Category Archives: New York City

My Favorite Chinatowns

It’s been months since I wrote a blog post, since the pandemic has really made my normal blog staples, reviewing different restaurants, virtually impossible. I thought about writing a blog post on what restaurants are open to outdoor dining, but I am wary about tacitly endorsing dining, even outdoors, in the midst of a new surge and plateau of cases in much of the US.

So instead, I figured I would write about my personal favorite Chinatowns in North America that I’ve been to, why I like them, and which of my favorite restaurants are still open for takeout. The order is loosely based on my preference but don’t fret, even if I left yours out, I still love all Chinatowns.

San Gabriel Valley (LA), CA

Kaya (Coconut Jam) Pastry at Longo Seafood
Kaya (Coconut Jam) Pastry at Longo Seafood in the SGV

I admit, I am a little biased given that I have traveled to the San Gabriel Valley (aka the “SGV” or “626”) since I was a kid, as it was often the area where we could get better dim sum and Chinese groceries that were harder or more expensive to find in San Diego. That said, the SGV is one of the largest “Chinatowns” in North America encompassing hundreds of square miles and dozens of different cities just east of Los Angeles and can probably be divided into 2: the west San Gabriel Valley centered in the cities of Alhambra, Monterey Park, Rosemead, and San Gabriel, and the east San Gabriel Valley around the communities of Diamond Bar, Rowland Heights, and Walnut.

Unlike historic Chinatowns in San Francisco or New York City with their dense streets and small alleys, the San Gabriel Valley is filled with sprawling suburbs centered on commercial corridors jam packed with Chinese strip malls along Valley Blvd, Garvey Ave, Colima Rd, and other streets. Partially because of such vastness, over the last 50 years the SGV has been an area where successive waves of immigrants from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China have been able to settle and set up new businesses. This allows a continual wave of new competition and trends from China to emerge, which also keeps old standbys on their toes to better their offerings or potentially be replaced fairly soon.

It’s also a fairly young place, with a pretty dynamic and ever evolving Chinese American culture that help popularize emerging Asian American trends in the United States like boba/bubble tea 20-30 years ago. (yes, bubble tea has been in the US for that long!) This Fung Bros “The 626” video typifies how this culture was like 10 years ago.

So where are some of the places to order takeout in the best Chinatown in North America? See below:

  • The Bay Cafe – One of the SGV’s better known and regarded Hong Kong style cafes serves a good Hong Kong milk tea and a cornucopia of other great Hong Kong staples. Order on DoorDash or Uber Eats
  • Bistro Na’s – Michelin starred Bistro Na’s in Temple City serves self proclaimed “imperial court food” that is nonetheless vary delicious, like the Crispy Shrimp and Na’s Spicy Chicken. You can order online via their website, DoorDash, or Grubhub
  • Elite Restaurant – One of the SGV’s best places for dim sum is now open for takeout again on DoorDash
  • HaiDiLao Hot Pot – Takeout hot pot you say? Yes, it exists (and I can report that it’s really doable if you got a pot and burner/hot plate at home) and you can order from this popular, and expensive, Chinese chain on virtually all the delivery platforms.
  • Mian – Chengdu Taste’s sibling restaurant with a tasty assortment of noodles is available for takeout on Uber Eats
  • Sea Harbour – Constantly evolving and standard setting Cantonese and dim sum specialist Sea Harbour is open for takeout. Given them a call at 626-288-3939
  • Savoy Kitchen – This perennial chicken rice favorite is available to order togo. Just give them a call at 626-308-9535
  • Yin Ji Chang Fen – The San Gabriel outpost of this Guangzhou style rice noodle roll chain accepts orders on DoorDash and Uber Eats

Richmond (Vancouver), BC

Lamb Fried Dumplings at Yue Restaurant
Lamb Fried Dumplings at Yue Restaurant

While great Chinese food can be found nearly all over Vancouver, the best in the Lower Mainland is concentrated in the southern suburb of Vancouver. While the San Gabriel Valley’s strength is in its wide and continually evolving breadth of regional cuisines, Richmond’s strength lies in its particular depth of one regional cuisine: Cantonese.

It’s not to say you can’t find great places serving other regional Chinese cuisines in Richmond, but the particular depth of Cantonese cuisine here lies in its unique history. As the 1997 handover of Hong Kong approached, many wealthy Hong Kongers feared what might change in a PRC controlled Hong Kong and promptly found ways to immigrant. One of the easiest options was to get investment visas in Canada, and thus tens of thousands of Hong Kongers and their children moved and settled to Richmond. They brought along and could entice good chefs from Hong Kong which helped increase the quality of Cantonese food in the region, so much so that many restaurants in the 2000s to mid 2010s were close or at the level of their counterparts in Hong Kong.

More recently, arrivals from mainland China have helped expanded the number of good regional options available, but not to the level of SGV yet, and it remains to be seen on how Hong Kong’s latest political turbulence will mean for even more food and immigration to Canada. That said, some of my favorites are:

  • HK BBQ Master – This was always basically a big takeout restaurant, so you can still get their excellent Cantonese style roast meats in person
  • Mama’s Dumpling and Coffee – Renown for their xiaolongbao, you can get these delicious orders for takeout
  • Silver Tower – Old school Hong Kong Style Cafe serves the best comfort food that you can order on DoorDash
  • Sun Sui Wah – A couple of my friends recently dined here (BC’s COVID rates are significantly better than the US, though I’d still be pretty hesitant) and the food seems just as great as pre-pandemic, which you can order on Skip the Dishes.
  • Yue Restaurant – One of my favorite dim sum spots in Richmond is open for takeout via DoorDash

Flushing (New York City), NY

Liang Pi at Xi'an Famous Foods
Liang Pi at Xi’an Famous Foods (which started in Flushing)

The sights and sounds of Canal and Mott Streets in Manhattan Chinatown may get much of the spotlight in New York City, but I say that the best New York Chinatown is a hop uptown and a 7 line subway ride away to Flushing in Queens.

In contrast to the SGV and Richmond’s sprawling strip malls, Flushing is a decidedly urban Chinatown, densely packed along Main Street and its side streets and allies. You can find a variety of Chinese regional cuisines here too, especially in the few densely packed mall food courts like the New World Mall (though not sure how open they might or will be with the COVID-19 pandemic). However, many of the main stars in Flushing are Taiwanese, Fujianese, and Shanghainese and some of my favorite memories in New York City are of walking down Main St with various friends and cousins sipping on boba and eating street food.

Here are a few great places currently open for takeout:

  • Hunan Cafe – Order some authentic Hunanese food for takeout via Seamless or Uber Eats
  • Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao – You can order some of the best soup dumplings in the city online through their website
  • Nurlan Uygher Restaurant – One of NYC’s first Uygher restaurants is open for takeout by looking at their menu and calling 347-542-3324
  • Xing Fu Tang – I couldn’t write about Flushing without a bubble tea recommendation right? Well get some Brown Sugar Boba Milk from this new kid on the block that replaced the old Red House on Seamless, Uber Eats, or DoorDash
  • Yi Fang Taiwan Fruit Tea – I love Yi Fang Fruit Tea for their endless array of delectable fruit teas, which you can order on Seamless and DoorDash

The Richmond (San Francisco), CA

Juicy Pork Xiao Long Bao at Dragon Beaux
Juicy Pork Xiao Long Bao at Dragon Beaux

There are numerous Chinatowns in the San Francisco Bay Area, but in my opinion the Richmond District in the western part of the city is the best Chinatown in the region.

