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Aug 11, 2008 08:09 PM

sunset park tips

We recently moved to sunset park and many of the tips I got off of chowhound outerboroughs were really delicious and helpful making our adjustment to the neighborhood very pleasant- THANK YOU! Especially Ba Xuyen (of course), Penang Island, Gia Lam, Kai Feng Fu (and even the new thai restaurant was okay)

Some have been disappointing, though. Like Ricos Tacos. (The triple fried chicken filling is too greasy, I think. ) And Tacos Metamoros, which has a nice ambiance but the food is very bland. And finally Johnny's Pizza (see NYtimes 'culture wars') did not meet expectations- tasted to me like mediocre junk food.

I wanted to share some yummy tips I discovered on my own and then ask for any more suggestions you might have to offer.

8th Ave Seafood (@ 8th and about 44th or 45th) has really yummy bao (steamed pork buns). It makes a really good, cheap lunch and you don't have to sit down and order. I actually have never gone all the way in. But at the pick-up counter by the entrance you can get the steamed bao- 3 for $2. I think they are tastiest with soy sauce drizzled on top.

And diagonally across from the citibank (52? and 5th ave) there is a Mexican bakery that has AMAZING donuts. The sugar donuts are made there in the store and they are lovely and only cost about fifty cents. Truly gourmet quality donuts. The sugar coating is crunchy and the donuts are not stale or overly greasy. they are light and fresh. I had one on the fly last week and can't stop thinking about it.

Finally, the tamale and juice stand on 5th ave between 40th and 41st on the east side of the street. The stand is next to a pharmacy I think and built into the facade of a bodega....kind of weird, I know. But the chicken tamales are insanely delicious. They are very spicy and when combined with a fresh squeezed orange juice the combo makes for a clean tasting, lovely lunch. (This is probably the best tip I have)

But still have not found a good pizza place or a nice sit-down mexican restaurant. Or a good coffee place (not into ba xuyen's chicory coffee)

Are there anymore sunset park tips out there???????? I would love to get more good suggestions.

Thanks and best wishes

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  1. My number one suggestion is Yu Nan Flavour Snack, here is a link to a review in NY Magazine,
    Their noodles are amazing and the wontons in hot and sour sauce have turned into a craving that must be satisfied at least twice a week. The kicker is nothing on the menu is over $4.25.
    As for Mexican I am a fan of Tacos 2004 on 5th, great carne asada. On weekends there are wonderful vendors on 5th, frutas, tacos, tamales, empanadas, there is even a Peruvian ceviche truck.
    All of the Mexican bakeries (the ones with the amazing wedding cakes in the windows) are 24 hours and make great tortas and have wonderful weekend specials - moles, barbacoa. . .
    If you make your way up towards 60th street on 8th there are several carts that sell the Chinese version of yakitori, chicken feet and skins, etc.
    If you are looking for Thai food Mai Thai is alright and to the best of my knowledge the only Thai in the area, plus they deliver.
    I haven't had too much luck with pizza, if you find a good one let me know.

    4 Replies
    1. re: theroman_empire

      thank you!!! This is really great. I'll try Yu Nan

      1. re: pfg

        We've been going to Yun Nan Flavour Snack around once a week I think almost since they've opened. We bring all our friends there. Stick to the left side of the menu with Rice Noodle items, That's their specialty. And on the right side bottom, as mentioned by Theroman Empire, either the won ton soup or the Hot and Sour Dumplings. I'm pretty sure the won ton and dumplings are different. The former have the expected but well executed folded over wrapper that comes apart like egg in your soup, but the latter are more self contained and swimming in the best hot and sour SOUR broth you've ever had. Astounding. It's my wife's favorite. As I've probably written before that I favor the unique Cold Noodles, but last night it was cooler and I enjoyed the meaty hacked spare ribs. I can't recommend this place enough. The couple who own and are the sole workers are sweet and gracious, the husband's always hoping to pick up more English. I implore everyone to visit and show your love!

        (I've never seen anybody have the Rice Stick and only seen the wheat noodle items ordered a couple times. Of course, I can't vouch for all "to go" stuff I've seen move out the door!)

      2. re: theroman_empire

        "I haven't had too much luck with pizza, if you find a good one let me know."
        Pizza is definitely the weak food link in Sunset Park. Johnny's is pretty dismal and is famous more for being a place where the neighborhood's Irish American kids could hang out than for their pizza.
        I think the closest half way decent pizza is Pizza Royale on Ft Hamilton and about 67th St. Not amazing, but they do a lot of business so their slices are fresh. and their speciality slices are a meal by themselves, esp. the veggie.
        Here's a link.

