Great, Unique Korean-Chinese at 144-18 Northern Blvd., Flushing
El Jefe turned me on to this place, so all the credit goes to him. Technically it's called North Dumpling House in English, but that name is not on their big yellow awning, and we didn't see anybody eating dumplings. There's no English on the awning except for the very faded words "Korean Restaurant," presumably from a former tenant. It's just east of Parsons Blvd. They're basically across from a Staples.
(In fact, I didn't even notice any dumplings on the menu until I looked more closely at the take-home menu later. It turns out there ARE dumplings on the menu, at least on the take-home one, way down at #89-91: mushroom dumplings, fish dumplings, and sour cabbage dumplings. And also #86, "shao mai (lamb meat)." I know what I'm trying next time.)
I'm not sure I remember everything we ordered, but my favorites were the "sour cabbage with bean noodles" (#36 on the take-home menu) and the mushroom salad (I can't ID this on the take-home -- maybe it's #61, "mixed mushroom?"). Both of these were amazing. I would have never ordered either of those on my own so I'm really glad I went with El Jefe et al. The mushrooms are the best I've ever eaten, no joke -- not that I'm any mushroom expert since I'm normally totally indifferent to mushrooms. The consistency was beautiful. They melt in your mouth. Same for the sour cabbage with bean noodles. I am not normally a huge fan of cabbage, especially since I spent several weeks in Russia back in the 90s and everything had cabbage in it, even the freaking pizza. But this was outstanding. I don't know how to describe it. Seems like it was mostly noodles and they just had a brilliant mouth-feel. (Warning to vegetarians: These dishes both had a little bit of chicken in them. I don't know why, as that was unnecessary.)
Another great dish was the squid salad (#20 I think). Really great squid.
We also had lamb with cumin and the fish fillets in hot chili oil. The fish had tons of Szechuan peppercorn. Yum! Very spicy. Loved it. The lamb was good, but I've had better elsewhere, such as at Little Pepper and maybe also Szechuan Gourmet and/or Lan Sheng. We couldn't taste any cumin.
We also got the lamb leg with spicy salt. This was not so much of a hit with most of us. It was OK. Not spicy or salty, as I recall. A bit bland compared to the other dishes. Maybe meat legs just aren't my kind of thing. Hmmm, I might be forgetting one other dish....
Oh and first they brought out two little dishes of banchan: Shredded carrots and some incredibly garlicky eggplant chunks. I love garlic so that eggplant was a favorite for me. Not everybody liked such a massive overdose of garlic though, IIRC.
They also brought us those sugary caramelized potato chunks for dessert, the ones you dip in cold water to make them crunchy. Those were great, even better than at Golden Palace, which was the last place I had that dessert.
I'm salivating over the things listed on the take-home menu. Some of them look unattractive too, but fascinating. I'm mystified by "corn dodger," which appears twice. It's $1. Since I loved the vegetables at this place, I want to try their fried string beans next time, and "tofu on the hot stone," and maybe the "spicy green bean jelly." And maybe chili shrimp, or sauteed shrimp, and "special mussel." Meanwhile I think I'll skip the "cattle blood vessel in cumin" and the "country sauteed blood with mashed garlic." And I still wonder what that mysterious "slip" dish was -- it's not on the take-home menu, just the in-house laminated menu, so I can't remember the full mystifying name. "Slip the meat home" or something like that? No, wait, that's not right -- that must be a product of my dirty mind! :)
Anyway, in summary, thanks El Jefe! I'm going back there soon! Too bad there are no tables that fit more than five people (and most are more like four-tops). Otherwise I'd try to organize a big group.
North Dumpling House
144-18 Northern Blvd, Queens, NY 11354
Uh oh, North Dumpling House is apparently a bit inconsistent. I returned on Friday night to introduce a couple of my friends to this place and we were a bit disappointed. Maybe they were having an off night. The bean noodle dish with sour cabbage was not nearly as good as last time. Last time, it was mostly noodles with just a touch of cabbage, which is all you need. This time, the cabbage and the noodles were in roughly equal proportion and the cabbage, which was a bit like sauerkraut, overwhelmed the dish, while the noodles were just a bit chewier, not the same luscious melt-in-your-mouth consistency I'd found before.
