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Mar 7, 2009 01:10 PM

Main Street Imperial Taiwanese (Bei Gang) - solid taiwanese

So I finally got around to trying Main Street Imperial Taiwanese (Bei Gang). It's a little off the beaten path which is probably why not many chound people have tried it. While it is in flushing, it is not in the middle of downtown flushing like most of the restaurants, its actually on Main Street next to the LIE (Main Street bet 59th and 60th Ave). So its not really walking distance, you'd probably need to either drive or take a short bus ride from downtown flushing.

It's a small typical chinese restaurant with maybe 15 tables, its got many specials written in chinese on the wall. The place is definitely run by taiwanese people. It's not much in the way of decor, but the staff was pretty friendly.

The menu is also partially written in chinese, so its definitely helpful to have someone who reads chinese, but someone who speaks chinese is good enough. I'm not sure how well they speak english b/c we spoke in chinese and there were no non-chinese there. It was pretty busy, so thats always a good sign.

So here's what we ordered:
- cong ting tou (scallion fly head): this had a weird name and the waitress recommended it as a house specialty. Now obviously the name of the dish doesn't really tell you much. It's basically very minced pork with scallions, black beans and i believe some string beans that are very finely chopped. The pork is nice and crispy, the dish has a wonderful flavor b/c of the work and the black goes really well over rice. It is an awesome dish, by far the best dish we had there and definitely worth ordering.
- xiang gan rou si (dried tofu and shredded pork): this was good, not the best version ive ever had, but pretty decent. It's made a little more spicy than most places with alot of sliced red and green peppers chopped up in it
- chou dou fu (stinky tofu): the flavor was decent; it had a reasonable "stink", probably better than most in NY, but the tofu itself was too was decent, but nothing special
- oh ah jian (oyster omelette): this was good, probably the best version I've had in NY although most versions ive had are miserable. It was partially crispy, which i like alot (if you have a good version in taiwan its sort of like this but better). It wasn't too gooey, alot of versions ive had are just a gooey mess. The sauce was decent, a bit too sweet, but not bad. Overall, this is worth ordering (assuming you like the dish)
- kong xin cai (water spinach): i think this was kong xin cai (water spinach) friend ordered this and i didnt really hear her order. It was just sauteed with garlic. It was just so so

Overall, I thought this place was good and it was better than most other taiwanese places in NY...the cong ying tou alone is worth going for. I'd like to come back and try more dishes as I have a feeling there are other good dishes here.

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  1. Ah, I hit this place a few years back. I think it had a different name at that point, but from your description and the location, this sounds like the place. Drove there from work (Bayside), so the easy side-street parking was a plus. I had the omelette, which I found to be okay, and dish utilizing 3 types of chicken (can't remember the name). Overall, the place didn't leave much of an impression, but then, I'm not all that experienced with the cuisine. Thanks to your post, I'll take your recs and gladly give it another go.

    On the subject of Taiwanese, I noticed that the former Lu's Seafood - corner of Prince on 37th - is now called 66 Restaurant. For all I know, this is not all that new a development, but I just noticed. For what it's worth, the place was packed yesterday, around 2 or 3 pm. We also made a mental note to hit up Gu Shine as well at some point.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Polecat

      3 types of chicken? was it called 3 cup chicken (san bei ji)? its a typical taiwanese dish that is called that b/c it utilizes 3 main ingredients (soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil)

      yeah the meal had hits and misses, but the hit was so good (cong ying you) that i'm inclined to come it is definitely authentic taiwanese

      Lai's has been called 66 for a while...they're known for their pai gu fan (pork chop rice), which is a pretty common taiwanese dish

      1. re: Lau

        Laifood / 66 has always been that name, Lu's is the new/old name? I never got the real lowdown (I should ask my friend, whose mom knew the owner when we were going a lot, about 6 or 7 years ago) about change of hands, etc. but I know the place ain't as good as it used to be. Unless . . . . it changed back?

        anyway, they had a big sign for $4.95 takeout platters (pork chop on rice, chicken leg on rice, braised pork on rice and something else, don't remember) but . . . it was very hard for me not to get a pai-gu-fan to go but granted, we were headed to dinner and . . . I didn't really need to carry an extra pork chop with me. but definitely want to hit it up, out of curiousity's sake (used to go at least once a month)

        1. re: bigjeff

          i don't really remember b/c its changed names a couple of times...Lu's is the new name

          i don't really remember anything else besides the pai gu fan, i probably should hit up again soon...i did a little flushing mission the other day with some friends and hit up flushing mall, white bear, flower shop dou jiang lady and golden mall and just got little things from each place; i want to do the same thing, but hit more taiwanese places soon

          1. re: Lau

            They do a decent oyster omelet and pretty good lu rou fan. The oyster omelet is huge, not the usual snack size portion found in Taipei night markets.