Why? Unlike San Francisco’s historic Chinatown, the Richmond is a little less touristy but packs in the bustle as much as you’d find on Stockton St. Clement St and Geary St have a large selection of Chinese restaurants, supermarkets, and other businesses, including my favorite dim sum place, Dragon Beaux.

Here are some places to try ordering from in the Richmond:

  • Dragon Beaux – The aforementioned Dragon Beaux is available for takeout on Uber Eats or Grubhub, but you could also give them a call and order their frozen dim sum to reheat yourself to perfection
  • HoDaLa – From beef noodle soup to popcorn chicken, this Taiwanese favorite can be ordered for takeout or delivery via its website.
  • Jiangnan Cuisine – Cuisine from the area just north of Shanghai in Jiangsu province can be found on DoorDash, Grubhub, or Postmates
  • Kowloon Tong Dessert Cafe – This no frills cha chaan teng is ready to serve you some delicious Hong Kong milk tea or basic Hong Kong style western food and deserts on nearly all delivery apps
  • Tasty Pot – Taiwanese hot pot chain Tasty Pot is available for your individualized hot pot needs via takeout or delivery on DoorDash or Uber Eats

Manhattan Chinatown (New York City), NY

Food at Noodle Village
Food at Noodle Village

The only historic Chinatown on my list is New York City. Why Manhattan’s historic Chinatown you ask, instead of other ones like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, or even my hometown of Oakland? The simple reason is that unlike the others, it’s a perfect combination of history, mix of shops, and an area where both old Chinese families from Guangdong, recent arrivals from Fujian, and tourists alike can mix and mingle with ease. San Francisco’s Chinatown, sadly, feels very weirdly divided between tourist and trinket shop dominated Grant St and local market and restaurant focused Stockton St.

So if you’re in or near Manhattan, here are some places open for takeout!

  • Carol’s Bun – Located in the East Broadway part of Chinatown, this no-frills Fujianese places is perfect for some affordable takeout
  • Cha Chan Tang – One of the original cha chaan tengs in the city serves up comfort Hong Kong style western food like macaroni soup and curry chicken that you can get on DoorDash or Seamless
  • Kong Sihk Tong – Feast upon all sorts of Hong Kong style foods by getting some takeout via phone at 646-850-6140
  • Noodle Village – My favorite comfort Cantonese spot in Manhattan Chinatown is available for takeout or delivery on virtually all the delivery apps
  • Wo Hop – Want some old school Chinese American food? Like so old that the restaurant has been around for 80+ years? Look no further than Chinatown staple Wo Hop to grab some Chinese American takeout

Houston Chinatown, TX

Dinner at Fung's Kitchen
Dinner at Fung’s Kitchen

I think many folks tend to think of big historic and even suburban Chinatowns as being exclusively a West Coast or East Coast thing, but one of the largest Chinatowns in the country is, in fact, in Houston! Centered on Bellaire Blvd. east of Beltway 8, Houston Chinatown is similar to what you would find along Valley Blvd in the SGV or heavily Chinese cities in the Silicon Valley around Sunnyvale and Cupertino. There’s a mix of Hong Kong, mainland Chinese, and Vietnamese Chinese people in Houston that also makes Houston’s Chinatown a little unique. Houston’s Little Saigon is also just to the west of Beltway 8.

I’ve only been to Houston Chinatown once, but here’s some places that are still open for takeout:

  • Fung’s Kitchen – The only one of the places on this list I’ve actually dined in, you can get your craving of dim sum filled here through ordering takeout or on DoorDash or Uber Eats (I hear they are taking COVID precautions pretty seriously too!)
  • House of Bowls – One of Houston’s cha chaan tengs seems well beloved with a variety of Hong Kong style dishes available for takeout
  • Mala Sichuan Bistro – The authentic flavors of Sichuan can be had by ordering takeout on their website as well as Uber Eats
  • Mein – Classic Cantonese food, including the namesake noodles and noodle soups, can be found for takeout at this well regarded spot
  • One Dragon – For Shanghainese xiao long bao and their crispy bottom cousins, sheng jian bao, order takeout here

Honorary Mentions:

I didn’t include pan-Asian areas just so it was clearer/cleaner. However, there are a few pan-Asian districts (places where there’s more of a mix of different pan-Asian shops, restaurants, and markets) that I really love.

  • International District (Seattle), WA – The most recent non-Bay Area Asian district I’ve been to, the International District, is a historic Japanese and Chinese area that has a great diversity of different Asian cuisines just southeast of downtown Seattle.
  • Irvine (outside of LA), CA – I went to college in Irvine and loved being able to eat all sorts of Taiwanese food here as many Taiwanese families settled in Irvine in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Kearny Mesa (San Diego), CA – Yes, I’m biased in that I grew up in San Diego, but Kearny Mesa, especially on Convoy St, was the area I grew up eating dim sum, Korean BBQ, yakitori, and other variety of Asian food. Mira Mesa, historically a large neighborhood of Filipino and Vietnamese folks, is also a great pan Asian area to visit in San Diego as well.
  • Mesa (Phoenix), AZ – While Mesa leans more toward Vietnamese and Vietnamese Chinese folks, it’s a great place to eat and shop all types of Asian cuisines. I always made it a point to stop in Mesa on my ways to/from Albuquerque to/from my visits seeing family in Southern California
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Where to get Asian food during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A few weeks ago when the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were starting to show up in the United States in force, I wrote a blog post on how you can still support your local Asian restaurants, especially given that many were already facing drastic declines in sales since January due to racist fears over how the coronavirus is spread.

Of course given how many restaurants, including Asian ones, have closed with stay at home orders being implemented across the country, it’s not necessarily easy to know which ones are still open and which are closed. To further add to the confusion, some are on some apps but not on others.

Well, I have decided to have a running list of Asian restaurants open in certain metros across the US and Canada based on my research so you too can eat well and support your local Asian businesses during this time. (Much of this research relies on the work that Eater writers in several metros have compiled, so giving due where credit is deserved). The list will be alphabetical by metro area and will only include up to 10-15 restaurants per region to make it still somewhat manageable to navigate.

