Ignoring the warnings of a Flushing food buddy that ingredient quality and preparation had taken a nosedive, I recently revisited the ungainly named but formerly reliable downtown Flushing standby, Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan (HKGS), with a small group of repeat visitors for a late-night meal. Although I have at least 10 HKGS sojourns under my belt, it was my first since 2014, and I was shocked by how far it had fallen.
Sunset Park’s Yun Nan Flavour Garden is one of my go-to spots for affordable, high quality, flavorful Chinese food, so I was excited when a review of an unknown-to-me Yunnan restaurant, Deng Ji Noodle House (云南过桥米线), popped up in a Flushing blog a few months back, especially since there are very few places showcasing that region’s food in the New York City area.
While not a bastion of world-beating cuisine, Manhattan Chinatown’s 69 Bayard Restaurant certainly has a flair all its own. If you wanted tolerable late-night Chinese food – not all that easy to come by in that neighborhood, 69 Bayard was the place to find it. Where else could you find a table of cops next to a table of party girls next to a table of gang members? I haven’t been in years, but I’m a little sad to hear that it’s closing its doors this coming Saturday.
Yesterday I spotted Hong Kong Dim Sun [sic], a new restaurant on 60th Street, not too far off the corner of 8th Ave in Sunset Park. Closer examination revealed that the small menu primarily consists of steamed rice noodle rolls or cheong fun with a variety of fillings and a smattering of other dishes including scallion pancakes.
Just around the corner at 5922 8th Ave, I Bakery has a comprehensive menu of stuffed, steamed rice noodle rolls plastered onto a fence outside; possibly this is forgotten signage leftover from when this was Savoy Bakery. Who knew that south Sunset Park was such a cheong fun hotbed? I’ll report back with my findings.
Unfortunately I can’t always eat my favorite foods at Yun Nan Flavour Garden. Sunset Park’s Chinatown has a lot of restaurants, and I’m determined to work my way through them. Yesterday I tried one of the many Fuzhou-run, Lanzhou style hand-pulled noodle shops there, Wong Wong Noodle Soup (旺旺罱州手拉麵).
There’s no better way to start off a hungover 2016 than by heading to Sunset Park’s Yun Nan Flavour Garden. I grabbed my roommate and a fellow Flavour Garden addict and headed there this past New Year’s Day.
My standard two-person order is: the lu mein combo, which is a cold plate of ears, tongue and unidentifiable (to me) chewy cartilaginous matter served with a spicy dipping sauce; crossing the bridge noodles, a Yun Nan staple that is assembled on your table by the waitstaff who dump fresh beef and lamb slices, thick, round rice noodles, and a solitary quail egg into a steaming bowl of broth redolent with cilantro, white pepper and Sichuan peppercorns; and the pièce de résistance, the glorious hot and sour wonton soup.