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Uncle Zhou 大河人家 Elmhurst

Joe MacBu May 22, 2011 11:31 PM

Uncle Zhou opened three months ago and brings the cuisine of Henan (as well as other regions of China) to the original Queens Chinatown. Located just a few steps away from the new location of Lao Bei Fang (and around the corner from Lao Kou Wei), the number of places serving hand-pulled noodles in the area has tripled in recent months. Dumplings have come along for the ride, as have knife cut noodles! Meatball soups and house special entrées round out the menu.

On a recent visit, I was transfixed by a bowl of spicy beef knife shaved noodles [麻辣牛肉刀削面]. The noodles were irregularly chewy and the beef very tender, but what made my night was the broth that sang. It was so bright yet balanced that I initially thought there was something like lemon grass in it. It took me a minute and a few sips to realize that it was the expert use of Sichuan pepper. While 'tingling' is the characteristic usually attributed to the spice, it is a citrus and can have lemony overtones when fresh and of high quality. Here, the málà quality was refined and not something I wanted to ruin by adding anything, including chili oil. It's my new favorite bowl of noodles, for now.

An order of boiled lamb dumplings proved to be equally balanced, with a very tender wrapper and a juicy lamb filling which is best described as subtle. Yum.

Uncle Zhou 大河人家 [dà hé rén jiā]
83-29 Broadway nr. Dongan Av
Elmhurst Queens 11373
718.393.0888
M-F 8a-11p
S/S 9a-11p

-----
Lao Bei Fang
83-05 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

Uncle Zhou
83-29 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  1. s
    saria Feb 24, 2013 08:02 PM

    I finally made it here and I was disappointed. I got the spicy beef soup with knife-shaved noodles and my friend the spicy beef with hand-pulled noodle. The broth was terribly undersalted, and though the knife-shaved noodles were wonderful, it was all rather bland even after a few shakes of salt. We got lamb dumplings which we unfortunately had to send back (and we hated doing it as we're both cooks and know what a sucky feeling it is to have something sent back). The filling was still a bit raw. They gave us a new order and they were very tasty, with sweet, juicy filling. We also enjoyed the cucumber appetizer. The soups were just a big letdown, though. So it was an overall decent experience, but disappointing.
    Of course I'll still go back another time to try the noodles with egg and tomato or the dial oil noodles.

    4 Replies
    1. re: saria
      d
      diprey11 Feb 25, 2013 11:31 AM

      I am sorry to hear you had a bad experience: their food is usually good quality, I personally think it's all-in-all the best Chinese restaurant in that neighborhood. I've eaten there so many times I am surprised they are not charging me rent. ;-)

      Goofing up two dishes in a row is sort of a bad accident, something that cannot be fixed with a few shakes of salt. I do suggest giving them another chance. If you are willing to give their dumplings another try, you might also consider 三鮮水餃 -they have a really good rendition.

      1. re: saria
        Silverjay Feb 25, 2013 12:03 PM

        They are really sweet folks here and the food is cheap and generally good. But we had a major problem with their lamb dumplings on our last visit about a year ago and "undercooked" may be the root of it. So unfortunately, I'm not surprised to hear this.

        1. re: saria
          f
          fooder Feb 25, 2013 12:07 PM

          I'm a fan of Uncle Zhou's and just bought a bag of their frozen lamb dumplings to take home yesterday. But one of the times I ate there they did serve us lamb dumplings that were still raw in the middle as well.

          The best things to order are things where you know Uncle Zhou will actually be doing the work.

          As far as bland broth, salt is a very personal thing. I'm Cantonese and we eat fairly light, so I can't ever imagine something being "terribly undersalted". Even one of the greatest chefs of all time, Joel Robuchon, keeps salt shakers on the tables of his top restaurants.

          1. re: fooder
            s
            saria Feb 25, 2013 01:41 PM

            Both of us thought it needed A LOT more salt. You can talk about salt being a personal thing, but lack of salt makes it so that flavors present in a dish get lost. Not to mention that I love Cantonese food and don't consider it bland by any means, but these soups were undersalted. It doesn't mean I've written this place off by any means; they were very nice and as I said, I intend to go back at some point. I just chalk this up to an off night.

        2. f
          ForestHillsFresser Jan 25, 2012 03:35 AM

          I went with my wife to Uncle Zhou's last night. It's nice when a restaurant owner remembers you and asks if you want to order what you had last time. These are very nice people.

          Anyway...I noticed they now have a take-out menu that differs from the plastic coated restaurant menu. It has many of the same dishes listed, but there's a section on the take-out menu for House Specials. Among the choices were cumin fried lamb for $12.95 and cumin fried lamb balls for $16.95. Not having remembered the earlier posts here, I asked what the difference was. The response was "They are different. You should order the cumin fried lamb for $12.95, it's better." Knowing what I know now, I think they did me a favor!

          Anyway, I am posting pics of the cumin fried lamb. This was a fantastic dish. The small pieces of lamb were pan fried and then coated with whole cumin and crushed red pepper flakes. This is a solid dish, worth making a special trip for.

          -----
          Uncle Zhou
          83-29 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

           
           
          3 Replies
          1. re: ForestHillsFresser
            m
            Mr Porkchop Jan 25, 2012 12:44 PM

            I went for the first time this past Friday and really enjoyed it. Really friendly service. The waiter even teased me for loading my food up witht e chili oil on the table. I wish I'd taken advantage of his friendliness and had him decipher all the specials on the wall.

            My first visit I stuck to basics and tried the hand cut noodles with in spicy beef soup and some pork and chive dumplings. For $8.50 I maybe made it through half of what what served to me before stumbling sated out into the snow covered Elmhurst street clutching my stomach, in a good way. While perhaps not anything unique or special, I really enjoyed the dumplings which had a familiar quality that really transported me back to some mountain of dumplings I took down back in china years ago. Something very familar and homey about the whole place, which has me looking forward to future meals.

            1. re: Mr Porkchop
              a
              AubWah Jan 25, 2012 03:16 PM

              Try the lamb dumplings they are incredible. I buy them frozen in bags of 50

            2. re: ForestHillsFresser
              s
              SaminJH May 8, 2012 11:33 AM

              Thanks for the recommendation of the cumin fried lamb. Got it last night and it was the big hit. I've had I think Szechuan versions of this that are much drier, with smaller bits of lamb, the size and texture of clam strips. This was slices of lamb and very tender, more like it was just quickly stir fried or maybe even cooked in liquid. Fantastic.

              The crispy rabbit is covered in Szechuan peppercorns and dried peppers. The little bones may annoy some people, but it was tasty to snack on, shared with a group.

              The rest was usual great stuff-- the bok choy and mushrooms, lamb dumplings, spicy beef knife shaved noodles. Stuffed four people for about $50 total, plus beers from the corner store across the street-- which store, I noticed, sells fresh rabbit and duck as well as fresh chicken in about 7 or 8 varieties that I didn't understand.

              Definitely restored my faith in Uncle Zhou after a so-so ma po tofu last time. And Zhou himself was as hospitable as ever.

