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Yipin Chinese Cuisine in Flushing - interesting

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Lau Aug 3, 2008 08:15 PM

So tonight my gf and I ended going to try this place after I saw it on the NYT article, its the only place that I'd never been to or at least heard of although I had seen it before. Its on union right off roosevelt. Its a small place with 4 or 5 tables, sort of a homey feel b/c of the way its painted (kind of pastel colors, def feels more welcoming than most chinese restaurants) and its got a open kitchen.

It is run by one old lady who I'm pretty sure is the owner. Not sure if she speaks english or not, but she was extremely nice and chatted with me for a bit asking how the food was, explaining that she likes the thicker noodles, asking me if i wanted more sauce or cucumbers. Definitely from the north somewhere, her mandarin was very clear and easy to understand. She was doing the cooking, cleaning and serving all herself.

Here's what we got:
- shou gan liang ban mian (hand kneaded cold noodles): this seems to be the house specialty and was the dish that the NYT highlighted. Its thick wheat noodles, which were very al dente and chewy (definitely hand made, i loved the chewiness of the noodles) in a spicy sesame sauce that is made up of ground sesame seeds and hot sesame oil, which I believe the lady makes herself as its on the table as well and then covered in julienned cucumbers. My gf wasn't a huge fan, but I thought it was quite good. It sort of reminded me of the liang pi from the 41-28 mall, but with bolder flavors and slightly heavier. Def the best dish we had there, this is probably the reason you really want to try this place.
- zha zhang mian (fried sauce noodles): wasn't a huge fan of this version, i asked for the thin nooldes (you have a choice of thin or thick noodles), the noodles themselves were fine, but the sauce was a thick sesame meat sauce with julienned cucumbers. The sauce itself was sort of thick and bland I really just didn't like it very much
- jiu cai shui jiao (chive boiled dumplings): these were alright, but you could hit white bear for a much better rendition. Pretty sure she made these herself. They were typical northern style dumplings with thick skins and filled with chives. The filling was a bit bland, which was the main problem with them.

Anyhow, i'd recommend trying the place as its definitely something different and ive never really had anything like the house specialty dish before. I think i come off somewhat less enthusiastic about northern chinese places sometimes (read my Xi'an post) b/c while I like it, its relatively new to me as I didn't eat it growing up in my family with the exception of a few things like dou jiang, shao bing etc and its much different than most southern cuisine, so I think I'm still trying to figure out what I like and what I don't like.

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  1. Chandavkl RE: Lau Aug 3, 2008 10:59 PM

    Thanks for the report. Was the zha zhang mein the Korean style or the elusive Beijing style?

    14 Replies
    1. re: Chandavkl
      l
      Lau RE: Chandavkl Aug 3, 2008 11:29 PM

      it was the chinese style zha jiang mian albeit not a version i was particularily fond of (fyi, i prefer the chinese version when done properly)

      1. re: Lau
        Miss Needle RE: Lau Aug 4, 2008 05:17 AM

        Lau, where would you recommend for a proper Chinese version? I haven't been too thrilled with the Chinese ones I've had and prefer the Korean-Chinese.

        1. re: Miss Needle
          l
          Lau RE: Miss Needle Aug 4, 2008 07:01 AM

          its weird b/c its sort of hard to find as it and ive never had a good version in NY. It usually seems to be an after thought at most ny chinese restaurants that serve it, like it ends up being one of the menu items on a big menu that they don't expect anyone to order. I was excited to have it here b/c i figured its a reasonably small menu and this lady is a northern chinese person, but it was a really strange rendition, very saucy (the chinese version is less saucy than the korean version) and it wasnt for my taste

          btw i think almost all the chinese-korean dishes originated from shandong, so if u can find a shandong restaurant (or stall vendor) it might be your best bet to find the dish done right...although ive had good versions in LA at some taiwanese places

          1. re: Lau
            Miss Needle RE: Lau Aug 4, 2008 08:01 AM

            Thanks. Guess I have to wait until I'm in LA again.

