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Flushing: Lao Dong Bei replaces short-lived SN New Restaurant (former M & T)

The former denizen of the old M & T space at 44-09 Kissena Blvd in Flushing, SN New Restaurant, was replaced two weeks ago with a restaurant called Lao Dong Bei. I tried it last week with a couple of friends and we discovered that not only is the chef from Harbin but he used to work at Fu Run on Prince St.

This explains the Xinjiang Style Lamb Chops on the menu, which are probably similar to the famous Muslim Style Lamb Chops at the aforementioned Fu Run. We didn't try them, but we did try the Cumin Sliced Fish (also a Fu Run fave), Bean Curd Noodles, Blotch Soup (another Fu Run favorite), Beer Duck, and Dongbei Style Orange Chicken. Everything was quality, although I probably wouldn't order the bean curd dish again, which could possibly be the final dish in a chopstick mastery competition, given the slippery bean curd "noodles." I will write more about the specific dishes when I get a chance, but I wanted to let people know about this spot.

The waiter is a holdover from SN New and as such has very little English, and in fact, no one there speaks much English.

Every time we ordered a dish, the manager took a photo before handing it to us, which makes me thing they're going to put photos on the wall the way M & T did, since the photo squares are still there, sans photos.

Here are my photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/536/sets...

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  1. how was that orange chicken? (looks good)

    as a side note, i always find it interesting how some americanized chinese dishes are based off northern chinese dishes even though northern chinese in the US are fairly new...i wonder how that came to be

    6 Replies
    1. re: Lau

      Most American-Chinese dishes are based on Cantonese dishes introduced long ago: Sweet and Sour Pork, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Chicken Almond Ding etc.

      1. re: Lau

        It was very good. Don't laugh, but we ordered it for dessert, in lieu of one of the famous Northeastern candied fruit dishes, because it has a similar preparation, but with meat instead of taro (or some other fruit). Apparently there's an orange pork dish which is even better. A friend tried it a couple of days later.

        1. re: Peter Cuce

          beef for dessert haha...i like that

          1. re: Lau

            It was chicken... but yeah. Same difference.

            1. re: Peter Cuce

              yah thats what i meant

              i have an affinity for sweet & sour type of dishes and orange chicken / beef / pork falls into that category, so very appealing to me...i think its why i almost always order peking pork chops at cantonese restaurants or why i like certain korean-chinese dishes alot

          2. re: Peter Cuce

            I had alligator for dessert at the Student Prince in Springfield (MA) once... it was the best part of the meal and was more appealing than any of the sweet desserts, so why not order another one?

            (Actually this was wild game month; the bear shank was the best part but we couldn't order another one of those.)

        2. What's in the blotch soup? All I can make out is some vegetables?

          Looks like a good meal!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Pan

            Blotch is a kind of Manchurian style gnocchi or dumpling pellet. (Blotch - 疙搭 -gē dá).

          2. Looks super tasty. Thanks for the pictures! Were the last two pictures their entire menu or just their specials?

            2 Replies
            1. re: mookleknuck

              I wasn't clear if it was a subset of the menu or separate dishes entirely, and we were unable to get the question across to the staff. They do have paper takeout menus - they haven't printed in-house menus yet.

              1. re: Peter Cuce

                Thanks, I'll put it on my to-eat list and post back whenever I get out there. Also, good call on the orange chicken as dessert!

            2. Thanks Peter for this!

              1. How does it compare to Fu Run? On the same level? That is a delicious looking meal you had!

                6 Replies
                1. re: prunefeet

                  It is as good or better than Fu Run. LDB's version of the Cumin Lamb Chop is better than Fu Run's. LDB is owned and operated by a lovely couple from Dalian.

                    1. re: scoopG

                      Scoop, did you happen to visit for lunch on Wed Dec 19th? I revisited the previous evening and the woman excitedly told me that an "American" was visiting the next day for lunch - her English didn't allow much more explanation than that. I didn't know what that meant, but I thought perhaps it was a restaurant reviewer or something.

