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Northeastern Chinese cuisine (Guandongese?)

tatamagouche Jul 3, 2010 03:30 PM

There's a new restaurant near me that lists as northeastern specialties stuff like green bean soup, "three earth fresh" (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers), and dishes containing scrambled eggs, broad beans, potato noodles, and also a number of cold dishes. A, I thought cold dishes were a Shanghainese specialty? B, does stuff like this sound familiar to anybody who might know its origins?

Curious, as always. TIA!


  1. PeterL Jul 3, 2010 04:20 PM

    Well, from a Guandong perspective, all other Chinese regions are "northern".

    1. limster Jul 3, 2010 05:10 PM

      It's from the provinces in China next to N Korea e.g. Heilongjiang.

      Separately, Guangdong = Canton, which is a Southern Province. There are cold appetisers in other Chinese cuisines, including the common Cantonese; so, not unique to Shanghainese cooking.

      4 Replies
      1. re: limster
        Chemicalkinetics Jul 3, 2010 06:05 PM

        Maybe he meant Guan Dong as in 關東

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
          tatamagouche Jul 3, 2010 06:14 PM

          She, FWIW...granted, not a particularly feminine she... :)

          So but limster, can you tell from that listing which province or do these northeastern provinces have fairly similar styles?

          1. re: tatamagouche
            limster Jul 4, 2010 09:45 AM

            Don't know -- the Dongbei places I've been to in London seem to lump the 3 provinces together, as do many of my Chinese friends. Perhaps there are more regionalised dishes but will have find out. The only thing that I remember being attributed to Shenyang in Liaoning were these dumplings I had a while ago in Singapore: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/263148

            1. re: limster
              Chemicalkinetics Jul 4, 2010 09:47 AM

              I agree. Most do lump the three provinces together, including themselves.

      2. ipsedixit Jul 3, 2010 05:59 PM

        "I thought cold dishes were a Shanghainese specialty?"


        Eh, what gave you that idea?

        Lots of regional Chinese cuisines offer up cold appetizers.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit
          tatamagouche Jul 3, 2010 06:11 PM

          I don't remember. Anyway, that's why I asked; I was clearly mistaken! You don't see a good-sized listing of them all that often in the States...at least not where I've lived...

          Strange, this Wikipedia entry says that the Northeastern Provinces are also sometimes referred to as Guandong. So that's wrong?


          1. re: tatamagouche
            Chemicalkinetics Jul 3, 2010 06:20 PM

            You are correct. The Northeastern provinces in China are also known as Northeastern three provinces (東北三省), which include Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning. Historically, it is known as Guan Dong (關東) as in East of The Gate.

            In Classic Chinese, when you refer the river, it means the Yellow River. When you refer the Gate, it is the Shanhaiguan (Mountain and Sea Gate; 山海關) which is also known as "The First Gate Under the Heaven" (天下第一關).

        2. Chemicalkinetics Jul 3, 2010 06:09 PM

          These days, there are no pure restaurant solely sell regional famous foods. You go to a Cantonese restaurants and there will be dishes originated from other regions.

          I look at the menu, there are maybe some hint of Northeastern dishes there.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
            scoopG Jul 3, 2010 06:40 PM

            Not necessarily. In Flushing we have 3 very distinct Dongbei restaurants.

            1. re: scoopG
              Chemicalkinetics Jul 3, 2010 06:43 PM

              You mean they sell nothing but Dong Bei (東北) cuisine? It is very rare, but it is good to know. I mean, I haven't see a Cantonese restaurants sell nothing but Cantonese, especially, many dishes have become so universal.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                scoopG Jul 3, 2010 07:22 PM

                Correct - except this fourth "Northern" place.


          2. scoopG Jul 3, 2010 06:49 PM

            Please go back tatamagouche and find out exactly where these people are from! Which province? "Three Earth Fresh" is actually Triple Delight Vegetables or 地三鮮 (Di4 San1 Xian1) a very typical Dongbei dish of stir fried Eggplants, Potatoes and Green Peppers. (Three Earth Fresh is a literal translation.) Photo below.

            18 Replies
            1. re: scoopG
              tatamagouche Jul 3, 2010 06:51 PM

              I promise!

