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Baidu Shabu Shabu / Mapo Szechuan – Delicious Hot Pot in Flushing

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**For full post and pics**: http://www.lauhound.com/2011/01/baidu...

Typically, I haven’t been the biggest hot pot fan, I generally like it, but I never crave it. However, for some reason recently I’ve really been craving it; maybe because it’s been so cold, I don’t know. I asked around and some people recommended Baidu Shabu Shabu in Flushing, so I met up with a friend and stopped in. Fyi, I don’t believe it says Baidu anywhere in English only in Chinese, it says Mapo Szechuan in front.

Baidu is surprisingly upscale for Flushing, its brand new looking, very clean and quite modern looking. Looks similar to some of the place you get hot pot in Taiwan. Its two levels with the bottom level having a full bar with a big TV and the upstairs having tables, some of which have TVs playing the Chinese channels (ours did).

The service was fine, not super attentive, but that’s generally how hot pot is anyhow since you’re serving yourself. There was about a 20 minute wait when we were there as the place is definitely pretty popular. My friend knows the owners (who weren’t there that day) and it’s actually the same family that owns the Ollie’s chain in Manhattan.

They have a full Sichuan menu and a full hot pot menu, but we only got the hot pot. I did see some Sichuan dishes on some people’s tables that looked pretty good, but most people seemed to be there for the hot pot.

Here’s what we got:
- Kimchi Broth: You have a variety of choices for broth and you can get the split pot where you get two different broths. My friend wanted to get the kimchi broth, getting the kimchi broth was against my better judgment (kimchi in a Chinese place), but I was so hungry that I just went with whatever my friend wanted. Although later I talked to another friend who eats there frequently and she told me that’s actually by far the worst broth and that we should have gotten the duck broth. The broth was alright, it had a kimchi flavor, but it was a bit weak in flavor. Honestly though after a little while we had diluted the broth so much by cooking stuff in it and asking for more broth that it had no kimchi flavor at all and I probably wouldn’t have noticed the broth no matter what flavor it was. 3.75/5
- Angus Beef: this was quite good, the beef was clean and fresh tasting unlike a lot of hot pot places I’ve been to in NY where you could tell the beef was old (gray spots, odd looking meat etc). We actually ended up getting two orders of it because we were so hungry and it was very good. Beef is always my favorite part of hot pot. 4.25/5
- Short Rib: this was also good as well, clean and fresh tasting again. The meat was a little fattier, but it tasted great as well. 4.25/5
- Seafood Platter: I was a little sketched out ordering the seafood platter because typically the seafood I’ve gotten at hot pot places in NY has been pretty bad quality, but again the seafood all tasted pretty fresh and it all came out pretty good when you cooked it. 4/5
- Mushroom Platter: This was good as well. All the mushrooms were fresh and tasted great when you cooked them. Also, I those seashell looking things are actually fishcakes that taste like Japanese kamaboko if you know what that is. We were confused as to why they were part of the mushroom platter, but they were good nonetheless. 4/5
- Vegetable Platter: The vegetables were very fresh and tasted great. 4.25/5
- Sauces: They have a sauce bar where you can make sauces and they also have a rice cooker there as well which is actually really convenient because you can just go get your own rice. I got ponzu sauce, sha cha sauce (a sauce made from soybean oil, garlic, shallots, chilis, fish, and dried shrimp) and then I mixed a sort sauce of sesame oil, homemade soy sauce, chili oil, minced garlic and cilantro. All the sauces were good and I particularly liked the sauce I created. 4.25/5

Overall, I liked it a lot and I’d definitely come back. It was probably the best non-Sichuan hot pot I’ve had in NY. Highly recommend.

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  1. Sounds great, thanks. A Yelper said this place replaced Mingle Beer House. Did it also replace Udu Cafe, which has/had the same address?

    -----
    Udu Cafe
    37-04 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

    Mapo Szechuan
    37-04 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

    1 Reply
    1. re: squid kun

      i believe it did replace Udu although i never went to Udu b/c i heard it went downhill....its worth checking out if u want hot pot

      -----
      Udu Cafe
      37-04 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

    2. Delicious post!

      Yes, kimchi flavor would not have been my choice for broth either. OTOH, having a plate of gracefully-aged one cooked into the final broth near the end of the meal would be tempting...
      What happens to the broth at the end there?

