -- pretty good, and covered with peppercorns. I asked him and his friend what else they were eating: both, the hot and sour cellophane noodle soup, which had seaweed, cabbage, a few other vegetables in broth, as well as a giant plate of ma la tripe between them, which they were having a hard time describing to me because it was apparently so indescribably delicious.

                                                                                                                      This place really is exquisite. and that fish and bean was (and will be later tonight probably) one of the most delicious things I ever ate. Thanks, as ever, for the heads-up.

                                                                                                                      Also - regarding the type of fish: I saw it before he battered it, and from the fillet's shape and color I'd be hard pressed to say today's catch was anything other than whiting.

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: daiquiri ice
                                                                                                                        f
                                                                                                                        fredid Jan 26, 2009 09:52 AM

                                                                                                                        DI - What a great post! Thanks!

                                                                                                                        1. re: daiquiri ice
                                                                                                                          Brian S Mar 23, 2009 04:30 PM

                                                                                                                          Daiquiri thank you so much for posting this lovely description. It's torture for me to read since I'm in Oklahoma. The fish with tofu was the first thing I had here, and its magic kept me coming back.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Brian S
                                                                                                                            c oliver Apr 4, 2009 10:32 AM

                                                                                                                            Are you ever in NYC any more? I live in NoCal and you turned me on to so many places and things. I probably won't be spending time Tulsa :(

                                                                                                                        2. c
                                                                                                                          csabi26 Mar 4, 2009 04:37 PM

                                                                                                                          I'm excited to break this news first: Chengdu Heaven has added beautiful pictures of their dishes and most of them have English translation. You can see them as you walk in, they have even more pictures inside the stall.

                                                                                                                          I don't know if it is good news or bad news. Maybe the depression finally forced them to try translate the menu and add pictures. I hope they stay open.

                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: csabi26
                                                                                                                            missmasala Mar 4, 2009 05:28 PM

                                                                                                                            That's so funny, i just got back from the mall and was going to post the same thing. Will make things a bit easier, but perhaps less fun. The pics are nice.
                                                                                                                            The mall was rockin' at 9 on a wednesday night. does anyone know what time the stalls downstairs close? are they a late-night option?

                                                                                                                            1. re: csabi26
                                                                                                                              Polecat Mar 5, 2009 04:35 AM

                                                                                                                              It's good news. It reflects a more varied customer base, which does not necessarily mean they're going to compromise their product. In terms of our current hard times, sure, CH is probably feeling it like everyone else. We shouldn't take for granted that it's going to be around forever; other noteworthy stalls have come and gone in this neighborhood. But, again, I'd have to weigh in that, in doing the picture menu, they're acknowledging a wider customer base.

                                                                                                                              That, and they're probably sick of clueless Joes like me who scan the wall menu with Chowhound cheat sheets in hand and dumbfounded expressions on their faces.
                                                                                                                              P

                                                                                                                              1. re: Polecat
                                                                                                                                k
                                                                                                                                kathryn Mar 5, 2009 10:23 AM

                                                                                                                                Maybe they noticed how many people seem to whiz past their stall and go to the hand pulled noodle shop with the GIANT signs with arrows (who always seem to be putting on a big noodle show these days) or the big full color photos at the Xi'an stall (with an owner who starts talking you up the minute you pause)?

                                                                                                                                1. re: Polecat
                                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                                  JFores Mar 9, 2009 04:06 AM

                                                                                                                                  Awww you have to MEMORIZE the cheat sheets! That's how you make cool non-English-speaking friends on every visit!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: JFores
                                                                                                                                    Polecat Mar 9, 2009 04:46 AM

                                                                                                                                    I've done my best, in Japan as well as places like Flushing. What to say except the old nogin isn't what it used to be. Too much ma la on the brain.
                                                                                                                                    P.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Polecat
                                                                                                                                      j
                                                                                                                                      JFores Mar 9, 2009 01:35 PM

                                                                                                                                      Haha, I'm sure you have. I started having the funniest little experiences at Chengdu Heaven after I managed to memorize the menu. I'd get Mandarinbushed out of nowhere after placing my order nearly every time I went. This is not good as my Mandarin is literally limited to reading Xinjiang style and Sichuan style menus. I don't even know the character for rice!

                                                                                                                              2. s
                                                                                                                                sethgodin Apr 12, 2009 07:12 AM

                                                                                                                                Not sure if this qualifies as big news, but we went last night and:
                                                                                                                                1. they don't have the fish and tofu any more
                                                                                                                                and
                                                                                                                                2. they now have an English menu, with pictures, on the wall. I'm not sure if this made me happy or sad, but it sure made it easier to order.

