Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Outer Boroughs >
Apr 4, 2011 09:03 PM

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao – There is More Than The Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings)

**For full post and pics**:

When I originally reviewed Nan Xiang I proclaimed it the best xiao long bao (soup dumplings) in NYC ( and I still stick to that claim. However, on my latest trip I found that they have some cold appetizers that they really excel at and I’d like to highlight some of those in this review as they are really worth trying.

As I wrote in my other review, the décor is fairly simple and it is a little cramped in the restaurant, but everything is clean and fairly new looking. The service is very brisk, but generally fine. Be prepared for a wait as there is almost always a wait on a weekend. I generally think going either early or later in the afternoon is better as the primetime lunch and dinner crowd can be kind of a pain.

Since I described the restaurant in more detail last time, I’ll get straight into the food:
- Fried Bean Gluten (Si Xian Kau Fu): If you’ve never had wheat gluten before it looks similar to fried tofu, the texture is a spongy and by itself it tastes fairly plain. Here’s a Wikipedia article about wheat gluten ( At Nan Xiang their preparation is a typical preparation of this cold fried wheat gluten appetizer. The wheat gluten has been fried and cooked with sliced wood ear mushrooms, shitake mushrooms and onions; all of the ingredients including the wheat gluten have been marinated in a semi-sweet soy sauce. The result is great, the semi sweet sauce goes really well with everything and it tastes great. The version here is very good and pretty similar to what you get in Asia. 8/10
- Cold Smoked Tofu (Dou Gan Si): This is another appetizer that is pretty common in places like Shanghai and Taiwan. It is a smoked tofu that kind of looks like a block of cheese if you didn’t know what it was as it is brown on the outside and a creamy off white color inside. They slice it into thin slices then toss it with sesame oil, chopped cilantro and some salt. While it sounds plain, it’s actually delicious and flavorful. I love the texture and simple flavor of dou gan (smoked tofu). The version here is done nicely. 7.75/10
- Sliced Dried Pig Ear in Red Oil (Er Duo): While pig ear sounds kind of gross, it’s actually very mild tasting and delicious when done right. The problem with pig ear is that if you prepare it wrong the texture is too hard and chewy, however they do it correctly at Nan Xiang. The pig ear is cut into thin slices and then tossed in slightly spicy red oil and chopped cilantro. The slices have the perfect texture of being somewhat firm, but easy to bite; it’s sort of hard to explain, but if you try it you’ll see what I mean. This was really good and close to what you’d get in Asia. This hands down beat any other place in NY for the best version I’ve had in NY. 8.25/10
- Spicy Bamboo Shoot: This is another common cold appetizer dish that is sliced bamboo shoots tossed in slightly spicy red oil. While not quite as good as the previous appetizers I mentioned it was tasty. The bamboo was nice and the red oil complimented it nicely. 7.25/10
- Noodle With Scallion Sauce (Cong You Ban Mian): This is a bowl of thin noodles with a sauce made out of soy sauce and scallion oil. The scallions were browned, fermented and put in the oil. The noodles were reasonably al dente, they weren't hand pulled, but they were good and as I said in my former post they remind me of ramen. The sauce is what makes the dish and the scallion oil and soy combination is really good. 7.75/10
- Steamed Pork Buns (Xiao Long Bao): I’ll stick to what my review said last time as they tasted exactly the same. The skins were much better than any of the other places in NY, normally I've found XLB in NY to be too doughy and not tender enough. The filling was what really set them apart from most of the mediocre XLB in NY, all of the other places in NY have overly heavy and greasy filling. Not the case here, the filling was very good, the meat was tender and the soup was very flavorful but not greasy and heavy. 7.75/10
- Steamed Crab Meat & Pork Buns (Xie Fen Xiao Long Bao): This was actually almost exactly the same except with a little bit of crab meat and orange crab roe. I prefer these generally although at - Nan Xiang I don’t feel like there is much difference. 7.75/10
Sweet Soy bean Milk (Tian Dou Jiang): This was cold sweet soy bean milk, it was good, not chalky and clean tasting. It was better than last time I was here and probably on par with the flower shop lady on Roosevelt. Overall, this was quite good. 7.75/10

I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food at this meal especially the four cold appetizers I got. I’d probably get every single one of their cold appetizers if I was with enough people. I’d definitely recommend coming here to check it out as it’s probably one of the better restaurants in Flushing Chinatown.

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao
38-12 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thanks Lau - what time did you go?