                      In my most recent visit I tried the Xinjiang lamb chops (excellent), bean curd sheet with hot pepper (one of the better versions of this I've had - they add bits of pork), and a meatball/greens soup (delicious). I've added pictures of these to my set, plus one of the chef:

                      1. re: scoopG

                        I am perplexed. In Peter's original post, he says the chef is from Harbin. But you mention the couple being from Dalian. I am highly intrigued.

                    2. any clue what kind of fish the cumin sliced fish was?

                      looks similar to a chili fish ive had in NoVa that I love

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: shoelace

                        Some type of white fish, but don't know specifically, sorry. Every NE Chinese restaurant has a version of this dish, and I think it's the same fish used in Sichuan water boiled fish as well.

                        1. re: Peter Cuce

                          How did the muslim lamb chop compare to the version at Fu Run?

                          1. re: AubWah

                            I haven't had them back to back, so I didn't want to compare - I haven't been to Fu Run in a couple of months. They are excellent.

                            1. re: Peter Cuce

                              Obviously it is ideal to go in a group, but as a solo diner could one enjoy perhaps a nourishing soup?

                              1. re: AubWah

                                Of course. I often eat alone in Flushing. This restaurant is no more intimidating than any other restaurant where the staff has limited English. Why does this one in particular intimidate you? The menu has English for every dish.

                          2. re: Peter Cuce

                            The fish in our small pot was called Redaiyu (热带鱼 or 熱帶魚 rè dài yú) which seems to be a generic term for any one of dozens of tropical like fish.

                            1. re: Peter Cuce

                              ok, so today i asked the guy what fish it was, he said he didnt know what it was called in english, but he wrote down the name for me

                              can anyone tell me what fish this is?

                              side note- it was really really not spicy, and im curious if it wasnt spicy bc he figured im an idiot who cant handle spice, or bc i forgot to say spicy spicy spicy or mala, which is what i usually do in this situations

                              it was still good- very smoky- from the cumin- but i expected spicy

                              im curious if one of the other fish dishes on the menu is the dish that im looking for from china star in fairfax

                              anyway, can someone look at the attached photo where he wrote down the name and tell me what the name of the fish is

                              thanks in advance

                                1. re: shoelace

                                  its kind of hard to read and its in simplified, but i think it says long li yu which is flounder

                                  1. re: Lau

                                    Yeah, 龙利鱼 in simplified

                                    1. re: Lau

                                      thank you!

                                      went to one of the local fish places- the guy refused to look at the card, just asked for the name of the dish and immediately went to catfish- which didnt make sense to me

                                      this, btw is why i love chowhound

                                    2. re: shoelace

                                      shoelace, it is not meant to be that spicy.

                                2. Even thought I went to M & T, Lao Dong Bei is intimidating the hell out of me

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: AubWah

                                    Don't let it! Chef An (安 ān) and his wife, Ms. Zhu (朱 zhū ) are very friendly.

                                  2. Went this past Sunday with a good sized group. The two waiters were really pleasant, but speak very little English. I liked this place a lot, but think I may go back to Fu Run or Golden Palace the next time I'm craving Northern Chinese.

                                    We had:
                                    Muslim lamb chop (a bit less salty and leaner than the versions I've had at Fu Run or maybe I'm just remembering the Mission Chinese lamb);

                                    spicy quail was pretty amazing-- a pile of deep fried quail pieces;

                                    cucumber and enoki mushrooms-- I was under the impression that this is a Sichuan dish-- but I'm a rank amateur. Anyway, this was a nice light side.

                                    That three earth vegetables dish was good, but maybe a tad sweet. I like Fu Run's rendition better.

                                    Same with gren bean sheet jelly, but in this case I prefer Golden Palace.

                                    Fried fish with cumin was probably the best rendition of this dish I've had. Thinly sliced fish, well fried, great texture and spicing.

                                    Blotch soup was good but I'd somehow managed to avoid it at similar restaurants, so I've got no real point of comparison.

                                    Finished with ba si-- taro covered in caramelized sugar that you dip in water to crystallize. Love this dish every time I've had it.

