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Jun 1, 2010 07:03 AM

Flushing Review: Rural

Rural (興順逹 - Xing1 Shun4 Da2) has now replaced the former Hong Yi Shun at 42-85 Main Street, with a Shenyang couple in charge. Ms. Li (李) handles the front end while Chef Liu (劉) cooked up waves of deliciousness. How does Rural compare to Flushing's other Dongbei spots of Fu Run, Golden Palace and Northeast Taste?

Although Chef Liu definitely has the wok-chops and is a technical master, he may have actually toned things down a bit for us – intimidated perhaps by a large group of strangers who took over Rural (in a nice way of course!) Rural did a very steady take-out business with Chinese customers during our two-hour occupation.

I’ll let the photos in the slide show below do most of the talking. We arrested the usual Dongbei suspects: Sweet and Sour Squirrelfish, Tiger Vegetables, Cumin Lamb, Pork Aspic and La Pi. I think I’ve had enough Squirrelfish for a while!

Major hits were the Savory Cumin Flounder, Hot and Spicy Frog, Dry Bean Curd with Spicy Pepper, Beef Tendon Homestyle and Sour Cabbage with Vermicelli. Ms. Li said they pickle the cabbage for one month.

Several winners were not on menu at all: Garlic Tips with Scrambled Eggs were recommended, as the garlic tips were fresh in. You want them stir fried with pork or eggs? Candied Potatoes were also delivered at the end. Guess they were out of yams or bananas. Yum yum.

Crispy Intestines - 五更腸旺 (Wu3 Geng5 Chang2 Wang4)
The Chinese for this dish is “Fifth Watch Intestines.” Although this was not spicy enough to keep us awake between 3 and 5 am!

Sometimes the word “Sarony” pops up instead of savory on their menu. And pay no mind to the one potherb that you’ll see. Doesn’t exist. But Chef Liu and Ms. Li do and you can pig out like we did for $17 per person – and that included a very healthy tip.

42-85 Main Street
Flushing, NY 11355
Tel: 718.353.0086


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  1. Sounds great - say, how does sweet and sour squirrelfish qualify as a Dongbei dish? Jiangnan, no? A dish I can only see ordering with a gang (so I only have to eat one bite).

    4 Replies
    1. re: buttertart

      You're right, I'm wrong! Google/Baidu search of 松鼠魚二吃 shows that Sweet and Sour Squirrelfish is a Suzhou dish! I guess since both Fu Run and Rural serve it I assumed that it was a Dongbei dish. I guess it shows a modern transformation where these dishes are able to make the cross-over from one area to another. BTW a couple of folks in our group swore there was millet in the rice!

      1. re: scoopG

        Now that's interesting. Very northeastern, I thought more of a famine food than a staple these days. Nostalgie de la révolution culturelle maybe?

        1. re: buttertart

          No it is a staple in Dongbei. I am told it might look like small pieces of ground corn to some but it is millet.. Not not sure if it is the foxtail or broomtail variety.

        2. re: scoopG

          Glad they are still going strong. And they have much more than offal....

      2. awesome! deep-fried looks and sounds crazy, frog looks awesome; how was the sea cucumber? different than the typical?

        down for your next feast, btw.

        2 Replies
        1. re: bigjeff

          Upon tasting the sea cucumber, I could hear music! You know, I hadn't had them in a long while. But they were not bad.

          1. re: bigjeff

            If you a re big fan of sea cucumber, Lu Xiang Yuan has at least 8 sea cucumber dishes including Abalone with Sea Cucumber, Fish Maw with Sea Cucumber, Sliced Chicken with Sea Cucumber etc...


          2. More re squirrelfish - I came across a photo I took at a restaurant in the Yuyuan, Shanghai, in May 2007. We were 4 at table and the small fish was more than enough as far as I was concerned. The first time we ever ate it in China was in 1994, in a sort of odd restaurant in Suzhou overlooking the Grand Canal - us and several tables of obvious Party cadres. The odd thing was that there was an etched glass panel in the entryway that featured a picture of a lightly eroticized mermaid (think mermaid's most obvious attributes, emphasized and pinked up), this in what was a much more puritanical time than now...the experience did not enhance the eating (two on a squirrelfish is several too few), unlike the experience of eating Xihu cu yu West Lake vinegar fish at the Wang Hu hotel in Hangzhou overlooking the West Lake, which was dreamy.

            1 Reply
            1. If I only had time to eat at one of these restaurants, which one would you recommend? I'm thinking Fu Run.