Of course, given the day by day nature of changes in the current environment it might be good to call the restaurant or double check the app you are using to confirm the place is open. (And when you do order from an app, be sure to text your driver requesting no contact delivery and tipping them well)

UNITED STATES

ALBUQUERUQUE

Ramyun at Asian Pear
Ramyun at Asian Pear
  • 2000 Vietnam (Vietnamese) – One of my favorite pho place in Albuquerque is open for takeout or delivery via Grubhub and Doordash
  • Asian Pear (Korean) – Arguably my favorite Asian restaurant in Albuquerque is open for takeout (call ahead) or delivery via DoorDash
  • Basil Leaf (Vietnamese) – This favorite of the first family of Albuquerque (at least when I was helping Mayor Keller’s State Senate run in 2012!) is open for takeout. There pho is good but try something different like their Banh Xeo (a sort of Vietnamese stuffed omelet)
  • Bubblicitiea (Filipino) – Yes, there’s a Filipino place in Albuquerque AND it serves bubble tea. Around Uptown? Call ahead to 505-289-9719 for your Filipino food fixin.
  • Chopstix (Chinese) – From reports that I have seen, this solid Chinese restaurant is available for takeout and delivery via DoorDash
  • IT Dimsum (Chinese) – I’ve never been as this place opened since I was last in Albuquerque, but if you want some traditional Cantonese food and Hong Kong style dim sum, you can order via Grubhub

BAY AREA

KMG at Hawking Bird
KMG at Hawking Bird

Given that I live in the Bay Area, this is a combination of both research gained on Eater SF articles for SF, East Bay, and the Peninsula, along with my firsthand knowledge being a delivery driver (mostly in Oakland/Berkeley). This list is not exhaustive, but a start!

  • Burma Superstar (Burmese) – Burma Superstar’s locations in Alameda and Oakland (as well as the now unaffiliated original in San Francisco) along with Burma Love are available for takeout and delivery for your tea leaf salad cravings
  • Co Nam (Vietnamese) – Co Nam’s street style Vietnamese food locations in San Francisco (Polk Street) and Oakland (Mosswood/Temescal) are open for takeout and delivery via Caviar
  • Dragon Beaux (Chinese) – Hugely popular dim sum and hot pot restaurant in San Francisco is open 11AM-3PM and 5-8PM every day for takeout & delivery on Doordash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats. They also sell their dim sum frozen in bulk if you like as well!
  • Farmhouse Thai (Thai/Lao) – Farmhouse Thai’s locations in San Francisco (Mission) and Oakland (Jack London as well as sister restaurant Daughter Thai in Montclair) are open for takeout and free delivery via Caviar. Specials include a Lao table meal for 2-3 for $59 and lunch special for $22
  • Gen Korean BBQ (Korean) – Locations in Concord, Fremont, and San Jose are doing takeout and delivery including a $10 2 meat, 3 sides, and rice deal.
  • Hawking Bird (Thai) – This is James Syhabout’s only restaurant currently open (Commis isn’t exactly a place with feasible takeout). Grab some khao mun gai 11:30AM-8PM Tuesday-Sunday via takeout, Caviar, or Doordash.
  • Nari (Thai) -While you can’t get Michelin starred Thai at Kin Khao during this pandemic, sister restaurant Nari in Japantown is open for takeout 5-7PM Tuesday-Saturday. Order via their website.
  • Ohgane (Korean) – Only Ohgane’s Oakland location is open for takeout or delivery (via DoorDash or Caviar), but their full dinner menu is available as well as a $15 lunch special on weekdays
  • Shiba Ramen (Japanese) – I know firsthand that Shiba Ramen is particularly struggling. You can order their delicious Clear Dark Ramen online for takeout in their Oakland location or delivery via Caviar 11:30AM-7:30PM Monday-Tuesday, Thursday-Saturday.
  • Shooting Star Cafe (Chinese) – One of my favorite Hong Kong style cafes is open for takeout and delivery (via DoorDash and Caviar) everyday until midnight whether you are craving a baked pork chop rice and Hong Kong milk tea or an egg waffle puff
  • Taro – In Palo Alto you can slurp udon by grabbing takeout at this Stanford Shopping Center restaurant or via Caviar, Grubhub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats

LOS ANGELES

Dim sum at J Zhou Oriental Cuisine
Dim sum at J Zhou Oriental Cuisine

The LA/OC list is not exhaustive, of course, given the breadth of the metro area. For more details you can check out these Eater articles I used for research. Also, I recommend checking the twitter accounts of David Chan, Jim Thurman, and Kristie Hang, who are awesome English language food writers/bloggers that keep pretty up to date tabs on what’s open in LA (esp. the San Gabriel Valley)

  • Bay Cafe (Hong Kong) – Delicious Hong Kong cafe style food can be had by you either through takeout or delivery via DoorDash
  • Capital Noodle Bar (Chinese) – All branches of Capital Noodle Bar (Brea, Costa Mesa, and Irvine) are available for your noodle consumption needs via Grubhub, Postmates, DoorDash, and UberEats
  • Capital Seafood (Chinese) – Both the Capital Seafood in Beverly Hills and the one in Irvine (apparently owned/operated separately) are open for takeout and Beverly Hills location you can also order via Grubhub
  • Din Tai Fung (Taiwanese) – The Century City and South Coast Plaza locations are reportedly open, but sadly the original Arcadia location is not. Soup dumplings, in my opinion, are notoriously bad food items for takeout given the rapid loss of heat but you do you!
  • Ding’s Garden (Taiwanese) – Whether you’re in Alhambra, Irvine, Pasadena, or Rowland Heights, you can get some heaping portions of Taiwanese food via takeout or Postmotes
  • Gen Korean BBQ (Korean) – Locations in Alhambra, Cerritos, Chino Hills, Northridge, Rancho Cucamonga, and Torrance are doing takeout and delivery including a $10 2 meat, 3 sides, and rice deal.
  • Jitlada (Thai) -Yes, it’s true, world renown Thai restaurant Jitlada is open for takeout or delivery via Grubhub
  • J Zhou Oriental Cuisine (Chinese) – My favorite place for dim sum in Orange County is open for takeout or delivery via Seamless and Grubhub if you’re around Irvine
  • Kai Ramen (Japanese) – Folks who live near Sherman Oaks and WeHo can get their ramen slurps on by takeout or Postmates
  • Mo-Mo Paradise (Japanese) – Shabu shabu to go? Yes, that is possible! Order takeout from Mo-Mo by ordering online or you can get delivery from Grubhub from all locations (Arcadia, Rowland Heights, and Torrance)
  • Pho Ga District (Vietnamese) – If you live near Rosemead, you can get steaming, delicious bowls of chicken pho to your door via DoorDash or pickup to go!
  • Savoy Kitchen (Singaporean) – Are you missing your chicken rice fix? Well you can head to Savoy for takeout!
  • Tsujita (Japanese) – It seems like all Tsujita family restaurants are open for takeout (you can order online on their website). Additionally, if you live fairly close to the Tsujita & Co Noodle Production location on Fairfax you can get takeout as well as delivery on Caviar, Grubhub, and Postmates
  • Uniboil (Hotpot) – From it’s flagship location in Monterey Park, you can order over the phone and get your hotpot items to go or delivery even as far as Yorba Linda! Purchase of $50 or more? You even get 2 complimentary face masks
  • Vinh Loi Tofu (Vietnamese) – Whether you’re in Cerritos or deep in the Valley by Reseda, you can get a bite of vegan Vietnamese food through takeout or Uber Eats.

NEW YORK CITY

Like the Bay Area and LA, I couldn’t possibly lay out all or even a good chunk of Asian restaurants offering take out and delivery, so for further lists of places here are some additional articles and an Instagram account (Instagram mostly surveys Chinatown).

