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Northeast Chinese in Flushing


Fat Guy
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There has been a semi-recent flurry of press activity around the emergence of several Northeast Chinese restaurants in Flushing. This Times article from February sums up the phenomenon:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/10/dining/10chine.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

I'm trying to get a handle on these places. Tonight I'm headed out to Fu Run. Has anybody been, and if so do you have any advice to offer?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I haven't tried any of the places in the article, but I'm looking forward to hearing your report! I had thought about trying Fu Run last time I was out there, but I was with a friend who had never been to the Xi'an famous foods stall, so we had to give that a try that time.

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I wish I had an opinion. I’ve been meaning to get to one/all of them for a while now. Though from what I can tell there seems to be some similarities with Hunan House, a place I have been to a few times and believe to be the best Chinese restaurant in NYC. They both seem to love cumin, lamb, vinegar, and hot peppers.

I don’t mean to promote the competition but that other food discussion site (heavily frequented by Asians) provides a fare idea of what to expect at this and the others. The Muslim Lamb, spicy cow tendon, bone marrow, tofu w/wood ear mushrooms are but a few intriguing items.

That wasn't chicken

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I did my due diligence on google with various blogs, forums and news articles, in order to generate a list of dish candidates. I was just thinking maybe one of the faithful had the inside line. I'll report back after dinner.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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As someone who was born in that region and grew up eating that food at home, if you give me a sample menu, I can point to some things which are excellent.

I don't know if they would serve it in NY but a classic down-scale Dongbei dish in China is a giant pile of braised pork neck bones which are brought along with a pile of disposable gloves and plastic drinking straws to help suck up the bone marrow. Dumplings are a must try as is Chinese saurkraut (suan cai). The chicken & mushroom stew is excellent, as well as anything with lamb in it. There's a dish of stir fried potatoes where, if made right, tastes a lot better than it sounds.

PS: I am a guy.

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There's a dish of stir fried potatoes where, if made right, tastes a lot better than it sounds.

I always get stir-fried potatoes when I go to a Xinjiang place. Didn't know it was a common Dongbei dish as well. Is it done with the green chili peppers and the potatoes in slivers?

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This is definitely a cuisine worth exploring. A couple of the dishes we had tonight were absolutely exquisite -- among the best Chinese dishes I've ever had. Others ranged from excellent to mediocre.

We started with "Country style green bean sheet jelly." As with several dishes on the menu, it's quite impossible to figure out what it is from the description. As far as I can tell the "green bean sheet jelly" description refers to cold mung bean noodles. It's "country style" I suppose because it contains shredded pork, cucumbers, carrots, and wood ear mushrooms. The dish comes out as a pretty composition on the platter.

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Our server then took the dish away and tossed it with a sauce the most prominent feature of which was enough wasabi-type oil to pretty much ruin the dish.

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If I had this one to do over again I'd insist they go light on the sauce. I'm not sure anybody would listen -- communication with the waitstaff is extremely limited -- but I'd try.

The first home run of the evening was the restaurant's rendition of cumin lamb. This dish has become popular around town at the Sichuan places. Fu Run's version was significantly more tender than any other I've had, with more restrained seasoning. I can't imagine this dish gets any better.

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I've had the stir-fried shredded potato dish in various types of Chinese restaurants and never liked it very much. I just can't relate to the Chinese penchant for undercooked potato. This version was better than most but still not to my liking.

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We had two types of boiled dumplings: lamb-carrot and pork-leek. Both were well executed but the lamb-carrot was the more remarkable of the two. I tried to photograph the insides of each but the photo is kind of gross looking. Sorry.

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The highlight of the evening, and the reason we came to the restaurant in the first place (because we saw it mentioned in the Times article I linked to above), was the "Muslim lamb chop." I haven't seen this dish anywhere else. Huge lamb ribs, braised, broiled and encrusted with whole cumin seeds. We got two orders. This dish is good enough on its own to make this place a destination restaurant.

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"Fish with tofu in casserole." Unremarkable.

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Tofu skin with hot green peppers, listed on the menu as "Dried tofu w. fresh hot pepper." The peppers were barely hot at all -- the cuisine of this region, or at least this restaurant, is only mildly spicy even when it's billed as spicy -- but the dish was quite good. One person at the table proclaimed he could "eat it all day."

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"Chicken w. mushroom and vermicelli." I ordered this on Shalmanese's say-so and it was great. It was kind of overshadowed by the seasonings in the lamb dishes but I could have just this dish as a meal. It's a little labor intensive because the chicken is hacked up on the bone, but the broth with its hit of five spice is delicious.

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"Sauteed Chinese watercress w. garlic." Way overcooked. I saw the same dish go out to a few tables, sometimes looking bright green and delicious and sometimes looking overcooked like ours.