            1. re: Miss Needle
              l
              Lau RE: Miss Needle Aug 4, 2008 10:45 AM

              im always looking around for a good rendition, so ill post if i ever find one

              fyi, the version i had at the flushing mall was better than this one, wasn't amazing, but it was alright

          2. re: Miss Needle
            designerboy01 RE: Miss Needle Aug 5, 2008 01:25 PM

            The places I used to go seemed to all pulled back on quality. Yeah, its hard to find a good version of this. The most decent so far I've found was in all places Flushing Mall as you walk into the main food court area there is a Taiwense stand on the right. The food seems clean and you can usually see people in front ordering noodles in front of that stand. By the cash register you can see three sheets of paper all with Chinese lettering and it list 2-3 items with noodles and it seems to be popular combos.

            As for Yinpin, I hit this place for lunch last week and got the sesame noodles and the thistle dumplings. Service was friendly but kind of slow. They apologized as the woman forgot my order of noodles. The dumplings were kind of tasty and White Bear may do better because of the sauces they put on it (its fun to look at the guy as he exaggerates his moves when he puts on the sauces). The cold sesame noodles were a little too salty for me. I'm not sure if she forgot an ingredient when the woman was reminded that my order was forgotten. I would go back to check out the other items just out of curiosity. Nothing really wowed me but the place was comfortable and more on the clean side.

            1. re: designerboy01
              Miss Needle RE: designerboy01 Aug 5, 2008 03:50 PM

              Thanks for the tip on the jia jiang myun. It will probably be a while before I go to Flushing, but I'll keep it in mind.

              1. re: Miss Needle
                l
                Lau RE: Miss Needle Aug 6, 2008 05:57 PM

                http://www.timeout.com/newyork/articl...

                according to this article Grand Sichuan has a good version...so maybe you're in luck Miss Needle

                1. re: Lau
                  Miss Needle RE: Lau Aug 6, 2008 10:24 PM

                  Thanks Lau! I looked at all the Grand Sichuans menus up on menupages but couldn't find that dish anywhere. The closest I came up with was the one on Lexington that said "noodles with minced meat sauce." But the pic on the website looked like it was dan dan noodles. Maybe it's a new dish.

                  And is the one on Lexington affiliated with the other ones? I've noticed it wasn't on this site:

                  http://www.thegrandsichuan.com/

                  It's quite an interesting and charming website -- although I found the MSG letter to Jay quite odd according to American business standards. It's quite refreshing that they were so upfront about it. But it was still a bit strange to me.

                  1. re: Miss Needle
                    l
                    Lau RE: Miss Needle Aug 7, 2008 05:28 AM

                    this link has the characters, also the problem with menupages and the grand sichuan restaurants is that some of them change their menu alot (esp the st marks branch)...the menus on menupages are inaccurate, plus they always have some extra pages which menu pages doesn't have b/c i think they use their take out menu

                    i believe the lex branch (never eaten there), ctown branch (which is bad) and 2nd ave branch (which is bad) are not affiliated with grand sichuan branches most people talk about (st marks, chelsea etc) anymore. If you go to those branches you'll notice the characters are different (they literally say big sichuan aka da si chuan)

                    the characters for zha jiang mian are in this wiki post, so it should help you find it on the menu (it'll be something like noodles in meat sauce, the literal translation is fried sauce noodle)
                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhajiang...

                    1. re: Lau
                      Miss Needle RE: Lau Aug 7, 2008 08:32 AM

                      Thanks Lau. I guess I will be having to take out the print outs with me to try it.

              2. re: designerboy01
                designerboy01 RE: designerboy01 Aug 7, 2008 08:06 AM

                Oh sorry I meant the Taiwanese stand that is on the left side of the food court my mistake.

                1. re: designerboy01
                  l
                  Lau RE: designerboy01 Aug 7, 2008 08:17 AM

                  ive tried it there, its decent not great, but def better than the version at Yipin

                  1. re: Lau
                    designerboy01 RE: Lau Aug 7, 2008 10:12 AM

                    Agreed, not the best but so far the best I could find in the recent years.

                    I almost ordered it at Golden Szechuan today, but the waiter talked me into the Hot and Sour noodles. I find the quality of the food to be pretty good there. See my post on Golden Szechuan.