                                    Good stuff. Thanks for the rec Peter.

                                    1. Slideshow from my last meal here - hope to get back real soon.


                                      27 Replies
                                        1. re: Lau

                                          That’s the guo bao rou (鍋包肉 - guō bāo ròu) “Fried Pork in Orange Sauce” on their menu. It’s the Manchurian “thinking man’s General Tso’s Pork” - probably similar to the Orange Chicken dish Peter had. Sweet and Sour dishes.....

                                            1. re: Lau

                                              It works when ordering with a good number of other dishes...

                                              1. re: scoopG

                                                ah so sounds like its just ok?

                                                1. re: Lau

                                                  It's good - but it's breaded and fried, sweet and sour pork. It works better when having a lot of other dishes to surround it I think. Or have it as a desert!

                                                  1. re: scoopG

                                                    yah i actually like sweet & sour fried stuff...like i like peking pork chops (jing du pai gu) alot

                                                    maybe its one of those things that b/c i grew eating it i like it alot, its very satisfying in some like home-y kind of way. Clearly not the pinnacle of chinese cuisine or anything, but very satisfying

                                                  2. re: Lau

                                                    Lau, I think you might enjoy the orange pork and chicken, given your comments above and some of your other posts. Like you, I'm much more familiar with southern Chinese cuisine and wasn't sure that I would love this, but it was really tasty. I don't normally eat what are considered American-Chinese canon (although I do get General Tso's once every two or three years on average). But as we were still hungry after hot pot, a second dinner here was the perfect follow-up.

                                                    ScoopG, I think we must have missed each other by a number of hours, as I was here later last Saturday night. The very kind Hounds (feel free to chime in) I was with ordered the Xinjiang lamb chops, perfectly fried cumin sliced fish, and spicy quail heads. The chef also sent us a plate of pearl meatballs which were the size of marbles and lightly dipped in starch and fried, then served with dipping salt/MSG/pepper. Dessert was the orange chicken (the best I have ever eaten), the pork dish talked about here, and the ba si mentioned by ChiefHDB (although our plate was chunks of sweet potato, taro, apple, and mountain yam [shanyao that I had requested when the chef mentioned that he had some]).

                                                    The chef came out and told us that he'd run a restaurant out of his home in Harbin for 12 years before coming to the States 8 years ago. Very kind family (the waiter seemed like he could have been their son?). A nice way to spend the evening and, now, almost a week later, I'm still trying to decide which dish was my favorite. I can't wait to return. Thanks, everyone!

                                                    1. re: mookleknuck

                                                      yah i think i might enjoy it as well

                                                      what were your favorites of the night?

                                                      1. re: Lau

                                                        I bet you like lizhirou. Sweet and sour and sometimes crispy. Like I said, I can't decide which dishes were my favorites. Different moods would call for different dishes. The spicy quail reminded me of the grilled baby birds on a stick you can get in Taichung (with sauce, not seasoning dip) so they would have been great with some beer, as would the meatballs. The orange pork and chicken and ba si worked as dessert, but would also work as drunk food, and as scoopG mentioned, better with many other foods on the table. The cumin sliced fish was perfectly tender on the inside with such a thin crispy exterior while the lamb chops had a great crunchy layer of fat and seasoning crust.

                                                        My least favorite were the meatballs, but they were still well prepared.

                                                        1. re: mookleknuck

                                                          i lizhirou alot actually, its one of the dishes i eat somewhat consistently in the fuzhou places since i live reasonably close to chinatown. i need to learn fuzhou food better, they must have good food that i dont know about b/c southern fujian food is awesome (xiamen, quanzhou) and thats so close to fuzhou

                                                          1. re: mookleknuck

                                                            Same here on the meatballs. I've added pictures from this meal to my Lao Dong Bei Flickr set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/536/sets...

                                                              1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                                I like those flickr pics. I have to try this place.
                                                                A Mongolian restaurant was just recommended to me, also on Kissena Blvd calledGuandong Yi Jia. I was told by a Chinese friend of mine that it was very good. Just funny two recommendations on Kissena Blvd.