        1. re: theroman_empire

          Last night we tried to go to Yun Nan Flavour Snack, but silly us forgot it was Chinese New Year so they were closed! We went to Tacos 2004 instead and my husband had a truly wonderful carnitas torta. The pork was juicy, tender and seasoned well. The torta also had tomatoes and salty queso blanco, which were lovely complements to the pork. Sadly, my pozole was a real disappointment -- the broth was bland, bland, bland, even after I added the chopped raw white onions, oregano and lime.
          I would love to hear more about other great Mexican recommendations down there though!

        2. have you tried the tamales at don paco lopez panaderia? i think they're excellent, especially the cheese with green sauce.

          2 Replies
          1. re: wleatherette

            Not yet but thanks for the suggestion. I'll check it out. But today I went back to the tamale stand I mentioned and I had the chicken tamales again (SOOOOOOOOOOOO gooooood) and I also got a fresh coconut to drink. The woman at the counter hacked it open for me and stuck a straw into this huge green pod that must have weighed five pounds. The total price for two tamales and a fresh coconut...........FIVE DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS!

            1. re: pfg

              la flor bakery on 5th and 41st (or is it 40th?) makes a great egg and chorizo torta--the freshness/quality of the roll is what makes it so good.

              also, when the weather gets cooler,lanzhou handpulled noodles on 60th btw.7th and 8th is great.

          2. "Ricos Tacos" is actually Piaxtla es Mexico. Ricos Tacos is a description found on Taquerias all over Mexico. I think their taquitos are great--the carnitas, lengua, and barbacoa de chivo (weekends only) are the best I've had in the neighborhood, and the pozole is quite good. The humongous tortas at Puebla Mini-Market are great.

            I think 8th Avenue Seafood has better dim sum than Pacificana, and it's easier to get into. Nothing special for dinner, though. Lucky 8 is, IMO, the best Cantonese for dinner.

            Here's my Asian roundup I wrote a while back:

            Ba Xuyen - 4222 8th Avenue (near 43rd Street). This is quite possibly the best banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) place in New York. I'm especially fond of the grilled pork, which has a wonderful lemongrass accent, and the pork meatballs.

            Eighth Avenue Seafood Restaurant - 4418 8th Avenue. An excellent bet for dim sum, without a long wait, and pretty good Cantonese seafood dishes for dinner.

            Gia Lam Villa - 4810 8th Avenue. There really aren't any great Vietnamese restaurants in Brooklyn. In fact, I don't know of any Vietnamese restaurant in New York that I'd call great. Perhaps it's because we don't have a particularly large ethnic Viet immigrant population. There are a handful of Vietnamese restaurants in Sunset Park, and Gia Lam Villa is pretty reliable if you're looking for Vietnamese food. I actually go there pretty often. Best bets are the grilled beef dishes and cha gio (spring rolls). Gia Lam has another branch further south on 8th Avenue.

            Yun Nan Flavour Snack - 775A 49th Street (just off 8th Avenue). This hole-in-the-wall with a narrow counter and short stools is of interest partly because foods from Yunnan province are hard to come by in the U.S. The specialty here is very spicy noodle soups with homemade rice noodles, but I'm particularly fond of the dumplings in hot and sour soup. The half-moon-shaped dumplings are served in a broth that has the tartness of a Thai tom yum, which makes sense since Yunnan is right near Southeast Asia.

            Sun's BBQ - Corner of 8th Avenue & 50th Street. A small, friendly Cantonese place specializing in roast meats and noodle soups.

            Nyonya - 5323 8th Avenue. This Malaysian restaurant, with a sister branch in Manhattan's Chinatown, is my favorite place to eat in Sunset Park. Malaysian cuisine, which brings together dishes from the country's Chinese, Malay, and Indian populations, is one of the most rewarding for sheer variety, and Nyonya does good to excellent renditions of most of these dishes.

            Pacificana - 813 55th Street. This big, glitzy Hong Kong seafood palace serves excellent dim sum, but be prepared for long waits on the weekend. I think Eight Avenue Seafood Restaurant is as good, and much more relaxed. Dinner at Pacificana was a disappointment.

            Lan Zhou Hand-Pulled Noodles - 60th Street off 8th Avenue. Another bare-bones, tiny place, like Yunnan Flavour Snacks. This one specializes in wonderfully chewy hand-pulled wheat noodles in a delightfully flavorful spicy soup with your choice of meat (beef is traditional). You watch the guys making the noodles as you order and eat. The noodles originated in Lanzhou, in Inner Mongolia, but I believe most of New York's Lanzhou noodle makers are actually Fujianese.