The squid salad was good, but not as good as last time. Last time, it was just a bit fresher and juicier. I still liked it though.
We also tried the mushroom dumplings. These were OK, but nothing to go out of your way for.
My friends ordered the lamb kidneys. Yikes. I'm probably not qualified to judge, because I don't generally like kidneys anyway, but they did not seem pleased. They were doused in more spice than I've ever seen at this type of restaurant before. I would almost suspect the extra spice was intended to cover up the less-than-fresh state of the kidneys, but then I don't know if kidneys ever taste fresh to me.
One of my friends said she would've much rather returned to Golden Palace. On my first visit, I much preferred this restaurant to Golden Palace, but now I'm not so sure.
14009 Cherry Ave, Queens, NY 11355
North Dumpling House
144-18 Northern Blvd, Queens, NY 11354
I stopped in and was able to sample a few dishes. I think the fare here is closer to being Chinese (or Chinese-Korean) than Korean (or Korean-Chinese.) All of the house specials on the wall are written in Chinese only and the rice served seems closer to what Chinese serve. Rifu, for example is closer to Korean (or Korean-Chinese) fare I think.
The very friendly waiter, Mr. He Yu ( 赫宇) hails from Shenyang and speaks Mandarin, Korean and English.
I loved the spicy cucumber amuse bouche. The Wide Bean Noodles with Dark Sauce were excellent. The mung bean noodles were perfectly cooked in a rich, dark sauce with slivered shreds of ginger and sliced garlic.
Spicy Pig’s Ear Salad was another hit. Here cilantro stems and leaves with a little bit of onion and chili peppers added a piquant flavor to the pig ears.
I ordered a green vegetable that was listed in Chinese only as 蒜蓉菜 Suànróngcài. Seems like it might be some type of Garlic Hibiscus. It was was simply stir-fried with garlic and oil.
The Corn Dodgers were quite innocuous if a little plain.
Tendon Stewed Mushrooms arrived in a hot broth with three types of mushrooms: Abalone, Beech or Bunapi and Button Mushrooms.
The Sour Cabbage Dumplings, more typical of Manchurian Cuisine were delicious and were served with a soy dipping sauce with a large dollop of garlic.
Portions are very generous, as has been mentioned. Open every day from noon until midnight.
Does anyone know the hours of this place? I tried to go the other night, but after being seated and given menus at 9:30pm I was told they were closing at 10:00pm. They had at least 20 people still eating in there.
Pretty rude treatment overall, but I'll give them another shot when I can be bothered to walk to that section of Northern again.
Ouch. Sorry to hear that. That's a bummer. They were nice when we were there. Did they at least bring you any food at all?
Still, that's probably not as bad as the (initial) treatment we got at another northeastern place, Ming Chan Dong, last night. Even though we brought a Mandarin speaker, they refused to serve us at first. Four out of five of us were non-Asians and they thought we wouldn't like the food. Our Mandarin-speaking friend finally convinced them to seat us. It was great, maybe even better than Northern Dumpling House, but requiring a Mandarin or Korean speaker, who can also persuade them to let non-Asians in, is a pretty big hurdle.
My review of Ming Chan Dong:
Ming Chan Dong
36-24 Union St, Queens, NY 11354
The Chinese name of this place is "Jin Dongbei."
It's actually a very small, charming joint - can't be more than 5 or 6 tables. It's intimate and old worldish - I can see tying one on here until the wee hours with a few bottles of soju and some squid salad. My wife and I felt immediately transported once we walked in. We weren't in Queens anymore, yet, of course, we were. Both waitresses were very nice. One spoke a limited amount of Korean. There were two other tables full of diners (note to Ike: one was a big round number seating at least 8 people), all speaking in Chinese. Both tables were doing multiple noodle and dumpling dishes. The dumplings we saw were served in bamboo steamers, and resembled shu mai, but I couldn't see that well.
We were in the mood for noodles, and, as Ike says, they do a good job with them here. My wife had the "seafood noodles in soup." The rice noodles are on the soft side, but not too soft, just enough bite. The broth was thick and well-rounded in flavor. This was not unlike kalguksu, only the noodles weren't cut.