      Hmm, my dinner plan is at jeopardy again...

      6 Replies
      1. re: Kurtis

        yah im definitely getting the duck broth next time....ummm well u keep asking them to fill up the broth as it cooks down at the end we just left it, we tasted it and it tasted okay, but it was pretty heavy from cooking all that beef and it tasted like alot of different stuff given what we had cooked in it

        1. re: Lau

          Thanks for the report Lau - can you get both broths, side by side? Not sure why they are saying kimchi but ut really is just a spicy Chinese broth. That's how I've had it in China (maybe even at Little Lamb on Main Street.)

          Edit: Like this...
          http://page.renren.com/600002132/phot...

          1. re: scoopG

            well i didn't realize you could, but my friend said that you can get the side by side broths (she goes there alot, so im sure she's right), which i would have done if i had known it

            no this is definitely kimchi broth, you can see pieces of kimchi floating in it and it tastes like kimchi. they have several other broths including ma la and duck. my friend says the duck is definitely the best broth

            1. re: Lau

              Yeah the combo/dual broth is called "yin yang" in a loose sense, or 駌鴦火鍋, although the characters are not the same as Taoism's Yin Yang 陰陽. In parallel Cantonese food has a yin yang fried rice dish written as 駌鴦, where you have a red sauce (ketchupy tomato) and a white sauce. For hot pot that translates to a non spicy (white/clearer) broth, sometimes herbal, and the red denotes spicy or in some cases numbing spicy especially Sichuan style.

              1. re: K K

                thanks, im aware of what it is, i just didn't realize u had the option to do it at baidu

                actually i think ure in HK no? thats actually the last time i had hot pot (before this trip) was in the summer in HK (although god knows why one of my friends was craving hot pot in the middle of the summer in HK)

                1. re: Lau

                  Hot pot during the summer in HK is definitely local behavior. I was like WTF when a buddy suggested that when I visited over 10 yrs ago one summer. But since then, I became a convert. Of course, it has to be indoors at a place where the air con is blasting. Then the combo of meats, veg, dumplings, udon, dip sauces, fish, etc, plus the company and indescribable ambiance make it unbeatable.

      2. Here's a few things to add to Lau's OP after my recent visit here.

        Overall it was very good, and I would most likely return to try different items. There were a lot to choose from veggies, seafood, meat and offals, and impossible to fit all into one meal even for a large group, but ordering was made very easy by check-off box style menu with translation.

        There were 6 or 7 different broths to choose from (seaweed, vegetable, kimchi, duck, two different kid of spicy ones and a few more). We got duck, and also one of the spicy broth. Both broths, before or at the end of the meal, had great flavors and lived up to their respective names. In retrospect, it would have been enough to order a split pot of two broths which I forgot to. The reason why I asked about what they do with the broth at the end on my previous post was that the versions served in Korean restaurants add egg and rice to make porrige, or add noodles at the end of the feast.

        Veggies were very very fresh and in varieties as noted, and we especially liked the flavor of cabbage in both broths and ended up ordering a second. Seafood combo was a diappointment: oyster was all dried up and not fresh in appearance or taste. I would recommend individual platters of different selection. There was offals on the menu though we did not try. They also had several kinds of fish cakes, noodles, dumplings, meat/fishballs...

        Self-serve sauce corner had more than 15 different types of things to concoct your own mix. It was fun trying out different things and tasting unique mixtures we made. One thing that I tried for the first time was fermented tofu sauce which was quite tasty and different from expectation: sweet and savory, mildly pungent, cool soothing contrast that served well with hot/spicy items. This may sound a bit weird, but it had quite similar flavor profile to some of the sauces that gets plated in french/american restaurants, usually with a fish dish. Can anyone comment on where else I would see this in food? Is it in any way related to stinky tofu?