            3. m
              Mr Porkchop Jan 18, 2012 07:58 AM

              Can anyone explain the alcohol situation here? Do they serve beer, and if not, can you bring your own? Thanks.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Mr Porkchop
                Silverjay Jan 18, 2012 08:04 AM

                You can bring your own. There's a bodega across the street that sells beer. A couple of visits ago, I saw some guys with a big cheap bottle of sake they were all pouring from.

                1. re: Silverjay
                  m
                  Mr Porkchop Jan 18, 2012 08:08 AM

                  Maybe it was baijiu? If so, I'll try and find and party with those guys if I ever pull off a visit. Thanks.

                  1. re: Mr Porkchop
                    Silverjay Jan 18, 2012 08:12 AM

                    It was Gekkeikan sake.

                    1. re: Silverjay
                      m
                      Mr Porkchop Jan 18, 2012 08:22 AM

                      (Relatively) Lame.

                      1. re: Mr Porkchop
                        Silverjay Jan 18, 2012 08:24 AM

                        Haha, yeah. They were like working class looking Chinese guys. They were prolly gonna bust out the Johnny Walker for round two.

              2. c
                CldSkndNdle Dec 22, 2011 11:00 AM

                Man! I was a #1 fan of this place until the past to times I visited. Its totally gone down the poop-shoot. Cold, watery noodle soup and hard steamed pork buns. I think Uncle Z knows it too and just doesnt care anymore. What a bummer.

                3 Replies
                1. re: CldSkndNdle
                  Polecat Dec 22, 2011 11:52 AM

                  Was just there today, a few hours ago, and this was not the case. Beef noodle broth was hot with a deep, strong flavor. Noodles had good fresh flavor and texture. Uncle Z and the rest of servers have always struck me as gracious, friendly and attentive.
                  P.

                  1. re: CldSkndNdle
                    a
                    AubWah Dec 22, 2011 12:06 PM

                    Mr. Z would never "not care". His name is on the restaurant and he a is a meticulous restauranteur

                    1. re: CldSkndNdle
                      f
                      ForestHillsFresser Dec 22, 2011 12:54 PM

                      I have to "second" Polecat and AubWah. The service was as attentive and friendly as any restaurant I've ever been to, and the place was packed when I was there. You must have hit a bad night.

                    2. f
                      ForestHillsFresser Dec 22, 2011 08:00 AM

                      I had an interesting (pleasant) dinner here last night after stopping at Rice & Tea to pick up a half duck.

                      I started with the spiced cucumbers in garlic. This is a very good appetizer. The cucumbers are expertly sliced in corkscrew fashion, which helps the cucumber absorb the flavors faster.

                      I also had the beef tendon, generally a favorite of mine in Szechaun restaurants. This version was not hot and spicy when displayed in te case. I asked for it ma la and they obliged with the perfect level of szechuan pepper oil. What made this version unique was that it was not think slices of tendon. This was like the chunky version. The pieces were much bigger. The different texture took some getting used to but I liked it.

                      Finally, I had the "Crispy Meat Kou Wan" I asked what that was and was told it was crispy pork in a casserole, but that it is no longer crisp after being in the casserole. It was quite tasty, but strange in that it was pork chop cut into small pieces, battered and deep fried, and then put in a wet casserole flavored with star anise. It made the crispy outside soggy, but tasty.

                      Overall, another good meal.

                      -----
                      Uncle Zhou
                      83-29 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ForestHillsFresser
                        missmasala Dec 22, 2011 10:07 AM

                        We ordered the pork kou wan last time we went. Also found it interesting that the meat was battered and fried and then put into a wet casserole. I liked it, in a comfort food kind of way, but it's not something I would order often. Seems like the right kind of thing for a very cold, damp day.

                      2. Polecat Jul 16, 2011 12:47 PM

                        The lamb ball hand-pulled soup is a sold number. Although the actual noodle is a notch below that served upstairs at Golden Mall - theirs has more pure flavor - all the other ingredients, including the broth, are a cut above. Those wood-eared mushrooms get me every time. As others have mentioned, the good Uncle is very friendly, pleasant, laid back, helpful, as was the waitress on duty when I was in there today. I also bought a bag of frozen triple delight dumplings to go. When they attempted to tell me how to boil them, I replied never mind - I just put them on the end of a long stick and eat them with chocolate sauce. They seemed pleased.

                        (okay, so that last part was b.s.)

                        No bubkiss here, though: based on one lone visit and copious praise above, this is a great addition to the neighborhood.

                        P.

                        PS: By the way, it looks like Queens has finally scored a stand-alone banh mi shop, right next door. It's called Cafe JoJu, and their menu is refreshingly small and limited to spring and summer rolls and about 8 "modern" banh mi, including bulgogi and Japanese-style kakuni. Stopped by for a Viet coffee, found out they've only been open a few daze. I look forward to trying the banh mi. I really love this neighborhood.

                        -----
                        JoJu
                        83-25 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                         
                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Polecat
                          f
                          fooder Jul 18, 2011 06:02 PM

                          I stopped by Cafe Jaju the other day. Had the summer roll (prepackaged and kept in fridge) and banh mi. The bread was crunchier than I would normally expect. While I liked the flavors, my main concern is the skimpy ingredients for the price. While a place like this would be fine in Manhattan, I don't see how it would do well in a stretch like this where people can get filling meals for around $5.

                        2. y
                          yussdov Jul 16, 2011 02:42 AM

                          i'd like to offer a slightly dissenting opinion on uncle zhou's. been there three times recently and ordered quite a lot of things off the menu. and while i really liked the place, thought the service was great, the prices more than fair and the vibe pleasant, the food is not spectacular. it strikes me as very homey fare, kind of half way between a street vendor and a restaurant. but it's not really subtle and refined cooking. everything is generously portioned and earnestly prepared. the staff is thoughtful and hard working and glad that the patrons are eating there. all that is more than evident. but the food is also a bit fatty and greasy and the flavors are not quite as deftly manipulated as some other local places.

                          i do realize that uncle zhou's is essentially a noodle/dumpling house with a few extra items on the menu. and it's fun and cheap and exciting to eat there. but i've also noticed that the food is a bit heavy and clunky with just a bit too much oil in everything. when uncle zhou himself is cooking, which seems to happen more during the day when the cooks are off duty, the food is a bit lighter and more subtle.

                          that said, i still really like the place, love the prices and will probably soon enough find the things on the menu that feel and taste a bit lighter. but, overall, i'd like to see the tastes developed a bit more in the way that places like little pepper do it. ( i know that they are distinct cuisines, but i'm talking about the subtle manipulation of tastes, not a similarity in ingredients or preparations.)

                          i get that right now uncle zhou's has become a chowhound favorite and i admire that uncle zhou has realized that accomodating food tourists, foodies and food geeks is a great complement to his chinese clientele, but i wonder if, on these boards, we're experiencing a bit of a feeding frenzy over the new kid on the block. not that it's not destination worthy and a solid place, but i'm not sure it's quite the amazing and stunning place that it sounds like in this thread. still, i love that it's a few blocks from my house.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: yussdov
                            a
                            AubWah Jul 16, 2011 08:02 AM

                            "the food is also a bit fatty and greasy and the flavors are not quite as deftly manipulated as some other local places."

                            do you mind sharing what dishes you feel fit this description?