    1 Reply
    1. re: scoopG

      well we went at like 130 b/c my friend really wanted to go, so it was completely packed, but there was only 2 of us and somehow all of the tables waiting were like 4+ people and one table of 2 opened up after like 15 mins, so we got lucky. it was kind of a disgusting amt of food for 2 people haha i didnt even really eat dinner that night

    2. Many thanks! Hope to make my inaugural visit tonight.

      50 Replies
        1. re: erica

          Ok, three more questions. The cold smoked tofu--I do not see this on that online menu; is this with the cold appetizers? If not, how shall I request it?

          On this blog, there is a photo of a dish described as sweet tofu pudding. What is the actual name of this and is it a dessert? Or a breakfast item?

          Finally, do they have vegetable dishes here? (I do not care if they are vegetarian, just wonder if they offer greens)

          1. re: erica

            1) the menu on chowhound is dated, however if you don't see something on the menu if you look at my post there is a pic of the cold appetizer station, i'd just go up and show them want you want since it's all displayed

            2) it's called dou hua, it's a hot very silky tofu that can be served sweet or savory. The version in this pic is the sweet version. they will pour a clear sugary syrup on it and some places put this ginger sugar on it too. i like it and it's good if made right. it's served at dim sum alot and i generally eat it in the morning, but generally you can get it all day

            3) well they definitely have some vegetable cold appetizers, but i don't remember them having straight up hot vegetable dishes

            1. re: Lau

              Thanks! So if I ask for "dou ha" will they know I want it sweet?

              1. re: erica

                tell them you want tian dou hua phonetically you would say tee-en doe hwa

                alternatively you can print out these characters 甜豆花

                1. re: Lau

                  Thanks, Lau.

                  The Tian Dou Hua is actually on the menu under "Breakfast" items (listed as "sweet bean curd," if memory serves me; could not take home the laminated, 2-page menu) but they did not have it today at 6pm.

                  Two of us had a very good meal here and, at $27 before tip, it certainly must be one of the best-priced meals in the NYC Michelin book!

                  Began with 3 dishes from the cold appetizer section on display near the entrance:

                  Kaufu--very good rendition and the best, by far, of these 3 dishes
                  Spicy Bamboo Shoots..had better elsewhere
                  Cold Smoked Tofu..a little bland for my taste

                  1 order pork xlb--best I have had outside Shanghai

                  Scallion pancake--superb; flaky dough; not greasy

                  Red Bean Puffs--delicate, round, multi-layered pastry stuffed with bean curd and dipped in sesame seeds; excellent

                  Service was fast and friendly; the place was nowhere near full at the early hour of 5:30-6:15pm, but I bet it will be filled an hour later.

                  I was very impressed by how spick-and-span clean the entire place looked.

                  Interesting to see the ladies behind the glass wall toiling away at the dumpling orders.

                  Thanks, all, for the preparatory info!! Recommended.

                  1. re: erica

                    glad you enjoyed! you should really try the pig ear and noodles with scallion sauce next time, i think those are stars there

                    the kaufu is very good there, pretty similar to what you get in asia and their soup dumplings are by far the best in the city

                    the place basically has shanghainese breakfast, cold apps, dumplings / buns and some noodles, so i guess it makes sense its in the breakfast section as alot of people do eat it in the morning

                    ill have to try the red bean puff next time, havent had that yet

                    1. re: erica

                      We are most happy to hear that the Nan Xiang Restaurant gets a thumbs up from you, as we would have had to eat many “Bitter Melons” to bemoan our sad situation of only being able to eat substandard XLB’s in NYC, if you had given the Nan Xiang Restaurant a thumbs down. (LOL)

                      You can also try the turnip cakes, which we enjoy when we go to Nan Xiang.

                      The noodle dishes are good also, but regardless of which noodle dish you order, the dish is essentially a plain noodle dish, as the meats that are suppose to come with the dish are almost non-existent on bad days (one time there was no meat at all) and on good days, no more than a sample tasting of the meat ordered.

                      Yes, the Nan Xiang restaurant is quite inexpensive, as we have recommended Nan Xiang to younger relatives/friends as a cheap date restaurant.