  • Arirang Steak House (Japanese) – If you crave teppan grilled Japanese cuisine, all Arirang locations in the NYC area is open for dinner through takeout or delivery on their website
  • Buddha Bodai (Chinese) – Need your vegetarian dim sum fix? Well you’re just in luck as Buddha Bodai is open for takeout and delivery!.
  • Di An Di (Vietnamese) – This Greenpoint Vietnamese restaurant is available for takeout or delivery via Caviar
  • The Handpulled Noodles (Chinese) – In the Heights you can taste some Uyghur/Xinjiang style noodles and dishes that are available to order online via their website, Seamless, or Grubhub.
  • Hao Noodles (Chinese) – While the West Village location is closed, you can still get your bowls of Chinese noodles from the Chelsea location via Caviar, Uber Eats, Chowbus, or Ricepo
  • Her Name is Han (Korean) – This Koreatown restaurant that specializes in Korean communal comfort food like Bossam is available for delivery on a number of platforms including Caviar, Grubhub, Uber Eats, Chowbus, and Doordash
  • Kong Sihk Tong (Hong Kong) – I ate an early birthday/4th of July meal here last year and I’m pleased this great HK style cafe is still open for takeout and delivery
  • Kopitiam (Malaysian) – Get your fix of Nasi Lemak, Kaya Toast, or other Malaysian favorites via takeout or delivery through Caviar
  • Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao (Chinese) – Again, I don’t prefer soup dumplings for takeout/delivery, but if you must satisfy the craving and live near Flushing, Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao is available for takeout or delivery via GoHive/Chowbus
  • Udom Thai (Thai) – You can get your fix of Thai food at this Prospect Park restaurant through takeout and delivery

SAN DIEGO

San Diego’s Asian restaurant scene is not as large and unwieldy as the Bay or LA, but if you want an expanded list of places open in Kearny Mesa, you can take a look here. My list will include places beyond Convoy St.

  • Emerald Restaurant (Chinese) – San Diego’s recently off and on again dim sum restaurant serves takeout from 11AM-7PM daily
  • Jasmine (Chinese) – You can chow down on dim sum or Chinese BBQ via their takeout counter or by ordering on Grubhub, Doordash, Postmates, or Uber Eats
  • Manna BBQ (Korean) – Yes, you can get your fix of Korean BBQ (cooked or uncooked) by ordering takeout or delivery from either their Kearny Mesa or Mira Mesa locations
  • Mekong Cuisine Lao & Thai (Lao & Thai) – I believe San Diego’s only (or one of the first) Lao places is available for takeout or delivery via Grubhub or Postmates
  • The Original Sab-E-Lee (Thai) – Both the Linda Vista and Rancho Peñasquitos location of this delectable Thai restaurant is available for takeout (and I believe delivery via Doordash but don’t quote me on that)
  • Pho Ca Dao (Vietnamese) – My favorite pho place in San Diego has all 7 of their locations (Chula Vista, City Heights, Mira Mesa, Mission Valley, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, and Santee) open for takeout or delivery via DoorDash.
  • RakiRaki Ramen & Tsukemen – Both their Convoy and Liberty Station locations are open for takeout and delivery
  • Sushi Ota (Japanese) – San Diego’s venerable sushi place (where my grandfather has been known to frequent in the past) is serving their sushi via takeout (I doubt they are on delivery apps, but you can try!)
  • Yakyudori Yakitori & Ramen (Japanese) – Get a taste of these very awesome yakitori skewers via takeout or delivery on Grubhub

TORONTO

GTA, like other large metros, is too large to capture in just 10-15 places, but you can dig deeper on these sources I found.

  • Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu (Korean) – For your soon tofu needs, you can order from their Bloor St, North York, Missisauga, or Richmond Hill locations via Uber Eats or SkipTheDishes
  • Cumin Restaurant (Indian) – This East York South Asian eatery is available for takeout or delivery
  • Hokkaido Ramen Santouka (Japanese) – Like their US counterparts, Canadian branches of Santouka Ramen are available for takeout or delivery via Uber Eats or DoorDash at their Dundas St., Bloor St., or Eglinton & Yonge locations
  • Hong Shing (Chinese) – For your pan-Chinese and Canadian Chinese dining needs, Hong Shing is open 11AM-2AM for your takeout and delivery needs
  • Kaboom Kitchen (Korean) – Korean fried chicken is divine and you can have them at your door via Foodora, UberEats, or DoorDash
  • Lai Wah Heen (Chinese) – Craving some fancy dim sum? Well you’re in luck as you can order from Lai Wah Heen via Foodora, UberEats, DoorDash, and F.O.D.
  • Matha Roti (Indian) – This Harbord Village roti specialist is not available for delivery, but you can order for takeout
  • Max’s Chicken (Filipino) – Cravings for Filipino style fried chicken (and other dishes) in Vaughan or Scarborough can be satisfied by takeout or delivery via UberEats
  • Torang Restaurant (Iranian) – Newmarket area residents can get their taste of Iranian food via takeout or delivery
  • Wuhan Noodle (Chinese) – Markham noodle house Wuhan Noodle, the site of racist online attacks earlier this year, is available for takeout or ordering on DoorDash

VANCOUVER

Steamed crab meat, scallop, prawn, and spinach dumpling
Dim Sum at Kirin

Given its large Chinese population, Vancouver was one of the areas first hit hard in North America from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many places are closed, but I’ve tried to do the best I can to find places open to curate this small, but mighty, list (with Dished Vancouver being a helpful resource):

  • Bubble Queen (Chinese) – Your bubble tea and Hong Kong egg waffle puff cravings can be satisfied by this Fairview/South Cambie joint available for takeout or on DoorDash
  • CC’s Chinese Restaurant (Chinese) – In North Van and hungry for Canadian Chinese or Taiwanese food? Well CC’s has you covered for takeout or delivery on SkipTheDishes or Uber Eats
  • Chef Hung’s Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup (Taiwanese) – Only the Kerrisdale location of this venerable Taiwanese chain is open for takeout or delivery 11AM-8PM daily
  • Disco Cheetah (Korean) – West End/Davie Village Korean fusion fast casual is open 11AM-11PM for takeout or delivery via Uber Eats
  • Do Chay (Vietnamese) – Vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant Do Chay is open for takeout and delivery
  • Fresh Legend (Taiwanese) – Renfrew Taiwanese dessert place Fresh Legend has their freshly made taro balls available for takeout
  • Kirin Restaurant (Chinese) – Hungry for one of the most reliable dim sum places in Vancouver? Well you can order takeout from both the Richmond and New Westminster locations and they should be on Uber Eats soon, if not already.
  • Kulinarya (Filipino) – This Coquitlam and Commercial Dr. Filipino restaurant is available for your pansit and silog cravings for pickup or delivery via DoorDash
  • Max’s Chicken (Filipino) – Cravings for Filipino style fried chicken (and other dishes) can be satisfied by takeout or delivery via Foodora, UberEats, or DoorDash
  • Shiok (Singaporean) – East Van Singaporean place Shiok is available for takeout or delivery via Foodora or Uber Eats
  • Sun Sui Wah (Chinese) – The venerable Cantonese restaurant is takeout only for its Richmond location, but you can order delivery from its Main St. location on SkipTheDishes.
  • Vij’s (Indian) – Yes, this renown Indian restaurant restaurant is available for takeout and delivery and the owner himself is one of the leaders in supporting a national Canada Takeout Day to encourage it!