                                                                1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                  I went to Yi Jia once a couple of years ago but can't recall anything about it. The only thing I remember is that the husband of the former concierge at the late, lamented Maple Snacks was a chef there - she's the one that told me about it. Keep us posted.

                                                                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                    Guan Dong Yi Jia is a northern, or Manchurian restaurant (not Mongolian) with a smattering of other Chinese regional dishes. It is more or less right across the street from Lao Dong Bei and has been around for at least two years. I've eaten there twice and it is not bad, but that was awhile ago. Here's Polecat's initial review:

                                                                    1. re: scoopG

                                                                      Jiang Li is directly across the street from Lao Dong Bei. Yi Jia is a couple of blocks south on Kissena in the next commercial strip, across from the big supermarket.

                                                                      1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                                        Thanks - don't listen to me! Where's my coffee?

                                                                      2. re: scoopG

                                                                        Thanks Scoop and Peter. My friend was born in Shanghai, what does he know about Mongolian and Manchurian anyway haha But he did like the food. And actually maybe he was talking about Mongolian Hot Pot type dishes and I misunderstood him. I will check it out and report back.

                                                              2. re: mookleknuck

                                                                mookleknuck, those were the photos from my first and only meal there, which was late last year.

                                                    2. re: scoopG

                                                      What's the fish dish called? And the aspic?-type appetizer near the tiger salad? And are those buckwheat noodles in the next picture? Which dish did you like best?

                                                      1. re: mookleknuck

                                                        Skin Jelly it says on their menu - Pork Skin Jelly or Aspic. M&T used to have that too. No, those were not buckwheat noodles but Bracken - 决菜 - jué cài - a type of mountain fern found in northern China. It was a special. The Xinjiang Lamb Chop and Fish in Casserole stood out for me. Very complex flavors in that casserole going on.

                                                        1. re: scoopG

                                                          How did he prepare the bracken? I find it in a number of Korean preparations and I've not enjoyed it in southern Chinese cuisine (although I've had it in some good Hakka stir-fries).

                                                          Would you get either the skin jelly or bracken again?

                                                          I'll have to get the Fish in Casserole on my next visit; do you remember if that was on his regular printed menu or on the specials menu on the wall? Looks delicious.

                                                          1. re: mookleknuck

                                                            Chef An recommended the bracken since they had just recieved a shipment by air the day before and I'd order that again. Skin Jelly works best with a large group. Fish in Casserole is on the menu, under their special casserole section that lists about eight casseroles. A lot of complex flavors going on in that dish.

                                                            1. re: scoopG

                                                              Is their a photo anywhere of the fish in casserole? Didn't see it on Flickr. Very enticed, might finally get here this weekend

                                                                1. re: scoopG

                                                                  Thank you scoop. Wow, that looks seriously exotic

                                                    3. I was lucky enough to tag along on Saturday. I used to go to Little Pepper, and enjoyed the Hot Pot on Roosevelt Blvd. (although it isn't my fave preparation) but I was knocked out by Lao Dong Bei, which was my first exposure to Dongbei food.

                                                      I almost didn't go, because the notion of orange chicken for dessert wasn't that appealing to me. Turns out the o.c. and especially the orange pork were among the best preparations I've had in the orange genre.

                                                      But I preferred other dishes. I thought the cumin sliced fish was superb, delicate and light. The cumin lamb chops were similarly understated and perfectly seasoned. And the quail was addictive.

                                                      Can't wait to go back.

                                                      8 Replies
                                                      1. re: Dave Feldman

                                                        I'm still a little in awe that the 10 of you (out of the 14 of us that went to L.Pepper Hot Pot last Sat) went on to LDB and ate another dinner. I need to get there soon. Sounds like I'll want to add it to my usual rotation of L.Pepper, Fu Run and Golden Palace (with some visits to Golden Mall).