                      Luckily for you, you went at a good time early on a weekday night, as on weekends and holidays, the typical scenario is:

                      a. Long Wait For A Table While Standing - An interminable wait for a table; upwards of 30 minutes to 1 hour plus; whenever we pass the Nan Xiang restaurant on weekends, there is always a huge crowd milling around the front entrance to Nan Xiang.

                      b. Side Dishes Are A Necessity - Ordering side dishes at Nan Xiang is not a nice to have, but a necessity at Nan Xiang, as otherwise your table will have nothing to eat for at least 30 to 45 minutes until your XLB order comes to your table, and this does not count the initial waiting time to snag a table. In a Chinese restaurant, a 30 to 45 minutes wait for your dishes to come is an eternity, since dishes usually come within 5 to 10 minutes of ordering.

                      c. Misery Loves Company - Typical of the dining experience at Nan Xiang is that all of the non-XLB dishes will come quite shortly after ordering and after eating all of the non-XLB dishes, the waiters will take away the plates and then you will sit waiting at an empty table devoid of any food and you will begin to feel anxious or is that further hunger pangs, but after looking around at the other tables, you will feel better as most of the other diners at the other tables are also sitting there with nothing on their tables waiting patiently like your table for your XLB orders.

                      d. Wishful Thinking - And while waiting, every time you see a waiter with an XLB order, the fervent wish is that it is your XLB order, but of course the XLB order always goes to a table other than yours.

                      e. All Is Forgiven - After many XLB orders are given to other tables, and when one is just about ready to leave the restaurant (at lunch one time, we witnessed one family telling the waiter that they could not wait any longer for the XLB order and had to leave for another urgent appointment) your XLB order(s) do magically appear at your table and all is forgiven.

                      f. Enjoying XLBs - You and your hungry tablemates dig in and eat the XLBs very quickly, which is a good thing since the XLB’s outer skin will start to harden once the XLB’s cool.

                      Luckily for the owners of the Nan Xiang restaurant, Chinatown Chinese diners are used to suffering in life.

                      For the first year or two after Nan Xiang first opened, the wait was not too bad on weekends as it had not gained the reputation of serving very good XLBs yet and the restaurant did not have the problem of the long waits for XLB orders, as the restaurant was only half the size it is now. The original restaurant was just the first area that you enter from the front door with the XLB steaming station and the cash register stand. When the restaurant next door went out of business, Nan Xiang leased that space which doubled the size of their restaurant, but they did not increase the size of their XLB steaming station, which is a vital needed improvement when just about every table orders several orders of XLBs. The original XLB steaming station is the one you see when you enter the restaurant.

                      And did you try the bathroom? The bathroom at Nan Xiang is much better than the run of the mill Chinatown bathrooms, but then the bathroom is in the new renovated portion of the restaurant.

                      1. re: lwong

                        I know I have told you this before but you are a scream! You impart tons of information and make me smile when I read it!

                        When we entered, the waitress tried to steer us to the "back room," that you mention. Being a rather perverse person, I figured that she was trying to shove us into the less desirable area and thus I asked if we could remain in the front. I liked having the view of the four ladies making the xlb. At that time of day, they were doing more chatting than actual xlb-making; this is one dish that is obviously made to order and there were not many baskets going out at 6pm.

                        Your sequence is hilarious! As far as "c.," they did leave the side dish plates on the table throughout the dinner. The red bean puffs took en eternity to arrive but I could not complain since they were so obviously freshly made, or so it appeared to me, being far from an expert in such matters.

                        I did not try the bathroom.

                        1. re: erica

                          Although the front room is where the action is so to speak with the XLB station, the cold food section, and the entrance to the kitchen where one can see the food dishes come out, we feel that on weekends, the back room is the quieter area (and more spacious also relative to the front area, but it is sort of a drab Siberia) without the 5 to 8 people jostling around near the cash register area waiting for a table, the waitresses adroitly crisscrossing through the standing waiting crowd with their food orders, diners entering and leaving the restaurant, and during the winter, the several tables in the middle of the front area next to the milling crowds are also subjected to arctic winds whenever the door is opened, which during peak dining times on weekends is on a constant basis.

                          Hence the choice is a quieter but drab Siberian back room, or the frenetic front room where the action is. But for most diners, it is just the luck of the draw, and one is happy to get any table, although we will decline the arctic tables during the really cold winter days and take our chances for the next table, which can be another 15 or more minutes. One must reluctantly choose their poison when one dines at Nan Xiang.

                          The XLB ladies have remarkably fast hands in making the XLB’s, don’t they? But in Shanghai, at the real Nan Xiang, we noticed that the XLB makers on the third floor in 2006 were men.