        14 Replies
        1. re: Kurtis

          glad you enjoyed

          hmm do you remember the characters? was it 腐乳 (fu ru)?

          btw korean hot pot? i dont think ive ever seen that even in korea or LA. i've had stews like kokae tang that are sort of like a hot pot and then put in su jae bi or noodles afterwards, but not an actual hot pot

          1. re: Lau

            I am sorry that I can't ready Chinese. However, there were two beige-colored thick sauces next to each other, one being the fermented tofu sauce. It was quite good.

            Re korean hotpot: I never had it outside of Korea, and I don't think it is a traditional dish. It may be a relatively recent trend/import.

            1. re: Kurtis

              i found a wikipedia article, here's what i'm talking about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermente...

              generally, i've eaten it in congee, over rice or had it made as a sauce they poured over a vegetable. it's fairly potent stuff, but now that i'm thinking about it, its probably not the same thing b/c this stuff isn't sweet at all

              interesting on the korean hot pot, where did u eat it specifically?

              1. re: Lau

                Thanks for the link. Any rec on where to try this? It looks great.

                Please see my correction. I meant to say that I never had it outside of Korea. I had it in Seoul a couple of years ago, and my native relatives report it's getting more popular recent past.

                1. re: Kurtis

                  For Japanese hot pot, it is common to do what you mentioned and reduce the broth a little, then mix in rice or udon noodles, and crack and egg or two on top. It's called "ojiya" or sometimes "zohsui" (sorry I don't have Japanese IME on this PC). I was talking to a Chinese friend about this just the other day and he thought it sounded disgusting, but he said he had heard Japanese and Koreans do it. In Japanese cuisine, it's usually done with konbu broth and seafood hot pot. I suppose if it was an oily or meat hot pot, it would be kind of gross.

                  1. re: Kurtis

                    Silverjay - yah, but I mean hot pot is pretty common in Japanese cuisine. i was more surprised just b/c ive never seen it at a Korean place although given Korea's weather its actually surprising that they don't eat it all the time

                    Kurtis - interesting, ill ask my gf's sister about it who is korean and lives in duluth if she has been here

                    1. re: Lau

                      Duluth, GA or Duluth, MN? :)

                      1. re: scoopG

                        GA, there are alot of koreans in Atlanta

                    2. re: Kurtis

                      Kurtis - my gf asked her sister about that place (she lives in duluth), she said that place is alright but Gom Shabu Shabu (apparently another korean hot pot place) is much better fyi (don't know if ure down there alot)

                      http://www.yelp.com/biz/gom-shabu-sha...

                      1. re: Lau

                        No, I am based in NYC, and am not down there often, but thanks for the info.

                        I guess in general, I am looking for "authentic/genuine/original" dishes from a cuisine, and Korean-style shabu hasn't appealed to me much. I don't know, I am generally very disappointed regarding quality and variety of Korean food served in US, and don't venture out to try different or new Korean restaurants as much as other ethnic places I eagerly and frequently sample. When I return from a trip to Korea, it usually takes me a month or more to want to go eat in a Korean restaurant, usually for nostalgic/comfort standpoint than for a great meal. Sad but true.

                        1. re: Kurtis

                          i find good korean food in LA, there is some in flushing / bayside, but not that much

                          manhattan is generally pretty bad

                          i mean generally ure not even getting that good of chinese food in NY, there are some places that are good, but if ure comparing to asia then its pretty bad

                          1. re: Lau

                            Have not been to LA in a while, but I would agree, and also regarding Manhattan ones. As you said, there are few finds in Queens, but nothing really to write home about.

                            Because it is bit out of the way, I build up the need to go to Korean restaurant over several weeks and drive across the border to NJ for the fix. Can't compete with Flushing/Manhattan for quantity and variety, but I think Fort Lee/Palisade Park has better quality Korean food in GNY area. Most memorable Korean restaurant in US that I've been was in Northern Virginia. My wife and I often half-jokingly hint at making the drive on wknds...

                            1. re: Kurtis

                              you might want to try jong ga in queens, i had a pretty good experience there. i need to go explore the korean area more throughly with my friend's gf, she lives out there and knows all these korean restaurants that i've never even heard of....ive been meaning to try to go out there more and really try to pick through the korean restaurants there to find the gems

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