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Giant Kimchi Buns from the borders of China & korea

  • h

Ming Chan Dong Korean Restaurant
36-24 Union st.
Flushing, NY 11354
718 358 3935

I was on Northern blvd at the Luh Yu Tea Emporium on a spontaneous visit. Then I was looking for the riceroll and donga place that one of the hounds had mentioned because I was with a vegetarian friend looking for the illusive Korean vegetarian food...Of course, I didn't have the address nor the name with me at the time, so wandering feet got tired after a while and the stomach started to growl and took over the search.

There were some giant buns in a glass case in the window, plus pictures of soon dubu, and the Chinese characters, 麻花, which is the deep fried twisted dough (NOT Youtiao, but more, in this case, like a Chinese pretzel in the shape of a giant twisted braid about a foot long). We sat down and ordered a 麻花 (pronouced ma2 hua1) to start. Granted we were hungry, but fried dough never tasted so good! It was slightly sweet, but just from the dough, not glaze. It was soft, with chewy texture.
Liking this dough, I asked about the buns. Vegetarian bun, pork bun, Kimchi bun, and red bean bun. KIMCHI BUNS???!! It wasn't vegetarian, but neither was I.

The bun was almost as big as my face. I took a bite and it was going fast after that. The vegetarian friend even asked to try because it smelled so good, and there were no visible signs of meat. The filling was all the way to within 1/8 inch of the dough all around. That's a lot of filling, and in this case, a very well-balanced filling so that it wasn't over-powering. It was spicy enough, but the dough held up well against it. It went down so easily and I immediately thought to myself, why haven't I had one of these before?! Am I supposed to keep it a secret? (The vegetarian bun was also quite robust and tasty, but not as stunning after I'd already tasted the Kimchi bun.)

The Kimchi soon dubu was more tart than most I've had elsewhere, which made it a lot more flavorful than places where the soup had lots of red, but tasted bland. This was a nicely flavored soup with plenty of tender tofu. Unfortunately I only had one spoonful which was all I could handle after the Ma Hua, and the bun, and...huh, the huge bowl of Zha jian Mian, which I'll have to be fair and try when I'm not already stuffed. FIrst impression was that I liked the soft crispy fried to black pieces of pork doused in black sauce, almost like pieces of very fluffy toast. Also that the noodles were not the hand-pulled, but almost udon in thickness. I was told their noodle chef wasn't in tonight when I asked about the 麻酱麵 (sesame noodles?), so I'll have to investigate further.

Our neighbor ordered Ma Po Tofu, (either that or the Ma La tofu) and it looked amazing with whole squares of tofu, instead of the usual mush of tofu) and chili pepper sauce and garnish all over. Definitely something I'll try next time.

I got a red bean bun and some tea eggs to go on my way out. The red bean fillings were again, filled to the very limit, and were of really azuki beans that tasted fresh and wholesome, neither too sweet, nor too heavy.

The menus have only Chinese and Korean on it. The waiter is Chinese who came from the border of China and Korea, and speaks both languages. This is a new type of restaurant that's got the best of both worlds to me. They are opened from 7 Am to midnight. A very unpretentious place that suits my "peasant" taste well. If ever anyone crave a Steamed Kimchi Bun late at night, this is the place!

-----
Ming Chan Dong
36-24 Union St, Queens, NY 11354

 
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  1. Sounds yummy- thanks for the rec.

    1. i will be trying this tomorrow

      yay

      ty

      1. wow looks very cool...im fascinted by the food from the area close to korea

        2 Replies
          1. re: chefjellynow

            haha i wish...maybe ill try it next weekend bc i was planning on going out there anyhow, i rarely go to flushing on the weekdays

        1. Those kimchi buns are pretty good.
          The pork is ground and you can see it if you look closely.

          Hope you manage to make it to dongas next time. It's closer to Roosevelt.

                1. re: Joe MacBu

                  oh wow i thought this was like just some small take out type of place

                  they have an entire menu, i cant read all of it, but they've got all sorts of stuff...ill have to get one of my friends to help me translate everything

                  1. re: Lau

                    Yum! I can only read the Korean, but I see a bunch of stir-fries, more Chinese-sounding than Korean (stir-fried frog!) as well as some intriguing more Korean-sounding dishes. Corn naengmyeon, which are the North Korean cold noodles--I've never had it with corn. The Zha Jian Mian, I wonder if that's like 짜장면, the black-bean Korean-Chinese noodle dish that's a delivery staple in Korea.