            1. re: scoopG

              I know this is an older thread, but I stumbled upon it and had to add: this is my favorite Taiwanese restaurant! I dream about the san bei tofu (3 cups tofu--like the 3 cup chicken, but i like this much better)-- cubes of perfectly fried (lightly! crisply!) tofu, very soft in the center (silken, maybe?), tossed with a perfect sauce of soy, wine, sesame (the three cups), garlic, and basil. My favorite tofu dish anywhere... The rest of the menu is solid, but it's the tofu I dream of...

              Main Street Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet
              59-14 Main St, Queens, NY 11355

              1. re: ckl

                interesting, ill have to try

                you should try their cong ting tou....very good, they said its their ming cai

                1. re: Lau

                  I tried the Cong Ting Tou and it was delicious. I also tried their Clams in Black Bean sauce which was pretty good too. I'm frustrated a bit because of the language barrier I can try only some of the dishes, many are not translated in English and I'm sure they're delicious, but I'll work through the menu somehow.

                  1. re: csabi26

                    yah its not very english friendly at least the menu isnt, we spoke to them in chinese so i'm not sure how good or not good their actual english is

    2. Run, don’t walk to Main Street Imperial. Far and away better than Gu Shine. Clearly there are some Chinese Jews here who have learned Yiddish to boot!

      Go for a Putz. Any Putz will do. There are four Putz on the menu. Two have been translated into English - Putz Shredded Beef and Putz Bitter Melon - and for some reason these two have not:

      布子清蒸魚 (Bi4 Zi3 Qing1 Zheng1 Yu2) Fish Steamed in Broth and Putz and
      布子雞 (Bi4 Zi3 Ji1) Putz Chicken.

      布子 (Bi4 Zi) or Putz is Corda dichotoma or Rag Seed from where else, the Rag Tree found in Taiwan, Tibet and India. I jumped right in with Putz Bitter Melon. Although the Chef said they were fresh Putz and I am sure they were pickled. No worries.

      Order Three Cup something! I had the Three Cup Bean Curd. Deliciously fried tofu with ginger and basil and the secret three-cup sauce of soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil. Also available in Three Cup Chicken or Three Cup Squid.

      Oyster Omelet – much better version here than at Gu Shine. Will remind you of any Taipei night market.

      Lu Rou Fan or Minced Pork on Rice with tender bits of Pork Belly.

      Clams with Black Bean Sauce and Sautéed Chinese Cabbage (高麗菜 Gao1 Li4 Cai4) were two other very satisfying winners. Delivered to everyone’s table mid-feast was a plate of Sliced Pig Heart with shaved pieces of Bitter Melon, on the house!

      It is only a 15-minute walk from Main Street and Roosevelt or 5-minute bus ride on the Q44 Express bus available on Main Street opposite the Queens Public Library. Go early though before the masses arrive.

      14 Replies
      1. re: scoopG

        sounds great, i need to go really have to try cong ying tou, its ridiculously good

        btw what putz dish did you actually eat?

        1. re: Lau

          Will have to. I had the Putz with Bitter Melon.

          1. re: scoopG

            I'll repeat a former request for some translation help of the specials on the walls. The woman are friendly but they often have another person to help besides me, and when reushed it is back to, " Try the three cups".

            1. re: wew

              The problem wew is that there must be 40+ specials written on the wall in the smallish space. Then they get busy. The waitresses speak little English. There are enough dishes translated to at least start with!

            2. re: scoopG

              i'll have to try this putz dish

              btw the thing to order at gu shine is not the typical taiwanese street food, the food that i like and why i go there are for heir stir fry dishes, specifically the ones i mention in my reviews, i think they do a really good job on urge you to go back and try some of those dishes. I agree with you that some of their taiwanese street food is underwhelming

              1. re: Lau

                I certainly will go back and try Gu Shine again at some point. My main issue with them based on my one visit (trying 6-7 dishes) is that I thought many of them tasted the same: “100 dishes, all with the same taste” (百菜同味 Bai3 Cai4 Tong2 Wei4.)

                Putz BTW is easily found in jars in the Flushing grocery stores and is sold as
                樹子 (Shu4 Zi.)

          2. re: scoopG

            I thought I knew what a putz was, but clearly I was mistaken since the putz I know has nothing whatever to do with fish. So enlightenment for us New Yorkers who have known many a putz, but have never ordered one in a Chinese restaurant, is clearly in order.

              1. re: scoopG

                So is one of those Chinese characters the word for putz? Where does putz come in? Some of those other names are none too appealing either!
                Here's what I get when I google putz:
                "putz (p ts). n. 1. Slang A fool; an idiot. 2. Vulgar Slang A penis. intr.v. putzed, putz·ing, putz·es Slang. To behave in an idle manner; putter."

                1. re: roxlet

                  "Putz" is what Main Street Imperial used, or chose to use on their menu for the Chinese characters 布子 Bi Zi, in several dishes.

                  Who knows how they arrived at that decision. Some items on their menu are not even translated! Maybe they thought Putz sounded better than Corda dichotoma or Rag Seed!

