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Jade Asian -- a top-notch Flushing destination

Brian S Mar 6, 2008 05:09 PM

It's not every restaurant where the architect and interior designer leave glossy business cards by the reception desk. But Jade Asian isn't just any restaurant and if a cigar-chomping hotel tycoon ever stopped by, he might well yell to his harried assistant, "Grab one of those cards honey 'cause when I build the hotel in Vegas the V.I.P. lounge is gonna look just like this!" (Yes, I've read all the Lucky Santangelo novels.) Glitzy, with pastel walls with sleek wood trim and gracefully flaring copper columns, Jade Asian bears as much resemblance to tired old Gum Fung and K.B. Garden, its predecessors at that address, as Per Se does to the mouldy old convention hall that used to occupy its tract of real estate. And platoons of waiters await, the headwaiters proudly strutting around in dark suits, other less exalted service personnel in beige shirts and brown ties.

Okay, glitzy decor inspires glitzy prose. But the style should turn more lyrical when I turn to the food. I've been there twice, for dinner.

First visit: chopped beef and dofu.($13) The waiter marched in carrying a big bamboo steamer. Inside, lovely little medallions of pillowy soft steamed dofu. On top was chopped beef with a rich savory taste, thanks to the gravy, which made a delicious pool at the bottom. A big portion. Very very good.

Second visit (an hour ago): the two menus both have English translations, but there's a card of Chinese specials at the table and I ordered from it, knowing only that it had fish and bean and that it was $16. (The waiters are quite fluent in English, but I didn't let them explain fully.) And then out came a whole tilapia! Excellent quality fish (far better than fish in Chinatown), firm, fleshy, perfectly cooked, the bottom salted and seared. Around it was a rich brown sauce studded with diced pickled vegetables, pickled in house I should add. The sauce itself tasted as if a Cantonese chef decided to combine the best elements of Shanghai red cooking, Sichuan bean paste, and Peking duck hoisin sauce. Fusion, Chinese style. Yes, it was a bit sweet and it did overpower the fish, but it was nonetheless excellent.

I used to say that Flushing was great for Sichuan and Dongbei and all the rest, but for Cantonese head to Manhattan. I don't say that anymore. Jade Asian is one reason why. And it's one reason why I'll continue to ride the number 7 train.

Jade Asian
136-28 39 Av (right near the subway stop)
762-8821

  1. Chandavkl Mar 6, 2008 05:52 PM

    Thanks for the report. My only beef with Jade Asian is that they are rather pricey at dinnertime. Easy to assume Flushing might not be good for Cantonese since it's populated largely by Taiwanese and other non-Cantonese folks. However in all of the Chinatowns I've been to that do not have a predominant Cantonese population (e.g., Atlanta, St. Louis, Dallas) the most stellar and largest Chinese restaurants are still Hong Kong/Cantonese style. I think that just shows how Chinese from all regions appreciate Cantonese food.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Chandavkl
      l
      Lau Mar 7, 2008 01:02 PM

      fyi, i think there is still a very large cantonese population in flushing...i was thinking about that today when i was there today and when i actually paid attention i heard cantonese being spoken alot

      1. re: Lau
        Brian S Mar 8, 2008 08:38 AM

        I think you're right. When a Cantonese family through hard work earns enough money to move out and up from a Manhattan Chinatown tenement, Flushing is a good place to move to. I've seen some smaller Cantonese-style restaurants around, such as Fortune House at 41-13 Kissena (haven't tried it yet).

        1. re: Brian S
          l
          Lau Mar 8, 2008 09:49 AM

          not only that but a good majority of the biggest restaurants in flushing are cantonese restaurants (ocean jewel, gala manor, tung yi fung, perfect team, east manor etc etc)

          i would bet if you some survey (this is conjecture obviously) that the cantonese population is either #1-2...the only population that could be as big is the taiwanese population

          1. re: Lau
            designerboy01 Mar 31, 2008 08:49 PM

            Flushing got more Cantonese after 9/11. Before that there were many restaurants that just had menus written in Chinese only and they spoke mostly Mandarin. There is also a contingent of Shanghainese people coming in there now. It did start off as being more Taiwanese but its not as much anymore. The majority of the Chinatowns in the world speak Cantonese.

            Jade Asian does a good job and delivers good value with the Dim Sum. The basic Dim Sum dishes are cheaper if you go Monday to Friday. This is my favorite Dim Sum place in Flushing. I had a Chinese herbal lamb soup there for Dim Sum and thought it was quite good.

            1. re: designerboy01
              Miss Needle Mar 31, 2008 10:34 PM

              Flushing's changed a lot over the years. I remember the days when Flushing was predominantly Korean.

              I also loved Jade Asian for dim sum. It was such a nice experience compared to the Manhattan C-town places.

              1. re: Miss Needle
                Brian S Apr 1, 2008 11:24 AM

                Try it for dinner! I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Portions are huge and you can get good stuff for under $12.