                            and what are the other local places with flavors more deftly manipulated?

                          2. f
                            fooder Jul 8, 2011 04:59 PM

                            Wonderful place. Found out about it a few weeks ago, and have been going in to get takeout every once in a while. It has replaced Lao Bei Fang as my go-to place in that area.

                            The stewed noodles hold up remarkably well to being taken out as the noodles retain their texture nicely. I love the lamb broth (A1), but will try the spicy beef noodles as mentioned on the thread.

                            Also love the lamb dumplings, but would not call them subtle in any way. In fact, I would say that if you think you like lamb, but haven't really tasted that lamb "funk" that some people talk about, it may not be for you as it has plenty of that.

                            Speaking of lamb, I was also in there one morning when the owner was refusing shipment of a package of lamb because it was already diced. They want whole chunks of lamb which they butcher themselves. Now that's awesome.

                            As for lamb balls (A3), in my experience growing up, whenever "waist" was mentioned as an ingredient, it referred to the kidneys. Kidney would make sense as something nourishing. Then again, "outside" waist may in fact refer to something on the outside of the animal. I have not tried the dish and have no idea what they actually serve.

                            I have not had the chance to try many of the dishes, as I don't have enough friends in the neighborhood or willing to make the trip to try Chinese food. The Chinese Turducken looks really interesting though. If I try to do it, how many people should I really bring?

                            The only disappointing thing I've had (again, I haven't had much there) were the individual steamed bao (pork and vegetarian). Lao Bei Fang makes significantly superior versions of both, better in both the bun and the filling.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: fooder
                              scoopG Jul 9, 2011 05:11 PM

                              A Turducken is only three fowls, the Quailsquaducken is four! It will easily feed 20-24 people.

                              1. re: scoopG
                                f
                                fooder Jul 11, 2011 04:44 PM

                                Just had the spicy beef knife noodles. Wonderful, although I could have used more beef.

                                But a turkey is a much bigger bird. I would assume the quailsquaducken would be much smaller overall.
                                Not that it matters, since I will probably have trouble finding 10 people to try it with me out in Elmhurst, let alone 20.

                            2. w
                              wew Jul 5, 2011 09:16 AM

                              I asked Mr. Zhou if I could have a half order of shrimp as I was alone and he kindly said yes. Good lunch with the lamb dumplings. Thanks to all

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: wew
                                a
                                AubWah Jul 5, 2011 09:46 AM

                                was it the shrimp pictured in this thread? Uncle Zhou is a real mench. The lamb dumplings are revelatory

                              2. a
                                AubWah Jul 4, 2011 09:11 AM

                                Anyone tried the stewed beef briskets with winter melon?

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: AubWah
                                  scoopG Jul 4, 2011 01:10 PM

                                  We just had the winter melon - it was not on the menu but Joe asked Mr. Zhou and he happened to have some of the long-cooked specialness on hand and served it up to our group - it is the last photo above on Joes' June 28th post. Those cherries in the photo BTW are pickled!

                                  1. re: scoopG
                                    missmasala Jul 4, 2011 08:33 PM

                                    those cherries are crazy. they taste like pickled maraschinos. Are those really used in Henan cooking, or is that Mr. Zhou's special touch?

                                    1. re: scoopG
                                      Joe MacBu Jul 5, 2011 11:04 AM

                                      The stewed beef briskets w/ winter melon isn't on the menu anymore (although they have the old house specials menu taped up on the front window). They seem willing to make it though, but we decided against ordering it - it's supposed to be a mildly flavored dish.

                                      I asked about the cherries and Mr. Zhou said that it was in fact used in Henan. I haven't been able to find much reference to it on The Internet. Scoop, do you have more dirt on those?

                                      1. re: Joe MacBu
                                        scoopG Jul 5, 2011 05:32 PM

                                        I will have to check. Hey you never know! I was in Qingdao last October and the big street fare item were "Taiwan Hot Dogs."

                                  2. scoopG Jun 27, 2011 06:36 PM

                                    A dozen of us gathered with Joe MacBu recently at Uncle Zhou’s to sample their Four Treasures dish – (套四寶 Tàosìbǎo]) sort of a Chinese version of the Turducken plus one.

                                    Four Treasures starts with a Quail, deboned and then stuffed with rice, peas and shrimp. The Quail is placed inside a deboned Squab. The stuffed Quail and Squab is then inserted into a deboned Chicken followed by yes, placement inside a deboned fresh Duck.

                                    All the poultry was bought live. It is then steamed in stock with ginger, onion, Shaoxing rice wine and salt for six hours. This dish takes two days to prepare and costs $225.

                                    Apparently Chef Chén Yǒngxiáng (陳永祥 1860-1938) invented this dish in Kaifeng. Legend has it that after the Empress Dowager Cíxǐ (慈禧) fled Beijing during the Boxer Rebellion in the summer of 1900, she first went to Xian and then on to Kaifeng where Chef Chen presented the dish to her.

                                    The verdict?

                                    Everyone should have this dish at least once in your life. It was skillfully prepared and artfully presented. Basically the “Quailsquaducken” as it were, is sliced opened and the meat cut up and served in bowls of the steaming broth. It will easily feed 24 as part of a balanced diet. The broth was sublime and the meat succulent.

                                    Appetizers ordered were Shredded Tofu, Seaweed, Pickled Cucumbers, Pork in Aspic, Fried Carp and a Pork Vermicelli dish. The Pork Aspic could have used a vinegar dipping sauce but maybe that is not the Henan style.

                                    For main dishes, both Seafood and Lamb Dumplings were brought to our table along with Tomato and Egg Knife Shaved Noodles, Pork Intestines with Hot Peppers, Spicy Crispy Shrimp, Sweet and Sour Fish with Dragon Beard Noodles and Amber Winter Melon.

                                    I’ll let Joe fill in more of the details. Everyone was pleased. Owner Steven Zhou is a genial host who clearly aims to please – and delivers.

                                    Photo below of the steaming Quailsquaducken.

                                    -----
                                    Uncle Zhou
                                    83-29 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                     
                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: scoopG
                                      Silverjay Jun 27, 2011 06:52 PM

                                      So was the Quailsquaducken really tasty or more of a "must experience" type of dish? It obviously sounds ridiculously...ridiculous. I need like a 360 degree assessment of this dish from all twelve people...Just joking. But REALLY intrigued. The description of this dish reminds me of the SNL "Taco Town" bit from a few years ago- http://www.hulu.com/watch/1447/saturd... ..."You know what I love about shrimp? Everything..."

                                      1. re: Silverjay
                                        Joe MacBu Jun 28, 2011 12:16 AM

                                        You know what I love about rice?

                                      2. re: scoopG
                                        Joe MacBu Jun 28, 2011 12:02 AM

                                        Every time I return, I am more amazed by the skills of the three chefs. Mr. Zhou has done a fine job of picking and bringing them over from Kaifeng. As the restaurant evolves organically from a noodle-and-dumpling-joint to something more, their enthusiasm and talents are really shining through their dishes.