                    Can't wait to try this place!

                    1. re: AppleSister

                      the dish you're referring to ja jang myun (korean) is actually based upon zha jiang mian from northern china, so it is the staple delivery you get, but the korean version tastes different (its the koreanized version of a northern chinese dish)

                      in fact all of the korean-chinese dishes that are popular in korea (and korean areas of america) are based on northern chinese dishes, its similar to americanized chinese food except its the korean take on chinese dishes; well actually i believe its chinese people who moved to korea and then adapted their dishes to korean taste.

                      In LA there are a few chiense restaurants who's menus read exactly like the korean-chinese restaurants except they are all the original version of the dishes...i find it very interesting b/c alot of the chinese food is so foreign to me b/c i grew up eating mainly southern chinese food; there is so much more bread, wheat, use of lamb, different spices etc

                      1. re: Lau

                        Thanks, this is such a fascinating subject to me. I know many of the Chinese restaurants in Seoul are run by ethnic Chinese. There's apparently even a Chinatown in the city of Incheon. I'm sure the influences run both ways--ethnic Chinese in Korea, ethnic Koreans in China. I recently read an article about Dongbei food that describes a version of kimchi that's less spicy than in Korea, which makes sense given North Korean kimchi is generally less spicy as well.

                        Anyway, any recommendations for a good Korean-Chinese ja jang myun in Flushing? And for a good zha jiang to compare?

                        1. re: AppleSister

                          i haven't gone out of my way to find korean ja jjang myun in flushing. I did try sam won gak in flushing, i thought it was pretty decent, here's my report and the yelp link:
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/637798

                          1. re: AppleSister

                            AppleSister:
                            I've had a great version at Guh Song, a Korean-Chinese restaurant. It was lauded in the NY Times in 2006: http://events.nytimes.com/2006/12/27/...

                            ...waiting for someone to post a comprehensive translation of the menu :

                            )

                            -----
                            Guh Song
                            47-24 Bell Blvd, Queens, NY 11361

                        2. re: AppleSister

                          Thanks Joe MacBu for the menu pages!

                          AppleSister, I actually asked the waiter which version of the Zha Jian noodles they serve (Chinese or Korean), and he said they have BOTH. Since I'd been watching Korean drama I asked for the Korean Version. Anyhow, since you read Korean, I was wondering if you could tell me what page 5 the 12th one down the list is in korean? In Chinese it says "Pine Mushroom sliced meat", and I was just wondering exactly what kind of "pine mushroom" that happens to be. There was also a Potato Pancake that the waiter recommended that I didn't get to try. From his description it sounded like hash brown. I wonder if that's Chinese or Korean...

                          Lau, yes, this restaurant had more than just giant Kimchi buns :), but there are other similar places in Flushing that serves food like this (I think ScoopG did a report on one). I like that both Korean and Chinese are spoken there, and that native speakers of both countries eat there. To me it doesn't matter so much which country influenced whom in particular dishes, but more important that people from that region can find food they get home sick for. ...

                          1. re: HLing

                            With my terrible command of the Korean language, the dish in question means meat and matsutake mushroom stir-fry.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              Thanks Miss Needle for the prompt reply!

                              I was suspecting that the "pine mushroom" would be Matsutake, which if served in a Japanese restaurant would be pretty expensive. Do the Korean's use the Japanese name, too? Or do you just happen to know it in Japanese?

                              *edit: I'm going to take advantage of Korean speaker/readers here. Before settling on eating at Ming Chan Dong I also wandered to the section of Union street on the other side of Northern blvd. Within that short block, there was one small noodle house on the 2nd floor that had only Korean, no English or Chinese. It's all noodles, and it looked like it might be something for a obsessive noodle hound to try out. If it weren't for my vegetarian friend's nay say, I would have tried. Do any of the Korean hounds know the place, or can have a look? Thanks!

                              1. re: HLing

                                You're welcome! Actually, the Korean name for it would best be pronounced as "sung e (like the letter e) bu ssut," which is what the menu says in Korean. I figured most people would be more familiar with the Japanese name than the Korean one.

                                1. re: HLing

                                  "I also wandered to the section of Union street on the other side of Northern blvd. Within that short block, there was one small noodle house on the 2nd floor that had only Korean, no English or Chinese. It's all noodles, and it looked like it might be something for a obsessive noodle hound to try out."