              1. re: tatamagouche
                scoopG Jul 3, 2010 07:05 PM

                Thanks! Many Northeastern Chinese in Flushing - am curious if they are branching out! Love to know all about their menu. Here is a slideshow from Golden Palace in Flushing - these folks are from Shenyang in Liaoning Province. They have a Scrambled Egg with Toon dish!


                1. re: scoopG
                  tatamagouche Jul 18, 2010 09:36 AM

                  Yep, they're from Liaoning province. So that's called Dongbei cuisine, then?

                  1. re: tatamagouche
                    Chemicalkinetics Jul 18, 2010 09:42 AM

                    Yes, that is correct. Now of course, just because they are from Liaoning that mean they are experts at Dongbei cuisine and versa vice. Not every North and South Carolinians can barbecue and not every French can make French cuisine.

                    1. re: tatamagouche
                      scoopG Jul 18, 2010 10:32 AM

                      Thanks T for the follow-up. Next question is where in Liaoning they hail from (my guess is Shenyang or Dalian perhaps) and do they have any relatives in NYC. Large population here in Queens of Dongbei people - mostly it seems from or near Shenyang. Are there many Dongbei people in your area etc? Would this be the first Dongbei restaurant in Denver?

                      1. re: scoopG
                        tatamagouche Jul 18, 2010 05:33 PM

                        I don't know what town...I originally asked what town and she said Liaoning—there's a definite language barrier.

                        First NE China restaurant so far as I and they know. No family here, no community, she moved straight here, not via any other city, to be with her American husband, whom she met there. Very interesting.

                        1. re: tatamagouche
                          scoopG Jul 18, 2010 05:38 PM

                          Thanks very much T. Am fascinated by the mostly reverse internal Chinese migration happening in the US from 100-150 years ago. Now the Fujian immigrants are spreading west from NYC. No Dongbei restauarants on the West Coast as far as I know.

                          1. re: scoopG
                            tatamagouche Jul 18, 2010 05:43 PM

                            Demographics in general in this nation are intriguing. I find the large Vietnamese communities in the middle of the country—here in Denver and now in Oklahoma City, which didn't exist when I grew up—especially interesting. There was an even an article about the latter in the NYT a couple of years back.


                            1. re: tatamagouche
                              scoopG Jul 18, 2010 06:27 PM

                              Absolutely intriguing! Especially given that the non-Hispanic White population in the USA will go from 68% today to 46% by 2050.

                              1. re: scoopG
                                Perilagu Khan Jul 19, 2010 07:06 AM

                                If present demographic trends hold serve. Which they probably won't.

                            2. re: scoopG
                              K K Jul 18, 2010 10:23 PM

                              Actually in San Francisco Bay Area, there are a few places, but as to how great they are remains to be seen, but they have the usual suspects already mentioned in this thread.

                              www.5bing2yu.com (in Milpitas, but most of the website is down




                              1. re: K K
                                scoopG Jul 19, 2010 08:13 AM

                                Gee, I see very few true Dongbei dishes on these menus! No steamed dumplings, no pickled vegetables. Lots of Americanized dishes it seems.

                                1. re: scoopG
                                  K K Jul 19, 2010 08:23 AM

                                  Yeah that's the problem as you have pointed out. There are a few representative dishes. But in order for most of these places to survive, they have to do the jack of all trades. One restaurant per an old photo mentioned "dongbei dian xin", then again soymilk, fried cruller, sesame flatbread/shao bing are pretty all common breakfast staples anyway. I think we really used to have a great dongbei place, but the chef got deported as he was here illegally (and the restaurant folded)...

                    2. re: tatamagouche
                      scoopG Jul 3, 2010 07:33 PM

                      Looks like this may be East Asia Garden from your blog, no? Love the Pig Ear but....

                      1. re: scoopG
                        tatamagouche Jul 4, 2010 05:51 AM

                        Yep...and sure enough some of the same dishes!

                    3. re: scoopG
                      Chemicalkinetics Jul 3, 2010 06:57 PM

                      I agree that green peppers are often, but those are not green peppers in your picture.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        scoopG Jul 3, 2010 07:00 PM

                        Green peppers/Hot green chili peppers - they will use both. Each of the three Flushing Dongbei restaurants do it slightly different. In addition there is a fourth, self-styled "Northern" restaurant that offers both Dongbei and Shandong dishes.

                        1. re: scoopG
                          Chemicalkinetics Jul 3, 2010 07:02 PM

                          I know.