                                        Thanks scoopG, for the bit of interesting politico-culinary history regarding the Four Treasures. The skill required to create this polycephalic chimera is the focus of the dish, and hopefully that impressed the Empress. Everything else is pure poultry, which is why the quality of the birds really matters - they were alive moments before they were brought into the restaurant. A bird from a live poultry place [ http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/462168 ] is a different breed than what one gets in a supermarket or most restaurants geared towards Americans. These birds also tend to be older by choice, hence they have a denser and chewier texture, as well as a robust flavor - those used to Purdues will probably find it gamy, but immigrants who grew up eating similar fowl relish it. The broth is incredibly flavorful, as is the flesh - but again, the flavor is straightforward poultry with just enough roots and wine to allow for some brightness. I was fortunate enough to take some leftovers and have been enjoying it at home. It certainly makes for a memorable meal!

                                         
                                         
                                         
                                         
                                         
                                         
                                        1. re: Joe MacBu
                                          Joe MacBu Jun 28, 2011 12:38 PM

                                          More photos of the meal, but omitted are dishes with photos already posted.

                                          Shredded Tofu
                                          Seaweed
                                          Pork in Aspic
                                          Tomato and Egg Knife Shaved Noodles

                                          Pork Intestines with Hot Peppers - I enjoyed this dish much more than I thought I would. The intestines were dense like chunks of wheat gluten, and tasted of white pepper. The fresh chili peppers were moderately spicy and paired well.

                                          Spicy Crispy Shrimp - A beautiful presentation with flavor to match. Spicy, savory, crispy, and tingly from the Sichuan peppercorns. I could eat a plate of these by myself with a couple of beers and call it a night.

                                          Amber Winter Melon 琥珀冬瓜 hǔpò dōngguā - This is not on the menu, and was presented to us as a surprise by the owner as another traditional dish of Henan. It seemed like everyone was captivated by it. Winter melons are slowly cooked for over 6 hours in yellow rock sugar water, until it permeates the melon and is caramelized to the point of almost being burnt. It was deeply comforting with complex flavors of molasses and the firm-yet-giving texture of the melon. Let's hope that Mr. Zhou will add it to the expanding regular menu.

                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                          1. re: Joe MacBu
                                            scoopG Jun 28, 2011 07:23 PM

                                            Thanks Joe for the update and uploaded photos! Perfect description of the Amber Winter Melon.

                                        2. re: scoopG
                                          erica Jun 28, 2011 04:07 AM

                                          Thanks for the detailed report and photos, both of you! Looks like my own "to visit" list has just grown a bit longer. No doubt we will see the VV do a piece on the quailsquaducken soon.

                                          1. re: erica
                                            a
                                            AubWah Jun 28, 2011 05:06 PM

                                            Hope Sietsema keeps his distance

                                        3. a
                                          AubWah Jun 22, 2011 02:36 PM

                                          If someone was to go here alone what do you think is the most delectable dish they could procure for $5-6? Looks like dial oil hand drawn noodle?

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: AubWah
                                            Joe MacBu Jun 22, 2011 02:59 PM

                                            For me, it's the spicy beef knife shaved noodle soup.

                                            1. re: Joe MacBu
                                              a
                                              AubWah Jun 22, 2011 03:12 PM

                                              your input is very very appreciated, is that the second picture in your original post?

                                              1. re: AubWah
                                                Joe MacBu Jun 22, 2011 03:39 PM

                                                Yep, that's the photo and the dish that hooked me.

                                                1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                  a
                                                  AubWah Jun 23, 2011 05:58 AM

                                                  Can't wait to get out here, the R train is calling me

                                              2. re: Joe MacBu
                                                theeatenpath Jun 27, 2011 07:15 PM

                                                I finally got around to trying this dish, and I am in total agreement.

                                              3. re: AubWah
                                                DaveCook Jun 22, 2011 04:25 PM

                                                On my first, solo visit, the owner recommended the tomato and egg knife-shaved noodles as a dish that, back home, folks might eat in summertime. On a hot day, it worked for me.

                                                1. re: DaveCook
                                                  CitySpoonful Feb 6, 2012 08:27 PM

                                                  Finally made it to Uncle Zhou and happened to try the dish Dave mentions (Tomato & Egg Lao Main Noodle) -- and totally agree that it is absolutely delicious. The dish is a bed of noodles partially submerged in minimal broth and topped w/tomato and bits of scrambled egg + some wood ear and delicately sliced raw cucs thrown into the mix. The broth, though used sparingly, was mild but yet incredibly flavorful. We were very happily surprised to find such a flavorful broth in a vegetarian dish -- definitely far better than what we are used to.

                                                  Dial Oil Hand Drawn Noodle (also veggie) rocked the garlic + chilies + vinegar combo. Another good veggie option for noodley goodness.

                                                  The cucs -- mildly pickled in vinegar and ginger (?) were crispy and refreshing. But the other cold dish we tried (also veggie) -- thin strips of fried bean curd tossed with slices of red bell pepper, ample cilantro, ginger and a sesame oil + vinegar combo -- was even better. Just incredibly fresh and flavorful and with a perfect balance of flavors. (Our meat-eating companions were raving about it, too...)

                                                  Also a shout-out re: the Steamed Vegetable Buns, which though served a bit on the luke-warm side (I prefer them warmer), had a really tasty filling: scrambled egg, bits of mushrooms & greens, and glass noodles.

                                                  Though Uncle Zhou could easily be a meat-eaters paradise, it wasn't difficult to put together an unusually lovely/delicious veggie meal. We'll be back to explore further.

                                                  (Photos of our meal, including the meaty fare I didn't get to try, are posted here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?se...

                                                  )

                                                  -----
                                                  Uncle Zhou
                                                  83-29 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                                  1. re: CitySpoonful
                                                    missmasala Feb 7, 2012 09:04 AM

                                                    Agree about the steamed veg buns--my vegetarian daughter always gets an order and they are very good, tho they could usually be hotter. her go-to meal here is those buns plus the dial oil noodles plus the mapo tofu over rice. (yes, she's a big eater.) it's not that the mapo tofu is stellar, but it's her favorite food so she'll eat any rendition of it, and this one is veg. keep meaning to get the tomato and egg noodles, but haven't managed to, yet.

                                                    also, form the cold dish case, the fried long hot peppers, when they have them, are delicious.

                                                    -----
                                                    Uncle Zhou
                                                    83-29 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                              4. f
                                                ForestHillsFresser Jun 22, 2011 07:14 AM

                                                I love this place. I went for the second time last night. I had the cucumber appetizer for $5.00. It reminded me very much of thin sliced half-sour pickles, but softer and spicier. Absolutely delicious and the skill involved in their slicing is worth seeing.

                                                I also had the dial-oil hand drawn noodles. Wow. My new favorite dish in New York. A lot like dan-dan noodles at Chengdu Heaven, but no pork and better tasting noodles with a bit of vinegar. Order it extra ma la. (spicy numbing with Szechuan peppercorns)

                                                The big tray chicken was delicious. It would be nice if the chicken were not so bony. Because it's chopped with the bone in, you have to be very careful about tiny bone fragments.

                                                I took mom and dad, neither of whom are at all adventurous. They ordered the chicken over rice and the spare ribs over rice. Both cooked in the same yellow sauce and neither looked at all appetizing.

                                                1. DaveCook Jun 21, 2011 08:27 AM

                                                  Photos from a group dinner.