                          An update on the Nan Xiang restaurant in Shanghai by some friends who live and work in Shanghai now is that the real Nan Xiang in Shanghai has gone downhill. The last time they ate there in early 2010, the XLB’s were terrible with many XLB’s having no soup or flavor, and the first floor takeout window selling the cheaper XLB’s even worse, with thick skins, no taste broth, and non-tender pork fillings. They told us that they actually could not finish the takeout window XLBs and threw them out since they were so bad. And these are friends who enjoy food and have tried the DTF XLB’s in Taiwan and in Shanghai, which according to them were delightful tasting.

                          But according to our friends, the Shanghai Nan Xiang restaurant still has very long lines and is raking in the money, at Western prices on the third floor at $8USD per 8 XLB order. It is a shame that a restaurant with such a storied XLB history should succumb to greed, incompetence, or indifference or all three reasons.

                          P.S. We responded to your post reply to our “Beijing Immigration” riff, but the Chowhound police deleted our many posts. That was a lot of writing effort to naught! (LOL)

                          1. re: lwong

                            you are correct in that nan xiang is not considered one of the best in shanghai, the best are generally considered Jia Jia Tang Bao 佳家汤包, De Long Guan 德笼馆 and din tai fung. nan xiang is considered to be more of a tourist trap now

                            although i believe nan xiang is a town where they invented XLB

                            1. re: Lau

                              Thanks for the information on the XLB’s.

                              The interesting thing is that when we tried the Nan Xiang restaurant in Shanghai in 2006, the XLBs were still pretty good, but somehow in the intervening 4 plus years, their XLBs went to hell.

                              The update about the Shanghai Nan Xiang restaurant to Erica was an “inside” discussion regarding a Chowhound posting several years ago when we had an enjoyable repartee with Erica on XLB’s in Shanghai and Flushing.

                        2. re: lwong

                          Even had I NOT already wanted to go there, your hysterical post would have convinced me. You paint great word pictures.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Much thanks for your kind words.

                            If you plan to dine at Nan Xiang at the peak times on the weekends in the future, we take it that you are also a closet Masochist like ourselves who go to Nan Xiang on weekends. (LOL)

                            1. re: lwong

                              We're retired so no weekends. We would also eat there as soon as they're open. I've had dim sum between 7 & 8 AM.

                              BTW, I forwarded your post to Bob (husband) and he laughed out loud also. Just our kinda place.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                You don’t know what you are missing going early on a weekday to escape the masses on the weekends at Nan Xiang. It is like going to a combination “Live Art Performance” and the “Opera” to experience emotions, except that you are the live performer who is experiencing these emotions in real-time of anxiety, impatience, “irrationally angry and jealous” (props to poster “Kathryn” for this phrase in a posting in this thread), delusion, forgiveness, and nirvana.

                                Not bad to experience this gamut of emotions at the low low price of $15 per person compared to prices for “Live Art Performances” and the Metropolitan Opera, plus one gets a meal out of this too. (LOL)

                                And that is really getting up early to eat Dim Sum before 8:00 AM. But for sure you beat all the crowds and avoid an hour wait or more at the more popular Dim Sum restaurants. We don’t recall our family ever being that efficient in getting up that early to beat the Dim Sum rush on weekends.

                                In another posting in Chowhound, we had coined a term that provides a ready-made answer for the many comic and inane situations in the NYC Chinatowns:

                                “It’s Chinatown.”

                                We stole the term from the movie “Blood Diamonds,” where the character Archer played by Leonardo DiCaprio, uses the phrase “It’s Africa” in a more serious vein to describe the inane and terrible things happening in Africa.

                                But on reflection, of course, the reasons for the many comic and inane situations in the Chinatowns are not so mysterious when one considers that the Chinese immigrants in the Chinatowns are mostly from poor backgrounds, who have streamed into America with ambitions to wallow in the American dream of wealth and freedom without any knowledge of American culture, but with a strong will to work hard and make money, lots of it any way they can. The owners of Nan Xiang can be excused for not increasing the size of the XLB steaming station, as they wanted maximum tables for maximum profits, but of course forgot about the need to increase production.

                                Unfortunately, these immigrants in the Chinatowns do not have Harvard MBAs, otherwise they would have been able to calculate the optimum number of tables and optimum size of the XLB steaming station to produce the maximum profits. Immigrant groups of all persuasions and ethnic groups all labor in their “mom and pop” stores under the same lack of knowledge and managerial skills, but this is the normal generational progress for all immigrant groups as they slowly climb up the ladder of success.

