New in Flushing: Old Chengdu on Prince Street
Maybe it is true after all – that one great Sichuan restaurant can really change the world. Especially a mysterious new crimson Queens entry with no exterior English language signage. Once through the doors though the friendly female staff warmly welcomes you.
Within the past month, Prince Noodle House has converted from a Shanghainese restaurant into a serious Sichuan suitor: Old Chengdu 老成都 lǎo chéng dū . As Joe DiStefano reports, it marks the return to prominence of Chengdu native, Big Sister Zhu (朱大姐 - zhū dà jiě). She will gladly leave her basement kitchen to answer any questions you have. The owner is the same – he just lured Big Sister Zhu over and let her totally redo the menu. He also kept the English name Prince Noodle House on their menus, which are in both English and Chinese.
And what an exciting menu it is. There are four different Doubled Cooked Pork dishes, with your choice of Green Pepper, Garlic Shoots, Cabbage or Jelly. Jelly (or 粉皮 fěn pí) here refers to Green Bean Sheet Jelly. (The Chinese take the starch from sweet potatoes, potatoes, mung beans, broad beans and more to make a dry flaky-type noodle which is reconstituted in water). Also on the menu: 1000 year old eggs, eel, duck head, duck tongue, frog, kidney, lobster, pork ear, pork blood, rabbit, rice cakes, sea cucumber, two goose intestine dishes and one hot looking “Hot Chili Chili Blue Crabs.”
I quickly sampled two Sichuan stalwarts: Dan Dan Noodles and Gong Bao Chicken. Both dishes answered the ma la call. These Dan Dan Noodles are the first I’ve had in a long while that weren’t swimming in hot chili oil. In the middle of my large $5 bowl a fragrant cardamom pod was found. The only misstep was some overcooked noodles but that will be easily corrected next time. The Gong Bao Chicken was light, stir-fried with garlic, ginger and hollowed out dried chilies. You could see and taste the Sichuan peppercorns. I can’t wait to return.
Joe DiStefano’s Report:
Their special Lunch Menu consists of 30 dishes priced at $6.50 and consists of an amuse-bouche, entrée, soup and white rice. Some of these specials include Sautéed Kidney, a Braised Pork Chop, Shrimp and Pickled Turnips in a Spicy Sauce and Sautéed Tomatoes and Eggs.
Prince Noodle House (老成都 lǎo chéng dū).
37-17A Prince Street (between 38th and 39th).
Flushing, NY 11354
Solo lunch today. Double Cooked Pork was excellent, one of the best versions I've tried. Wonderful depth, balance of porkiness and flavor. String beans were another winner, lots of minced meat in there. Glad to see Sis Zhou in this nice restaurant setting. I'll be back soon.
>is there a menu online anywhere?
There is now (heh), at least the takeout version below. We also enjoyed the double cooked pork (with peppers) and potato with green pepper, made here with garlic and dried red chiles. There's a cold case toward the front, a la Spicy & Tasty. Nice, lightly spicy dish of cubed smoked bean curd with crunchy bits of carrot.
BTW Lao Chengdu/Prince Noodle House now takes plastic, not a given around here.
Janie, in looking at their take-out menu there is one shrimp dish: Shrimp and Garlic Hot Red Pepper Sauce.
There is not all that much overlap with the menus of Little Pepper, Spicy and Tasty or Szechuan Gourmet. Lao Chengdu has a more limited menu and has no Lamb dishes for example.
On their menu, their tagline is:
經典川菜, 家常小吃 － jīng diǎn chuān cài, jiā cháng xiǎo chī
Classical Sichuan cuisine, home-style snacks.
Recently, I got take-out of their mapo tofu. And it did not disappoint. Sufficiently oily and not overly so. Spicy enough to raise the heart rate and cause perspiration. I personally would prefer the use of silken tofu over the firmer type, but have been informed that that is the type used in Sichuan. Enough minced meat, and not too much. And scallions - I can never get enough scallions. Mmmm... Well-balanced, very satisfying dish on a chilly evening. Thanks for the recommendation and report.
Be sure to try their Tribute Vegetable (貢菜 - gòng cài) appetizer from the front of the house. It is so named because it was originally offered in tribute to the emperor. It’s shipped dry and rehydrated at Lao Chengdu. It has a subtle flavor – sort of a cross between celery and broccoli. Photos attached.
Also there are three items on their menu not translated into English:
Spicy 1000 year-old eggs (燒椒皮蛋 shāo jiāo pí dàn),
Sichuan Bacon (四川臘肉 - Sì chuān là ròu) and a
daily soy-spice brined appetizer (各式滷味 - gè shì lǔ wèi). Most recently it was duck heads.
This sounds good, similar to what one finds, the raw material....flesh and veg that is, at Fuzhou places.
皮蛋 pidan this is 1000 year old egg. One of my favored things to eat.
肝 gan this is liver, great for a menu
肉丝 rousi thin stringed cut meat, they may have this dish found all over China in varying fashions due to geo-location
猪肾 pig kidney, I am guessing is the kidney you speak of. Wonderful.
葱 cong is a good definer for the name, meaning lots of green onion stirred up on the burner with meat of some sort. I will look for that.
猪耳朵 zhuerduo is pig ear, always a welcoming dish.
I will have to check out 朱大姐的 cooking.
\Excellent report scoopG
I found this place fairly disappointing when I went for dinner with friends a few months ago. Maybe I was there on an off night. For me, it couldn't measure up to Little Pepper (although I haven't been since they moved), or Legend in Manhattan, or several other Sichuan places I've enjoyed tremendously.
For just one example, the tendon and tripe appetizer (I guess this is just called Spicy Beef Tendon here) was the least-appealing version of this dish I've had. It was cut more thickly than at other places and the hot oil and spice flavors did not have as much of an effect as elsewhere. If you are really into weird meats then you might like this version -- it seems like something geared towards a person who enjoys their meat rough-hewn, straight from the butcher, but that's not my style. I prefer it sliced very very thin and deluged with that wonderful hot red oil.
Sounds like the special lunch menu might be a more interesting option.
I tried this place...wasn't impressed...actually i though that,, in comparison to La Vie en Szechuan, Little Pepper, it was bad...good Sichuan food is hard to come by in NY, it's difficult to get fresh sichuan pepper, most of the chefs aren't from Sichuan and/or aren't professionally trained...but lack of good ingredients is the main problem with most of these Sichuan restaurants popping up er'where these days