                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                  12 Replies
                                                  1. re: DaveCook
                                                    a
                                                    AubWah Jun 21, 2011 02:11 PM

                                                    Thank you Dave those pictures were taken by a very talented photographer. Is there any way you could identify the dishes?

                                                    1. re: AubWah
                                                      a
                                                      AubWah Jun 21, 2011 02:14 PM

                                                      The cucumber, dumplings, big tray spicy chicken? plain noodles I can identify from my many meals at Henan Flavor snack but it is clear the chef here in Elmhurst is competition worthy

                                                      1. re: AubWah
                                                        DaveCook Jun 21, 2011 06:50 PM

                                                        Thanks. I'm pretty sure one or more of my dining companions -- there were nine of us, all told -- will be wrapping up our meal in words. I'll take care of any loose ends, if I can.

                                                      2. re: DaveCook
                                                        theeatenpath Jun 21, 2011 09:32 PM

                                                        Thanks for posting the gallery, Dave.

                                                        An armful of us, led by missmasala and Joe MacBu, shared the dishes pictured last night and were disappointed by nothing. I'll identify what's pictured to the best of my ability; I'm sure others who were there can offer additional insight and commentary/clarification.

                                                        Starting from the upper-left and advancing to the right (and referencing the restaurant's folding paper takeaway menu):

                                                        1. "Smoked fish" - one of three cold dishes ordered off the menu. I believe this one was sitting in the display case beneath the register. Very meaty chunks of fish (not sure what kind), bone and (very flavorful) fat/skin included, permeated by a sweet sauce with some mild heat on the back end. Not discernibly smoky, but I heard no complaints.

                                                        2. Bean curd skins - very springy and firm slices of cold tofu skin tossed in sesame oil with thin-sliced mushroom and bell pepper. No surprises here; the flavors were straightforward, and your feelings toward it probably depend on your stance towards the texture tofu skin.

                                                        3. Pickled cucumber - this was my favorite of the cold dishes. Fresh cucumbers very thinly sliced and lightly brined, they were mostly sweet, slightly tart and had a warm spread of heat from first bite. Excellent veg pick!

                                                        4. Lamb and chive dumplings (Dumpling Menu #5, $3.00) - just about what you'd expect: boiled dumplings filled with loose ground lamb and chive filling. Just a bit gamy, with a thick, slightly chewy dumpling skin. This is the only dish I personally wouldn't order again, mostly because there is so much in the way of more adventurous dishes to explore on Uncle Zhou's menu.

                                                        5. Braised vegetable with black mushrooms (House Specials #4, $7.95) - fantastic veg dish. Bok choy was perfectly cooked, shot with chopped garlic and served with hearty, tender shiitake mushrooms in a pool of the braising liquid.

                                                        6. Big Tray of Chicken (House Specials #14, $12.00) - certainly a crowd pleaser, this was an enormous kitchen sink platter dominated by bite-sized chunks of dark meat chicken on the bone (I love that almost every meat was served on the bone). The meat was accompanied by well-salted potato, chilies, the occasional clove of roasted garlic, and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro that never overstayed its welcome. Beneath it all were broad "hand drawn" noodles, the perfect form for soaking up chili oil and juices. I can't believe this was twelve bucks.

                                                        7. Surplus (slurplus?) broad noodles were brought out on request and tossed into whatever was available. Uncle Zhou's hand-pulled noodles are very tender, and their broad noodles are optimal for sauce-based dishes. The cooks are not just noodling around here (ChiefHDB made me say it, I swear).

                                                        8. Noodles late to the party but not too late to get totally sauced (I take full responsibility for that one).

                                                        9. I only knew this off-the-menu dish as "meatballs." Loosely packed, moderately seasoned, touched with a hint of sweetness, fall-apart tender and permeated by the braising liquid. Another comfort pick. I went back for seconds.

                                                        10. Spicy crispy rabbit in big tray (House Specials #11, $18.50) - this was something of a consensus favorite. Very well marinaded chunks of rabbit (some still on the bone), fried to a uniform brown and served in a heap of chilies with chopped green onion and cilantro (again playing their role very well, adding the perfect amount of brightness to a rich and meaty dish). I was surprised at how moist and juicy each morsel of meat was, considering how crisp they were around the edges.

                                                        11. (Dial) Oil Hand Drawn Noodle (Staple Food M10) - Joe MacBu requested that these be prepared with knife-cut noodles instead of the usual thin-pulled la mian, and it was an excellent call. The knife-cut noodles were just a bit softer than the broad pulled noodles, and never revealed a clumpy spot or chewy knot. This dish had the most complex flavors in our menu, but make sure you mix it well or you might end up with a mouthful of crushed chili or a suddenly powerful shot of vinegar.

                                                        12. Fried tomato with sweet and sour sauce - Not exactly a parallel to America's fried green tomato, these red tomato slices were encased in a thick and soft dredging and swamped in a sweet and sour sauce that was, thankfully, mild in its slightly fruity, slightly honey-tinted sweetness.

                                                        13 and 14. Baked Noodle & Fish (House Specials #1, $12.95) - fresh whole whiting (the owner literally walked out to obtain a fresh fish after we had finished ordering), beautifully sauteed and served atop a bed of sweet and sour sauce and under a bed of dried house-made bei mian (angel hair hand-pulled noodles).

                                                        Celery and Sauteed Lily Bulbs (House Specials #13, $6.95) - not pictured but enjoyed by all, this was described at the table as "celery and garlic with some other stuff." The celery, served slightly warm, was still very crisp. The aforementioned lily bulbs were scarce among the stalks and chopped garlic.

                                                        It's worth stressing how friendly the staff and the owner of Uncle Zhou's are. They brightened the lights when they saw us taking photographs, and happily answered any questions about the dishes to the best of their ability. When we began discussing mei bian with the owner, he immediately rolled a stainless steel table out from the kitchen and had two of his cooks demonstrate their ability to make such fine strands with nothing but their bare hands. Watching the two take on a ball of dough in succession was not too different from seeing a breakdancing duo taking turns on the subway car -- elegant, entertaining and done with pride.

                                                        You can see a video of the demonstration here: http://youtu.be/TMn_9i_EH30

                                                        Thanks to the organizers! It's surely a place worth writing home about.

                                                        -----
                                                        Uncle Zhou
                                                        83-29 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                                        1. re: theeatenpath
                                                          ChiefHDB Jun 22, 2011 05:28 AM

                                                          Great write up and video James. Really looking forward to going back and trying some of the hand drawn noodle soups.

                                                          1. re: theeatenpath
                                                            missmasala Jun 22, 2011 08:00 AM

                                                            Thanks for writing it up with all the details, James.

                                                            Funny, I really liked the lamb dumplings and decided the meatballs were my least favorite dish, which surprised me, because I usually love meatballs. I may have just been too full (and too blown away by everything else) to really appreciate them.

                                                            the dial oil noodle sauce was reminiscent to me of the sauce on the wontons at Yunnan Flavor Snack in Sunset Park. Love the spicy, vinegary flavors of that kind of dish.

                                                            I thought this place was truly truly excellent and plan on going back soon.