                                                                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: sethgodin
                                                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                                                  MahatmaKanejeeves Apr 12, 2009 07:21 AM

                                                                                                                                  One of the pictures was fish and tofu. Perhaps they were just out of fish and tofu. They didn't have every pictured dish a few weeks ago. They have plenty of cold meat stocked.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: MahatmaKanejeeves
                                                                                                                                    b
                                                                                                                                    billhill Apr 12, 2009 03:21 PM

                                                                                                                                    this thread became impossible to follow 3 months ago, is it possible to start a new one? I love reading about this place.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: billhill
                                                                                                                                      j
                                                                                                                                      joekarten Apr 12, 2009 06:46 PM

                                                                                                                                      went today and had the cold beef tendons and also the cold noodles with spicy sauce. both were very mediocre and, frankly, really disappointing. so lackluster, in fact, that i stopped off at little pepper on the way home and got a take out order of cold beef tendons that just blew away the version i'd had at chengdu heaven. i'm not at all convinced that they're using top quality ingredients at chengdu, and given the fact that their prices aren't that much better than the sit down restaurants nearby, i won't be going back. i wonder if the exoticness of the place is part of the appeal, or maybe i went on a bad day (doubtful, though, since it was a sunday afternoon and neither of my dishes needed cooking.) either way, i was really unimpressed.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: joekarten
                                                                                                                                        b
                                                                                                                                        bruce3404 Apr 28, 2009 11:19 AM

                                                                                                                                        Went yesterday (Monday) with great anticipation. We arrived around 5PM and were told that the hot menu was not available (the pictures on the wall are divided by hot and cold dishes and the woman in charge simply pointed to the half of the menu that wasn't available). The chef was a woman and she prepared smoked rabbit and since they didn't have an entire order of spicy beef available, we got 1/2 spicy beef and 1/2 beef jerky. We were rather disappointed in all three dishes. The beef dishes were just OK, not very interesting and we ate less than half of what they brought and elected not to take the rest home. The rabbit, while interesting, was sitting in the middle of a huge puddle of oil and after awhile, the oilyness of the dish became too much. I've traveled extensively in China and eaten in a lot of local dives both in the N and S and I understand certain regional propensities towards the use of oil, but this one was just too oily. Wife had the same problem with the metallic taste in her mouth as described above; I didn't. Hopefully, the next time we try this place, we'll be able to eat off the warm menu!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: bruce3404
                                                                                                                                          Brian S May 1, 2009 10:33 AM

                                                                                                                                          Sadly, it's been a LONG time since I've been there, but as of a year ago, Monday was their main chef's day off.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Brian S
                                                                                                                                            scoopG May 1, 2009 11:58 AM

                                                                                                                                            And we've missed you! The last two times I've been there (on the weekend) I've been told "the chef has not arrived yet - will be here later this afternoon."

                                                                                                                                          2. re: bruce3404
                                                                                                                                            j
                                                                                                                                            JFores May 1, 2009 01:45 PM

                                                                                                                                            Curious but understandable. When the main man isn't in I tend to stick to the ma la tom (ma la soup, the huge hand written one) and the pork tripe in chili oil. Both are super reliable and Little Pepper has neither of them. Also good is the mung bean jelly in chili oil. The women will generally assemble any cold dish regardless of weather the guy is there.

                                                                                                                                            I miss being able to go here on a regular basis. I've witnessed some cool little things there such as the time the cook made my ma po do fu while texting while holding a conversation and it still came out perfect.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: JFores
                                                                                                                                              Xiao Yang May 1, 2009 05:28 PM

                                                                                                                                              In China, the cook would be texting with a cigarette dangling from his lips.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Xiao Yang
                                                                                                                                                Chandavkl May 1, 2009 06:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                Unfortunately, Gary, not just in China--Chinatown, too.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Xiao Yang
                                                                                                                                                  scoopG May 1, 2009 07:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Plenty of that in the Flushing Mall.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: scoopG
                                                                                                                                                    Ike May 1, 2009 10:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                    It's much different in China. The cigarette smoke there is much, much, MUCH thicker and nastier. After a couple of days of breathing that, I couldn't taste the food quite so well. And virtually everybody I encountered in China was incredibly rude and nasty. I'd much rather be in Flushing. Actually, the last time I went to 41-28, I didn't notice anybody smoking. If anybody was, then it was lost in all the steam and wonderful food smells.