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"Fried pork in orange sauce." Along the lines of orange chicken or orange beef, but not sticky and gross like the American-Chinese version. We ordered this because we saw it going to another table and it looked and smelled irresistible, which it turned out to be.

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Finally, we had the "mixed" selection from the "sweet dishes" section of the menu. What I observed is that when white people order this dish they bring it as a dessert course, whereas when Asian people order it they bring it as part of the main meal with all the other dishes. This is an instance of reverse discrimination for which I'm appreciative: I wouldn't want this dish as anything other than dessert. It's also the most enjoyable Chinese dessert I've had, even though it may or may not be a dessert. Chunks of cooked taro, sweet potato, apple and banana come coated in a molten sugar syrup. A bowl of water comes on the side. You take a piece and dip it in the cold water, which causes the sugar coating to seize up and become a crisp-chewy candy shell. The apple pieces appealed most to my Western palate, whereas the taro and sweet potato pieces lacked enough sweetness to work for me. Although there was or was supposed to be banana in there, I didn't get a piece.

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Service was friendly and painfully slow. There's a small private room in the back of the restaurant where they were having whatever is the Northeastern Chinese equivalent of a bat mitzvah, complete with a pink cake. This seemed to suck up a lot of waitstaff and kitchen resources. There doesn't appear to be anyone in the front of the house with enough English to offer ordering advice, so you just have to get what you get and hope for the best. Overall it was an uneven meal but the highlights were quite high. Assuming the good dishes are consistently good, and that there are several other good dishes on the large menu, it should be possible to put together an amazing meal there.

The restaurant is located at 40-09 Prince Street in Flushing. They do take reservations, which are a good idea if you plan to dine at peak dinner hours (7-9pm). Phone is 718 321 1363.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The lamb ribs and the sugar potatoes are two of my favourite dishes that I get whenever I go to my local Xinjiang restaurant - it's interesting to see them turn up at a Dongbei place. I'm wondering if anyone can shed some light on where these dishes originate?

The shredded potato looks somewhat pallid; the version I always get the potatoes have more char.

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I was assured by someone with experience/expertise that the pallid color was correct. The thing is, I've had that dish in several variants ranging from pallid to more colorful and I've never liked it. The Chinese have done amazing things with so many ingredients but not, in my opinion, with potatoes.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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P1000325.jpg

"Chicken w. mushroom and vermicelli." I ordered this on Shalmanese's say-so and it was great. It was kind of overshadowed by the seasonings in the lamb dishes but I could have just this dish as a meal. It's a little labor intensive because the chicken is hacked up on the bone, but the broth with its hit of five spice is delicious.

Glad you liked it!

PS: I am a guy.

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The Chinese have done amazing things with so many ingredients but not, in my opinion, with potatoes.

I think in this case, they "undercook" the potatoes because they're looking for that crispy/crunchy texture. It's not really something we do in Western cuisines so much with potatoes, I guess.

I'm really partial to this Chinese potato dish:

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Forget the name, but I had it at Southern Barbarian, a Yunnanese place in Shanghai; perfect for smearing with fava bean and ham puree. It was like a potato-vermicelli potato chip, salty and crispy.

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Sorry I just got to this thread, since I've been to Fu Run more than most and its become one of my favorite places to go in Flushing (Hunan House, Imperial, the Malls and S&T being the others). The waitstaff can definitely be told to skip or go lightly on the wasabi based dressing for the bean sheet dish & agree that, when they're heavy handed, it ruins the dish. The tofu skin dish is also variable, with incendiary peppers making their presence known once in awhile. But, by and large, spicyness is not this place's forte. This dish, however, is excellent. I have a list of other dishes that should be tried & I'll look for it. There are some real gems at this place and some dogs as well (like the popular dish with the lead weighted "pancakes" lining the sides of the serving pot. It's a place worth exploring and, as they get to know you, their English gets better.

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http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/699803?tag=boards;topic-699803

Based on Fat Guy's ordering, I'm sure he's seen the above thread but thought it might be useful to anyone else who might be considering a meal there. I've been to dinners with "erica" at Fu Run & other Chinese places and with "Lau" elsewhere as well... they're both very knowledgable and credible.

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That dessert was a family staple when I was a growing up in Boulder (many many years ago)!

My brothers and I loved the spectacle of the waitstaff literally running with a plate of sizzling, molten bananas and frantically dunking them into the ice bath to harden the sugar before the whole thing fused itself onto the plate.

They were not always successful :laugh:

For those interested, the Frugal Gourmet Ancient Cuisines cookbook has a very good recipe for this. Just keep that ice water really close to the stove!

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