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M&T Restaurant – Interesting Qingdao Cuisine in Flushing

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**For full post and pics**: http://www.lauhound.com/2011/12/mt-re...

M&T is a restaurant in Flushing that specializes in Qingdao cuisine. The restaurant that has been fairly extensively covered by most of the major food websites such as Chowhound, Yelp and Serious Eats. After reading lots of glowing reports, I finally made it out here to try it out.

Qingdao is a port city that is located in the Shandong province in China, which is located a little to the southeast of Beijing and Tianjin. In America, it’s probably most well known for their beer brand Tsingtao. Qingdao cuisine is part of Shandong cuisine, but I believe it is fairly heavily weighted towards seafood given its location as a port city. I don’t know that much about Shandong / Qingdao cuisine as it’s not something I grew up eating and it’s not very common in the Chinese areas of Asia that I normally travel to, which are further south. So this was an interesting experience for me as it’s something I’m not too familiar with.

The restaurant is tiny, it can probably fit about 20-25 people in total. It’s doesn’t have much in the way of décor, but it has a wall that is covered with pictures of their specials. The lady who ran the place was pretty nice and the service was fine. I’m not sure if they speak English, but the menu is completely translated into English and there are lots of pictures, so you shouldn’t have any problem just pointing.

Here’s what we got:

- Spicy Potato Strips: This was given to us as a complementary appetizer. It was thinly sliced potato strips in a ma la sauce (ma = numbing sensation, la = spicy). This was quite good, the flavors were clean and the potato strips had a good soft texture. 8/10
- Peanuts and Dried Fish: They have a display case where you can see various cold appetizers and I saw this dish and it looked good, so I ordered it. It’s very simple roasted peanuts and tiny dried fish. The peanuts tastes like typical salted peanuts and the tiny fish have a nice flavor that isn’t too fishy and tasted good with the salty peanuts. It’s kind of beer drinking type food, but I enjoy this type of thing. 8/10
- Eel: I asked the lady for a fish recommendation and she said that she liked the eel, so we ordered this. It was sliced eel with green peppers and onions in a slightly spicy and sweet sauce. The sauce was excellent, it had good flavor and wasn’t gloppy or overly sweet. The peppers and onions tasted great. The eel was pretty good, but it was a bit hard to eat because of the way they cut it, you ended up having to try to eat around the bones and it also made some pieces a bit on the chewy side. If they cut the eel a different way to allow people to easier eat the meat it’d be better, but it was a pretty decent dish overall. 8/10
- Sautéed Snow Pea Leaves: The lady also recommended this as a vegetable dish. This is a fairly ubiquitous dish that many different regional Chinese cuisines serve. It’s simply dou miao (snow pea leaves) sautéed with oil, salt and garlic. The dou miao was cooked well, but they put too much salt in it. 7.25/10
- Salt and Pepper Ginseng: This was ginseng battered it in a salt and pepper batter similar to the typical Cantonese preparation that many people in the US have probably tried. When I ordered it the lady almost tried to dissuade me from ordering it as she said it’s quite bitter, but I was very curious about it, so I ordered it anyhow. Normally, you see ginseng used in some herbal soups and things like that, but I’d never seen it cooked in this manner. The batter was quite oily and heavy although it had decent flavor. The pieces of ginseng had the consistency of a root like lotus root and had a slightly bitter flavor, but not nearly as bitter as the lady made it out to be. I thought it was okay, but the batter was way too oily and heavy. 7/10
- Fried Pork Chop in Shrimp Sauce: This was another dish I was quite curious about. It was pork chops that are covered in a fermented shrimp sauce and then deep fried. The pork chops were excellent; they were tender and not oily at all. The batter had a good texture as it was nice and crispy without being overly oily. The shrimp sauce was interesting. It had a very fermented flavor and tasted similar to Korean tenjang (fermented bean sauce). The flavor wasn’t off-putting, but I didn’t really love it either. However, I could tell this dish was well prepared because of the texture of the meat and the light-handed nature of the batter, but the flavoring just didn’t really match my palate. Overall, I thought the dish was decent, but probably not something I’d get again. 7.5/10
- Hot and Spicy Prawns: The lady also recommended these, so we gave them a try. These were whole prawns lightly battered and fried with chili salt and green peppers. The prawns were nicely fresh and the meat had a good firm texture and was sweet. The frying technique was good as well as they were crispy without being overly oily. While they looked like they were going to have a lot of flavor, I actually found the seasoning to be too light handed. They tasted like they barely had any salt on them and didn’t have much spice either. It was a decent dish, but I don’t think I’d order it again. 7.5/10