                                                            I liked the sauce on the fried tomatoes better than the sauce on the fish, though they were similar. Next time I would order the tomatoes and get the fish with a different preparation. Not that the fish wasn't good, I just liked the tomatoes in that kind of sweet, sticky sauce better.

                                                            nd watching them make the fine strands of noodles with their bare hands was amazing. The fact that they make these (and all their noodles) from scratch is to me just indicative of the care they take in preparing their food. And, as the photos make obvious, presentation is also important, not just flavor.

                                                            I would really like to give a big shout out to Joe Macbu, who first posted about this place and whetted our appetites.

                                                            1. re: theeatenpath
                                                              el jefe Jun 22, 2011 10:52 AM

                                                              James, thanks for the great review.

                                                              I just have a couple of corrections and a dissenting opinion on a dish or two.

                                                              The tofu skin rolls and the cucumbers are on the take-out menu in the untranslated section. They're the 2nd and 4th items respectively, or so I've been told.

                                                              The meatballs are not on the menu but they are pictured on the wall. I thought they were excellent, just as described above.

                                                              I wasn't a big fan of the cucumber appetizer or the Celery and Sauteed Lily Bulbs. To me this dish was just sauteed celery, while there was so much else to try.

                                                              The fish dish we got was not the one on the menu. The one on the menu is chunks of fish. The whole fish is a special order. I thought the fish was excellent but the sauce was a little too sweet for my taste.

                                                              I actually like the sweet and sour fried tomatoes even though I usually dislike such sweet dishes. Had they been brought out for dessert, it would have been perfect.

                                                              I love the lamb dumplings. My wife and I think that those alone are reason enough to go.

                                                              I can't add anything to the rabbit and chicken dishes. They were awesome. All in all, it was an excellent meal.

                                                              1. re: el jefe
                                                                theeatenpath Jun 22, 2011 11:19 AM

                                                                Thanks for stepping in to correct and opine, jefe :]

                                                                1. re: el jefe
                                                                  ChiefHDB Jun 22, 2011 01:16 PM

                                                                  I think I'm with Missmasala on the meatballs, they weren't bad, just seemed to be missing something. I much preferred the similar meatballs at Henan Fangwei. Also agree with el jefe that the celery with lilly bulbs was the weakest dish.

                                                                  That said, everything else was fantastic and to describe it any further would only be echoing what everyone else has already written. I'm already planning a return trip...

                                                                2. re: theeatenpath
                                                                  Joe MacBu Jun 22, 2011 11:36 AM

                                                                  Nice photos and detailed report! Below is a pic of the celery and lily bulb dish.
                                                                  I was told the cold fish was 鲩 huàn, which I think is carp.

                                                                  Special thanks to restaurant crew for really exceeding expectations on all fronts to make it a great dinner.

                                                                   
                                                                  1. re: theeatenpath
                                                                    CitySpoonful Jun 23, 2011 12:27 PM

                                                                    Really great review James! And I second your assessment of those wonderful pickled cucumbers. They were fantastic. The chewy shitake mushrooms topped with garlic were also pretty good.

                                                                  2. re: DaveCook
                                                                    johnk Aug 10, 2011 05:34 AM

                                                                    Great article in the Times. Congrats.
                                                                    JK

                                                                  3. j
                                                                    JFores Jun 14, 2011 07:22 PM

                                                                    Just chiming in and confirming that this place is amazing. I went there on a whim today and I was not disappointed. Their knife cut noodles are the best I've had in the US and I was similarly impressed with the lamb dumplings.

                                                                    I'm quite excited to start exploring more of the menu (including the wall menu.) The owner is super friendly and was also extremely helpful in translating the wall menu items I couldn't read (aka everything except cold noodles and yangrou paomo.) He's excited to continue adding dishes to that list too.

                                                                    1. s
                                                                      swannee Jun 13, 2011 07:16 AM

                                                                      We tried Uncle Zhou and loved it. People were super friendly and very nice about my bad Mandarin. We had several of the cold dishes, all of which were good and interestingly different from the "same" dishes from other regions: the smoked fish, for instance, was much less sweet and softer (and better) than any I have had at Shanghai restaurants. Both lamb and beef noodle soups were good as reported by others--I want to try the wide hand pulled noodles, which the owner says are only found in Henan. The lamb dumplings are a must. Also the celery with lily bulbs (something in the garlic family) was delicious, as were the braised mushrooms. Only the pancake disappointed. If I didn't live in Manhattan, I would go all the time!

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Uncle Zhou
                                                                      83-29 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                                                      1. w
                                                                        wew Jun 12, 2011 09:38 AM

                                                                        Many thanks for the translations

                                                                        1. Joe MacBu Jun 8, 2011 09:26 PM

                                                                          [EDITED]

                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                            Joe MacBu Jun 8, 2011 09:41 PM

                                                                            What the heck is up with Chowhound spazzing these days when edits are performed?
                                                                            I'm reposting the above post so that it's legible:

                                                                            Since my last visit, Uncle Zhou has added several dishes to the menu. There is also a takeout menu now, which has the previously separate house specials menu integrated. And frozen dumplings are also available to take home. Most of the new dishes are only in Chinese and written on the wall banners. I was told that additional dishes are in the works - the granddaddy being something like a turducken, except it will be rice inside a quail inside a pigeon inside a chicken inside a duck! It requires 2 days to prepare and is called 套四宝 [tào sì bǎo].

                                                                            Tonight, I had "Dial Oil Hand Drawn Noodle" - which is a mistranslation and should be "oil splash noodles" 油泼面 [yóu pō miàn]. A big mass of tender room-temperature hand-pulled noodles sits atop a little bit of liquid tasting of shaoxing wine and some sprouts. On top is some bok choy, crushed red chilies and chopped garlic. A bit of hot oil is poured on top. It is a delicious choice if you'd rather not have hot broth during these sweltering days. The restaurant is also air-conditioned.

                                                                            The restaurant was featured in the May 31 issue of US China Press, along with their lǐ yú bèi miàn 鲤鱼焙面 - visible in the lower right corner of the photo.

                                                                            1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                              Silverjay Jun 9, 2011 01:49 PM

                                                                              Beyond intrigued, I googled that Chinese turducken dish and came up with this...um...interesting presentation...

                                                                               
                                                                              1. re: Silverjay
                                                                                Joe MacBu Jun 10, 2011 09:54 PM

                                                                                Nice!
                                                                                But I'm guessing it's going to look more like the one below, in a soup. I'm not sure whether it'll make it on the menu, but it can be ordered 3 days in advance. And because of the prep time and skill required, it's not going to be cheap - I heard a figure around $250, so I won't be trying that till I get a gig. But it's still cheaper than a ticket to Kaifeng.

                                                                                My understanding is that all 4 birds are de-boned, but still mostly intact. The dish is eaten in layers as if they are courses. In one recipe I read, the quail is stuffed with sea cucumbers, bamboo shoots and mushrooms; also included are scallops, shrimp, squid and ham. I don't know what's included at Uncle Zhou's, but I bet you can customize it.

                                                                                 
                                                                                1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                  Silverjay Jun 11, 2011 07:53 AM

                                                                                  Yeah, I saw that photo but it wasn't nearly as dramatic....Well, this sounds like a really interesting and tasty banquet meal. Thanks for uncovering it for us!