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Garlic Scapes at Tiger Fork
Garlic Scapes at Tiger Fork

The DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) area might have smaller Asian communities than SF, LA, and NYC, but there are still a large number of places still open. As with other metro areas, I used Eater DC for a fair bit of research, in addition to my own research. Here is a list of places open spread out across the metro area:

  • Bun’d (Taiwanese and Korean) – Taiwanese Korean fusion place Bun’d has centralized operations in its Pentagon City location where you can order baos and ssam via online pickup, Postmates, or Caviar
  • Chiko (Korean) – Fast casual modern American Korean spot Chiko is available for takeout in both its Dupont Circle and Eastern Market locations as well as on Caviar and DoorDash
  • Da Hong Pao (Chinese) – Yes, you can get dim sum delivered to you in DC via Doordash! If you’re craving American Chinese classics like lo mein or…wings with mumbo sauce…sister restaurant Yum’s II is also open next door for takeout (yes, you read that right, I AM recommending an American Chinese place)
  • Daikaya (Japanese) – Reliable and good ramen shop Daikaya is available for pickup using its online store or delivery via Uber Eats. Its sister restaurants Bantam King (fried chicken and chicken ramen) and Hatoba are also available for delivery on Caviar in addition to takeout and Uber Eats
  • Hai Duong (Vietnamese) – Reliable Eden Center favorite Hai Duong is available for your Northern Virginia pho needs via takeout or delivery on DoorDash
  • Honey Pig (Korean) – Delightful Korean BBQ restaurant Honey Pig is available for your Northern Virginia bulgogi desires either through pickup or on DoorDash
  • Kabobi by the Helmand (Afghan) – My favorite Afghan place in Baltimore has a fast casual place in Herndon that can be delivered to you via Grubhub, Uber Eats, or Postmates
  • Makan (Malaysian) – Columbia Heights newcomer Makan serves Malaysian food for takeout via online ordering. Its sister restaurant Maketto (Cambodian-Taiwanese fusion) is also available for pickup or delivery via Caviar
  • Mama Chang (Chinese) – One of my favorite Chinese restaurants in the DMV is open for you to do contactless pickup when you order their delicious Sichuanese and Hunanese food online or deliver in Northern Virginia via Uber Eats.
  • Rasa (Indian) – You can order fast casual modern Indian food from this Navy Yard restaurant either by ordering online for pickup or through virtually all delivery platforms including Caviar, DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, and Seamless. You can also buy toilet paper for $1 a roll and a pack of 100 disposable gloves for $5 too
  • Sushi Taro (Japanese) – Live near Dupont Circle? Well you’re in luck to order takeout from Michelin starred Sushi Taro for it’s fabulous selection of sushi, sake, and udon
  • Tiger Fork (Hong Kong) – I am pleased and relieved to find out that my current favorite Chinese restaurant in DC is open for takeout (on a more limited menu) from 3-8PM either by picking up or delivery through Caviar or Doordash
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Ten Places to Taste Hong Kong in North America

It was 5 years ago this weekend that my mom passed away. While there were a number of delicious foods and restaurants she introduced my siblings and me to, the one that stood out the most in our memories were the cha chaan tengs (茶餐廳), also known as a Hong Kong style cafes. In fact, to this day my brother wistfully remembers the times and food we had at a now-closed cha chaan teng near the college he attended. So while I love all the dim sum, Korean BBQ, and pho we had, our meals at cha chaan tengs are what I miss the most.

And arguably, I think it’s the best type of restaurant to experience the culture and food of Hong Kong. Sure, dim sum is delicious, seafood palaces are sumptuous, and Cantonese BBQ purveyors deliver morsels of lip-smacking goodness, but nothing represents the East meets West, fast paced lifestyle that is quintessentially Hong Kong like a cha chaan teng.

After all, cha chaan tengs are essentially Hong Kong’s version of a diner, and honestly what is a more quintessential American restaurant than a diner? Like a diner, cha chaan tengs may not have the best food, but the food is reliable and comfortable. And of course, they are ubiquitous in Hong Kong. A block could have a few cha chaan tengs, all doing brisk business with lines waiting for a seat.

Thus, here’s a guide to ten decent cha chaan tengs where you can sip a good cup of Hong Kong style milk tea, eat a steak with black pepper sauce and rice, and take a bite of a pineapple bun across North America (restaurants sorted by metro area by state/province. There are other metros with decent cha chaan tengs, this is just a selection):

Vancouver/Richmond, BC

Cafe Gloucester (3338 Cambie St, Vancouver) – Not the most glamorous cha chaan teng (though most are rarely glamorous), but they serve reasonably good takes on classic Hong Kong diner dishes with larger portions and reasonable prices. I loved their Hong Kong style Russian borscht in particular.

Silver Tower Cafe Restaurant (100-8500 Alexandra Road, Richmond) – There are a few cha chaan tengs in this couple block stretch of Alexandra Road in Richmond alone, but I find Silver Tower Cafe to be one of the better ones. Whether you want steak on top of a bed of french fries and peas or a bowl of beef brisket noodle soup, they have it all and almost everything I’ve had there in the couple times I’ve been have been very satisfying. Best of all for a traveler, it’s just relatively short walk from the Landsdowne Canada Line station.

Los Angeles, CA (inc. the San Gabriel Valley and Orange County)

JJ Cafe (447 Garvey Ave, Monterey Park) – One of the first popular cha chaan tengs in the San Gabriel Valley, JJ Cafe has been dishing out solid, if not spectacular food for a couple decades. The baked pork chop dishes and milk tea here are fairly representative of the east-west fusion you would find back in Hong Kong.

Tasty Garden 2

Tasty Garden (288 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra; also in Irvine, Monterey Park, and Westminster) – This mini chain in SoCal executes almost all its dishes well. I prefer the Alhambra location for excellent execution of the Cantonese comfort dishes on the menu in addition to excellent Hong Kong milk tea and egg waffles done right (unlike at some other branches).

San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Cooking Papa 1

Dumpling and wonton noodle soup at Cooking Papa

Cooking Papa (949A Edgewater Blvd, Foster City; also in Mountain View and Santa Clara) – Not a true cha chaan teng as they do not have the ubiquitous Hong Kong style western food that’s endemic and definitive of a cha chaan teng, but they do a solid serving of classic Cantonese food with pretty decent milk tea. Foster City used to be the standard to beat, but I’ve had better food at their Santa Clara location more recently.

Hong Kong Chef (46356 Warm Springs Blvd in Fremont) – I came here on a whim during the first day of service at the Warm Springs/South Fremont station and it didn’t disappoint. I really liked their preserved meat claypot rice dish as well as their various stir-fried vegetables including Chinese broccoli and tong choy.