            7 Replies
            1. re: Peter Cherches

              Thank you for for such a wonderfully comprehensive post. After reading so many posts that don't supply restaurant's names and/or only give somewhat vaugue references to their locations, I thought it was very kind of you to take the time to supply both. Additionally, your menu suggestions sound delicous! :-}

              1. re: Peter Cherches

                Great post, Peter! I passed by Yun Nan Flavour Snack yesterday and was curious about it but was in a rush to get to the supermarket and didn't check the menu.

                I've always thought of BK Chinatown as missable...not horrible but not great. From Williamsburg it took less time to get to Manhattan, almost the same amount of time to get to Flushing. Now that I'm in Prospect Heights, Flushing is REALLY far, Manhattan is STILL faster to get to, but sometimes mentally I just prefer to stay in Brooklyn. But I'm not enthusiastic, so it's nice to get more info.

                Sorry if this has been answered before, but what is the predominant language in Chinatown? I only speak Mandarin and while standing at one of the those "yakitori" stands I felt like an far as I knew, the cook was barking out "next? next?" without making eye contact but without speaking Cantonese/Fujianese/whatever I just stood there letting people cut in front of me. By the way, there are 2 stands on either side of the HSBC that cook over coals, and these are by far the most popular. The others on 8th are using the griddle tops.

                Tried the potstickers at Kai Feng Fu, and while it was so nice to get freshly-made ones, I think the frozen ones made by Deluxe Food Market have spoiled me with their incredibly thin skins. FYI, $1 buys 4, not 5. Has anyone had the jia jiang mian here? I really don't like the Korean version and think the Japanese version is dying for good Chinese jia jiang mian!

                What about T-Baar? I realize it's bubble tea and such, but I saw someone getting something in a little takeaway plate yesterday. Do they happen to have any great Taiwanese snacks? The website doesn't have a menu.

                I might have to find this tamale stand today! I have usually gone to La Guera, which I've also posted has pambazos. Been eating tamales from the awesome street cart near my office lately just to satisfy a craving, but I know they aren't as good as the ones in SP.

                Has anyone determined a good time to find churros in Sunset Park? The only time I bought one was around noon and it was actually worse than the last time I bought one in the subway...had hardened quite a bit. I know when I've had good ones in Mexico or Costa Rica it's been in the morning, probably before 10...same here? And I'm ALWAYS on the lookout for churros with dulce de leche filling so if anyone has seen that here...please post!

                1. re: NancyC

                  The best time to get churros in SP is... right now! Whenever I go to 5th ave on Sunday afternoon around lunchtime, there's always a guy up there somewhere in the 40s (sorry I can't be more specific - i think he moves around) selling really long churros. For some reason I haven't tried them, but I kind of doubt they have filling. They're probably still good though - perhaps I will investigate today...

                  1. re: NancyC

                    Hi NancyC

                    where are kai feng fu and deluxe food market? i'm always looking for great dumplings.


                    1. re: missmasala

                      Deluxe Food Market is in Manhattan. Pretty big, doors on both Elizabeth and Mott, between Heater and Grand. Lots of frozen options. The dumplings are really good...just fried some up for dinner tonight.

                      Kai Feng Fu is 48th, just off 8th ave. I'll definitely give them another try, but like I said, Deluxe Food Market's super-thin skins may have spoiled me...

                  2. re: Peter Cherches

                    The tip about Yun Nan Flavour Snack is dead on! Thanks posters! We went last night, and my husband and I each got a rice noodle soup. Those noodles are pretty incredible. But the highlight of the night was definitely the hot and sour wonton soup. The broth defined hot and sour -- I've never had such delicious sourness -- and the wontons were a perfect complement.

                    Peter Cherches -- we've had great chilaquiles at Tacos Santana in Brooklyn. Here's a link to my review:

                    1. re: chompchomp

                      I don't think the noodle soups at Yun Nan are anything special, but I'm addicted to those wontons in hot and sour sauce. They are amazing! And unlike the noodle soups, they still taste great heated up from the fridge a few days later.

                  3. I agree with pretty much everything here, but have one more Mexican place to throw into the ring - Flor de Piaxtla on 5th Ave at 42nd. The ambience isn't much, but the food is - their tacos al pastor, chilaquiles, and tortas are all fantastic. Everyone who works there is nice and patient with a gringa like me.