I went for the wonderfully titled, "seafood donut with seafood noodles", which we knew, from the Korean, to be nothing other than Soo Je Bi, big balls of gluten rolled up and dumped into the drink. This was like no other version I've ever tasted. The "donuts" and the thick broth coalesced into what was essentially juk. It was quite tasty in the comforting way that only porridge can be.
As Ike said, the squid salad is a winner. Extremely chewy, firm cephalopod. Just how I like it.
The portions here, by the way, are huge. We still have enough Soo Je Bi and squid salad left over for another whole meal.
As Ike mentioned, there's a lot worth mining off this menu. Thanks to him and El Jefe for this post. We'll be back.
PS: The "corn dodger" is actually, according to the Korean translation, some type of corn bread. At one buck, it was just my wishful thinking that it might be a corn dog, but a guy can dream, can't he?
re: squid kun
This is one of those spots that we've driven or walked past thousands of times but barely even noticed, so never got the chance to try out Modurang. I've never even been to the next-door branch of Sam Won Gahk either (went there when they were located on Bway in Elmhurst, though). The space is worth it in and of itself. Very charming.
Sam Won Gahk
144-20 Northern Blvd, Queens, NY 11354
"Dodger" is a fascinating choice of translation. It's a relative of the Johnny cake, which dates to American colonial days, but you wouldn't expect to see the word itself at a Korean-Chinese restaurant. I imagine these are very like the corn "cakes" at Golden Palace:
14009 Cherry Ave, Queens, NY 11355
Ike, Thanks for the great review. That takeout menu must be new because they didn't have one at either of my prior visits. I still haven't seen anyone eating dumplings but I'll ask for the lamb dumplings next time too.
The fish dish is just "Spicy Fish". Very similar to the braised fish at Little Pepper but much spicier with more fish, less vegetables and less oil. And imho better.
The panchan wasn't "eggplant with garlic". It was "garlic with eggplant".
I've had Lamb with Cumin in 7 or 8 restaurants. It's always different. Little Pepper's is the most cumin-y. This one was the least. My wife agreed with Ike. She compares all lamb with cumin dishes to Little Pepper's version. I thought the version here was perfectly cooked, very moist, and allowed the flavor of the lamb to predominate.
I was hoping that the Lamb Leg with Spicy Salt was going to be similar to that served at the original A Fan Ti. This was served off the bone, but with the bone as the centerpiece of the dish. It's served with some sauteed onions to keep it moist but it was neither spicy nor salty.
On prior visits we've tried Noodles in Brown Sauce which was a big plate of thick chewy rice noodles with a light brown sauce; Vegetables with Garlic which was just greens with garlic, but done with the perfect amount of garlic (as opposed to the panchan). We've also had the Korean Corn Noodles. This was a big bowl of soup, lightly seasoned, with an egg in it. Very chewy corn noodles. The consensus was that this was the least popular dish. btw, all of these were vegetarian dishes.
We also ordered the Potato and Eggplant, thinking that this was going to be chunks of potato and eggplant sauteed together. It turned out to be a very chunky version of mashed potatoes. And of course, very garlicky. And excellent.
All dishes are large and are easy to share. Prices are very cheap. It seems to always work out to $15 per person plus drinks and tip.
A Fan Ti
13680 41st Ave, Queens, NY 11355
18-24 College Point Blvd, Queens, NY 11356
re: el jefe
Thanks El Jefe. Oh, and I forgot to mention, the take-home menu wasn't on display anywhere. After you left, I went back, on a whim, and asked for one, and they went in the back and got one for me.
I think I prefer the fish at Little Pepper but only by a very marginal degree. They're both excellent. I won't hesitate to order it again at ND House.
That mashed-up potato-and-eggplant thing sounds great.
18-24 College Point Blvd, Queens, NY 11356
This could be a total miss here, but I'm wondering if "corn dodger" is corn dog. I've had variations on this on the streets of Seoul. They even sell them at Han Yang market on Northern Blvd. Of course, there's only one way to find out....
150-51 Northern Blvd, Queens, NY 11354