                  1. re: scoopG

                    So it's like when I lived in Egypt and the menu would have things in English on it like Friskies or Viagra -- i.e. a completely non traditional translation of who knew what.

                    1. re: roxlet

                      That's it roxlet! Someone with very limited English skills asked somebody with limited skills - sort of like asking that blind person about that elephant. But you must have the Fly's Head dish at Main Street now - even though there are no flies in the dish!

                      1. re: scoopG

                        Um. If you say so... :)
                        And try the friskies.

                        1. re: roxlet

                          You can see photos here, including one of the Fly's Head dish by the Chubby Chinese Girl!

          3. Distant thread, but I was just happy to see this post. Like a lot of you who contributed to this post , this has been one of my favorites in Queens. What sets this one apart from many other restaurants that I like a lot, is that I don't seem to get tired of their food no matter how often I go, and I can't say that about many places even for the other favorites of mine whether it is a fine-dining place or otherwise. I think this says a lot about their food: good balanced flavor, variety, measured seasoning, ect.

            I also like most of the dishes that this post mentions. Here are some of my additional likes:

            Clams with basil: I think this has much better flavor than the one with the black bean.

            Stir-fried Cabbage: this is a dish that the restaurant brings out for free to larger tables. I don't know the name, but it is a lightly stir-fried cabbage with garlic, and very simple dish, but very delicious!

            Chicken Soup: again, I don't know the name, but it comes in a large clay soup pot, and has a bit of herb flavor. The broth is yellowish and cloudy, and has chunks of very tender and delicious chicken pieces with bones in them. Nothing else - like vegetables or anything - is visible except slices of ginger and chicken, but the flavor was AMAZING. The idea is somewhat like Korean Sam Gye Tang, but a bit more fatty and savory flavor. It's in the part of menu under chef special that does not have English translation.

            Shredded Pork with Hot Pepper: I think this dish was mentioned in one of the post, and this is one of my favorites there (especially if the chef lightly chars the pepper). More recently though, I discovered that they have a noodle soup version of this and it was like having your favorite dishes two ways! The flavor of the dish mixed into the a hearty noodle soup was fantastic. Only draw back was the noodles which seemed quite overcooked/limp. This noodle soup is on their lunch menu.

            It's hard not to order cong ting tou every time I go there, but on a packed weekend nights, there are a lot of dishes that I see for the first time on dining tables which the waitress helps me to order :)

            4 Replies
            1. re: Kurtis

              "It's hard not to order cong ting tou every time I go there"

              Amen. The dish that the waitresses refer to in English as "fly" (short for "Scallion Fly Head") is one of my favorites in Flushing. To quote the Ramone who sometimes guest stars on No Reservations, "I could eat this all day."

              The dishes here, in my experience, vary from okay to very, very good, and it's those really good ones that keep me coming back to mine the menu. Some of my favorites are:

              - Cuttle fish w/ chive: light touch on this one, just enough flavoring while still letting the local ingredients shine.

              - Pork Chop over rice: call me crazy (wouldn't be the first time), but I like MSIT's version better than some of the specialists I've tried in Manhattan. The one I had most recently contained a very moist, juicy and flavorful porkchop, and excellent fluffy rice which absorbed all the flavors and pickled veggies while maintaining its' verve. that's very important with this dish and I think these guys get it right. I'm a sucker for that flavored boiled egg as well.

              - Crispy chicken: This is basically fried chicken in a basket, but probably the most underrated bird in the borough. The various pieces vary in moistness and crispiness, but what brings it over the top for me is the fried garlic chunks and basil they drape over the chicken. When the bird is all gone, I find myself still grabbing handfuls of the garlic and downing it like popcorn.

              I'm completely with you on the soup noodles, which I've also found to be a consistent weakness. It's a shame, because otherwise their mixed seafood noodle soup, with a rich, tasty, almost milky broth, would be downright superb.

              The chef here, when on, keeps it simple. I've also found the staff to be uniformly nice, helpful and friendly. This is one of the most underrated restaurants in the borough.


              1. re: Polecat

                how big is this place? could it seat a party of 9? and does it get crowded on weekends? thinking of going tonight.

                1. re: missmasala

                  No problem for a party of nine. They have at least two large tables. It can get crowded and you may well have to the earlier the better.

                2. re: Polecat

                  I have always been somewhat disappointed with their fish dishes whenever I ordered them, and so it's been a while since I tried one despite obvious popularity. Many times they seemed overcooked or just bland. I may have not been ordering the right ones. Am I missing some great ones? I will certainly need to try the cuttlefish you recommend (the chicken dish sounds fantastic too) as i have enjoyed squid with hot pepper oil. Any other seafood dish that stand out?

                  Speaking of seafood...One of my favorite over the rice dish there is seafood over rice served during lunch time. Little bit of broth that covers the rice is so heavenly, that I am willing to forgive usually overcooked seafood...

                  Uh oh... Here goes my dinner plan again!