                    4. h
                      HLing Jul 3, 2010 07:28 PM

                      There is
                      1)Guan Dong=關東; and 2)Guang Dong (the old Canton) = 廣東
                      1) Guan is pronunced to rhyme with the Spanish name "Juan";
                      2)Guang is pronunced like Goo plus the "UN" in "unforgettable" (not exactly, but try singing "G(oo)unforgettable, That's what you are...." and you'll be pretty close).

                      1. K K Jul 3, 2010 10:54 PM

                        Yep definitely Dongbei style as the others have said.

                        Boiled dumplings are also a typical staple. As are lamb dishes.

                        Check the dessert menu and see if they offer the deep fried sweet potato or yam dish, after it is deep fried, it is usually immersed in ice water, then honey or molasses is drizzled on top of it.

                        Anthony Bourdain visited Harbin in the past season of No Reservations, just to give you a glimpse of the cuisine.


                        3 Replies
                        1. re: K K
                          tatamagouche Jul 4, 2010 05:53 AM

                          Will check desserts. They do also make dumplings and buns, but the buns were styrofoamy, if you know what I mean, texturally they were more like dumplings...

                          Lamb is *not* on the menu, unfortunately.

                          1. re: tatamagouche
                            tatamagouche Jul 4, 2010 10:28 AM

                            Oops, I meant they weren't the styrofoamy, fluffy kind.

                            1. re: tatamagouche
                              Chemicalkinetics Jul 4, 2010 10:32 AM

                              Yes, those uncivilized Jurchen (女真). Ha ha.

                        2. Perilagu Khan Jul 4, 2010 07:06 AM

                          So does the designation "Manchuria" encompass multiple northeastern Chinese provinces?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Perilagu Khan
                            Chemicalkinetics Jul 4, 2010 07:20 AM


                          2. scoopG Jul 4, 2010 08:28 AM

                            In the spring 2009 issue of “Gastronomica” (Vol. 9, No 2, pp 82-86,) Jacqueline M. Newman; Professor Emeritus at Queens College (CUNY) writes about Dongbei food. She states that Dongbei cuisine is marked by “hearty meals centered on meat and fresh and pickled vegetables...grains like wheat, millet and sorghum” and reflects influences from Manchuria, Mongolia, Korea, Russia and Japan. Dongbei cuisine is also known for strong flavors, lots of dumplings and a large variety of cold dishes. Raw fish might be served to start the meal. Garlic seems to be used but not too much ginger.

                            Look also for corn meal buns and sour cabbage. They like the use of this sour cabbage (sometimes not pickled for too long) in soups and casseroles. And perhaps most important - specs of millet in the rice they serve!

                            Here some photos of Sweet Potato, Apple and Taro Fritters:

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: scoopG
                              limster Jul 4, 2010 09:49 AM

                              Many of the cold appetisers I've had also benefit from a judicious application of a light vinegar that provides a juicy acidity in the finish. Kimchi variants/pao4cai4 are probably not unusual among the pickles.

                              1. re: limster
                                scoopG Jul 4, 2010 11:07 AM

                                Yes, I think they have a type of red vinegar. Great "kimchi" as well!

                                1. re: scoopG
                                  tatamagouche Jul 18, 2010 09:38 AM

                                  Yes, the hot & spicy cold tofu skin in particular had some kind of lovely vinegar.

                              2. re: scoopG
                                K K Jul 4, 2010 09:53 AM

                                During a visit to Taipei some years ago, I once ate at a Dongbei hotpot restaurant, aptly named Changbai, named after the Baekdu Mountains bordering between China and North Korea. The specialty was sour cabbage hot pot, literally covered with sexy strips of fatty pork belly on top. It was a cold night but that pot was very satisfying.

                                1. re: K K
                                  Chemicalkinetics Jul 4, 2010 10:03 AM

                                  That does look good. Changbai is the birthplace of the Manchu, or so they believe.

                                2. re: scoopG
                                  tatamagouche Jul 4, 2010 10:27 AM

                                  I definitely need to check that article out. Love Gastronomica. This place doesn't serve any cornmeal buns, but pickled cabbage is aplenty—and yes, limster, I definitely noticed some vinegar in the cold dishes I've had.

                                  1. re: tatamagouche
                                    scoopG Jul 4, 2010 11:32 AM

                                    Any millet in the rice? Look for tiny yellow specs if they are using it.

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