Getting treated... Chinese in Elmhurst?
Some friends are taking me out for dinner for some help I gave them awhile ago and all three of us are meat-eating, which is a rare treat for me. I was thinking that it's a good opportunity to go out for some good authentic Chinese food, with pig guts and the like.
On my list are:
David's Taiwanese Gourmet
Are these as good as or better than Spicy & Tasty in Flushing?
I lived in Hong Kong briefly so would prefer an excellent meal in another cuisine to so-so Cantonese.
Where would you go (in Manhattan or Queens) if you were being treated?
I've sort of OD'd on Sripraphai, Natural Tofu, Zabb, and the Yakk.
David's is now called Lin's, but it seems to be the same owners and the food is the same. You can have a phenomenally good meal there with a number of really interesting and unusual choices.
Probably Little Pepper or Spicy and Tasty, but those aren't in Elmhurst. Amazing 66 in the city? New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe?
Or Taqueria Coatzingo for a very not Chinese approach to awesome food in that zone.
Lin's is quite good and probably the best place to be treated to in Elmhurst for some slightly adventurous (Tiawenese) fare. Ping's is pricier but more mainstream, if only cuz it's more Cantonese. A decent selection of guts can be had at Little Pepper (Sichuan) in Flushing, especially if you go with the hot pot (but the hot pot ingredients are only listed in Mandarin). If you're really leaning towards guts and other rare edibles, but more of the sheep than pig variety, I would hit A Fan Ti in Flushing. It's a great place to go with some very adventurous meat eaters. The testicles were a minor disappointment with their lacking flavor. But all the gamy flavor that you expect to have origin in the gonads, are in full bloom in the eyeballs. Oh man, I can still taste them a month later.
re: Joe MacBu
Am I blind?? Was looking for Lin's today (not for food, just a menu, as I'd eaten at Chao Thai) and was definitely at the right intersection. I cannot read Chinese unfortunately, but don't recall seeing any signs that did not have English translations, and none that I noticed said Lin's, Taiwanese, or even David's. Is it in the same building as the Quickly? Or across the street? Or has Google maps steered me wrong?
For the best Chinese option in Elmhurst, I would recommend "Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House" on Whitney Avenue, 1 block East of Broadway. This is NOT a fancy, white-linen-and-wine-list sort of place. In fact, it sort of looks like a typical Chinese take-out place. But it makes AWESOME dumplings -- both boiled and pan-fried -- with special flavors like "hui xiang" (fennel?) and "ji cai." The skin is hand-made, and have a good texture -- substantial and slightly chewy. The pan-fried dumplings are especially amazing. The skin is golden and crispy on the bottom, but still moist and slightly chewy otherwise. They are full of delicious hot juices so be careful when you take the first bite! The boiled dumplings are cooked to order and the pan-fried dumplings are so popular that they never sit there and get stale.(That said, if they're at the end of a batch I would really wait for a new batch -- they are off-the-charts delicious when they first come out!) Be sure you eat them with some of their homemade spicy chili sauce if you can take a little heat. They're not SUPER spicy (these people are from Shenyang in the Northeast, not from Sichuan), but really fragrant. The fried dumplings are 4 for $1 and the boiled ones 8 for $2.50 or so (depending on the flavor).
In addition to dumplings, they also make fresh hand-pulled noodles, by which I mean they take a piece of dough and pull your noodles after you place the order. If you like cold noodles, I recommend the sesame sauce noodles (ma jiang la mian), which is served with a refreshing cool sesame sauce. I usually add a little of their spicy sauce to mine, but it's a personal choice.
Last but not least, order "chai1 gu3 rou4" if they have any available. This is a cold appetizer of delicious cooked pork pieces shaved off from close to the bone, and tossed in garlic, cilantro, and some other blend of yumminess. It is delicious!!! Unfortunately, it is hard to find suitable pork bones for this dish so the daily supply is very limited. They do not write this dish on their menu, and keep it out of sight behind the counter, so you will have to ask for it specifically with conviction. But your adventurousness will be rewarded when you taste this awesome treat!
