Posts Tagged soymilk

My No. 1 Place to Get a Chinese Breakfast

Back in NYC!! Woot! My parents celebrated this by taking me to my No. 1 place to get a Chinese breakfast: No. 1 East Restaurant (Ren Ren Xiao Guar). Aside from dimsum restaurants, we have been coming to this restaurant since I was about three, even before it changed its location and became featured on the NY Times 20 Great Things to Eat in Flushing.

We ordered the usual, starting off with the Beef with Toasted Sesame Cake, since it’s always the fastest. Throughout the years I’ve noticed a decline in its quality that could possibly be correlated with its increase in preparation speed. There is definitely a lot less meat and tian mian jiang (literally “sweet flour paste”, this is a rich sweet sauce usually served with Peking duck) compared to the shao bing (sesame cake). And the shao bing itself is not that good because its rather tasteless (unlike some shao bing that tend to be salty or sweet).

Once upon a time, they were a lot more generous with meat and sauce. Perhaps they need to be more frugal with the influx of customers. Or perhaps the chef no longer has time to prepare simple dishes like this one, so a newbie worker might be doing it. Who knows? It’s just not what it was… Nonetheless, we still get this sandwich every time, for tradition’s sake.

Beef with Toasted Sesame Cake. Notice the small meat-to-cake ratio...

Beef with Toasted Sesame Cake. Notice the small meat-to-cake ratio...

We also got the usual Flaky Radish Su Bing, a favorite of my dad’s and mine. My mom also thought we could try something new and got the Sweet Red Bean Su Bing as well.

Dish of Su Bing. The larger flatter ones on the bottom are the radish. The smaller rounder ones are the red bean.

Dish of Su Bing (the waitress brought them all in the same plate). The larger flatter ones on the bottom are the radish. The smaller rounder ones are the red bean.

I loved the radish. It was layered with a nice sheet of flaky crisp and toasted sesame on the outside, that became softer and warmer as I made my way to the core. The soft warm radish was really flavorful and slightly gooey, so the experience is similar to eating chicken pot pie, only the innards are not as heavy and creamy and the su bing is not exactly the same as pie crust. The radish-to-su bing ratio was just right: generous amount of radish with a decent layer of dough and flake. It was great!

Flaky Radish Su Bing Innards

Flaky Radish Su Bing Innards

The red bean was less impressive. Although the filling of sweet red bean paste was pretty delicious and seemed hand-made (because I found pieces of red bean inside), the ratio of filling-to-su bing was off. As opposed to the flatter radish su bing, the red bean su bing was rounder, and had a greater amount of layered dough concentrated on one side. It would have been a lot better if the red bean paste was more evenly distributed, and the su bing thinner, espeically since the red bean paste was particularly warm, smooth, and delicious. From a holistic point of view, this dish was pretty good, just not amazing. And I definitely know better places for red bean-stuffed pastries.

Red Bing Su Bing Innards

Red Bing Su Bing Innards

I washed these pastries down with a bowl of hot sweet soybean milk, something I’ve accustomed a taste for with my stay in Beijing this summer. It was very soothing and delicious compared with the store-bought carton, but no match for the freshly-ground bags made every morning in China.

My dad ordered a bowl of dofu-nao, or Salty Soybean Curds as it says on the English menu. Yes, the thought of eating “curds” seems gross, but hey, cheese is basically mold and yogurt is made from bacteria. Anyways, the dofu-nao is basically pieces of intensely soft and tender tofu immersed in a soy sauce-like solution and small savory shrimps. I tasted a spoonful of it and thought it was even better than my soymilk. The tofu was slippery and jello-like, only intensely tender and light. The soup was also clear and broth-like, seasoning the tofu. It was like savory light porridge.

Dofu-Nao (Salty Soybean Curds)

Dofu-Nao (Salty Soybean Curds)

Then there was the chive box (as directly translated from Chinese), or Fried Buns with Chives and Eggs (the English name on the menu). This is my mom’s favorite. I feel like the chive box is also a dish that declined in both quality and quantity over the years at No. 1. The stuffing of chives, egg, small shrimp, and vermicelli seems to have become less flavorful. This might be due to the decrease in oil used, which I suppose is beneficial from a health perspective. However, that does not explain why the boxes got smaller! The shape has also been changed to fit less chive stuffing!!

There is definitely an underlying profit-motive here. It always saddens me to watch as a small personal restaruant/cafe turn into a bigger business. I mean, it makes me happy for the owner who diligently worked his/her way up, but it also feels like a part of the place’s personality is lost as well…

Still, I’m glad I got to eat chive boxes again! Try them after pouring some white vinegar into the stuffing. It’s really good!

