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New in Flushing: M&T Restaurant - A Taste of Qingdao

In “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles,” Jennifer 8. Lee laid out some parameters in her search for great “Chinese restaurants for Chinese people”: chopsticks at the table, menus in Chinese, wait-staff who speak Mandarin, house specialties written on the wall in Chinese and “fish tanks with live creatures that might end up on your plate.”

You’ll find four out of five at the new M&T Restaurant Inc. - 美而特 (Mei Er Tai - “ Beautiful and Special” in Chinese.) It is barely ten days old and the owner is Mr. James Tang (唐). He speaks very little English but his wife does and his son Tom, to some degree. They are all very friendly and welcoming. They arrived from Qingdao, the northern port city of Shandong province and have staked their claim at 44-09 Kissena Boulevard, just off the corner of Kissena and Cherry Avenue.

There are four square tables for four and two round tables for eight. As you enter, on the right there are about eight cold appetizers in trays by the counter. On the wall, to the left are listed about 30 House Specials; not all of which are available as Mr. Tang is still importing some special ingredients from Qingdao. Upon his suggestion I sampled three of these specials plus a Bean Jelly dish from the appetizer section of the menu. Before they arrived Mr. Tang served up some special Green Tea from Qingdao.

青島涼粉 (Qingdao Liang Fen) $5.95
Qingdao Cold Pasta with Special Sauce on the menu but it seems to me it is Grass Jelly with Special Sauce. A large bowl of dark black jelly cubes with cucumber, garlic and some kind of minced sea-type vegetable. A hint of vinegar offsets the slightly bitter jelly taste.

椒鹽嶗山蔘 (Jiao Yan Lao Shan Shen) $9.99
Salt and Pepper Lao Shan Ginseng
Lao Shan is a revered mountain east of Qingdao and thought of as one of the places where Taoism was born. Here ginseng is lightly battered (almost tempura-like) quickly deep fried and served with bits of sliced red and green pepper. A slightly bitter taste of ginseng is offset by the batter texture and salt.

韭菜比管魚 (Jiu Cai Bi Guan Yu) $9.99
Squid with Chinese Chives
Lightly stir fried tubes of squid with Chinese chives. Simple yet tasty.

青島小炒 (Qingdao Xiao Chao)
Qingdao Quick Stir Fry

Here slivers of stir-fried potatoes, bacon, red pepper, celery and pine mushrooms, Fist Vegetable and Chinese fiddleheads! Delcious.

松蘑 (Song Mo) or pine mushrooms are a wild, edible fungi found in northern China (as well as Sichuan, Taiwan and other places.) Also, another exotic vegetable in this dish is

拳頭菜 (Quan Tou Cai) “Clenched Fist Vegetable” or “Fist Vegetable” which is a wild herb I think is called bracken fern. The spring sprouts of young bracken fern are curled at the end like a child's fist, hence its name Quantoucai or fist vegetable. The curled fronds are also called fiddleheads.

A welcome edition to Flushing and I place I certainly plan on delving into again.

For a slideshow:
http://picasaweb.google.com/roswellhi...

More on Fist Vegetable:
http://en.bailongwan.com/newEbiz1/Ebi...

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SN New Restaurant
44-09 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY 11355

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  1. Thanks scoopG, looking forward to trying this - haven't eaten specifically Qingdao food ever before, and dongbei food in general is not too plentiful in NY.

    10 Replies
    1. re: buttertart

      Love to hear what you think. I once had had tiny fried scorpoids in Qingdao! Not to pick nits but...Shandong Province is not considered Dongbei. That would be Heilongjiang, Jilin and Shenyang Provinces. Not to worry am working now on a review of a new Dongbei place in Flushing! More later...

      1. re: scoopG

        What is it considered then? Just Shandong? I thought I knew my Chinese geography reasonably well.
        Flushing is a subway haul for us but will get there as soon as possible.
        Look forward to yours on the other restaurant. More Northern food in NY please, ate a lot in Taipei and miss it to this day.

        1. re: buttertart

          I think just plain old Shandong. The Germans had absolute control over it from 1918 until 1945. Here's more on Dongbei in general if you don't mind (last time I got into Chinese geography I was flamed!)