Kowloon Tong Dessert Cafe (393 7th Ave, San Francisco) – Some of the best milk tea and egg waffles I’ve had in the Bay Area have been at this tucked in restaurant on 7th Ave in the Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco. While their entree plates are fairly mediocre (which you can tell by their name), their snacks and desserts are pretty good, including their curry fishballs that definitely tasted like home.

Hong Kong Style Milk Tea at Shooting Star Cafe

Hong Kong Style Milk Tea at Shooting Star Cafe

Shooting Star Cafe (1022 Webster St, Oakland) – Glitzy decor and modern-ish furnishings set this cha chaan teng apart from most others. But this restaurant isn’t just about the looks. I find it has the best milk tea I have tasted in the Bay Area and they shine very bright in their desserts, including their egg waffles. Their savory food leaves a little more to be desired but there are some gems there too, including their Hainanese Chicken Rice, Wonton Noodle Soup, and Black Pepper Short Ribs.

New York, NY

Cha Chan Tang (45 Mott St, New York) – Their menu sides more with the instant ramen, sandwiches, and macaroni soups that are popular in Hong Kong and they do them fairly well. Those are not my favorite cha chaan teng dishes, but it definitely gives you another side of Hong Kong cuisine where they make “western” foods uniquely their own.

Toronto, ON

Phoenix Restaurant (7155 Woodbine Ave., Markham; also on McCowan in Markham, Scarborough, and Thorhill) – This place excels the most at baked rice dishes, Hainanese Chicken Rice, and their Hong Kong style twist on Southeast Asian food, but other dishes seem to be solid as well. 

Of course, most of these cha chaan tengs also have “authentically” Hong Kong style service, where turning tables is of the upmost importance. So sit down, look at the menu quickly (yes, even with all the options!), order, and eat. If you need something, just wave your hands. Yes, this perfunctory service is part of the ambience. It’s not necessarily rude, just ruthlessly efficient and an integral part of Hong Kong’s go-go-go culture.

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Tim Ho Wan, New York City

Tim Ho Wan
85 4th Ave
New York, NY 10003

Tim Ho Wan is known as the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world with two of its locations in Hong Kong consistently maintaining a 1 Michelin star rating. With that kind of reputation, the news of their expansion into the US, with its first location in New York City, created all sorts of buzz. When Tim Ho Wan finally opened late last year, wait times were 3.5 hours long for a table, on par with the equally long lines whenever a Din Tai Fung opens a location in the US.

Despite the wait, I wanted to make sure I stopped at Tim Ho Wan when I went on my Spring trip to New York City. Primarily it was to see how the US location compared to the ones in Hong Kong. However, given that one of my cousin’s has never been to Hong Kong, I wanted to give him a taste of dim sum “directly” from our parents’ birthplace.

One of my cousins (that had been to Hong Kong, but apparently had never been to a Tim Ho Wan) and I went to line up at Tim Ho Wan at about 12PM on a Saturday. When we arrived we put down my name, cell phone number, and a request for a table of 4. The host alerted us that the wait would be 2.5 hours. Given our lack of caffeination we decided to wait part of that time out at the City of Saints coffee shop next door. Afterward, we walked around the East Village and eventually went into the Strand, where I received a text that our table was ready. With that text, we ended up only waiting a little less than 2 hours.

We rushed back to Tim Ho Wan and promptly got seated after our other cousin and the person’s he’s dating arrived. Being the person that I am, I quickly took the reins in order while soliciting some suggestions from my cousins. We ended up ordering the following 9 items (about 1/3 of their whole menu):

Baked BBQ Pork Buns at Tim Ho Wan NYC

Baked BBQ Pork Buns at Tim Ho Wan NYC

  • Baked BBQ Pork Buns 酥皮焗叉燒包 – They were about as heavenly as the Hong Kong versions with a nice baked custard bun on the outside with a juicy bbq pork filling on the inside. They are smaller than the Hong Kong versions and a little less crispy, so they aren’t quite as good. But even those small quibbles don’t even diminish the fact that they are the best bbq pork buns in North America, hands down.
  • Pan Fried Turnip Cake 香煎臘味蘿蔔糕 – Fairly well done with solid portions of shredded daikon. However, like most places I feel as if they didn’t fry it enough on the outside to create a truly crispy outside to balance the soft and mushy middle.

Steamed Shrimp Dumpling at Tim Ho Wan New York City

Steamed Shrimp Dumpling at Tim Ho Wan New York City

  • Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow) 晶瑩鮮蝦餃 – I love, love, LOVE that Tim Ho Wan sticks to the way Hong Kong dim sum places make shrimp dumplings instead of the overstuffed mess that plagues North American har gows. The shrimp filling was perfectly portioned with fresh shrimp that had a nice snap. The dumpling skin was great too, perfectly dextrous, but thin and tearing apart only when I bit into the dumpling. I do wish they had added a little salt and pepper to the shrimp to enhance the flavor, but it was perfectly good as is.

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Steamed Pork Dumplings with Shrimp at Tim Ho Wan New York City

  • Steamed Pork Dumplings with Shrimp (Siu Mai) 鮮蝦燒賣皇 – The sui mai was pretty good with juicy pork meat and shrimp that was cooked just right and not too big to become a bit hard to eat. That said, while these were solid, there wasn’t anything extraordinary about them.

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Blanched Lettuce and Pan Fried Turnip Cake at Tim Ho Wan NYC

  • Blanched Lettuce 白灼生菜 – Speaking of nothing extraordinary, we ordered the blanched lettuce solely because it was a vegetable option. While I generally love that Tim Ho Wan sticks to Hong Kong’s dim sum conventions, one thing that I dislike is the modern Hong Kong dim sum trend of serving lettuce as their only vegetable option. The lettuce and soy sauce were fine, but nothing particularly exciting.

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Steamed Rice Rolls with Shrimp and Chinese Chives at Tim Ho Wan NYC

  • Steamed Rice Rolls with Shrimp and Chinese Chives 韮黃鮮蝦腸 – On the other hand, the steamed rice rolls were definitely one of the better rice rolls I have had in the US. The shrimp was fresh, the chives provided a nice crunch and flavor, and the rice noodle rolls were steamed and rolled perfectly. Best of all, they poured just enough of the light soy sauce to round out the flavor but not too much that the flavor of everything else was drowned out.
  • Congee with Pork and Preserved Egg 金銀蛋瘦肉粥 – The congee was solid, with a nice balance of rice and broth (in contrast to other places where too much rice or too much broth makes the texture and flavor unappealing). The fried wonton strips gave a nice crispy texture and the preserved eggs were great. While I did get pork flavor from the broth, I didn’t remember eating much of the actual shredded pork.
  • Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf 古法糯米雞 – While we got this dish first, the rapid succession of the other dishes meant that we didn’t really eat this until later. The sticky rice was great and filled with the usual chicken, Chinese sausage, and mushrooms. It was definitely a nice filler.
  • French Toast with Custard Tim Ho Wan Style 奶皇西多士 – To be perfectly honest, I really don’t get what’s all the rage with Hong Kong style french toast. I mean, its tasty but just not amazing to me. Similarly, the french toast was a nice dessert, but not too memorable.