                                                        1. re: Steve R

                                                          Steve, not to get too far off topic, but why such a limited palate of Flushing restaurants? Have you been to Jiang Li (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjumfaUg) across the street, another good restaurant of Northeastern extraction but with somewhat different menu? Or Spicy Road (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjBMCVHE), on Main St? Both are favorites of mine, along with Yi Lan Halal (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjuhw8Ah), although I haven't been to the latter in about a year. Oh and let's not forget Hunan Kitchen (http://flic.kr/s/aHsju5MC5V).

                                                          1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                            No problem... simple answer. My limitation is more to do with factors other than the sheer # of places that now exist which I would love. It's based on taking the # of opportunities I have to eat in Flushing (self imposed, I admit, due to liking other places in other areas and going out with other folks who eat other than Asian foods) and recognizing that I have to make a decision, each time I hit Flushing, whether to try a new place (highly recommended or just something that looks interesting) or go back to a place that I love and dont get to enough. Every once in awhile I squeeze in a new place but, as is, I dont get to have the food at Fu Run or LP or some of the others enough. I cant even remember the last time I made it to S&T or Imperial Palace. If not for erica, scoopG and a couple of others reaching out and inviting me to join them on already organized outings, I probably wouldn't have even gotten to the places I've been. It's hard to complain that there are now too many places of too many ethnicities that I love to eat, but I guess that's what I'm doing. Poor me.

                                                            So... got any dinners coming up for me to join? :-)

                                                            1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                              May I also recommend 興順逹 (aka, Rural Restaurant) in the old location of Jiang Li on Main St, next door to Yi Lan? Good quality Northern food, modest prices, charming people. The owner, Ms Li, speaks some English.

                                                                1. re: scoopG

                                                                  Thanks ScoopG: great review as usual. Their cumin flounder is the best rendition in Flushing, IMHO.

                                                                  1. re: diprey11

                                                                    Seriously? That's one of my favorite dishes, and there are a lot of good renditions in Flushing. I had only been to Rural once - will have to return and try that.

                                                          1. Just had a lovely late lunch of a huge blotch homemade style soup. Perfect for a cold January day.
                                                            The menu is very accessible and well translated. There appears to be some specials on the wall that are probably not translated. The staff is nice and attentive but their English is limited. Since the menu is translated and navigatable, gweilos need not fear coming without a translator.

                                                              1. re: Dave Feldman

                                                                Huh, I wonder how they found out about it...

                                                                1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                                  Next day stories hit the digital edition late the day before, about the same time the bundles of papers used to fall off the truck outside the candy store?

                                                                  1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                                    Huh, wonder how the writer knew what to order...

                                                                2. Not much new to add about individual dishes, as we stuck mostly to items already discussed here, but I will say that 7 of us had a delightful dinner last night. I was surprised, and some what dismayed, to find that we were one of only two tables filled on a weekday evening. The owners could not have been more solicitous; this is the only time I've ever been escorted to the door after dinner with much hand shaking and smiling all around. English is minimal but this presented no problem for us; the chef was happy to recommend dishes for next time (he seemed very proud of the Spicy Quail) and to mark our paper menus with the dishes we had tried. Next time I would branch out, and bow to staff recommendations, and try to include more dishes from owners' home city of Harbin.

                                                                  Mushroom with Cucumber (Enoki mushrooms and slivers of cucumber) Delicious and refreshing appetizer, $5.95

                                                                  Skin Jelly. White rectangles of pork aspic. Very well received, but I did not sample these. (Have been off aspic-like items since unfortunate childhood experience with canned madriline jelly) $6.50

                                                                  Fried Pork in Orange sauce. Pounded jagged squares of tender meat, battered and fried and served with a much-improved version of sweet and sour sauce that lacked the sticky sweetness offered at more mundane places. Addictive and essential. $9.95

                                                                  Shredded Dry Tofu with Pork and Chive. $8.95. Smoky squared lengths of dried tofu with scallions and pork. The pork in this dish was a bit tough and while this was v. good, it didi not come close to Little Pepper's definitive version of the dish. $8.95

                                                                  Dry Bean Curd with Hot Pepper. A personal favorite. This one includes bits of pork and because the pork was tough, I have to rank this version behind those of Golden Palace and Fu Run. But essential just the same. Mild heat from the green peppers. Comfort food at its ultimate. $7.50

                                                                  Crispy Sliced Fish with Cumin. Another winner. Beautifully fried, not greasy in the least. Probably tilapia, but it was tasty! $12.50. Hefty portions on this and other dishes meant that there was plenty for 6 of us to share.