                                Fortunately for Nan Xiang, they have a superior product without any strong competition in Flushing, and possibly in the whole NYC area, hence this little miscalculation has not hurt the Nan Xiang restaurant.

                                1. re: lwong

                                  Thank god they don't have Harvard MBAs or we wouldn't be getting all that great food :)

                                  1. re: c oliver


                                    We forgot about that minor little point.

                                    But you are enjoying the good food without the attendant pain in going to Nan Xiang during the madhouse weekends! (LOL)

                                    1. re: lwong

                                      I highly recommend retirement :)

                                  2. re: lwong

                                    “It’s Chinatown.”

                                    Hey, that's Jack Nicholson's line!

                                    1. re: kathryn

                                      The memorable line is "Forget it Jake. It's Chinatown." Uttered by Gittes (Jack Nicholson) associate (Bruce Glover?)

                                      1. re: kathryn

                                        Here we thought that we had only stolen the idea from the movie “Blood Diamonds,” but instead we also inadvertently plagiarized the last line from the movie “Chinatown,” starring Jack Nicolson.

                                        This shows the perils of having the hubris to rashly announce one’s originality on a public forum on the Internet and our luck in not having seen the movie.

                                        What shall our punishment be, one or two months abstaining from eating XLB’s at the Nan Xiang restaurant? (LOL)

                                        1. re: lwong

                                          Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! NEVER.

                                          1. re: lwong

                                            Or: two months being forced to watch OTHERS eat xiao long bao from behind a glass window? :)

                                            1. re: kathryn

                                              I'm picturing a bunch of us trying to decide how many servings of XLB to order. Eight for four? Sixteen for eight? Mmm

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                Luckily for us the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

                                                We need to have a long talk with the person who said women are the gentler sex.

                                                And we would like to direct Rhett Butler’s statement to Scarlett O’Hara, in the movie “Gone With the Wind,” to both Ms. C. Oliver and Ms. Kathryn:

                                                “And you, Miss, are no lady.”

                                                P.S. And the phrase “It’s Chinatown” was such a good line. We really hate to let go of it, but no one ever remembers who won the silver medal. It is really hard to be original, as someone has usually been there first a head of you already. Drats!

                                        2. re: lwong

                                          Actually in Flushing they are more likely to have an MBA!

                                          38% of Chinese-Americans in Flushing are are business professionals (compared to only 14% in Manhattan's Chinatown) with college degrees. Only 7% of the Chinese-Americans in Manhattan's Chinatown have a college degree. Chinese-American median family income ($63,000) surpassed the US national average and that of non-Hispanic Whites eleven years ago. ex "Chinese-America: The Untold Story of America's Oldest New Community." by Peter Kwong & Dusanka Miscevic. WW Norton; NY, 2005.

                                          1. re: scoopG

                                            But are they cooking in restaurants??? In this economy, maybe so :(

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              More like business Owners. The Owners of M&T, Golden Palace, Rural and many other restaurants arrived and opened their restaurants not that long after they arrived. Then there is the entire infra-structure of Chinese lawyers, builders, re-modelers etc.

                                              Manhattan is more insular and draws the poorer, less educated immigrant. Flushing is part of the great ethno-burb that is Queens with a greater diversity in immigrant population.

                                              1. re: scoopG

                                                If I could live anywhere in the area, it would likely be Flushing. Just heaven.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  An excellent choice for my pied-à-terre!

                                            2. re: scoopG

                                              Agreed that there are no doubt many Chinese MBA’s in Flushing, but they are not working behind the counters in the low paying service positions in Flushing. Despite Flushing Chinatown’s wealth, a very large percentage of the jobs in the Flushing Chinatown are still of low paying service positions.

                                              The Chinese as a class have done well, but there is still a significant percentage of first generation immigrant Chinese who have not achieved the American Dream and toil at very low wages with few benefits in the many Chinatowns in NYC. How else could the prices at the restaurants, grocery stores, and other services in the Chinatowns be so low? And this would be applicable for Flushing Chinatown also.

                                              The story of Chinese-Americans in America is a bifurcated one, where the first generation immigrants are struggling economically, while the later generations who took advantage of America’s free education system and were lucky enough to attend college now lead comfortable middle and upper middle class lives.

                                              Queens has traditionally been the next step up the economic ladder for Chinese immigrants to buy a home as they climb the economic ladder, which is not surprising that the Flushing Chinatown is the wealthiest of the many Chinatowns in NYC. And the Taiwanese, generally more highly educated than the typical Chinese immigrant settled in Queens as their first step up the economic ladder also.

