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Jiangsiu Food (including Shanghai) - some of the best around

I just rediscovered Maple Garden in Flushing (42-09 Main St.) As it is buried next to the humongous East Restaurant, you might miss it. Especially since the green sign outside is only in Chinese. But the food is spectacular. Try their wonder cold appetizers (cucumbers as good as you will find in Shanghai), fish filets in wine sauce, rid Wenzhou style, and (although not local cuisine) one of the best Beijing ducks in New York. Indeed everything everybody was eating looked great! And it’s cheap.

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  1. I used to live in Suzhou, I'll have to check this out. Thanks! I wonder if they do"squirrel-shaped mandarin fish"?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Mr Porkchop

      How fun, would love to live in Suzhou. Whereabouts were you? (Most Jiangsu restaurants here serve squirrel fish, to greater or lesser effect.)

      1. re: buttertart

        I lived in Soochow University housing but I was able to get around quite a bit and sample the local food. I even tried the local attempt at Mexican food from a woman who used to be married to an Angeleno. She probably drank better than she cooked.

        1. re: Mr Porkchop

          Have never eaten any western food in Suzhou, although I no doubt would if there for as longh as you were. (There were attempts at Mexican food in Taipei when we lived there which were not so good.) Love the Songhelou and even more the Wang Si in the Guanqianjie area.

      2. re: Mr Porkchop

        I wonder if they do crawfish during the season.

      3. Great recommendation! Perhaps this belongs on the Outer Boroughs board given its Flushing address?

        1. As I have tediously maundered on about on the China board, according to many sources Beijing duck is actually an import from Nanjing - some restaurants in Beijing were opened by Nanjingers who fled the Taiping Rebellion. Lots of Zhejiang/Jiangsu restaurants feature it on their menus. So it is local cuisine. Good to know about this place, always on the lookout for this kind of food.

          1. what exactly is "rid" (rid Wenzhou style)?

            And this place is literally next to East? to the left or right if you're facing East?

            19 Replies
            1. re: Lau

              I read rib for rid. Wondering too.

              1. re: buttertart

                oh that might make sense...i think scoopG mentioned the ribs being some type of famous wenzhou dish in his write up on that Chung Hua place, which is a wenzhou restaurant. I know almost nothing about wenzhou food

                1. re: Lau

                  Me neither, would be interested to see them described.

                  1. re: Lau

                    Been to wenzhou many times, and majority of "Wenzhou style" restaurants serve seafood. Tons of it. The restaurant lobbies are huge fish markets with tanks of every shrimp, crab, fish, turtle, eel, lobster you can imagine. Wander thru the lobby with a waiter and point out which type of shrimp u want, pick out a live fish in a take or an imported fish on ice. He'll weighs it and hand it off to a runner to bring to the kitchen. There are often one or 2 cages with live snakes or roosters or tables of fat brown grubs. I should mention I go for business so this would not be your run of the mill tuesday night dinner joint. These places are for special occasions, and often have HUGE shark fins on display in case you want to drop a few thousand dollars.

                    The non fish dishes are on display in a similar fashion, mocked up on plates behind the windowed kitchens where u can see the action. The vegetable are picked out like the fish, u can handle them and choose what you want as well.

                    When I have had ribs there they've been small beef short ribs served sizzling, similar to what you'd order as "black pepper short ribs" at many chinese restaurants here. Greasy and delicious. Is that what you're looking for? Wenzhou is a major manufacturing business hub, people from all over China move there so there are plenty of other types of Chinese cuisines served.

                    The difference between Wenzhou food and Jiangsu food is that Jiangsu seafood is almost all fresh water, while Wenzhou serves is sea fish. Of course there are exceptions.

                    Wenzhou noodles is a ubiquitous local dish, served at the end of a meal. It can be had at many chinese, even "american" chinese places. Thin rice noodles (mai fun?) steamed and tossed baby shrimp, egg, scallions etc.

                    If you do travel to China tho, I would not make Wenzhou a destination. It is a disturbingly polluted city without much to offer a tourist, except for good karaoke places, The city and it's inhabitants are not well liked in other areas of China. They're known as being untrustworthy. From my experience, there's alot of truth to that. Though I think some of there bad rep may stem from envy as many local Wenzhou people have become very very wealthy. Can you imagine how much a BMW 7 series costs in China? They're all over. That being said the outlying region is beautiful and clean with many national parks of bamboo covered mountains and waterfalls, and farms filling the valleys. One of my favorite places in China, for business purposes, is a small city called Qingtian about an hour from Wenzhou. There is a local dish of outdoor roasted baby goat that is to die for.

