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Apr 28, 2010 02:09 PM

Zheng Yuan Bao Gournmet (sic) in Sunset Park Chinatown

Barry Strugatz discovery (he's just about the best chowhound I know....he discovered DiFara Pizza, fwiw), and it's great:

Zheng Yuan Bao Gournmet (sic) 805 57th St 718-686-1663
The chef's a fast, super hot wok master. Their Chow Rice Noodle are so balanced, so satisfying. Squid with Chinese New Year Cakes (aka "rice cakes") are slightly charred and wonderful. I want to try that last dish with crab sometime. Don't get stuff like steamed dumplings; stick with wok-ish offerings.

The photos below practically exude wok breath. Notice the slight char on the rice cakes. Squid's perfectly cooked.

If you're there, also hit the amazing rice noodle cart man:

Bonus bonus: wonderful pork bao and veg bao at unnamed venue @5016 8th ave (avoid fried stuff).

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  1. No english here, either, btw. Attached is the menu. I'm working on getting the wall signs translated.

    1. Is this place Fujianese? You usually see New Year's Cakes (nian gow) in Shanhgai and Fujianese restaurants, and it's definitely not Shanghai. Is that the whole menu?

      6 Replies
      1. re: Peter Cherches

        95% of places in sunset park chinatown right now are indeed Foochow, including supposedly "regional" places (i.e. Foochows pretending to cook food of other, more famous, regions). And, yep, this is Foochow, too.

        Those two images are the menu, though there are also wall signs I'm currently having translated. Truth is, though, I don't want depth here. I'll stick with sizzly wok dishes, especially noodles. That's what they're good at. I wouldn't want to delve into involved wine sauce dishes and so forth. This place has great narrow value.

        1. re: Peter Cherches

          Also found in Dongbei. Ms. Guang of Golden Palace actually sells her version in Flushing stores every year.

          Golden Palace
          14009 Cherry Ave, Queens, NY 11355

          1. re: scoopG

            That makes sense since Koreans eat rice cake (dduk).

            1. re: Peter Cherches

              Yup, and I find it interesting that Korean chefs happily buy Shanghai/Foochow rice cakes and vice versa.The fact that they're identical makes this seem a no-brainer, but it's one of only a few instances where different cultures acknowledge the interchangability (most prevalent example, though, is that damned Vietnamese hot sauce everyone uses).

                1. re: Peter Cherches

                  You mean the damn california take on the vietnamese take on the thai sauce?


                  im not gonna claim wikipedia to be the best debate settler, but the name etymology listed in that article seems fairly convincing.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. I had lunch at Zheng Yuan Bao today .It is a small place and i was the only non-asian person. the place was full and I would say around 85% of the people were eating some variety of noodle soup 2 people having Chow rice Noodle and 1 person having noodle with "peanut butter" and wonton soup. I ordered the Squid w/New Year Cake. It comes with a small bowl of broth on the side that was delicious, unfortunately I can't say the same for the rice cake & Squid.
            The rice cakes were not slightly charred and the squid mainly consisted of tentacle ends with about 1/2 of them being very much on rubbery side.There was nothing special about the sauce either. Next time I will do what almost everyone there was doing and order some soup with that delicious broth.
            I 2nd the review of the wonderful pork boa ( they were out of vegetable) . It is a very flavorful pork patty with a tasty sauce in a steamed bun. I will be back.

            3 Replies
            1. re: hoi lai

              Sorry 'bout that. The char on my rice cakes was evident in my photo (ah, 21st century food criticism, where we actually have PROOF! I like it!). Squid was also consummate. I wonder if top chef was off for some reason....

              I had a freebie bowl of clear soup and found it just ok. I really only want stuff flying off this dude's wok here....please try again! Even if you only hit the right guy at the right time one time out of three, it's worth it IMO....

              Also, don't forget the rice noodle cart guy (see link in my original posting).

              1. re: hoi lai

                Can't help but notice that more than half the English menu at Zheng Yuan Bao is soups, with noodles or not. Anyone tried one, other than the free clear soup?

                1. re: squid kun

                  No, but I will shortly. But wouldn't be the first time that the thing a restaurant leads with is not its best stuff.

                  If chef's not the owner, then this is a passing phenomenon of a guy who has a way with stir-fried noodles and can elicit that magic wok flavor (aka "wok breath") result. That'd just be deemed a passing quirk in a restaurant whose biz plan is to offer soup. Most restaurateurs don't have the depth or flexibility to notice and shift to accommodate.

                  And if the chef IS the owner, I've seen a gajillion instances where chefs don't recognize their own fortes, or try to accommodate what they see as market demand rather than forthrightly lead with their best stuff, even if they happen to realize what their best stuff is.

                  These are just some of the reasons why I find myself endlessly trying to strategize and maneuver to psyche out the best stuff from restaurants, which inevitably seem to be conspiring to prevent me from discovering what that is and successfully getting it set before me.

              2. The unnamed bao place appears to be a more casual section of Happy House, the Fujianese seafood place at 5014. If you enter 5016 and ask for a menu, they hand you one from next door. The two awnings also have the same phone number.

                Happy House
                5014-5016 8th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220

                Zheng Yuan Bao Gourmet
                805 57th St, Brooklyn, NY 11220