                                              We have not read Prof. Kwong’s book you referenced, but are you stating that Prof. Kwong indicated that 38% of the Chinese working in Flushing Chinatown have college degrees? That would be a surprising large percentage of white-collar professional positions in the Flushing Chinatown, as we would not think that there are sufficient professional businesses in Flushing Chinatown to support that many positions requiring a college degree.

                                              We will have to read Prof. Kwong’s book.

                                              1. re: lwong

                                                That's right - 38% of the Chinese-Americans in Flushing have a college degree (compared to 7% in Manhattan's Chinatown.) There are many other Chinese business professionals in Flushing (lawyers, landlords, contractors, real estate agents etc.)

                                                The Chinese-American demographics is changing. By 1970 (according to US Census data) Chinese-Americans surpassed White Americans in median family income and years of completed education. Chinese-American median family income was $1,000 higher than the US average then.

                                                By 2000, the Chinese-American median family income was $63,000, surpassing both the US national average and the average for non Hispanic US Whites.

                                                And this just in from the 2010 Census (more fuller numbers will be available in the summer): The Asian population in NYC grew by 32% since 2000 and now number almost 13% of the population.

                                                Seven neighborhoods in NYC are now considered majority Asian (Queens: Flushing, Queensboro Hill, East Flushing, Elmhurst-Maspeth & Murray Hill; Chinatown in Manhattan and Sunset Park East in Brooklyn.)

                                                In 2000, only Chinatown and Flushing were majority Asian.

                                                1. re: scoopG

                                                  It took a while, but we finally obtained a copy of Prof. Kwong’s book, which is a fairly scholarly book with extensive footnotes and bibliography and covers the complete odyssey of the Chinese in America starting in 1840 when the first Chinese coolies came to California and bringing the story up to modern day Chinese-Americans in 2005.

                                                  We were highly interested in your earlier references to Flushing Chinatown workers as consisting of 38% professional positions requiring college degrees, since we are in the Flushing Chinatown quite often and we just did not get the gut impression that Flushing Chinatown was a haven for companies hiring college graduates in professional positions. There are certainly many Chinese doctors, dentists, accountants, and lawyers in the Flushing Chinatown, but 38% seemed quite a lot (this would be almost 2 out of 5 workers in Chinatown) based upon our perceptions shopping and eating in the Flushing Chinatown and noticing the many diverse businesses there. Our feeling has always been that the Chinatowns were full of low skilled service and clerical jobs (and manufacturing positions until the garment sweatshops closed down due to even cheaper outsourcing to China) that were primarily filled by first generation Chinese immigrants who serve the many Chinese who live in the area and the many professional types who live outside of the area who stream to the Chinatowns on weekends to shop and eat.

                                                  The paragraph below may be what you were referring to in Prof. Kwong’s book:

                                                  “Flushing’s Chinese “residents” (quotes, italics, and boldface emphasis added by lwong) are distinctly different from those populating Manhattan’s Chinatown. According to census data, 36 percent of Flushing’s Chinese Americans are professionals concentrated in the fields of accounting and computer science, compared to only 14 percent in Manhattan’s Chinatown; 38 percent have degrees above the college level, compared to 7 percent in Chinatown; their average annual household income is $36,000, compared to $24,000.” (Pg. 337, Chinese America, Kwong and Miscevic, The New Press, 2005, Softcover)

                                                  From the footnotes, the source of Prof. Kwong’s paragraph on the Flushing Chinese resident’s good fortune is from a translated article published in the “World Journal,” a Taiwanese paper, in July 2003 ( ).

                                                  Our interpretation of the above paragraph from Prof. Kwong’s book and the World Journal translation, is that Prof. Kwong and the World Journal were not referring to the percentage of Chinese workers in the Flushing Chinatown who had college degrees, but to the Chinese “residents” of Flushing proper who had college degrees, which includes the Flushing downtown Chinatown. Many of these 38% professional college educated Chinese-Americans most likely live in the better and quite expensive residential areas of Flushing. Flushing is quite a large area in Queens and has about the same population as Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

                                                  But this does not invalidate your statement that Flushing Chinatown is the wealthiest of the NYC Chinatowns. In the Flushing Chinatown parking lots, there are an over abundance of high end foreign automobiles that attests to the success of this Chinese-American professional class that you have described. These high end cars belong to Chinese-Americans working in professional positions who come to the Chinatowns to shop and eat from all over the NYC metro area, although this is lessening to some extent due to the many Chinese supermarkets opening up in the suburbs. Basically without a detailed survey of the Chinatowns, it is unknown how many of Flushing Chinatown’s workers have college degrees, but our perception is that it would not be that high. There are not an over abundance of software or accounting companies in Flushing Chinatown.

