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Sep 22, 2009 09:22 AM

Recommendations for Sunset Park Chinatown

I lived in Flushing before, and that might not be a good thing - it's the reason why I never went out to the "Eighth Avenue", well, once and I really do not remember why, just definitely not for Chinese food there. Hey, I lived in Flushing :-) .
I will be back to NYC this weekend and a sudden urge to try something in the Brooklyn Chinatown strangely rose. I'd love to hear some recommendations. I really do not have a narrowed down category, since I am still going to stay in Flushing so aiming for categories might not be the best strategy to give Sunset Park a "chance". I'd like to have the best XLB in Sunset Park, than the best XLB in NYC ... the goal is to really get me to explore the neighborhood so, at least psychologically I know I am not missing out.

Thanks in advance.

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    1. re: Bob Martinez

      XLB = soup dumplings.

      don't know of a great place for those in sunset park. Pacificana has them as part of their dim sum, but they were just okay, nothing special.

      one place that sunset park has that you don't get in flushing AFAIK: Ba Xuyen, 42nd & 8th--i think the best banh mi in the city

      as good as flushing: the lanzhou hand-pulled noodles on 60th street.

      haven't eaten at many of the SP restaurants recommended on this board. Pacificana isn't bad for dim sum, but if you want the best dim sum in brooklyn (and perhaps the city) head to world tong in bensonhurst.

      And SP is better than flushing for mixing and matching mexican and chinese cuisines--if you want dumplings and a taco, say.

      1. re: missmasala

        "XLB = soup dumplings."

        Thanks. I just did a search and see that the term occasionally pops up on the board. I never noticed it before.

        The Ba Xuyen suggestion is spot on. We were just there on Saturday and the BBQ pork banh mi was outstanding. Other good Vietnamese choices for pho are Nha Trang palace and Gia Lam.

        There are two places that I haven't visited that also sound promising - Thanh Da (Robert Sietsema really liked the bun bo hue) and Yun Nan Flavour Snack Shop for noodles and dumplings.

        Nha Trang Palace
        5906 8th Ave

        Gia Lam II
        5606 8th Ave

        Thanh Da
        6008 Seventh Avenue

        Yun Nan Flavour Snack Shop
        775A 49th St. (near 8th Ave.

        1. re: Bob Martinez

          The bun bo hue at Thanh Da is ok, not great, but good for NY.

          Yun Nan is great, both for rice noodle soups and dumpling soup.

          I didn't like Nha Trang at all, and Gia Lam is mixed, but the grilled stuff is pretty good. My current favorite in the neighborhood is Pho Hoai 3.

          If I lived in Flushing I wouldn't worry about Sunset Park.

          There's no place I know of in Sunset Park for Shanghaiese food.

          1. re: Peter Cherches

            Unique in the five boros: Yunnan Flavor Snack - dumplings in hot and sour, #6 Cold Noodle, Noodle with Crispy Meat Sauce are my favorites and distinct from each other.

            Arguably best Banh Mi in the five boros: Ba Xuyen

            Nice to know it might compare to Flushing (thanks missmasala): Hand Pull noodle at 60th st.

            1. re: noisejoke

              Heartily agree with the rec for Yunnan Flavor Snack. The place isn't much to look at (quite literally a hole in the wall) but the flavors are completely unique and delicious. Worth seeking out.
              Lucky Eight stands out among the larger restaurants. Very fresh, not at all greasy. The vinegar spare ribs and udon with black pepper are my favorites.

              1. re: jimmyjazz

                Forgot about Yunnan Flavor Snack! I do recommend the dumplings in hot and sour sauce from there--not sure you can find that in flushing.

            2. re: Peter Cherches

              I agree that with regard to genuine Shanghainese xiao long bao, you'd be hard pressed to find anything of the sort in Sunset Park or really anywhere in Brooklyn.

              If you're accustomed to Flushing, don't expect a similarly large or various selection of restaurants/cuisines. Sunset Park is not really quite the destination Flushing is, but if you go to explore keeping that in mind, perhaps you won't be disappointed by what charms this smaller, homier neighborhood does possess.

              I also agree with those above who recommend Ba Xuyen. It probably is the (unassuming) gem of the neighborhood--there are comparable banh mi in the city, but none better.

              There's also a dumpling place that I'm trying to spread the word about, on 53rd St just east of Eighth Ave. Here's my original post on what I thought were their really good guo tie:

              I haven't sampled too much dim sum in the area, but there's tasty, thoughtfully prepared Cantonese dinner to be had at Lucky Eight, on Eighth near 52nd St.

              1. re: hhhippo

                We think Lucky Eight is pretty great and probably exceptional for the neighborhood.

                We've been going to World Tong on 18th ave in Bensonhurst for years but look forward to checking out East Harbor in SP this weekend.

                Thanks for reminding about your dumpling joint. I'll try to get there this week. (I did see that Prosperity Dumpling in the lower 40s has yet to open for biz).

