The Trenchermen

We eat other people’s food.

Posts Tagged ‘Chinese

NYMag Sandwich List #38: Pork ‘Burger,’ Xi’an Famous Foods

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I’ve abandoned my plan to systematically eat and describe all of the sandwiches on the NYMag 101 sandwiches list, but I continue to use the list as a wellspring of culinary discovery.  (Someone was kind enough to create a Google Map of the 101 sandwich locations.)  With that in mind, eager to break from my PBJ lunch routine, my office-mate and I wandered into the heart of Manhattan’s Chinatown — East Broadway, under the Manhattan Bridge — for a taste of Shanxi cuisine at Xi’an Famous Foods.  To connect the dots for our readers, it’s a chain of small restaurants that started in Flushing, in the Golden Mall (yes, we’ve eaten there before and blogged and vlogged about it), and has now expanded to Chinatown and the East Village.  The highlight of the restaurant’s offering is the “Liang Pi” Cold Noodles.  The sandwich featured in the NYTimes is the Lamb “Burger,” which I found to be loaded with far too much cumin.  But NYMag loves the Pork “Burger,” so I gave it a shot.

NYMag says this sandwich, which is made of pulled pork stuffed into a bing-like bun, could “rival any Carolina barbecue.”  I disagree.  Although the smoky, vinegar sauce is nice and less sweet than most Chinese barbecue sauces I’ve tasted and the bun is warm with a nice crunch, the sandwich is altogether unremarkable and familiar.  It is incredibly greasy and the pork is stewed into a textureless mush.  At least the cumin-loaded Lamb “Burger” offers an unfamiliar and exciting flavor combination.

As for the Carolina comparison: forget it.  The best barbecue I ever encountered was in Holly Hill, South Carolina, at a place called Sweatman’s, and it is an act of exceptional generosity even to mention Xi’an Famous Food’s Pork “Burger” in the same paragraph.  To say this “Burger” is a “rival” of a place like Sweatman’s is a cruel joke.

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Written by trencherman

October 20, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Restaurants

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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.

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Written by trencherman

August 8, 2010 at 7:17 pm

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Fried Dumplings (Chinatown, NYC)

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As I mentioned in my recent post on PB&J, one of the food categories that thrills me endlessly is the dumpling.  I will eat just about anything in dumpling form.  While I certainly appreciate the finer, more delicate manifestations of the form, I also love the dumpling because it’s generally cheap.  Around Chinatown, you’ll find a number of holes-in-the-wall that serve $1 dumplings, or some variation thereof.  Generally, it’s five dumplings or four buns per order.  Not bad for $1.  The problem is the range in quality.

After years of research, I’ve determined that Chinatown’s finest purveyor of the lowest-brow Chinese pork dumpling and bun is “Fried Dumpling” (how many of these spots have the same name?) on Mosco Street, a narrow side street just off of Mott.

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Written by trencherman

July 23, 2010 at 10:35 am

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NYMag Sandwich List #99: Sesame Pancake With Beef, Vanessa’s Dumplings

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And the final post of the day.  Returning once again to the NYMag sandwich list.  On my way home from the gym, famished from my first post-Toronto run, it occurred to me that Vanessa’s Dumplings was only a few steps away from the 3rd Avenue L-train station.  So I checked it out.

I am a big fan of the filled sesame pancake, having discovered it late one night at my local late night spot, M Noodle Shop (which is, by the way, awesome, open until 6 a.m., and very salty).  M Noodle has a sandwich sesame pancake stuffed with pickled vegetables that just knocks me down every time I eat it.  Something about the combination of the grease from the pancake, the sweet from the sesame, and sour from the pickled vegetables just hits all the spots.  Anyway, back to Vanessa’s…

The sandwich is, as NYMag suggests, a kind of variation on the banh mi.  The roast beef, like the cuts that come in pho in cheap vietnamese restaurants, was very thinly-sliced and marbled with chewy, overcooked fat.  But the meat was tasty and the grease and saltiness of the pancake was cut effectively by the cool, crisp vegetables (pickled cucumbers, carrots, cilantro) stuffed into the sandwich.  I actually preferred this to the last banh mi I had (see post from earlier today).  This is a good option, and super cheap (though you have to wonder how this made it onto the NYMag list and other stellar sandwiches like the meatloaf at Rye or the Sage Egg and Cheese at Five Leaves or any of the sandwiches at Hamilton Deli didn’t make it.  But that’s another conversation for another day).

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June 23, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Posted in Media, Restaurants

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Hyderabadi Bazaar (Hyderabad, India)

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bazaar7Yet another post about India that is only half food-related, but still seemed worthy of inclusion.  While we were in Hyderabad for an elaborate wedding, we took an afternoon trip down to one of the old Muslim bazaars in the city, near the famous site of Charminar.  The bazaar was teeming with activity — these pictures were the first to make me nostalgic for the feverish crowds and ceaseless energy of India — and pretty tasty-looking food items.  We didn’t eat, but we ogled.

Also, Charminar was pretty great to see.

 

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Written by trencherman

June 24, 2009 at 10:53 am

Chinese Food – March 2009 (Flushing, NY)

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dandanInspired by a New York Times article with a fantastic interactive map, we jumped on the 7 train one Sunday in March and trekked out to Flushing to explore the wonders and revisit the glories of regional Chinese cuisine.  Over the course of the morning and afternoon, interrupted by only one stop at a bar for a beer, we ate at 5 different restaurants. We finished the day with some Sichuan-style dan dan noodles (pictured to the left), which have that unforgettable, numbing spice called something like “ma-la,” that leaves a delicious metallic tingling sensation on your lips.

A few of us have visited China and we have all been stunned by the quality and diversity of the food there, which is dramatically different in each region of the country.  This trip was a pleasant reminder of that diversity.  

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Written by trencherman

May 6, 2009 at 2:54 pm