All in all, Tim Ho Wan in the USA is close to, but not quite, the level of quality of the Hong Kong locations. Because of that, Tim Ho Wan is easily the best dim sum in New York. And at a total of about $17 per person, including tax and tip, it was surprisingly affordable given the amount of food we had. Who doesn’t love quality dim sum and wallet friendly prices?

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Shaanxi in New York City

After a whirlwind trip to New York City, Vancouver, and Hong Kong, I am back to blogging. Of course, with so many tasty things during my trip, it was difficult to know where to start or how to organize these blog posts. However, I’ll start chronologically with my brief, but exciting trip to the concrete jungle where dreams are made of.

Given that most of my Vancouver and Hong Kong meals where likely to be very Cantonese focused,  decided that New York City was my chance to explore a different regional cuisine of China. Arguably the most famous non-Cantonese Chinese cuisine of New York City is Shaanxi cuisine, thanks to the popularity of Xi’an Famous Foods. However, given that I have been fascinated about Biáng.svgBiáng.svg麵 I decided to have a dinner with my cousin at Biang! to eat their eponymous noodles.

Biang!
157 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Biang has all the trappings of being a trendy restaurant in the East Village. Located on a hip section of 2nd Ave it has a very minimalist decor scheme, complete with dark wood tables and short dark wood chairs. This trendy minimalism gives way to the menu too, not so much in the amount of choices (there are a few dozen options to choose from) but by absolute refusal to do any substitutions or alterations, however minimal. None of these detracted very much from the main focus, the food. My cousin and I decided to order the following:

Baby Bok Choy and Lamb Skewers at Biang!

Baby Bok Choy and Lamb Skewers at Biang!

  • Baby Bok Choy Skewers (上海菜苗) – Part of the spicy and tingly boiled skewers (麻辣涮串), these were essentially a triplet of 3 skewers each with 3 tiny marinated baby bok choy pieces. The sesame paste and garlic chili oil gave the otherwise bland baby bok choy a nice kick of umami and spice, though also a bit pricey at $5.50.
  • Lamb Skewers (羊肉) – Part of the spicy cumin barbecued skewers (孜然烤串), they were marinated with a perfect amount of cumin and other spices. There was a hearty amount of lamb too, making up for what seemed the be a paltry amount of bok choy on the other skewers. My one qualm was that the skewers were a little overcooked, but only to the point of being a little too chewy instead of super tough.

Liang Pi at Biang!

Liang Pi at Biang!

  • Liang Pi “Cold Skin” Noodles (凉皮) – Next came the liang pi, which had perfectly cooked chewy noodles dressed in a decent, but not overwhelming, amount of chili oil, soy sauce, and vinegar. The taste was pretty balanced, not being too oily, too spicy, or too sour. The seitan slices were nice and fresh too, making this dish quite wonderful.

Hot Oiled Seared Biang Biang Noodles at Biang!

Hot Oiled Seared Biang Biang Noodles at Biang!

  • Hot-Oiled Seared Biang Biang Noodles (油泼辣子Biáng.svgBiáng.svg面) – Since I couldn’t get the cocubine’s chicken to the side, I opted for the more traditional hot-oiled seared Biang Biang noodles. Unlike the ones at Famous Bao, you could tell that these noodles were legitimately made in-house. The noodles were long, very stretchy, wide, and fresh. It seemed that there was perhaps only 3 strands of very long noodles in the bowl. The sauce was also very flavorful with a nice amount of chili oil that didn’t overpower. I liked the overall simplicity of the dish, although I felt the portions were a bit small for the price.

Spicy and Sour Three Treasure Dumplings at Biang!

Spicy and Sour Three Treasure Dumplings at Biang!

  • Spicy & Sour Three Treasures Dumpling (酸辣三鲜水饺) – The original four items were not enough for our extremely hungry table of two, so we added these dumplings. The dumplings, as typical as they are in Northern China, were made of thick skins so they were definitely a bit chewy. Aside from that, the filling was hearty with shrimp and pork, though some had more chive flavor than others. Overall they were nice to sate our appetite, but I felt they weren’t anything special, but that might be due to my bias toward the thinner dumplings of Southern China.

All in all the food at Biang was pretty good, if a bit pricey for the fairly small portion sizes. Almost all the items were executed fairly well and were definitely very fresh. It’s just a shame that the noodle bowls are a bit small. However, I suppose they also have to pay for the upscale decor and higher rent on 2nd Avenue, so there’s not much you can do to make prices more budget conscious.

Xi’an Famous Foods
81 St. Mark’s Place
New York, NY 10003

Afterwards, my cousin and I decided we had a little more room in our stomach so we walked a few blocks south to take a taste of Xi’an Famous Foods. Unlike the modern, yuppified Biang, Xi’an Famous Foods’ East Village location was a brighter, cleaner version of its original Flushing location. The decor and space is very small and bare bones, mainly because the business is more reliant on quick service rather than a more upscale experience.

Liang Pi at Xi'an Famous Foods

Liang Pi at Xi’an Famous Foods

We decided to order the famous Liang Pi to compare Xi’an Famous Foods’ version to Biang’s. The Liang Pi came out very quickly and we took a bite of it almost immediately exiting the store. The noodles here were a little chewier than at Biang’s and definitely a bit more oily. The seitan also was a little chewier and seemed a little less fresh. However, the dish was very good overall even if it might not be to the quality that was found at Biang. At $6.00, though, the Liang Pi here was cheaper with bigger portions. I ultimately decided that while Biang’s version was superior, the quality differential didn’t match a 20% increase in cost.

Interestingly enough, when I sat down to write this article I noticed that Biang is a spin-off/concept store for Xi’an Famous Foods. In that sense, I do appreciate their attempt at having a more upscale sit down restaurant, especially given that the food is pretty good. However, I do wish that the portions were bigger or the prices were a little cheaper. Despite that, I do think Biang is a good restaurant that people should at least have one meal in. After all, its still relatively uncommon to find Shaanxi food in America, much less a place that attempts to execute such a wide variety of dishes at levels above street food/food court stalls.

Nyonya, New York City

Nyonya
199 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013

My trips to Washington, DC and New York city are always a chance to reconnect with friends, both close friends and friends who I haven’t seen in a really long time. This past trip was no different and gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my godsister (my mother was her godmother). Since she had lived in Singapore for a few years growing up, we decided to try out a Malaysian/Singaporean restaurant called Nyonya in Lower Manhattan.

We arrived around 7:45PM on a Monday night and got one of the few 2 seaters left open in the restaurant. After being seated we took a little while to browse through the dozens of selections on the menu, each looking more delectable than the last. However, we decided to order a few entrees and a few appetizers to share:

Roti Canai at Nyonya

Roti Canai at Nyonya

  • Roti Canai – This was my first time having this dish, and I instantly saw why Malaysians love to have this for breakfast. The light, airy roti matches perfectly with the curry sauce. The delicious, but not super heavy, dish was a good way to start off a meal, if not the entire day.