                    I'll have to try the egg and chorizo at La Flor - I can't help but get the tamale oaxaqeno every time I go there, usually followed by a sugar donut. The tamale is so moist and satisfying, for just 2 bucks.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: marthagrace

                      Thanks, I've been wondering about Flor de Piaxtla, and I haven't found great chilaquiles in Brooklyn yet.

                      1. re: Peter Cherches

                        I tried Flor de Piaxtla today. I had my 3 benchmark taquito fillings: carnitas, barbacoa de chivo and lengua. All were good, but none came close to the wonderfully flavorful renditions of the same meats at Piaxtle es Mexico/Ricos Tacos.

                        Has anybody tried the huitlacoche or mushroom (champinones) quesadillas that one of the groceries advertises out front? It's the place on the block before the park, east side of Fifth Ave. I think they make fruit salads and juices out in front, and the sign is on the stand.

                        1. re: Peter Cherches

                          I missed you as I went today as well. The highlight was how nice the waitstaff was. The food was just ok. I had the sopes which is my benchmark food. The sope itself was not that flavorful and was a bit tough- not crunchy at all . It MAY have been nuked. My DH ordered the carnitas plate- a number of the local places only have carnitas as part of tacos and not complete platters. They were flavorful but very fatty. Didn't match up to taquria Coatzingo which still is his current NY favorite. My DD wanted the fajita vegetables without the meat- basically cooked veggies, tortillas, guac and rice and beans. They couldn't quite get that ( nor could I !) - what they brought was basically a salad. I don't fault them! I did like the salsa and the cucumbers and lime that they brought.
                          I probably won't go back- better choices around...

                    2. Nice. A new Sunset Park thread. I moved here a little over 2 months ago so I'm really digging the up to date information on my new neighborhood.

                      I live right around the corner from the tamale stand you talked about and am eating those chicken tamales as I type this. They are very good and I did order a fresh orange juice that I sadly finished before I could get home to begin eating. On an even sadder note, I did not see any coconuts to point to, so either they didn't have any today or it was futile because I didn't know how to say coconut in Spanish. (upon further research it is "coco" which she DID repeat back to me... crap.)

                      The tamales are HUGE. About the equivalent of 3 or 4 cigar shaped tamales each. I ordered five, which was way too much, as I can normally eat about 7 of the regular sized ones. I would probably only order two next time. They are also pretty spicy, my nose was running within two bites. In a good way.

                      I have only ordered one thing from Tacos Nuevos Mexicos. The Gringas, which I thought was very tasty if you're going for more full tasting Mexican with cheese and sour cream and guacamole. One thing about being in this neighborhood is that I'm now addicted to limonadas. I had never even heard of a blended citrus drink without ice. Definitely get one at TNM as the $3 one is HUGE with barely any ice. Extremely refreshing. Next time I go I'll try the tacos you guys mentioned.

                      When I went to Ba Xuyen I got the pork meatball sandwich. It was delicious. Although when I go back I will only get it a little spicy. I found that too much heat took away from all the fresh flavors of the vegetables.

                      Yun Nan is great. The broths are fantastic and unlike anything I have ever had. Does the fat on the meat bother anyone else? If I'm not being careful I will be chewing on a big gummy piece of beef or chicken(or also a bone) before I know it. I am also in love with the hot and sour broth. Holy crap. The wonton soup comes in this broth? I find that the pork dumplings are a bit over stuffed with meat. Would I enjoy the wonton soup more? I have got to have more of that broth.

                      I have tried Johnny's pizza but as you guys said it was nothing special. It was definitely not bad though. Dominick's was also Ok. Of course, I've had pizza from Franny's and Una Pizza Napoletano since I've been here and.. well that can really spoil someone, you know?

                      Let's keep this thread alive! I want to hear more about you guys' experiences in Sunset Park right down to all the gritty and delicious details.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: helminthes

                        hey all,
                        I've been living in Sunset Park for 6+ years now, and my favorite mexican is Speedy's on 4th between 59th and 60th. The place isn't actually called Speedy's, it's just the name on the sign. The place is actually Tamales Tonchita. It's owned by Poblanos--mole as good as the mole in Puebla.

                        Not sure how far north in Sunset Park you live, but Peppino's (Bay Ridge) delivers to my apt (61st st)

                        1. re: helminthes

                          Glad you found the tamale stand. Sometimes the coconuts are out front in a box on the sidewalk and sometimes they are in the back in the refrigerator--which makes them nice and cold. I had to point to one that another customer was drinking to order mine the first time. welcome to the neighborhood!