                                  Oh, that's Jang Tur Noodles, a shop that specializes in Gooksoo noodles. It is my favorite of the several places I've tried around Flushing. Check it out. No real menu, except a choice for plain, seafood, or chicken noodles. All the noodles are handmade, and it takes some time after you order for it to come out. Make sure to ask for some of their killer hot sauce as well.
                                  http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2720/4...
                                  http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2682/4...

                                  1. re: E Eto

                                    Marvelous, E Eto! Thanks for the information about Jan Tur Noodles. The pictures showed exactly the place. I had a feeling it'd be something I want to try...if it weren't for the vegetarian friend who didn't feel like there were anything for her.

                                    What is Gooksoo noodles? And just in case, is the plain vegetarian? Or do they use non-vegetarian broth?

                              2. re: HLing

                                Yes, it's awesome that Korean-Chinese and Chinese-Korean and curious chowhounds can get food they're homesick for :) I don't know if there is a Chinese version of potato pancakes, but there's definitely a Korean one--gamja-jeon. Whenever I make it, my friends say it tastes like a latke with scallions. Some people grate the potatoes more, which makes them chewier and less like a hash brown.

                                I'm amazed they're serving pine mushrooms at that price--are they truly pine mushrooms?

                                Thanks to everyone for the tips! When I get to Guh Song, I'll post a menu translation in return.

                                1. re: AppleSister

                                  btw i forgot to answer your question about chinese zha jiang mian...unfortunately i haven't had a good version although to be fair a) i haven't really seen it that many places and b) i haven't actively gone out looking for

                                  its very good when done right, but i dont think its all that readily available in NY (someone feel free to please correct me as id be very happy to find a place)

                                  1. re: AppleSister

                                    oh and one more thing...my friend who's gf is korean and from flushing has some other korean-chinese place she goes to and my friend (who is chinese) says its the best

                                    it has some really generic name like chinese restaurant or china house or something...i think its off northern, id never heard of it or seen it

                                    im probably going to try it this weekend, so ill let you guys know how it is

                                    1. re: Lau

                                      Assume it's Chinese House at 149-08 41st Avenue in the Murray Hill section of Flushing. Been there twice and it is the best of its type I've found in Flushing. Not at the level of Guh Song on Bell Blvd. in Bayside or Mandarin Restaurant on Broad Ave in Palisades Park NJ but very good all the same.

                                      1. re: burton

                                        ah yeah ive heard mandarin in palisades park is the best

                              3. re: Lau

                                Is it me or do some of the dishes seem more Sichuan than Dong Bei? Like water cooked beef/lamb? Perhaps that's why those ones are not in Korean.

                              4. re: Joe MacBu

                                ok i sat down with a friend of mine and translated the whole menu although given its northern chinese food i don't know what half the stuff is (if you haven't noticed northern chinese food is night and day to southern chinese food which i grew up eating):

                                #1: not going to translate b/c its just the name of the restaurant

                                #2 - liang cai lei - cold food category
                                - rou si la pi - shredded meat with some type of pulled dough
                                - cong you hai zi - scallion oil jelly fish
                                - lao cu zhe tou - some type of vinegar sauce clam
                                - jin zhen gu ban huang gua - dried yellow flower mushroom mixed with cucumber
                                - huang gua ban zhe tou - cucumbers with clams
                                - liang ban tu dou si - cold shredded potato
                                - jiang niu rou - minced beef
                                - sheng ban niu rou - raw beef (this is yook hwe, which is a korean beef tar tar)

                                #3 - niu, yang, ji lei - beef, lamb, chicken category
                                - xiao ji dun mo gu - some type of braised (literally cooked a long time) small chicken with mushroom
                                - gong bao ji - kung pao chicken
                                - chong qing la zi ji - spicy chong qing chicken
                                - shui zhu yang rou - a specific sichuan preparation of lamb (people on the board familiar with sichuan food will know what shui zhu is)
                                - shui zhu niu rou - same as above except with beef
                                - hei jiao niu rou - black pepper beef
                                - xiao jiao niu rou si - shredded beef w/ small peppers
                                - zi ran niu rou - cumin beef
                                - suan xiang niu rou - garlic beef
                                - zi ran yang rou - cumin lamb
                                - suan xiang yang rou - garlic lamb
                                - cong bao yang rou - some type of scallion lamb
                                - cong bao niu rou - some type of scallion beef