                                                  But the future of Flushing Chinatown is another matter, as the Chinatowns are being squeezed relentlessly by development, and it is quite possible that in the future, Flushing Chinatown might indeed consist of 38% of the workers having professional positions requiring a college degree, but as long as new Chinese immigrants are streaming into America, there will always be Chinatowns in NYC, but possibly not at the present Flushing Chinatown location.

                                                  One cannot fight progress, but must roll with the punches.

                                                  1. re: lwong

                                                    hmm interesting

                                                    btw Flushing chinatown seems to be thriving, but manhattan chinatown is dying an unfortunate fast death

                                                    1. re: Lau

                                                      frighteningly fast. i guess we really DID need 38 cookie cutter hotels on east broadway .... now, to completely bulldoze dyckman street for the world's biggest sleep inn.....

                                                      1. re: debinqueens

                                                        i think in the next 5 years chinatown will be pretty bad 10 years it may look like LA or SF chinatown

                                                          1. re: AubWah

                                                            Chinatown rents are going up alot, commercial developers want to change it into higher rent uses, which economically makes sense. Chinatown would be prime real estate and most of the rest of manhattan has been gentrified over the last couple of decades chinatown is next

                                                            This is why you're seeing more higher end commercial buildings going up and more and more chinatown stalwarts shutting down (danny ng, south china garden etc etc). I'll almost guarantee chinatown will be markedly different (i.e. worse) in the next 5-10 years

                                                            1. re: AubWah

                                                              Chinatown(s) in the USA were predicted to collapse in the decade after passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 but that didn’t happen. But yes, according to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (October 2013 report), between 1990 and 2010, the population of New York’s Chinatown decreased by 7 percent while Manhattan’s total population grew by 6.6 percent. The white population in Chinatown increased significantly during this time. Other trends they noted:

                                                              * Increasing gentrification as land values and rents rise.

                                                              * Non-family households in Chinatown have increased over the last 20 years, while family households decreased and there are fewer children under 17 now living in Chinatown.

                                                              * Because of rent-regulation laws that apply to many tenement buildings in Chinatown new housing stock is mostly owner-occupied. This means more condos, which attract more affluent buyers/residents to the area. That’s the bad news.

                                                              The good news is that for the first time in 60 years, more people are moving into NYC than out. The City’s immigrant population has reached a new peak at more than three million. Foreign-born people in NYC were only 18% of the population in 1970 but are 37% today. If the current trend holds, Chinese immigrants will overtake Dominicans as the largest immigrant group in just a few years. NYC now has 8.34 million people, the most ever recorded.

                                                              Current largest immigrant groups are Dominicans (380,000) Chinese (350,000) Mexicans (187,000) Jamaicans (170,000) and Guyanese (140,000).

                                                              1. re: scoopG

                                                                i dont think NY's other chinatowns are dying just manhattan's...i'd imagine that flushing will be come bigger and better over time much the way the suburbs of LA and SF have. I think Flushing is just going to get better, I forgot to mention that as the flip side of the coin. Much like LA's real chinatown the SGV, I'll bet Flushing will continue to mainly serve a Chinese clientele and the bar on the standard of cooking will perhaps get higher. I certainly hope it turns into the next SGV, its already fairly decent and trumps any other chinatown in the US bar LA and SG suburbs

                                                                1. re: Lau

                                                                  I am refering to the Chinatowns in the USA in general. The only Chinatown in NYC is in Manhattan. Urban Chinatowns are marked by poorer, less educated Chinese immigrants and are not as diverse. The poverty rate is much higher too.

                                                                  Flushing, Elmhurst, Sunset Park East, Bensonhurst West etc. are part of the "ethno-burb." Ethno-burbs are marked by a much wider array of immigrants who are in general better educated and better off.

                                                                  1. re: scoopG

                                                                    chinatown, ethnoburb or whatever you want to call it you know what i area with a substantial chinese population

                                                                    while the commute is annoying, hopefully it turns into something much greater than manhattan chinatown ever was. LA's SGV is certain far superior than LA chinatown ever was as far as food is concerned

                                                      2. re: lwong

                                                        You are confusing the word "worker" with the more broader label of resident and/or Chinese-American in general.