                                                                              2. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                scoopG Jun 9, 2011 02:45 PM

                                                                                Fascinating! Great work Joe!

                                                                                1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                  missmasala Jun 11, 2011 02:54 PM

                                                                                  Those noodles look delicious! They're vegetarian, right? That pic will get me to Uncle Zhou soon.
                                                                                  Chowhound dinner there, anyone?

                                                                                  1. re: missmasala
                                                                                    a
                                                                                    AubWah Jun 11, 2011 04:19 PM

                                                                                    yea spicy crispy rabbit in big tray sounds pretty awesome

                                                                              3. w
                                                                                wew Jun 5, 2011 08:54 AM

                                                                                Again thank you for your post. I had the lamb noodle soup which was a solid second to the soup at the lamb place at the Golden Mall, which was brought to mind by the owner (?) asking me which I liked more.

                                                                                Uncle Zhou's has hand written wall banner offerings of, to guess from the prices, large dishes. If you stop by could you give a translation?

                                                                                Hope the job hunt is not weighing heavily on your stomach

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Uncle Zhou
                                                                                83-29 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                1. re: wew
                                                                                  Joe MacBu Jun 5, 2011 09:53 AM

                                                                                  Glad you gave the place another shot.

                                                                                  One of the handwritten menus is a rabbit dish. I'll take better notes of that and the rest next time I'm there. The staff is pretty helpful with translations as well.

                                                                                  I was actually there on Friday with a friend and had the big tray of chicken, which we both found to be excellent even if rather oily (though authentic). The lamb dumplings were even juicier than on previous visits. Celery with lily buds, red bell pepper and lots of garlic was excellent as well - the salty/savory sauce really elevates the dish.

                                                                                  1. re: wew
                                                                                    Joe MacBu Jun 6, 2011 04:04 PM

                                                                                    Here are a couple of pics of the wall menu from my first visit. The first item seems to be a young rabbit ($18.50). I'm not sure about the second - hopefully someone else will chime in with the translation.

                                                                                     
                                                                                     
                                                                                    1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                      el jefe Jun 8, 2011 06:16 PM

                                                                                      I'm assuming that's the same as "Spicy crispy rabbit in big tray - $18.50" that's listed on the menu. I need to go with a bigger group to try that. Sorry, I can't help you with the second one.

                                                                                    2. re: wew
                                                                                      Joe MacBu Jun 8, 2011 11:23 PM

                                                                                      Wall menus from June 8, with some rough translations (corrections welcome):

                                                                                      5.25 - Noodles in black bean sauce
                                                                                      5.00 - Cold noodles
                                                                                      18.95 - Spicy big shrimp
                                                                                      6.95 - Sour and spicy shredded potato salad
                                                                                      16.95/19.95 - Whole fish with angelhair in sweet and sour sauce [tilapia/bluefish]
                                                                                      7.95 - Eggplant in garlic sauce
                                                                                      16.95 - Spicy rabbit [same characters as the item in the takeout menu at $18.50]
                                                                                      16.95 - Cumin lamb testicles
                                                                                      5.75 - Lamb soup with pancakes
                                                                                      5.25 - Scallion pancakes

                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                                      1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                        Joe MacBu Jun 10, 2011 02:49 PM

                                                                                        [Deleted due to Chowhound bugs. Reposted below]

                                                                                         
                                                                                        1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                          Joe MacBu Jun 10, 2011 03:19 PM

                                                                                          There is a small section of untranslated plates on the takeout menu:

                                                                                          凉拌海带 - Seaweed 3.50
                                                                                          拌腐竹 - Tofu skin rolls 4.00
                                                                                          虎皮尖椒 - Blistered chili peppers 5.00
                                                                                          蒐衣黄瓜 - Cucumbers cut to resemble a palm-bark rain cape 5.00
                                                                                          五香花生 - Five spice peanut 3.50
                                                                                          五香牛腱 - Five spice beef shank 8.50/lb
                                                                                          五香牛筋 - Five spice beef tendon 8.50/lb
                                                                                          五香牛肚 - Five spice beef tripe 8.50/lb

                                                                                        2. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                          Joe MacBu Jun 30, 2011 06:03 PM

                                                                                          Two new items on the wall:

                                                                                          ?? 鱿鱼 - something Squid - $12.95 ... can anyone decipher the other characters?
                                                                                          青椒鱿鱼丝 - Green Pepper Squid $10.95

                                                                                           
                                                                                           
                                                                                          1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                            s
                                                                                            swannee Jun 30, 2011 06:44 PM

                                                                                            I can't see anything other than shredded squid with green pepper--I must be missing something in the first sign?

                                                                                            1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                              s
                                                                                              swannee Jun 30, 2011 06:52 PM

                                                                                              Sorry! I hadn't found the other sign. The first character is too confusing for me (the second is just shao--cooked in this context.) Is it cooked in a sand pot--i.e. earthenware? I can usually decipher almost any writing, but this has me beat.

                                                                                              1. re: swannee
                                                                                                scoopG Jul 1, 2011 02:00 PM

                                                                                                Have they the new printed menus in-house yet?

                                                                                                1. re: scoopG
                                                                                                  Joe MacBu Jul 5, 2011 11:14 AM

                                                                                                  Yes, they have them now.

                                                                                                  Included in the new menu is Xiao Long Bao. I had an order today, and they seem to be in line with the ones you experienced at Henan Feng Wei - they look like soup dumplings, but don't have much juice. They currently have pork, but will soon include seafood and lamb.

                                                                                                   
                                                                                        3. s
                                                                                          SaminJH May 27, 2011 02:56 AM

                                                                                          Can anyone translate A3, "lamb ball hand-drawn noodle"? Not knowing the cuisine, I was expecting something like meatballs and think it was testes. Mild flavored, off-white spongy meat attached to little bits of skin.

                                                                                          Soup was pretty mild, too maybe what wew calls dull and muted, maybe people looking for spice should try another dish. But the subtle flavor grew on me after a few condiments, and maybe it was best as the flavor of the lamb balls was also pretty subtle. Enjoyed this place a lot and will definitely go back to try some of the specials next time.

                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: SaminJH
                                                                                            Jeffsayyes May 27, 2011 08:59 AM

                                                                                            did they look at you funny when you ordered it? that's usually a good tell that you're ordering private parts.

                                                                                            1. re: Jeffsayyes
                                                                                              s
                                                                                              SaminJH May 27, 2011 09:49 AM

                                                                                              No, no funny looks, either from the waitress or from Uncle Zhou himself, who was very friendly and came over to talk. I tried to clarify with him by making a gesture and saying, "lamb balls?" --a kind of cupping gesture, like a doctor might make during an exam. Not sure that this got through the language barrier, but his response was, "Yes! Lamb balls!"

                                                                                              -----
                                                                                              Uncle Zhou
                                                                                              83-29 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                                                                              1. re: SaminJH
                                                                                                Joe MacBu May 27, 2011 01:23 PM

                                                                                                Their English is pretty good over there. But balls can be any number of things, right? Why not dispense with the hand gestures and just point to your nuts for clarity's sake (assuming you're a dude)?

