HUNAN HOUSE--brief report
After reading about this new place here (see thread "Hunan in North Flushing") four of us set out to on our first NYC Hunan foray last night.
Overall, we were very, very pleased. Excited, even!
The restaurant is a huge step up in decor and atmosphere from our old faves like Little Pepper and Shanghai Tide. There is an excellent command of English among staff, and the owners are warm and welcoming and willing to help with ordering.
We were seated at pushed-together square tables in the front, allowing a view of Northern Blvd. HH serves 3 kinds of beer.
I had a list compiled from reports here; two of the diners were spice-adverse and the ordering reflected this.
Hunan Pickled Cabbage--very good, vinegary; little heat.
Ox Tongue and Tripe with Spicy Peppery Sauce..friend took this home; I did not try but will report back with his comments. (His current favorite is from a stall called something like "SIster Shu" south on Main Street; I don't know that place)
Steamed Spare Ribs, Hunan Style (served in a bamboo receptacle). Excellent--tender, complex flavors. From specials part of menu. I am still craving this dish. Little chunks of rib bathed in lovely brown sauce-sorry to be so vague, but it was GREAT!
Shredded Pork with Dry Bean Curd--Specials section. Lots of celery. MUCH lighter and less greasy than my old fave rendition from Little Pepper. Flavorful; very good for a non-spicy dish, but I happen to be partial to this dish. Like most of the dishes we tried, this was noticeably lacking in oil and the cooking overall seemed much lighter than that of some of our usual Flushing faves.
Shredded Duck with Fresh Ginger..also on Specials. Very good, very smokey. Very good in small portions; also non-spicy and light on the oil component.
Steamed Mash Peppers with Tofu. Also on specials. I was expecting a bean sheet dish like the one at fu Run. This was smokey, with a lovely sweet-ish, complex sauce, but just did not excite any of us.
Spicy Slice Fish, HunanStyle (from "Special Recommend" List). Flavors complex and excellent. Cumin?
I liked the sauce better than the fish itself, which was a little gummy from the breading. Will not order again--will try whole fish or fish head S1 on Specials menu, next time.
Bok Choy. Excellent.
Will definitely return to this place, hopefully soon. Bill with about 7 beers and tip, for 4 people, totalled about $108. Lots of food to take home. There are So many new(to me) dishes on this menu and I look forward to trying many of them--great new addition to the Flushing scene; service is friendly and welcoming.
Across the street (Northern Blvd) is a new supermarket that looks promising. Good looking vegetables/ Pineapples for $1.24.
Hunan House is across from Flushing Town Hall and near the old historic house, about a block east of Main Street on Northern Blvd.
The first time I had the tongue and tripe, it was amazing. I had it again last weekend and it just wasn't as good. Maybe an off night. If you want something that has a cartilaginous texture, try the conch in chili oil.
I tried to order another dish and was informed that it is no longer served since it was the creation of one of the original chefs, who is no longer there.
We were dining as they were closing shop and the owner was kind enough to offer me a bowl of snails they had prepared for the staff meal. It's one of the best things I've had there in my dozen or so visits. Little snails in shell in a very spicy broth. It's not on the menu nor on the wall.
re: Joe MacBu
I love Hunan House! I went there recently with a large group of people, including the estimable Dave Cook, and so we got to try a lot of different dishes.
One question, though: We ordered the tongue and tripe appetizer, which was amazing. But I don't think I've had tongue and tripe before (as far as I can remember) and certainly not in that rendition. It seemed VERY similar to the beef tendon appetizer at Little Pepper (but even BETTER! which is an amazing feat). Should it seem similar? Or do you think maybe they brought us tendon by mistake? Wrong appetizer? In any case, I want to go back and try it again, and see if I end up with the same thing! I think I'll win either way! Ha.
I don't think I've ever had real, non-Americanized Hunanese food before. Some of it was very spicy and similar to Sichuan.
Overall I think I liked this even better than Little Pepper although it's not all really directly comparable. The dan dan noodles were even better than LP's.
And I really loved the white chili pepper with preserved beef, and the smoked duck Hunan style, and there was a really nice, delicate "scorched rice with seafood" (scorched rice was a strange description for really great, freshly-made rice-cake-like stuff), and chicken in casserole (apparently using chicken neck, in a really amazing sauce).
There were only a couple of mediocre dishes, including a fish dish. And the eel was overwhelmingly spicy and not quite as flavorful as at LP (not quite the same dish though).
I went with a large group to HH a couple of weeks ago, and we were uniformly delighted. There were about 12 of us, and together we ordered at least 15 dishes; with only one or two exceptions (the sauteed greens, for instance, were overcooked -- serves us right for ordering a vegetable when there was pork still untried) the dishes maintained a very high standard of deliciousness. Among the dishes I'd recommend are the fish filets with cumin, the sauteed pork kidneys (not as exquisite as the version at Bamboo Pavilion, but still well worth a try), the ma po tofu, the sauteed whole green chilies (without the seeds just a pleasant level of heat, with them head-poppingly fiery), and the pickled cabbage Hunan style (at once refreshing and very spicy). But I'd single out for special mention the white chilies with preserved beef ("like the best Slim Jim you've ever eaten," said one of us; "so smoky Bloomberg wants to ban it," said another), and best of all, the Chairman Mao's pork: soft little cubes of braised pork belly -- the most wonderful pork-flavored marshmallows in the world.
Oh wow, I totally forgot to mention the pickled cabbage appetizer. That was really good too, and different from the Little Pepper version. I'm not sure which one I prefer. We also had some tofu dishes but I don't remember which ones. One of them featured long, thin, firm, browned slices of tofu with a nice smooth texture.
A large group of us had dinner here last weekend. Among the standouts were (from the "Latest Specials" section of the menu):
Lean Dry Duck With Soya Bean Paste
From the same section of the menu, the Old Master Fuzi Meat Dish" (steamed pork with rice powder, wrapped in large green leaves and served in a bamboo steamer, was unusual, but the texture was a bit
spongy and it was not a crowd-pleaser on that night.
A "must" from the "original" specials section, in my opinion, is the White Chili with Preserved Beef...this was one of my favorites of the evening.
Lamb with Cumin was another highlight, as were both the spectacular bok choy and the excellent napa cabbage with preserved soybeans.
The place was full at 7pm on a Saturday night, but emptied out by 8pm or so. I plan to return soon!
Erica is spot on. The food was very very good. Way different from the Cantonese I so often eat. The bok choy was, indeed, excellent. And HH's tofu dishes were also great, especially the Chairman Mao tofu. The steamed ribs, which don't sound too appealing, came in a long cylindrical bamboo container type thing and were served in a sauce. They were soft and falling off the bone. Very very good. Fun was had by all.
Yes! How could I forget the chairman Mao Tofu?! I do not think this dish is on the menu but it is well worth ordering. We also had a cold appetizer of Soft Bean Curd with Scalliion Sauce. I liked this light starter, but it was not a crowd pleaser at the table.
I neglected to mention that Hunan House is BYOB for wine.
Our meal cost $18 per person. Plenty of food but alas, not enough for leftovers. We certainly plan to return!