                                #4 - zhu rou lei - pork category
                                - xiang la rou si - spicy shredded pork
                                - shui zhu rou - same sichuan preparation as before with pork
                                - liu san yang - 3 types of meat with some type of corn starch sauce
                                - jian jiao yao hua - pepper kidney
                                - gan zhe hei ji rou - dry fried pork tenderloin

                                #5 - continuation of pork section
                                - hong shao du pian - braised stomach pieces
                                - liu fei chang - fatty intestine
                                - jian jiao fei chang - pepper fatty intestine
                                - jian jiao du pian - pepper with stomach pieces
                                - rou chao mu er - stir fried meat with a type of black fungus
                                - jing jiang rou si - shredded meat with a beijing sauce?
                                - yu xiang rou si - shredded meat in garlic sauce
                                - hong shao rou dun dou jiao - braised meat with firm tofu
                                - suan cai zhu rou dun fen tiao - pork with pickled vegetables and rice rough
                                - suan cai rou si dun fen tiao - shredded meat with pickled vegetables and rice rough
                                - guo bao rou - we weren't sure what this was, but i googled it and its a fried fatty pork filet in a sweet sauce (http://www.chinatravel.net/forum/Hung... to fit more with the korean chinese genre
                                - song mo rou pian - shredded meat w/ mushrooms
                                - chao san zhen - stir fried 3 types of meats?
                                - kou rou - preserved pork belly
                                - hong shao rou - braised meat
                                - mu shu rou - moo shoo pork
                                - rou si la pi - spicy shredded meat
                                - zha qie he - fried eggplant box

                                #6 - hai xian lei - seafood category
                                - bei ji bei - clams
                                - shui zhu yu pian - same sichuan preparation as above except with fish
                                - ma la tian ji - spicy sichuan frog
                                - jiao yen tian ji - salt and pepper frog
                                - suan cai you yu juan - squid with pickled vegetable and rice roll
                                - gan bian you yu - dry sauteed squid
                                - gong bao xia ren - kung pao shrimp
                                - gan shao da xia - dry braised whole shrimp
                                - jiao yen xia ren - salt and pepper shrimp
                                - hong shao hai shen - braised sea cucumber
                                - ge shi long xia - lobster that can be prepared several different ways (you'd end up choosing
                                )- qing zhen lu yu - steamed fish
                                - gan shao ce yu - dry braised fish

                                #7 - continuation of seafood section
                                - hong shao ce yu - braised fish
                                - dou ban ce yu - fish in bean sauce
                                - hong shao min tai yu - another braised fish
                                - xiang zha xian huang yu - fried small yellow fish
                                - luong dun yu - another fish unclear what kind?
                                - liu yu duan - another fish unclear what kind?
                                - sha guo lao ban yu dou fu - fish and tofu in a clay pot
                                - chuan bai rou - sichuan pork belly (not sure why this is in fish section?)
                                - lao ban yu dou fu tang - fish soup
                                - suan la tang - hot and sour soup
                                - fan gie dan gua tang - tomato and egg soup
                                - bai cai dou fu tang - napa cabbage and tofu soup
                                - gua pian dan gua zi cai tang - melon and egg soup
                                - suan cai du pian tang - pickled vegetable and stomach soup

                                #8 - vegetable category
                                - yu xiang qie zi - eggplant in garlic sauce
                                - jian jiao tu dou si - shredded potato and peppers
                                - ma po dou fu - mapo tofu
                                - hong shao dou fu - braised tofu
                                - jian jiao gan dou fu - dried tofu w/ peppers
                                - gan bian si ji dou - dry sauteed string beans
                                - qing chao dou miao - stir fried vegetable (i always forget what its called in english)
                                - suan rong dou miao - garlic vegetable (i always forget what its called in english)
                                - suan rong kong xin cai - garlic vegetable (i always forget what its called in english)
                                - suan rong xiao bai cai - garlic napa cabbage
                                - di san xian - 3 treasures
                                - song ren yu mi - corn with pinenuts
                                - ba si di gua - sweet potato in this carmelized sugar thing (awesome when done right)
                                - ba si yu tou - taro in this carmelized sugar thing (awesome when done right)
                                - xia ren pa you cai - some type of shrimp and vegetable dish (no idea why this is here)