        2. Xiao Yang RE: Lau Aug 4, 2008 07:48 AM

          Thanks for the report. I don't understand, though, how jiu cai jiaozi could be "bland," though. Was there too little of the jiu cai, or did it lack the sharp tartness of fresh jiu cai?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Xiao Yang
            l
            Lau RE: Xiao Yang Aug 4, 2008 08:37 AM

            i mean just b/c it has chives doesn't mean its going to be really flavorful, it just lacked a great flavor, i mean u can certainly taste the chives, but my gf and i both agreed they were a little bland...have a great dumpling and alot of times you don't need alot of condiments to make it wonderful

            soy sauce and chili oil certainly help make them much better

          2. l
            Lau RE: Lau Aug 4, 2008 12:19 PM

            so i took home leftovers and i ate them for lunch...and i think that the shou gan liang ban mian is better than i originally thought (i already liked it) and i decided that its definitely chow-worthy for people to try; could be b/c they are cold (although they're served cold at the restaurant, but they're colder now from sitting in my fridge) and for some reason i like it better really cold

            if you like sesame noodles than these are way better than most sesame noodle dishes ive ever tried. Great sesame flavor, spicy, but not too spicy and great texture to the noodles and the cucumbers work very well with it. I think alot of people would probably like this dish

            7 Replies
            1. re: Lau
              Polecat RE: Lau Aug 4, 2008 05:20 PM

              The sesame noodles are well-made, to be sure. Very unique taste for a noodle dish and, yeah, the pure sesame taste comes right at you. Not a personal favorite, but, at 5 bucks for a massive bowl, this is a value meal. The thistle dumplings, thick skinned and bursting with flavor, are my return ticket, though. Superb.
              P.

              1. re: Polecat
                l
                Lau RE: Polecat Aug 4, 2008 05:24 PM

                oh yeah i saw those, but i didnt know what they were...ill have to try them

                id agree with your assessment that its a very unique noodle dish, ive never really had anything like it before

                1. re: Polecat
                  Xiao Yang RE: Polecat Aug 4, 2008 08:02 PM

                  Thistle = ji cai = Shepherd's Purse?

                  1. re: Xiao Yang
                    l
                    Lau RE: Xiao Yang Aug 4, 2008 08:27 PM

                    i guess im sort of confused b/c i dont even really know what a thistle is in english as ive never eaten one

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

                    1. re: Lau
                      c
                      ConOrama RE: Lau Aug 5, 2008 06:44 AM

                      My only frame of reference is Eeyore eating them in the cartoons and he didnt seem to enjoy them very much.

                      1. re: ConOrama
                        designerboy01 RE: ConOrama Aug 5, 2008 01:30 PM

                        I think it is just Eeyore's personality even if it did taste good. Do you remember him being excited about anything?

                    2. re: Xiao Yang
                      Brian S RE: Xiao Yang Aug 5, 2008 09:14 AM

                      Yes, 薺菜 = ji cai = Shepherd's Purse. But I still don't know much about it! Evidently it grows throughout the world and can be used in herbal medicines.

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

                2. d
                  dhs RE: Lau Aug 5, 2008 06:10 AM

                  I went yesterday and had the cold sesame noodles and cold appetizer. Both I felt were quite delicious and generous. The appetizer was of three vegetables mixes sharing, I believe, the same light sesame flavored dressing over all of them. Julienned daikon with a little bit of spicy green peppers in the mix (at least I think it was daikon). Strips of seaweed with carrots and a fungi of some sort (reminded me of woodear in texture). Sliced carrots, celery, and I believe boiled peanuts made the last combination. This was quite light, crunchy and pleasant. I took it home with me along with 50 assorted vegtable frozen dumplings.

                  After a little bit my sitting there eating, a fellow diner struck up a conversation about how good the food was and how I should be ordering more of it. I gathered she was friends with the owner and quite fond of the food there. Regardless I was happy to have someone willing to spend some time going over the menu with me.

