The Trenchermen

We eat other people’s food.

Northeast Chinese Food (Flushing, NY)

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Yesterday, several of us biked up into Flushing to see the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival and to try some food from Northeast China (Dōngběi sìshěng, formerly part of Manchuria).  Earlier this year, the New York Times ran a great article about food from this region and the few restaurants in Flushing that produce it.  Very appealing stuff.

We chose a restaurant called Rural Restaurant — it is called Hong Yi Shun in the article in the Times — that was small but busy.  There were a few families inside and one large group of men drinking from a bottle of bái jiǔ that they kept on the floor under one of their seats: all signs pointing to an authentic experience.

But getting to the point: the food was incredible and, for the most part, unlike any other Chinese food I’ve eaten (except the one time I ate food from this region, at a great and now-defunct restaurant called Dong Bei Ren — literally, East North People — in Shanghai).  The best dish was probably the Spicy Cuminy Lamb, which is small chunks of lamb rubbed with star anise and ground cumin and sauteed with spicy peppers.

Here’s a larger picture:

Next up was the dried bean curd “noodles” with medium-spicy green pepper and pork.  This was another new experience, with the bean curd sliced into long thin pieces, like papardelle, and cooked with fresh green peppers that gave the dish sharp spice.  It was delicious and beautiful.

Another delicious dish was the “Cold Noodles,” which is well-described in the NYTimes article: “One dish found on every table is Dongbei liangpi, the northeastern version of a western Chinese dish that has become a popular street food in Beijing. The base is wide noodles made from mung-bean starch. (The dish is often called something cryptic like “green bean sheet jelly.”) On top may be almost anything: a tangle of cucumber slivers, strands of jellyfish, chunks of garlic, strips of pork and scallion, thinly shredded omelet. The whole affair is tossed with a nose-teasing dressing of soy sauce, sesame paste, sesame oil and two kinds of vinegar — one clear and sweet, the other dark and rounded. The extreme bounce and chew of the noodles makes it deeply satisfying.”  Ours had the pork and omelet, plus shredded carrots, thin slices of black mushroom and, somewhat incongruously, parsley leaves.

To cut the spice, we ordered sauteed morning glory, which was cooked in light oil with chunks of garlic.  Fresh and not sopping in sauce.

More lamb after that, this time with scallions.  This one was less delicious, and more familiar, than the Spicy Cuminy Lamb.  Even so, the lamb was well-cooked and tender, and the scallions added great textural variation and spice.

We also had two plates of dumplings.  The region is known for its dumplings, which are small and wet.  Apparently, some restaurants from this region have lamb dumplings, but Rural Restaurant did not.  Alas!  Instead, we ordered one plate of pork and scallion dumplings and one plate of leek (with pork) dumplings.  They were delicious, especially when dipped in a bowl of vinegar and garlic.


Written by trencherman

August 8, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Posted in Restaurants

Tagged with , , , , ,

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