                    1. re: 2slices

                      interesting, thanks for that, i've never been there although given where it is not surprising that its very seafood based as most of southern coastal china has a strong bend toward seafood for obvious reasons

                      yah i only really know the reputation, which is not so good, although i always take those with a grain of salt

                      1. re: Lau

                        The reputation and the emphasis on ostentatious luxury foods and display of wealth BMWs etc - not surprising since the Wenzhou area was one of the first to boom economically in the Deng and post-Deng years - there may be some envy involved in the genesis of the reputation. (Haven't been there either, just fairly familiar with contemporary Chinese history.)

                        1. re: buttertart

                          I do alot of manufacturing in China and we have almost entirely pulled out of Wenzhou. We'd have things made there, delivered to the US either broken or the wrong items and after billing them back for repairs a few times we started getting replies to our charge backs "well you already paid for them that way, you should have known". This was after dealing with the same company for a few years, it wasn't like we came in off the street.

                          The city was the first to break the mold and export goods from China without being a "special economic zone" they started with cheap fake shoes in the late 80s. Another interesting note is that their local dialect is one of the most unique in China and completely unintelligible to outsiders, even other Zhejiang peoples. I've been at meetings with my partner from Nanjing and he has no idea what is being said in their private side discussions. Probably not a good sign.

                          1. re: 2slices

                            Very interesting. Definitely not a good sign if your partner can't understand the side discussions. We've spent a good bit of time in Suzhou and have the same prob with the local dialect - it almost doesn"t sound Chinese!

                            1. re: buttertart

                              The guys I mostly work with are from Jiangsu so they do fine in Suzhou. I do some business with people there but never spent anytime there other than a lunch or two. I go to a small city a few hours north of Suzhou called Yancheng. Not related to the lake.

                              1. re: 2slices

                                That is quite a ways north of SZ. How's the food?

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  It's good, I eat alot of home cooked meals at a factory in the countryside. They get really repetitive if I'm there for a few weeks so I probably don't appreciate them as much. It's light fare, plenty of simple non greasy soups with either fresh water clams, tofu, or muchrooms. There's a chicken broth soup with dumplings that might as well be matzoball. Steamed sweet potatoes, small river fishes, cold chicken, baby clams, and Crawfish in the summer months. Aside from the crawfish it a bit boring after a while. For dinner back in the "city" I usually go to a Hunan place for fish heads, a sichuan place or there's a Macao style hot pot restaurant I love. Really love those 3 spots.

                                  Here's a link to a Yancheng Meal. This was local food, though I'm sure there are dishes here imported from other parts of China. I think we were celebrating something. The crawfish are spicy and delicious and that's a local specialty, you might otherwise think they're sichuan style but I've been assured it's local style. The crawfish come right from the rice paties in the area. At peak season we have them twice a day. Keep in mind I'm there for work so I eat more than a normal person would. Anyway here's the link

                                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdkill...

                                  The tone of the commentary is crass and purposely dumbed down, I wrote this for a group of friends when I was alone in China for 4 weeks.

                                  1. re: 2slices

                                    Great photos. And fun color commentary. The lotus root thing is big in Suzhou, makes a better dessert than an appetizer, doesn't it? Nice to see the fine pea shoots again - the stuff they have in NYC is the bigger coarser kind, have never seen the fine kind here. The dumpling-y wrappers with ground pork look great, have never seen such a thing before.

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      i'm pretty sure the finer one is available in the US, ive had it at a restaurant in LA before

                                      1. re: Lau

                                        Everything is available in California...never seen it here in NY before, though, have you? Probably doesn't ship well.

                                        1. re: buttertart

                                          yah i havent seen it here, but if its available in CA then its available in the US, so its not inconceivable you could find it here, which is different than alot of stuff in asia where you can't find it in the US whatsoever

                                          1. re: Lau

                                            True enough - if it's a produce item that you can (i.e. are allowed to, and even some you aren't officially) grow in the US it's liable to be available in SoCal (except FL citrus haha) - but I imagine it doesn't ship well since it's so fine and delicate, whereas the bigger stuff is fairly hardy. The fine stuff is a real delicacy. Pls let us know if you ever see it in NY, a path will be beaten to the restaurant's door!

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              I've definitely had them here. "Baby snow peas, or Snow pea sprouts/shoots" is how its listed on the menu. Easy to spot because theyre often ridiculously priced at $14 while every other green veg is $6. I've had them in NY Ctown at plenty of places. I can't see why they dont grow them here, price is likely due to all those sprouts would yield a lot more snow peas if they let them mature.

                                              1. re: 2slices

                                                The really fine, thin kind like in your photo? Where? Have eaten lots of regular doumiao at that price point but never seen the thin ones in NY.

                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                  Yes, I have had them. Try congee village, I remember them being good there. But that was some time ago.