              Fu Run
              40-09 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

              6 Replies
              1. re: Luther

                I still love the flavor and vibe of M&T out of these Northeast joints. NYT overview which wraps up much of the CH (scoopG, really) coverage:

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

                1. re: bigjeff

                  I would separate them: China's Dongbei consists of its three most northeastern provinces: Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning. I'd put Shandong cuisine in another category as it is more south.

                2. re: Luther

                  Isn't Fu Run Hebei (Beijing area) style not Dongbei (Harbin area) style? Cuisines are similar but not the same.

                  Fu Run
                  40-09 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

                  1. re: buttertart

                    Although Fu Run has some oddball items (General Tso's I think) plus some other non-Dongbei dishes, it is for the most part a Dongbei spot I think.

                  2. re: Luther

                    I like them all so far. Fu Run closer to the LIRR and #7. Here's more info:

                    Fu Run – Dongbei

                    Golden Palace

                    Northeast Taste Chinese Food

                  3. Beef Heart anyone?

                    It’s been too long since I last visited Rural and I am pleased to report that Chef Liu and his wife Ms. Li are still serving great food here.

                    The highlight of this meal were two specials: Cumin Beef Aorta and Fresh Garlic Scapes with Beef. The Cumin Beef Aorta (孜然心管 zī rán xīn guan) was a house special selected from among the list of over twenty on the wall in Chinese. White, this heart-part tasted like squid. The garlic scapes were fresh Ms. Li said so they were also added to our order. It’s was Chef’s Liu’s idea to add beef.

                    Other hits were the Beef Tendon Home-style, Northeastern style Red Cooked Pork and Deep Fried Quail.


                    10 Replies
                    1. re: scoopG

                      Many thanks for whetting my appetite...

                      1. re: erica

                        Rural (aka 興順逹) is one of the best Dong Bei restaurants. It is just not in yout face, but right in your stomach. It's not exactly North-East--rather North: never mind... It's one of the best places in Flushing I have been to in years.

                        No Michelin stars, sorry, and no bad attitude: just good food. The owner, Ms Li, accepts you for who you are, and you get what they know best. Her husband, chef Liu, has a great sense of balance, so his stir-fries are superlative.

                        Their cumin flounder is simply the best in NYC and their sauerkraut is home-made. Feeling skeptical? She'll tell you the truth--and the whole truth--about what's the best at the moment: you just LISTEN. And if you happen to speak Chinese, she's such a charming hostess...

                        An excellent quality at a very modest price: we had a great CNY dinner there, and we'll be coming back. I love the honest Chinese food!

                        1. re: diprey11

                          Best cumin flounder? Intriguing! What qualities do you find to make it the best?

                          1. re: mookleknuck

                            That's my personal opinion of course. An excellent texture, the flesh is not too oily (had a couple of those), the crust made of of skin and spices is just right, spicy but not too spicy to completely mask the fresh taste.:-)

                            What do you value most in cumin flounder?

                            1. re: diprey11

                              I've only been to Rural once - looking forward to another visit after reading this. Have you had the cumin fish at Lao Dong Bei? I'm curious how this compares for you. Fu Run used to be my favorite until LDB appeared on the scene.

                              1. re: Peter Cuce

                                Well, the owner at LDB is the old chef at Fu Run after all.

                                At any rate, I must've missed it.... when are we all going to Rural? :-)

                              2. re: diprey11

                                Textural contrasts of non-greasy, crispy skin/light batter and tender moist fish with a spice coating of a lot of cumin, peppers, and the right amount of salt. Completely agree that it should not be greasy - that's poor technique - and that I should be able to taste the freshness and sweetness of the fish. The fish itself should not taste like fish blood or guts or gills. Lao Dong Bei's fish, as Peter Cuce mentioned, was really good.

                            2. re: diprey11

                              I agree diprey11. The Cumin Flounder at Rural is superb. My recent meal there surpassed a meal at Golden Palace six weeks ago. Rural is smaller than GP or Fu Run but Chef Liu and Ms. Li are there every day.

                              1. re: scoopG

                                Other stir-fries shine through too. Chef Liu has such a light hand and a fantastic temperature control, both critically important. Old classic dishes are revelatory to a long-time NY resident.

                                Especially these two: (i) spicy eggplant cubes, (ii) kabocha pumpkin sticks coated in salted yolk (sorry, don't have my Chinese keyboard). Absolute hits. You can ask Ms Li, because everyone does!

                                I still prefer my cumin lamb ribs at Lao Dong Bei (more buttery), but do consider trying it at Rural for a pleasant new experience.

                                Finally, not everyone agrees, but I find their sauerkraut with glass vermicelli noodles wonderful and unique (a bit slithery in texture).