Chive Box

Chive Box

Last but not least and also my dad’s and my most favorite dish: Steamed Spinach Dumplings ! We love it so much we got two servings. Featured on NY Times (see link above) and Serious Eats New York, I think most people would agree that these are No. !’s best dish.

Steamed Spinach Dumplings!

Steamed Spinach Dumplings!

These are amazing! Thinly ground spinach, vermicelli bits with eggy shittake undertones wrapped in a soft thin layer of dumpling skin. My dad and I agree that only No. 1 knows how to make them unique and delicious. Part of their awesome-ness probably comes from how thinly ground and blended all its stuffing components are. I can’t even see the mushroom, but I definitely taste a strong shittake flavor with each bite that is perfectly harmonious with juicy spinach.

And the best part is, they have not changed.

Oh-so-delicious spinach innards

Oh-so-delicious spinach innards

Grade: A+ spinach dumplings!! The overall grade I’d give it is A-, especially when the decline of some dishes is taken into consideration…

Location: Map

41-27 Main St
Flushing, NY 11369
(718) 460-8686

Other Opinions:

Yelp

Comments (1)

Breakfast at Nan Xiang’s

Since Oniichan lives in Flushing and there’s good food in Flushing, Chwis and I decided to visit and eat out together! This time we decided to go to Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao/Noodle House on Prince Street.

Although we got there pretty early (around 11 am), the restaurant was pretty full and we had to wait for about 15-30 minutes. (I took this as a good sign since all the best restaurants in Flushing are crowded and require waiting.)

When we finally got our seats, we went for the Chinese breakfast menu. Chwis ordered a bowl of piping hot, fresh soymilk with a you tiao (long fried Chinese doughnut).

Soymilk

Soymilk

I didn’t taste the soymilk, but Chwis surprisingly didn’t find it sweet enough and decided to add a few extra scoops of sugar. It smelled fresh enough though, and Chwis had fun dipping her you tiao into the bowl.

You Tiao

You Tiao (haha I think it's funny how the color of the you tiao blends in with the color of the table)

I tried a piece of the you tiao. It amazed me that the you tiao wasn’t too oily but still tasted pretty good. It reminded me of the summers I spent in Beijing when I was little, and how my grandfather bought me you tiao every morning from the street vendors. I love food that invokes a memory…but you’re not here to hear me rant about that. What I will tell you about Nan Xiang’s you tiao is that it’s fresh, crispy, doughy inside, and quite delicious. It’s not spectacular, but it’s above mediocre.

Oniichan ordered two plates scallion pancake wrapped beef, and for good reason because this dish was delicious! The only downside was that the proportion of meat was small compared to the thick scallion pancake. However, this is understandable because the scallion pancake was also the best part of the wrap. It was covered with a thin layer of crisp but soft, warm, and doughy on the inside. Rolled up inside were some fresh beef coated with a sweet Chinese sauce. Moreoever whereas usually the raw scallions are sliced up and wrapped with the beef, this wrap has the small scallion bits inside the pancake, which keeps the flavor more subtle (which I prefer).

Scallion Pancake Beef Wrap

I got the sweet riceball roll (sugar-coated long Chinese donut rolled inside sticky rice), but regretted it afterwards, because I knew the salty riceball roll (long Chinese donut with pork and veggie bits rolled inside sticky rice) would have been better. It was yummy nonetheless, but probably not as yummy as its salty counterpart. The rice was very filling as sticky rice generally is, and the donut was sweet and fresh.

Sweet Riceball Roll

The grand finale was the plate of pork soup dumplings.

Pork Soup Dumplings

Indeed these are probably the best soup dumplings in NYC. The dumpling skin was nice and thin, and the meat was soft and flavorful, but what really got to me was the soup. The broth inside the dumpling wasn’t as oily as the one inside Joe’s Soup Dumplings, and it was more savory. Furthermore for each small dumpling, there was quite a lot of soup. And contributing to the soup dumpling experience, Nan Xiang’s vinegar dipping sauce was slightly sweet!

Soup Dumpling Single

*Eaters beware: Do not just bite into the dumpling haphazardly! You must keep the dumpling in a spoon, bite off a small piece of skin, suck the soup out slowly or let it fill up your spoon, and then eat the rest!*

Grade: B+/A-

Conclusion: Best soup dumplings; I must try the crab ones next time! Delicious scallion pancake wrapped beef, fresh breakfast foods, average sticky riceball roll (perhaps salty one would be better), good Chinese donuts

Location: Map

38-12 Prince St
Queens, NY 11354
Get Directions


* approximate times

718-321-3838

Other Opinions:

Yelp, Serious Eats, Gothamist

Comments (3)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 175 other followers