                                                        Flushing is not a Chinatown!

                                                        It is a much more diverse neighborhood with many immigrants from Korea, India, Pakistan and more.

                                        3. re: lwong


                                          There is sometimes a step between d and e, where you see other people's XLB orders, and become irrationally angry and jealous.

                                          My favorite scene was watching a couple where both the man and the woman each had an entire steamer of XLB to themselves. As they were eating, the waitress brought the table two more steamers of XLBs. 4 steamers for two people, as my friends and I were just waiting to sit down! And they had youtiao with soy milk on the side as well.

                                          1. re: kathryn

                                            Yes, scarcity does not always bring out the best in humans, and you are very correct that there is definitely a missing step between (d) and (e), where one will become “irrationally angry and jealous.”

                                            Since you have confessed your foibles, we can add our confessional similar to your story about becoming irrationally angry at one diner who had ordered too many orders of XLB’s. We will become irrationally angry if a table is eating too slow or they are having too good of a time, especially if they are having a laughing good time at Nan Xiang, while we have to anxiously wait endlessly on line for a table.

                                            We should have worked on this little Nan Xiang “Riff” together, as it would have turned out even better. (LOL)

                                          2. re: lwong

                                            Thanks for pointing out item d. I thought I was being discriminated against because I was from out of town.

                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                              Oh, in our many verbose Chowhound postings, did we neglect to mention that the Nan Xiang restaurant favors out of town customers, and that in order to let the Nan Xiang workers know this, one only has to display the secret Shanghai hand signals when one gets the waiting number from the waitress, and you will automatically jump your XLB order to the front of the queue.

                                          3. re: erica

                                            Thanks for the report! I've always found hitting Nan Xiang either before or after the lunch or dinner rushes works the best.

                                      2. re: Lau

                                        >the menu on chowhound is dated ...

                                        Say, just want to put this out there: The Chow place records are user-updated, so if anyone's got a more current menu (or any other info) and a minute or so to add it, please jump in. There's no Chowhound staff contributing fresh data. It's on us.

                                        The record for this place also has links to mentions in other media outlets, including the NY Times, Edible Queens and a blog called FineChinaGirl. All of them help flesh out the picture of Nan Xiang for Chow users. If anyone runs across any other helpful links, feel free to add them, too.

                                  3. Re the pig ear, I hope people will try it. We haven't eaten here (yet) but we met CA CH Alan Barnes for lunch in a suburb of Sacramento of all places and this was one of the dishes we ordered from the "special" menu. As you say, it's hard to describe but not offputting at all. The texture and the coldness was a good balance for other things.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      yah its very good, most people eat it and are like oh this is pretty good and then they find out what it is, but unlike certain other meat cuts people find odd (liver etc) its not odd tasting or gamey whatsoever

                                    2. Strange. The pancake w/ sliced beef, salty sticky rice roll, and spicy beef and tripe didn't interest you? The first two I think is as good as it gets in NYC. And the spicy beef and tripe cold app is pretty decent. And most of the soup noodles dishes are on the similar level to the noodle w/scallion sauce, pretty good.

                                      I guess I'm not too big of a tofu person, so I usually avoid them.

                                      By the way, not sure if it's been mentioned, for the soup dumplings, order them as soon as you sit down, it does take that long for them to prepare for you.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: villainx

                                        haha ummm this was a meal with 2 people, i like all of the dishes you mentioned quite a bit, but with 2 people we already way over ordered....a fan tuan (the sticky rice roll) alone would probably fill me up plus that is breakfast food anyhow. i do plan on coming back to get breakfast

                                      2. Twice, we tried to get into this restaurant about noon and both doors were shut. There were staff sitting at tables near the window and they motioned us off the second time. We ate next door at Canton Gourmet and as we were leaving yesterday(Wed) the manwho seemed to be proprietor of Canton Gourmet was unlocking one of the doors to Nan Xian. Anyone know anything about this.

                                        Canton Gourmet
                                        38-08 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: budcar

                                          what day did you go? that's kind of odd

                                          1. re: budcar

                                            I'd say that's pretty hard to believe as they open pretty early for breakfast through the evening. Chinese folks don't take any time off. And I was there this weekend.

                                            Of course, could have been anything, from health department to gas line issues. To random emergency.