                                                                                                A3: zībǔ yáng wài yāo hui mian
                                                                                                Which means something like: nourishing lamb outside the waist braised noodle.
                                                                                                Now if that doesn't mean testicles, I don't know what does.

                                                                                                I don't know about the earlier reports, but this place is pretty damn good right now. I think about their dumplings at least thrice a day.

                                                                                                1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                  SaminJH May 27, 2011 01:49 PM

                                                                                                  Thanks for the translation Joe!

                                                                                                  Yes, his English is fine, but weirdly I couldn't quite muster the courage just to say "testicles" or point to my own, even while eating the balls. Next time I think I'll try the dumplings--also the cumin lamb sounds good.

                                                                                            2. re: SaminJH
                                                                                              scoopG May 27, 2011 02:06 PM

                                                                                              Lamb Fries or Animelles in French. This is what they have at Henan Fengwei. 羊睪丸 - Yáng Gāo Wán

                                                                                               
                                                                                              1. re: scoopG
                                                                                                s
                                                                                                SaminJH May 27, 2011 02:33 PM

                                                                                                Yup, the nourishing outside the waist lamb was cut the same way, too.

                                                                                            3. Joe MacBu May 26, 2011 07:16 PM

                                                                                              Uncle Zhou serves yet another type of noodle, which is listed on the house specials menu. Bèi miàn [焙面] is like deep-fried dragon beard noodles and is another Henan specialty. Here, it's served in "'Baked face' with sweet & sour paste" [糖醋素块鱼焙面 - tángcù sù kuài yú bèi miàn]. By default, the dish consists of battered and deep-fried winter melon pieces in a sweet and sour sauce. For an extra $4, they'll make it with fish instead - but I'm not sure if the fish is treated like the winter melon, or whether it's served whole as seems to be more traditional. In Henan, it would probably be carp, but in Elmhurst? I don't recommend the dish for a lone diner as it's an oil and sweet heavy combo. Be sure to eat some extra veggies and maybe a bowl of savory soft tofu with it.

                                                                                               
                                                                                               
                                                                                               
                                                                                               
                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                                scoopG May 27, 2011 02:05 PM

                                                                                                Sure looks like it!

                                                                                                1. re: scoopG
                                                                                                  Joe MacBu Jun 8, 2011 10:02 PM

                                                                                                  The winter melon version is no longer on the menu, but the fish version remains - 糖醋鱼块焙面 [tángcù yú kuài bèi miàn]. However, this version uses batter-fried fish chunks. The owner said he created this rendition for Americans, who presumably don't want to bother with bones. Thankfully, the classic whole fish rendition has been introduced as a wall menu item: tángcù yú bèi miàn 糖醋鱼焙面. It comes with either tilapia ($16.95) or bluefish ($19.95).

                                                                                                   
                                                                                              2. scoopG May 25, 2011 02:29 PM

                                                                                                Thanks Joe!

                                                                                                1. Joe MacBu May 25, 2011 02:14 PM

                                                                                                  A specialty of Uncle Zhou and Henan province is the lamb mixed hand-drawn noodle (A1). It is made with hui mian [烩面 - "braised noodles"], which is a wide ribbon of hand-drawn wheat dough. The "nourishing" soups here (A1-A3) also include strips of kelp, tofu skin, glass noodles, bok choy, woodear mushrooms, and wolfberry. The broth tastes like pure lamb, without much spice getting in the way of the funk.

                                                                                                  The wide noodles also show up in big tray chicken [大盘鸡 dàpánjī], underneath the chicken. Ordering extra noodles will get another pile thrown on top.

                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                  Uncle Zhou
                                                                                                  83-29 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                                                                                   
                                                                                                   
                                                                                                   
                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                                    a
                                                                                                    AubWah May 25, 2011 03:10 PM

                                                                                                    wow that soup looks just like the one i've probably enjoyed 75 times from the henan snack shoppe on forsythe. the only thing that looks different is the green

                                                                                                  2. a
                                                                                                    AubWah May 25, 2011 06:12 AM

                                                                                                    looks cool i wonder where uncle zhou is from

                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: AubWah
                                                                                                      Joe MacBu May 25, 2011 12:11 PM

                                                                                                      The family is from Zhengzhou, Henan.

                                                                                                      1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                                        CitySpoonful Jun 8, 2011 12:53 PM

                                                                                                        Joe, any idea how food from Henan and Hubei compare?

                                                                                                        I have a friend who is looking for Hubei food, but the closest thing he's found so far is the Hunan place the Times reviewed in Flushing earlier this spring.

                                                                                                        This might be another good option for him....

                                                                                                        1. re: CitySpoonful
                                                                                                          Joe MacBu Jun 8, 2011 02:15 PM

                                                                                                          Based on what I know of Hubei cuisine and what's served at the Henanese places here, I don't see much overlap, despite the shared border.

                                                                                                          1. re: CitySpoonful
                                                                                                            Joe MacBu Jun 8, 2011 09:44 PM

                                                                                                            I asked the owner about similarities in the cuisine of the two provinces. He said that the noodle dishes he serves might seem familiar to those seeking Hubei cuisine.

                                                                                                            1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                                                                              CitySpoonful Jun 9, 2011 07:10 AM

                                                                                                              Joe, many thanks! I will pass this on to my friend. We're meeting for dinner next week -- perhaps we'll head to Uncle Zhou's rather than Flushing.

                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                              Uncle Zhou
                                                                                                              83-29 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                                                                                      2. w
                                                                                                        wew May 23, 2011 02:58 PM

                                                                                                        Glad to read this. I tried their pulled noodles soon after opening as a take out and found the broth dull and muted, which was at odds with the the really good feeling of the place and the people (as you have noted on another post going from vibe to food is not a foolproof endeavor). With a recs from you and el jeffe I'll retry.

                                                                                                        1. el jefe May 23, 2011 11:16 AM

                                                                                                          My wife and I were at Uncle Zhou last Thursday evening for the first time. We tried the same two dishes described above. The lamb dumplings were excellent. Neither of us could figure out what was in the broth of the spicy beef knife shaved noodles, but "bright" was exactly how I described it. It did have a sichuan peppercorn overtone, but I think there might have been some star anise too. In any case, it was also very good.

                                                                                                          We also tried the lamb with cumin. Bigger chunks of lamb than usual, fairly moist. This version had no scallion or onion as prepared at many other places, but had lots of cilantro that we mixed in. This dish was equal to all the other versions we've had but there was one downside that ruined it for my wife -- the cilantro had not been washed properly and left a gritty crunch to the dish. We didn't finish it but did take it home. With all the cilantro, it was difficult to reheat but I did. The lamb was even more spicy and flavorful, but the grit was also more pronounced. We'll probably try this dish again but either tell them to hold the cilantro, or we just won't mix it in until we're sure it was washed thoroughly.

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          Uncle Zhou
                                                                                                          83-29 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: el jefe
                                                                                                            s
                                                                                                            swannee Jun 13, 2011 07:23 AM

                                                                                                            We had no problem with the cilantro--we ate it all, and loved their version of this dish (which I mostly know from the much more agressively spiced Sichuan version) So maybe it was an aberration--I would try it again.

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