                  I have attached a copy of the menu. I plan to go back and try a couple of other items. The fish ball soup was popular with the diners eating there. The beef leg tendons was a favorite of my guide. I would also like to try the vegetable and meat sticky rices (zongzi on the menu). The items listed as smoked fish and chicken peaked my interest. And of course I have not tried the dumplings yet.

                  I’d also be interested in what others can fill in on the menu items. I did not understand what was being described at all times. Such as the smoked items and the houshoa. I understood the houshoa to be baked, maybe with beans, and was very filling but that is about all I understood.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: dhs
                    d
                    dhs RE: dhs Aug 5, 2008 06:39 AM

                    Hopefully the images are attached now

                     
                     
                    1. re: dhs
                      janie RE: dhs Aug 5, 2008 09:04 AM

                      Thanks the report and pictures, great help. Which is the cold sesame noodles on the menu? And did you try the scallion pancake???

                      1. re: dhs
                        scoopG RE: dhs Aug 5, 2008 01:34 PM

                        Thanks for posting this. It looks like these are some of what you asked for by way of translation on the menu:

                        11.) Eight Treasure Zong Zi (Ba Bao Zong Zi)
                        12.) Meat Zong Zi (Rou Zong Zi)

                        13.) Flakey/crispy wheat cake (You Su Huo Shao)

                        22.) Five Spice Smoked Fish (Wu Xiang Shenma Yu)

                        31.) Cold Vegetable Dish - (Liang Ban Cai)

                    2. c
                      Cygne18 RE: Lau Aug 9, 2008 01:32 PM

                      I went back to Yipin to just pick up a bag of 50 frozen thistle dumplings. YUM! It was great since 3/4 of the tables were occupied by folks who all had the SAME NY Times article in their hands. All ordered the delicious sesame noodles, among other dishes. It was great. I hope the owner is getting a lot of business. She was running around making bowl after bowl of noodles. heh.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Cygne18
                        baltoellen RE: Cygne18 Aug 11, 2008 06:26 AM

                        I was also there on Saturday-- and we were part of the three of four tables that had that same NYT article tucked away as we tucked into those incredible thistle dumplings--and, honestly, I'm STILL not sure what exactly thistle is--the firm sesame noodles, and the scallion pancake. In fact, at every stop, there were others following that same NYTs article. But, I must say that Yipin was a particular favorite.

                        I cannot wait to make another pilgrimage to Flushing---and I will bring a cooler next time in order to buy 50 of those thistle dumplings to bring back to my thistle dumpling deprived hometown of Baltimore.

                      2. c
                        Cygne18 RE: Lau Aug 9, 2008 01:48 PM

                        I also tried the Zhajiang from Yipin and it wasn't a favorite. I prefer the Korean version.

                        1. c
                          Cygne18 RE: Lau Aug 10, 2008 05:18 PM

                          I just went to White Bear today to try the wontons. Despite all the sauce, I felt it was lacking in flavor, but not freshness.

                          1. hee jong jong RE: Lau Feb 19, 2009 02:31 PM

                            The cold sesame noodles were in fact paradigm shifting.
                            Sadly, it seems that the original cook - Ms. Shu - is no longer there....
                            Does anybody know anything about this? I would really like to track down Ms. Shu, or at least find out if she will be back at Yipin. Such a friendly lady and talented cook. I miss her dearly!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: hee jong jong
                              b
                              billhill RE: hee jong jong Feb 19, 2009 02:40 PM

                              I was just there yesterday and the first thing I thought was: new ownership. They didn't have the whole wheat noodles and the menu was stripped down a bit. They took off my favorite thing besides the noodles which is this scallion and egg stuffed pancake. I had a couple of different kinds of dumplings that were sitting on the counter. All very good but not really worth going back for.

                              1. re: billhill
                                hee jong jong RE: billhill Feb 19, 2009 05:17 PM

                                Yeah, I was a regular but I don't know if I will go back.
                                The two new ladies working were very friendly and have great potential but they have big shoes to follow.

                                1. re: hee jong jong
                                  l
                                  Lau RE: hee jong jong Feb 22, 2009 03:37 PM

                                  ms shu was extremely nice

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