Other than Lao Bei Fang, I would recommend "Jin Yuan Xiao Guan" (formerly known as King 5 Noodle House, which also has a branch in Flushing) on Broadway, half a block North of 45th Ave. They're a Taiwanese beef noodle place basically, but they also have other dishes. The beef noodle soup is the closest I've been able to get to those of my native Taipei (although of course you are NOT going to get the 100% real thing outside of Taiwan), with tender beef, spicy broth, and pickled vegetables in a jar to go with your noodle soup. The noodles are generally good -- the kind of width and texture you usually get in a Taiwanese beef noodle house -- but sometimes a little overcooked and limpy if you're unlucky. Order the spicy one if you like some heat (IMHO better than the non-spicy one, but again this is a matter of personal taste). I recommend ordering either half beef/half tendon or all beef tendon. The beef tendon is cooked low and slow for hours so it's fall-apart tender. This is a real treat because I personally never have the patience to cook my tendon long enough to achieve this texture -- and I don't have to because I can just go to Jin Yuan!
I also recommend the weekend brunch menu, which is served until 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and includes typical Chinese breakfast items like shao bing, yiou tiao (fried dough), sweet or savory dou jiang (soy milk), dan bing (what I call Chinese omelettes), fan tuan (the Taiwanese answer to the Japanese onigiri), etc. My favorite is their "niu rou bao bing" (beef rolled in scallion pancake, not to be confused with "niu rou jia bing," another item on their breakfast menu that is beef sanwiched in shao bing). Slices of stewed beef (lu niu rou) is rolled in their scallion pancake with julienned scallions and tian mian jiang (somewhat like hoisin sauce). It is superb and we always order it -- this item is available seven days a week.
If you're into hot pot, Jin Yuan just recently started serving hot pot for this winter (this is a seasonal thing). From past experience theirs is not a communal pot but an individual-size shabu shabu pot. But they are pretty good (compared to other places in Flushing) and the standard plate of items that comes with your pot will more than fill you up, although you can order additional items a la carte. While I like the spicy soup base of Little Pepper in Flushing better, Jin Yuan's condiments/sauces (e.g., peanut sauce) are better in that they are not watered down.
If you want the glitsier, sit-down type Chinese experience, go to Ping's or East Buffet (off Queens Blvd not far West of Ping's). But I think for yumminess, you would do far better at Lao Bei Fang or Jin Yuan Xiao Guan.
I heartily second your vote for Lao Bei Fang. A trick to get the noodles to always be a little "ha gotai" or "al dente" is to ask for them "Q Q." This is a little piece of Chinese onomatopoeia for chewy noodles.
I have recently steered clear of Jin Yuan since I went to the Flushing branch for salty dou jiang and yiou tiao and the yiou tiao had a distinctly ammoniac character. I got the feeling that something not altogether right was being put in the things to improve their texture, which gave me a bad feeling about their ethics. Perhaps I should give the Elmhurst branch a shot.
On a more positive note, Lin's has a terrific dish that they added to their menu recently, "3-cup Frog." Tender frog, red-cooked in a sweet soy based sauce, fragrant with Thai Basil. Yum.
And hey, what about Chao Thai on Whitney? That place has been around as long as Sri and it's also rockin' good. I've been stopping in for the Guay Jub. The rice noodles tend to be a little on the mushy side, but with a couple of spoonfuls of the chili-vinegar sauce, the soup, crispy pork, intestines, liver etc. warm me up in a delightful way.
Newcomer Nusara in the mini-mall has also attracted some note. I have only been in for lunch by myself once, but their crispy pork was definitely right.
I second Nasura in the mini-mall we've dubbed "Asian Plaza." BYOB. The pork jerky is a must. Watch out for the spicy items though - be warned medium is plenty spicy.
82-80 Broadway (Whitney Avenue), Elmhurst, Queens; (718)898-7996.
BEST DISHES Fried pork jerky; tod mun (fried fish cakes); Siam grilled chicken; som tum; whole fried fish (try the chu-chee curry or thai chile sauces); khao mon gai
New York Times $25 Under
thanks for the review on Jin Yuan Xiao Guan; been meaning to go there; do they still have that pork chop over rice takeout special? I think it was $3. regarding corgi's notes; where is the flushing branch? is that the king 5 on union street, or, did the elmhurst one simply change names, but the two are no longer affiliated?
"it makes AWESOME dumplings -- both boiled and pan-fried --"
And those dumplings have come through the take-home and freeze test with flying colors. My wife recently used them in a Korean egg-drop soup with rice cakes - as many times as I've had it, I always forget the name. Anyhow, Lao Bei Fang's dumplings, with their firmness and bursting flavor, kicked this soup into the stratosphere for me - I've never had better. I'm also a fan of their soups with hand-pulled noodles. This is a wonderful little crawlspace of a joint, nestled right into the train tracks. It even makes the Long Island Rail Road look nicer.