                                                                                                                                                    Anyway, on my last visit to Chengdu Heaven, I *loved* the "salad of three shredded ingredients"($3). What a fantastic ma la sauce. That may match anything I ate in Chengdu. And I didn't have to inhale noxious clouds of the most vile cigarette smoke imaginable to get to it, or navigate streets whose names change every block and mystifying bus routes, looking for restaurants that have been torn down to make room for more malls full of boring chain stores. I only had to go to Flushing. Yes, that's right. I'll say it again. I'd rather be in Flushing than Chengdu.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ike
                                                                                                                                                      m
                                                                                                                                                      MahatmaKanejeeves May 2, 2009 06:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                      There is some of that type of ambiance in Flushing. The arrangement of bus routes converging at Main St. seems somewhat mystifying to me. The naming of streets as St, Rd or Av doesn't seem to be consistent. For example, 41 Rd is one block away from 41 Ave.

                                                                                                                                                      What are the chef's hours Tue-Sun? His absence explains the availability of only the cold dishes at certain times. I presumed that they didn't have the ingredients for the hot dishes.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MahatmaKanejeeves
                                                                                                                                                        ChiefHDB Sep 19, 2009 07:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Went to chengdu heaven today, had the house salad and the cold noodles. That house salad is unbelievable, great balance w/ seaweed, carrots, clear noodles, cilantro, vinegar, and loads of chili oil. I need to go back to experience the full breadth of the menu.

                                                                                                                                    2. r
                                                                                                                                      Ranliang Jan 5, 2010 03:37 PM

                                                                                                                                      Is the Chengdu Heaven still exists and is in the same location in Flushing?

                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ranliang
                                                                                                                                        l
                                                                                                                                        Lau Jan 5, 2010 04:04 PM

                                                                                                                                        yes, its the basement of the golden mall

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Lau
                                                                                                                                          b
                                                                                                                                          bruce3404 Jan 14, 2010 08:18 AM

                                                                                                                                          I really want to try this place again. Is there any particular time when I can count on the chef being available or, failing that, a time when he's USUALLY around?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: bruce3404
                                                                                                                                            j
                                                                                                                                            JFores Jan 16, 2010 04:17 AM

                                                                                                                                            I've recently found that the new girl they've got in and the male chef are almost constantly there. Just don't go too early or too late. Also, the one woman's that's been there since the beginning of time (the old guy that used to cook those dishes is soooo rarely in. He was ill for a while, then went to Sichuan for the earthquake, then came back and was still ill, etc) seems to be getting her residency or something as she keeps trying to speak really simple bits of English with me. It's hilarious because I'm simultaneously trying to use my non-existent Mando on here and we're both blatantly trying to practice off one another simultaneously (probably because I was a constant laowai face in there for like a straight month on multiple occasions. I actually think I've had the entire menu now.)

                                                                                                                                      2. y
                                                                                                                                        yunsui Jul 24, 2010 03:46 AM

                                                                                                                                        Chengdu "Heaven" is grossly overrated in this thread. The food is OK--it's authentic enough--but the managers are rude and unprofessional. I've been twice: the first time was crowded, so the 50 minute wait was understandable. The second time we were the first to arrive, but still we had to wait for 20 minutes to be served. The tradition of 好客 is totally missing in this restaurant. Even if you speak reasonably fluent Mandarin, you will be ignored and treated with disdain and reluctance. I know you may be thinking: here is a foreigner used to being treated like royalty. I know the phenomenon but I assure you this is not the case. Basic courtesy is not to be found here.

                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: yunsui
                                                                                                                                          j
                                                                                                                                          JFores Aug 16, 2010 08:01 PM

                                                                                                                                          Ya sure? They've always been extremely nice to me and I get greeted whenever I go despite the fact that after something like 4 years going there we still have no common language. You just have to walk up to them and order. As long as you can say what you want in Mando you're fine and if not then drag them out and point at the wall.

                                                                                                                                          The recent price raise is steep as hell though. Some stuff doubled in price. It's value used to be that the food was just a bit better than Little Pepper and other proper restaurants, but was FAR cheaper.

                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                          Little Pepper
                                                                                                                                          133-43 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11354

                                                                                                                                          1. re: JFores
                                                                                                                                            w
                                                                                                                                            wew Aug 18, 2010 12:04 PM

                                                                                                                                            "They've always been extremely nice to me..."
                                                                                                                                            This has always been my experience.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: wew
                                                                                                                                              ChiefHDB Aug 18, 2010 01:37 PM

                                                                                                                                              Same here. Very friendly. What's this about the price increase? I haven't been in a few months, that's very disheartening.

                                                                                                                                        2. f
                                                                                                                                          fredid Aug 19, 2010 01:12 PM

                                                                                                                                          For those of you who may have missed it, someone pointed out on another thread that the whole Golden Shopping Mall has been wonderfully documented and mapped in the last week or so on Serious Eats NY! Just a tip...

                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                          Golden Shopping Mall
                                                                                                                                          41-28 Main St, Queens, NY 11355

                                                                                                                                          Show Hidden Posts