                                #9
                                - jiang mi mi chang - something with rice dough
                                - da mi jiao zi - big rice dumplings
                                - shui jiao - steamed dumplings
                                - tu dou big - potato pancake
                                - leng mian - cold noodles
                                - ban leng mian - room temperature noodles (i think?)
                                - yu mi leng mian - cold noodles with corn
                                - yu mi wen mian - warm noodles with corn
                                - la bai cai tang - spicy napa cabbage soup
                                - niu rou tang fan - beef and rice soup
                                - su cai chao fan - vegetable fried rice
                                - ji rou chao fan - chicken fried rice
                                - xia ren chao fan - shrimp fried rice
                                - bao fan - omelette rice
                                - ? (only in korean)

                                #10 - huo guo - hot pot
                                - niu rou pai huo guo- beef rib hot pot
                                - niu nan huo guo - beef tendon hot pot
                                - niu rou huo guo - beef hot pot
                                - ming tai yu dun dou fu - fish and tofu hot pot
                                - suan cai huo guo - pickled vegetable hot pot
                                - hei shan yang huo guo - black mountain lamb hot pot
                                - chuan bao rou tang - spicy white meat hot pot?

                                #11 - drinks - didnt bother translating, plus most were only in korean anyhow

                                1. re: Lau

                                  Wow, thanks!

                                  Wonder if there's a second menu of Korean dishes (like the kimchi soon dubu HLing had).

                                  Or maybe the place has shifted gears. I passed by late last month and grabbed a business card (didn't see a takeout menu at the time). From the card (see below), I figured this was mostly a Korean restaurant specializing in soon dubu and BBQ. Then again, the card puts the Chinese characters first.

                                  Here's yesterday's Digest version ... http://www.chow.com/outer_boroughs_di...

                                  And a place record (unlinkable for now because of site issues): http://www.chow.com/restaurants/91268...

                                   
                                   
                                  1. re: squid kun

                                    Actually the menu has two columns listing the Mandarin and Korean descriptions of each dish (or most dishes, since some have only one translation). Plus several specials listed on the wall. Also an English menu, though that seemed to omit a number of dishes. Not obvious what the best approach is for those unsure what to order. Talk to them for suggestions.

                                    1. re: burton

                                      >Actually the menu has two columns listing the Mandarin and Korean descriptions of each dish

                                      I did notice those on Joe's scans, but from Lau's translations they're pretty much all Chinese dishes - no soon dubu, BBQ meats, etc. I'll bet the wall is the place to look, thanks.

                                      1. re: squid kun

                                        well it could be that some of the dishes just translate weird in chinese, i had my gf look at them, she could read everything, but she didn't know what some of the dishes really were b/c they're probably more chinese (i.e. they weren't typical korean or korean-chinese)

                                        i dont know what alot of them are either

                                  2. re: Lau

                                    thanks again, Lau for the translation. what would be helpful (if anyone can transcribe korean well) is to get the korean "pinyin" or phonetic name translation for the menu as well; for instance the menu item under #9 for "cold noodles" sounds like the chinese word, "leng mian" or simply, cooling noodle, but in korean, it would probably be written out as naeng-myun instead. not sure if there really are korean phonemes for some of the really chinese-y dishes like the yu-xiang chie-zhi though but I would imagine, for instance, there is probably a tang-soo-yook" on the menu somewhere in the pork category, but in chinese it might be the "gua bao rou" maybe. innnnnnnteresting.

                                    1. re: bigjeff

                                      i can get my gf to translate the korean at some point

                                      1. re: Lau

                                        And I can help out as well. bigjeff, thanks again for organizing, I was so stuffed and so happy after that dinner. You know, until I read your write-up, I didn't even realize there was a Chinese word "leng mian." The Korean on the menu was definitely "naeng myun" though there was ONE place where it said "leng myun" in Korean. Which reminded me of this crazy North Korean cold noodle ad that had "leng myun" all over it. (http://www.zenkimchi.com/FoodJournal/...) Growing up in Seoul, I never heard anyone say "leng," and if it's a North Korean pronunciation/dialect, it would make sense that it's closer to the Chinese.

                                        The menu we saw last night was different from the one Joe MacBu put up. The cover above was definitely different -- it says "sootbul galbi" (charcoal grilled short ribs) and Pyongyang naengmyun (a specific style of Korean cold noodles).