              2. re: Peter Cherches

                For the past couple of years I've enjoyed the pho at Nha Trang palace very much. (The rest of the menu is decent but nothing special.) What are your recommendations for better pho in New York? (I realize that I may be asking a hot button question like "where can I get the best burger?")

                1. re: Bob Martinez

                  «your recommendations for better pho in New York?» IMO, Pho Tay Ho on 86th St. in Bensonhurst.

                  Pho Tay Ho
                  2351 86th St, Brooklyn, NY 11214

                  1. re: bobjbkln

                    Funny - I've been the Pho Tay Ho a couple of times and while I thought the pho was very good I didn't think it was any better than Nha Trang Palace. BTW, both places have the same owner. He also owns Pho Hoai which was recommended by Peter Cherches.

                    I'm beginning to think that the "best pho?" question is a lot like asking about the best burger. There are lots of right answers.

                    1. re: bobjbkln

                      Tay Ho is the best I've had. I've never tried the Pho at Nha Trang, just other items, so I can't compare.

                      Bob, you're saying Tay Ho, Nha Trang and the 3 Hoai branches share a Brooklyn pho magnate?

                      1. re: Peter Cherches

                        "Bob, you're saying Tay Ho, Nha Trang and the 3 Hoai branches share a Brooklyn pho magnate?"

                        According to the NY Times, they do - Tommy Nguyen. (Or at least they did in 2004) -

                        I've been to Pho Tay Ho twice and I thought the food was a cut above Nha Trang Palace. The pho, OTOH, was comparable, which is good news for me because NTP is more conveniently located.

                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                          We go to the branch of Pho Hoai on Avenue U. I've mentioned it a good number of times before but I guess people don't get down to Homecrest for Vietnamese. We're in Kensington with a car so it's no issue. My buddy, a history prof. specializing in Vietnam thinks it's pretty good. He used to take me to a place on Mott above Bayard, which he found authentic. Can't remember the name. The Google is good I hear.

          2. Thanks guys for the very helpful info. I think I would head over for the Yunnan restaurant and maybe picked up a Ban Mi for the returning subway ride. It all comes back now - why I never bothered with Sunset Park - it's two subway rides! And I had to go out to the city for N train?
            But a promise (to myself) is a promise, I would definitely make the trip and even if I get disappointed, it's a still mission accomplished.
            When I made the XLB (Shanghai soup dumplings) "metaphor" I only meant to describe my own motivations. XLB as a menu item is not a requirement of course.
            Just curious though? How do you guys think it compares to Elmhurst?

            6 Replies
            1. re: shengtang

              the previous posters have already called it on Yun Nan so I'll just add that the couple that own and operate it are the nicest people

              1. re: shengtang

                i don't know elmhurst that well, but i think of it as being more pan asian (chinese, indonesian, thai, indian chinese, vietnamese, etc) plus some latino places.

                Sunset Park is really just chinese (with a little vietnamese) on 7th and 8th ave and mexican/central american on 5th ave. There are some remnants of eastern europe (the odd polish store or two) and a couple of turkish/middle eastern places but really chinese and mexican places dominate.

                I personally would consider elmhurst more of an eating paradise, but i live in brooklyn, not queens, and SP is a lot closer to me.

                I also think any neighborhood is worth checking out--that's what great about this city. Make the trip to SP and satisfy your curiosity.

                The neighborhood in brooklyn I might consider most like elmhurst these days (in its plethora of pan-ethnic restaurants) is bensonhurst. You could go there instead of SP.

                1. re: missmasala

                  More specifically Bensonhurst-Bath Beach, once pretty solidly Italian neighborhoods that are now interestingly multiethnic. I think Tay Ho, for Instance, is technically in Bath Beach. In Bensonhurst one could go straight from Dim Sum at World Tong to fantastic gelato at Villabate. Then there's Bay Ridge for Middle Eastern at Tanoreen as well as another Pho Hoai branch, and the couscous place I've yet to try, etc. etc.

                  1. re: Peter Cherches

                    Peter - do you mean Mason de Couscous? I wonder how that place is these days. Don't forget even closer to Villabate is Bamboo Pavilion! Another Bay Ridge fave of ours (should we be starting another thread?) is the Norwegian shop on 3rd ave!

                    1. re: Peter Cherches

                      I used to joke about this: Italian and Chinese always live close. Look at Manhattan and even San Francisco ... my theory is that it makes pork logistics easier :-) .
                      But now, you guys opened up a big box of worms, I might have to go to Bensonhurst as well, even longer subway rides!
                      I agree that Elmhurst is far more Pan Asian. I got my Malaysian fix there all the time.

