There's a very small storefront on College Point Blvd. that dishes up some pretty fantastic food, at equally fantastic prices. Gourmet Noodle & Delicacies is owned and run by folks from the city of Wenzhou, an important economic and industrial city in Zhejiang province, which is next door to Fujian province.
Apart from greens-stuffed bing, pork and chive dumplings (which no one seems to order), and about a dozen breakfast items, the offerings here fall into two main groups: noodle soups and prepared cold dishes. In contrast to the northern Chinese noodles shops, the reigning noodle here is the rice noodle. And the soup that reigns supreme is the stewed sparerib rice noodle soup (紅燒排骨粉 – hóng shāo pái gǔ fěn). It’s possibly the most delicious noodle soup I've ever had. Each portion comes with its own mini 3-or-4-rib rack of baby spare ribs, some pickled mustard greens, a rich, complex pork broth, and rice noodles that are just tasty and chewy enough to be interesting on their own. A perfect, self-contained lunch. And if, for some unfathomable reason, you don’t want pork, there are 8 or 9 other options of fish, seafood, vegetable, and wontons to satisfy you. The Wenzhou-style wonton soup is particularly nice (温州餛飩湯 – wēn zhōu hún tún tāng), with ultra-delicate little wontons, similar to those of Fujian.
As stellar as that spare-rib soup is, the center-stage spotlight here is held by the prepared cold dishes. There is a steady stream of customers all day that don’t order anything at all to eat there, but just drop in to buy food to take home. There are at least four dozen dishes listed in their lǔ wèi xiǎo cài (滷味小菜) menu, and I haven’t tried one yet that wasn’t delicious. One of the nicest was the very first thing I sampled, something from the glass case that looked beautifully fresh, and turned out to be goose intestine with mustard greens (I never did find out the name of this dish, but it has something to do with jiè cài – 芥菜 – mustard greens, and é cháng – 鹅腸 – goose intestine), tossed with just a touch of vinegar and oil until they glisten.
Almost everyone who walks through the door ends up leaving with at least one braised pork shoulder (滷扎蹄 – lǔ zā tí)... try one and it’s easy to understand why. The bone is removed, then a roll is made with the shoulder meat wrapped in the skin-like fat, which is then tied up with string, brined, and braised. They slice it into thin half-moons for you - with the vinegar dipping sauce, it’s difficult to stop eating it.
The beef equivalent, lǔ niú ròu (滷牛肉), is similar in idea and execution, and every bit as deliciously addictive.
Their chopped-up boiled chicken is cooked perfectly (白斩鸡 – bái zhǎn jī) – plain chicken does not often taste this good. Gāo liáng ròu (高梁肉) – thin sheets of pork jerky cured with sorghum (which lends a subtle sweet flavor) cut into strips – makes a fun snack. And their fish jelly (魚膠凍 – yú jiāo dòng) is marvelous. I know it sounds weird... just give it a try. At these eminently reasonable prices, one can afford to try lots of things.
(Ed. There is a different English sign now - I cannot now remember what it is - but they serve the same excellent food as of Sept. 2013.)
Gourmet Noodle & Delicacies
42-15 College Point Blvd., Flushing 11355
(7 train to Main St.-Flushing, 5 blocks south on Main, then right on Sanford to College Point Blvd.)