                                                                  Lamb Chop Xinjiang Style. Holds up very well against the landmark version of this dish served at Fu Run. Just terrific. Falling of the bone tender lamb, showered with cumin and red pepper flakes. Wonderful. Two orders would probably be better for groups of 6 or more, though. $21.50

                                                                  Eggplant with Hot Garlic Sauce. A decent rendition but not up to Fu Run oro Golden Palace standards. $8.50

                                                                  Sauteed Fungus with Napa. Very good tangle of wood ear mushrooms witih onions, cabbage, and carrots. DongBei cuisine often features mushrooms dishes and I hope to try others next time. $6.65.

                                                                  We were treated to a complimentary dessert: Mixed Vegetable with Hot Syrup, that includes chunks of syrup-coated taro, potato, apple, banana, and sweet potato to be dunked into a bowl of ice water so that the syrup crystallizes.

                                                                  With many beers, the total was $25 per person including a generous and well deserved tip to the staff.

                                                                  We will return!!

                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                  1. re: erica


                                                                    We were told that the cumin fish was flounder.

                                                                    1. re: Dave Feldman

                                                                      Thanks, Dave. The consistency and taste did seem like flounder, but since tilapia costs a lot less, and is common in many local restaurants, I just asumed that it was tilapia. My mistake..gladl to learn it was flounder after all!

                                                                    2. re: erica

                                                                      Hi, Do you remember what some of the staff recommendations were. thanks.

                                                                      1. re: hoi lai

                                                                        I'm not Erica, but I went three times in two weeks, with all different people. I think it's pretty clear that they are very proud of the cumin fish, the lamb chops, and the spicy quail. All three are great.

                                                                        1. re: Dave Feldman

                                                                          Thanks , a group of us are going soon and will definitely check those out. any outstanding vegetable dishes?

                                                                          1. re: hoi lai

                                                                            I've only had one all-vegetable dish at LDB -- the sauteed pea shoots & garlic. This is a totally generic preparation, but it was superb, a byproduct in part of being in a tiny restaurant and getting the food seconds after it is finished. It was bracing and a wonderful counterpart to the fried food. I'm sure others have ventured farther. One of the dangers of going to a place with knockout dishes like LDB, at least for me, is forgetting to balance your meal.

                                                                        2. re: hoi lai

                                                                          The chef probably has the best English of anyone that works there. He'll be happy to recommend stuff. The first time I went he could tell we were interested and he showed us stuff on the menu he thought we should order, including the orange chicken and xianjiang lamb chops. One of my personal favorites is the meatball soup.

                                                                          1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                                            thank You so much for all the info I'm sure we'll have a great meal.

                                                                      2. I've been to Lao Dong Bei too many times to count since this original post and if you click through to my picture link above, you can see some of the stuff I've tried, although I haven't uploaded the pictures from every visit.

                                                                        Since around two months ago they have a new weekend (and occasionally weekday) waiter who is very friendly and speaks great English.

                                                                        There is a meatball soup I've mentioned before that has become one of my favorite dishes there. It's so simple and satisfying, peppery pork broth w/ ginger, greens, and fresh pork meatballs that are barely cooked through. Please try it and let me know what you think. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/536/8302...)

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                                          Did the NY Times review seem to make any difference in their business? I so want them to succeed.

                                                                          1. re: Dave Feldman

                                                                            They are busy every time I go and I've often had to wait for a table. I believe this is partly due to the Times review, because there are usually people there who you can tell don't know Northeastern Chinese food from Pizza Hut, and local credibility, because there's always a sizable local contingent.

                                                                            1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                                              I'd rather wait for a table than see them out of business, that's for sure. I can't thank you enough for introducing me to this restaurant. I went several times in a 3-week period before the review came out and my table was often the only one occupied.