                1. re: Brian S
                  Miss Needle Apr 1, 2008 12:10 PM

                  Will definitely try for dinner soon. Such a shame I don't go to Flushing more often, especially with my dad living there. He usually just comes to the city. But I've got to haul my lazy ass to Flushing more often.

                  1. re: Miss Needle
                    designerboy01 Apr 6, 2008 07:10 PM

                    I tried the place for dinner this weekend. Chef has good "Wok Air". My parents ordered a dish of beef with chinese broccoli and I complained that was kind of pesdestrian. Actually, the dish was executed amazingly well and I probably ate that dish more than the others. The other dishes we had were Bitter Squash with Sable Fish Casserole. It was cooked very well with large chuncks of flash fried fish and tender and moist on the inside. I wouldn't recommend this dish for people who are not use to eating bitter as one of the five flavors (there is a whole other world of the other four flavors besides spicy). Also had another dish with Oyster and enoki mushrooms. It was kind of watery and wasn't one of my favorite dishes of the evening. The dinner menu had most of the basic dishes and does not have as much variety as Cantoon Garden or Amazing 66. Besides dinner I've been there for Dim Sum and find most of their dishes executed very well. My only dissappointment so far was the oyster dish I mentioned above. I would definitely go back again. I think I prefer the Dim Sum more. Their sweet rice wrapped in lotus leaf (Gou Jing Jung) is done pretty well, and has a good balance of pork fat, rice, meat, and the sandy mung beans.

                    They also got MJ and Karaoke in the evenings upstairs. You can play and order food.

                    1. re: designerboy01
                      Miss Needle Apr 7, 2008 01:19 PM

                      Thanks for your report. Yes, wok hay is really important -- probably the reason I hate food that's been sitting out for a while. Makes a huge difference in the taste of the food. The bitter squash and sable fish sound interesting. I know a lot of people hate bitter foods, but I feel it's essential in a well-balanced meal. The richness of the sable probably would counteract a lot of the bittterness of the melon.

                      Took me a while but I'm figuring you meant mah-jong by MJ. I've never played it before. But willing to watch and learn, as long as it's not smoke-filled. Any English selections with the karaoke?

                      1. re: Miss Needle
                        designerboy01 Apr 15, 2008 10:02 PM

                        I never had people who wanted to do this with me. The waiter just told me while he was serving me dinner. I saw people go upstairs to the back and other waiters bringing food some yummy food.

                        MJ is pretty much like poker but has a few more rules to it. I think Poker was derived from this game. Another Chinese invention! I just practice on facebook.com.

    2. erica Mar 7, 2008 03:20 AM

      Brian thank you again for your diligent efforts in the service of good eating!

      If you had to choose one for a group dinner (not a pre-planned banquet) would you choose Jade Asian or Ocean Jewels?? Have you returned to Ocean Jewels recently?

      I think we should host a dinner for you one of these days! Thanks!

      1 Reply
      1. re: erica
        Brian S Mar 7, 2008 09:51 AM

        Thank you for your kind words, they are a writer's only reward. Hard to decide which is better... you should go to each place and look at their menus (Each has two menus, both in English) and then decide.

      2. squid kun Mar 9, 2008 12:54 AM

        Appreciate the report, as always. What's your take on the dim sum here (an ever-popular topic among New York hounds)?

        1 Reply
        1. re: squid kun
          Brian S Mar 9, 2008 11:14 AM

          Oh I never do dim sum. Or to put it another way, the last time I ate dim sum in Manhattan, they stacked the plates to calculate your bill. The thing about dim sum (and I'm not very well informed) is that it's their big moneymaker. Jade Asian and Ocean Jewels are pretty empty for dinnertime, but packed for dim sum. So it would seem to me that they would have to offer all the crowd-pleasers, conservative items, whereas at dinnertime, when the food is more or less made to order, they can be more innovative. If they make innovative dim sum items and no one wants them, they will be thrown out, a money loss.

        2. Brian S Mar 30, 2008 10:55 AM

          Before leaving on my yearly migration to Oklahoma, I made several more visits to Jade Asian. They got to know me and I felt welcome. And the food is wonderful. Here's what I had:

          Stewed chicken casserole: Basically the same as can be found in almost any place in Manhattan Chinatown, but unusually well done, with a yummy wine sauce. It could have been served as coq au vin in a French bistro. $14

          Oyster casserole: From the Chinese menu. Lots of little oysters and heaps of straw mushrooms floated in a thick broth a lot like a chowder. $12

          Intestine stir-fry: From the Chinese menu (a new one put out last week). I've had a lot of intestine stir-fries and this was different. Lots of pea pods and also weird pickles cut into perfect squares. Good wok air. $11

          I miss this place. I don't think it's all that expensive either. Great dishes for $12 and under and to eat at a place this elegant in, say, midtown Manhattan you'd be lucky to find entrees under $30.

          -----
          Jade Asian
          136-28 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11354

          1. j
            jmax Jul 29, 2008 11:01 AM

            Been twice in the last month for Dim Sum - I think it is the best in Flushing. Everything is hot and fresh - Plus they have a large variety. The servers are very helpful and go out of their way to try and communicate with english speaking customers. The place is always packed.

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