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

          1. re: scoopG

            since we're picking nits - the germans had the concession for Qingdao and jiaozhou bay from 1898. At the beginning of the first world war, the japanese attacked and took it over. China regained it in the 1920's.
            Dongbei = Manchuria.
            Shandong is south east of Beijing.
            I wonder if they have a special kind of jiaozi - qingdao is famous for... Lujiao (oven dumplings) served like a pinwheel and fried.

            1. re: Jerome

              Well your right and wrong and I am wrong and right! I did say geography was one of my slamming points and so it is. Must have gotten mixed up between the review of M&T and Golden Palace. Of course Shandong is not Dongbei! The Japanese did not have to do any attacking though to take control of Shandong Province from the Germans in 1919 - they were "awarded" it from the Western allies at Versailles. This outrage prompted the famous May 4th Movement in 1919.

              I'll have to ask at M&T about the oven dumplings. Which Lu is that? Lu3 of the stew variety like Lu3 Shui3? They do feature Three Delicacies Dumplings, Squid Dumplings, Shrimp Dumplings and Vegetable Dumplings.

              1. re: scoopG

                QIngdao was taken by the Japanese on november, 1914. The takeover was suported by th versailles conference and yes the May 4 (wusiyundong) movement started as a result.
                http://www.dhm.de/ausstellungen/tsing...
                http://www.dhm.de/ausstellungen/tsing...
                I think it's this Lu
                爐 炉
                lu2. oven furnace stove.
                not lu braised or lu shandong.
                there are some nice pictures here from the german period in qingdao. - to be fair, when I was in Jinan in 1982, there were some wonderful fruit jams offered at breakfast to european tour groups (germans) - we got hte local breakfast - xifan with smoked fish.
                http://www.deutsche-schutzgebiete.de/...

                1. re: Jerome

                  Thanks much for those links (will have to dust of my German!) especially the old photos. I do recall seeing the old German style homes in Qingdao in the late 1980's. So these special dumplings are called lujiao 炉饺 then? I will definitely ask at M&T about them.

                  1. re: Jerome

                    I asked the owners of the M&T and while they said they were familiar with oven buns in Qingdao (炉包子 – lu2 bao1 zi) they were not with oven dumplings (炉饺子 = lu2 jiao3).

                    1. re: scoopG

                      my mistake. they are lu baozi.
                      jiao bao jian jiao, guotier, in the north sometimes the distinctions blurred for me. But I porbably just wrote it down wrong. The restaurant in monterey park/alhambra that had them is called qingdao bread food (kid you not). it's possible that it was lujiao - but if they're served in a dish pinwheel style and that's the dish.
                      the yelp review calls them lubao. so my mistake, probably. try them. they're pretty good.

                      1. re: Jerome

                        I don't they have them! Interesting though when I plugged the characters of lu jiao zi into baidu.com plenty of vendors for the small lu jiao zi serving pans showed up so I could see how they would be served pinwheel style.

      2. Sounds like an essential stop on the Flushing chow trail! Thanks for the report and the pics!

        1. nice scoop, G. your squid dish, in particular, looks tender and absolutely delicious.

          i think clenched fist vegetable is actually a bit different than what are sold as fiddleheads in the U.S. or at least they look and taste pretty different to me. (might just be that they're dried and reconstituted?)

          2 Replies
          1. re: cimui

            Hi Cimui! Yes that squid dish was nice and light, very little oil. I think you may be right regarding fiddleheads. I've had them fresh here in the USA in the spring and they are green. These were dark in color and most likely dried and reconstituted. You can see one in the photo of the dish on the top upper left side of the plate - dark and rectangular tube like in shape.

            1. re: cimui

              that clenched fist vegetable (or fiddlehead, etc.) is something I've seen in most bi-bim-baps I've had; very same color, shape, texture. you can always find it at woorijip in their bi-bim-bap to go although they tend to overcook it so it ends up too soft. found in a lotta banchan too, prepared like the shigumchi (sp?) or spinach (sesame oil and whatnot).

            2. Oh, I should point out that the 31 House Specials are written in Chinese only. But M&T does have a full menu with both English and Chinese.

              2 Replies
              1. re: scoopG

                And you know what the house specials only in Chinese means...get that pencil sharpened, my man. You chould sell this service, I should think.

                1. re: buttertart

                  Am on the road now and can't get back there until mid-August. They wrote the specials in almost grass-like strokes so I would have to have go over them with them when they are not busy. There is one waiter there on weekends I think who speaks English well enough.

              2. awesome, thanks for this (and your other) post.