                      1. re: shengtang

                        In Sunset Park, Pacificana does have a few really great dishes: crabs with ginger and scallion; their peking duck; the haikanese pork stew and the saitian clams (not sure about the spelling). Many noodle dishes are great too.
                        Yunnan Flavour Snack is outstanding. Get the cold noodle and meat dish.
                        Lucky Eight is great. Get their fried chicken with garlic.
                        Ba Xuyen and Tan Dha are excellent for Vietnamese sandwiches.
                        But ... probably the best Chinese in the immediate area is about 60 blocks south at Grand Sichuan House of Bay Ridge. Awesome. (As is Bamboo Pavillion in nearby Bensonhurst.) Some thoughts ....

                2. I just came back and hopefully nobody minds if I am piggy backing on this topic to do a trip report :-) .
                  Of course I went to Sunset Park. Te neighborhood is much busier than I could remember. Of course, the only time I went there was a snowing afternoon ... Unfortunately I could not find the Yunnnan restaurant, and before I could quench my hunger any longer, I walked into a small Lanzhou lamien place.
                  This place had a blue awning and I think I saw it somewhere on the web (maybe serious eats). There are a lot of condiments, even fish sauce and sriracha, unorthodox but nothing wrong with it. I myself enjoyed the garlic sauce very much. I ordered beef tendon noodle plus beef. I'd like the tendon to be more "lam" (I am judging it from a more Cantonese angle I guess). I wonder if the noodle was really hand-pulled - it's too perfectly shaped and frankly, it's doesn't have enough "bite". The soup was not orthodox I believe, since the original Lanzhou lamien should have clear white soup. But it taste OK. Overall, it's a decent bowl of noodle I would eat if I am in the neighborhood.
                  Then back to Flushing. Things changed in Flushing - it's the "CitiField" instead of Shea stadium now, and there is this new mall - Queen's Crossing - where Ajisan Ramen taste as mediocre as it does everywhere else :-) . I do like the bakery Paris Paguette. I like almost all Korean bakeries. Are we sure Korean didn't invent croissant?
                  I had the cumin lamb burger at the Xian famous food. It's not bad but I do not understand the fuss. This taste is probably special for Chinese, but in New York, it's more or less just another variation of the central/south Asia flavors you can get in most halal stands. The other "burger", with pork, was the real good eat to me! I also had a Gua Bao at the neighboring Taiwanese stall. I am from Taiwan, and this was the first time in 15 years I had Gua Bao, or even kong Ba (the pork in the Gua Bao). Tears might have literally come out of my eyes. :-)
                  The Lanzhou noodle here (in Flushing mall) was good, specifically, the noodle. The noodle was more chewy than the ones in Brooklyn. Personally I prefer Taiwanese beef noodle (surprise!) but this noodle is really good. It just needs a richer broth (for me). of course, the clear broth was the authentic version.
                  Penang was replaced by Naxiang XLB. I was upset for a second, until I gave in and tried the XLB there on Sunday morning. Hands down, the best meal in this entire trip. Sadly for me, I had not have XLB for some time and my technique was rusty. My first bite caused the dumpling shooting hot soup at my tongue like a pissing shrimp. I still have the numb spot now. Ah... sweet injury. I didn't remember how it was in DTF or the Naxiang in Shanghai or even Joe's shanghai two blocks down, I just remembered this was the best authentic Chinese food I had for a long long time.
                  Bak Kut Teh - thanks to Lau's recommendation - Santosa did serve me a great bowl, even it's still Malaysia style. The reason I wanted a Singapore style Bak Kut Teh was that Malaysian style uses a lot of herbs and it might overpower the flavor of the pork. Case in point, Santosa's soup was very tasty but the intestine had almost no taste. Also, it's easier to get the Malaysian style cooked at home, just buy a packet of pre-mix. Singapore style is almost impossible to cook at home. This is just my humble opinion of course.
                  All in all, great trip (food wise that is) . I envy you NYC guys ...

                  1. for their soups and noodles, thanh da disappointed. i think what's difficult is that flushing, currently, seriously has some very exciting food from all over china and like someone commented, elmhurst really satisfies on so many other asian fronts. however i love taking that long trip (for me) out to sunset park purely for that reason: nice to have a destination, nice to see an area which has a really exciting and happening streetscape (i love walking down eighth avenue there) and not have the over-ridiculous crowds of Flushing's main street or kissena. there are some interesting spots down there like Metro for Sichuan, of course Ba Xuyen or THanh Da II for their banh mi, and a lot of interesting shopping and random takeout. It almost feels like going on vacation in some ways, I just don't think there is a mega-find in Sunset Park, something comparable to the craziness of all of flushing's malls, the recent northeast and shandong places and the random vendors. but surely, and there always is, some new and interesting bright spots always emerge.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bigjeff

                      Im not convinced that all the places on 8th ave have been thoroughly explored. New ones open all the time. On a different front, I tend to believe that quality may be higher over on 18th Ave. I noticed that a new place was opening a cpl blocks S of Bamboo Pavilion but didnt have time to explore. The dining crowd over there looks more prosperous.