Beef Satay at Nyonya

Beef Satay at Nyonya

  • Beef Satay – The satay sauce was nice and had none of the gloopy high fructuse corn syrup taste you find in some of the cheaper satay sauces on the shelves. That said, the beef skewers were a little tough and probably too well done. It could have used a light marinade or a little less time in the heat.t said

Hainanese Chicken with Rice at Nyonya

Hainanese Chicken with Rice at Nyonya

  • Hainanese Chicken with Rice – The chicken was good, the dipping sauces were decent, but we both agreed that the rice wasn’t quite pulling its weight. While we might have tasted hints of chicken fat or stock, there definitely was not enough rendered juice, which is one of the signature parts of the dish. That said, the chicken was really tender and not too salty helping to make the dish decent, if not spectacular.
  • Chow Kueh Teow – This was a pretty solid version of the stir fried seafood noodle dish. We loved how the dish had a good “wok hei” (freshly woked aroma), fresh seafood, and a decent amount of sauce with a little kick of spice.

All in all, we really liked the restaurant. While the flavors of some of the dishes weren’t quite what we were hoping for, it gave both of us a nice satisfying bite of a cuisine that I believe is still too hard to find in the United States. There were a lot more items I wanted to try from the menu, however. This includes their Nasi Lemak and Assam Laksa. Of course, this just means I need to take more frequent trips to New York City to try it all out. Something which I absolutely do not oppose.

Food Adventures in Flushing

Unisphere at Flushing Meadows - Corona Park

Unisphere at Flushing Meadows – Corona Park

As some of my friends know, I like to go to New York during the Labor Day weekend to see the US Open, if possible. It’s an annual affair I started when I lived in Washington, DC and have hopefully resumed again now that I make a little bit more money and flights to New York are more abundant from the Bay Area than Albuquerque. The trips not only give me the chance to see top notch tennis matches, but also the opportunity to visit friends, see family, and, of course, eat good food. It doesn’t hurt that the US Open grounds are literally next to Flushing, the biggest are arguably the best Chinese community in all the five boroughs.

This trip two of my cousins wanted to do some exploring in Flushing, which ended up working perfectly. Below are a few places we went on our day as foodies in Flushing.

Fu Run
40-09 Prince St.
Queens, NY 11354

Our first stop of the day was Fu Run, a restaurant specializing in the cuisine of Dongbei, or northeastern China, formerly known as Manchuria. I never had Dongbei cuisine before and this place is consistently recommended from virtually every dining guide of Manchurian cuisine in Flushing. Dongbei cuisine, being part of the interior north and subject to drastically different climate than Hong Kong or Shanghai, tends to have dishes that are more lamb or beef based and use starches that are thicker. Given the different profile of food, I was excited to dig in when we finally got our dishes.

Country Style Grass Jelly Sheets at Fu Run

Country Style Grass Jelly Sheets at Fu Run

  • Country Style Green Bean Jelly Sheet – The server mixed the ingredients well, allowing the green bean jelly sheets to soak up the flavors of the sauce, cucumbers, cilantro, and other ingredients without losing their chew. It was a light, but good appetizer to start off the meal.
  • Sauteed Chinese Watercress With Garlic – While I generally prefer Chinese watercress to be chopped in longer sections (coming from my Cantonese roots), these were seasoned well. It was just enough garlic for a good amount of flavor, but not enough to be too overpowering.

Muslim Lamb Chops at Fu Run

Muslim Lamb Chops at Fu Run

  • Muslim Lamb Chops – If you have read any reviews of this place, their major claim to fame are these excellent lamb chops. The meat was succulent and nicely infused with the cumin and other spices. The spices themselves gave a very nice kick of spice without being too overpowering like a Sichuan peppercorn. All three of us really loved this dish.

Knowing that we had more of the day to chomp on other tasty morsels, we limited ourselves to three dishes. However, I would have loved to try the sweet potatoes, taro, and apple dessert to taste a truly Dongbei style of hard caramelized sweet treats. Of course, this just means I need to come out to New York and eat here again.

Corner 28 – 四菜一湯北京鴨
137-28 40th Rd
Queens, NY 11354

After lunch, my cousins and I spent a lovely afternoon at the Queens Museum. If you haven’t been, it is fantastic. While their famed panorama of the city was definitely marvelous, if you are ever at the museum this year I also encourage a tour of the World’s Fair design posters now on display.

Peking Duck Buns at Corner 28

Peking Duck Buns at Corner 28

Winding down the afternoon we walked back to Flushing, hungry for some snacks. The first pit stop we made was the Corner 28 for their famed Peking Duck bun stall. Corner 28, like a few other places in Flushing, is a space of a few food stall vendors cramed into the retail square footage of a small restaurant. While the place was not big, it did take us a while to spot the Peking duck buns. Tucked furthest in the back is the 四菜一湯北京鴨 stall (literally translated 4 dishes, 1 soup, Peking duck). We paid $5 for 6 buns and grabbed a bite of them on the curb. The Peking duck buns were made Cantonese style (with mantou buns) and pretty delicious. The duck could have been a little crispier, but for less than $1 a piece, I was not quibbling such details of quality.

We weren’t quite ready for dinner still so we wandered down Main Street and grabbed some curry fish balls. Like many stands and stalls in Hong Kong, there was little to no signage of the place. However, the balls were pretty good and had just a mild coating of curry, reminiscent of what my mom used to make.

New World Mall Food Court
136-20 Roosevelt Ave
Queens, NY 11354

Finishing the curry fish balls, we decided to wander some more. After taking a look at some tantalizing fresh fruits and vegetables, we did some grocery shopping. That turned out to be a fantastic activity because we learned what food traditions were more particular of our immediate family versus our extended family. It was during that time I learned my dad’s fondness for canned sardines or fried mud carp came from a family tradition of eating them while riding out hurricanes in their apartment.

Braised Pork Rice at 小圓環

Braised Pork Rice at 小圓環

Upon checking out of the supermarket we were ready for dinner. As we were right at the New World Mall, we decided to go to the New World Mall food court. Now, the New World Mall food court is no ordinary American mall food court where you find a selection of 8 or so food stalls hawking the same generic chains you would find at any other mall. Instead, there are over 25 different stalls, most of them small mom and pops, serving food from nearly every major culinary region of China. It’s busy and mesmerizing, like any food court you would see in Hong Kong.

I walked around the food court a couple times to figure out what I wanted to eat. In the end I chose 小圓環, a Taiwanese stall that seemed to have good food at bargain prices. I ordered their Box Entree with braised pork for $5.85+tax. I also wanted to order some 割包 (braised pork belly buns) but they were unfortunately sold out. Regardless, the braised pork rice was pretty good, up there with some of the best versions I’ve had at least in Irvine. I also got some boba milk tea from Tea Twitter, which was pretty sweet and refreshing and a nice change from all the Hong Kong style milk tea I usually order back in the Bay Area

Conclusion

All in all, I love exploring big food neighborhoods like Flushing that give you a little bit of culture and tasty food everywhere you stumble. While I have been to Flushing before, the experience was enhanced with my cousins also walking side by side, learning the similarity and differences of how we grew up. Of course, I still have more food adventures waiting for me next year when I return to Flushing (and Flushing Meadows) for the US Open. You could probably eat at a new place everyday in Flushing and still would only make a small dent in the cornucopia of restaurants in the community.