Overall, while I thought it was good, I don’t think the flavors really matched my palate and it was more of a novelty for me than a “must try” destination, but that said I think it’s great that Flushing is getting more and more unique regional Chinese cuisines that were unavailable only a few years ago and I hope more places like M&T keep popping up.

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SN New Restaurant
44-09 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY 11355

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  1. I'm very glad I ate there a couple of times but the cuisine isn't on my top ten list either, I find it a bit bland. The people there are very sweet, though.

    5 Replies
    1. re: buttertart

      yah i agree with your assessment, i found it a bit on the bland side as well

      now that i think about it, i guess that's how i find most northern food (which i define as north of shanghai), which is probably why it doesn't match my palate.

      1. re: Lau

        Northwestern food can be awfully good, as are a lot of Beijing dishes. That's what I'd like, a Shanxi place.

        1. re: buttertart

          agreed, id love to see more restaurants and see how they are

            1. re: buttertart

              yah actually my friend's gf was telling me about one of the korean-chinese / yanbian type places that she goes to with her family all the time and said it's excellent; i'm very interested b/c they are korean and go to these places all the time, but they have similar tastes to mine so im excited, she's the one that told me about sol hyang lee). forgot what it's called, but im planning on trying it soon and reporting back

    2. I've always liked Golden Palace, just around the corner, a lot better, as their flavors are much more bold and exciting. A lot of the dishes I've tried at M&T, such as pork in aspic and xingdao pasta, I've found to be more interesting than good.

      If you're ever back here, or in the neighborhood, go for the fried pumpkin fritters. Even though they're a dessert, they are one of two dishes that I'd come back to M & T for. The other is the Rainbow Fish and Lamb.

      P.

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      Golden Palace
      14009 Cherry Ave, Queens, NY 11355

      7 Replies
      1. re: Polecat

        yah golden palace was next on my list of northern chinese places to go try

        i saw that pumpkin fritter, but it looked exactly like the one at hunan manor (which i do like) so i figured i'd switch it up and not get it although im pretty sure i'd like it as i love pumpkin.

        the rainbow fish and lamb are served together?

        1. re: Lau

          Yes, together. Side by side, mixed together with huge chunks of garlic. They're inseparable, like mismatched lovers. Think of them as the Romeo and Juliet of Chinese cuisine, only without the tragic circumstances.
          P

          1. re: Polecat

            hmm thats interesting, never seen that before

            i might drag someone there just to try that

            1. re: Lau

              Here it's prepared as sliced lamb and fish. At other northern chinese, such as Minzhogle (on Main), the preparation is more heavy duty - they just stuff the sliced lamb inside a whole fish. Haven't tried it that way, but it looks like a dish that's best shared.
              P.

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              Golden Palace
              14009 Cherry Ave, Queens, NY 11355

              Minzhongle
              37-14 Main St, Queens, NY 11354

              1. re: Polecat

                ah wow sounds kind of crazy like a turducken type of thing

          2. re: Lau

            Not to hijack the M&T thread, but just wanted to say that I finally got to Golden Palace this week with a group of 8 and loved it. I'll (hopefully) get to doing a write-up separately.

            1. re: Steve R

              look forward to hearing about it

        2. I tried the pig face and cucumber salad from M & T, I liked it very much

          1 Reply
          1. re: AubWah

            yah that pig face salad was top of mind, but there wasn't enough of us there to go crazy on the ordering...there were four of us and two had already sort of eaten