Popular Posts

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hot Pot Under de Tree

Last week, I stopped into One Stop Patty Shop for a beef patty, and I noticed a pile of menus for Hot Pot Under de Tree on the counter. It definitely looked like it had potential, so today I made the short trek up to W. 151st and Frederick Douglass Blvd. My instincts proved to be correct.

Hot Pot dishes up authentic, home-style Jamaican food (judging from the accent of the fellow behind the counter, he's pretty definitely Jamaican) at very reasonable prices. I'm a sucker for jerk chicken, so that's what I had to get. It may not be the hottest jerk around, but the chicken is simmered in a deep, complex concoction of spices that made for the most satisfying non-Asian dish I've had in quite a while.

(What you can't see in the photo is the small mountain of rice and peas - the Jamaican version of moro, made with red beans - under the chicken, cabbage, and plantains.)

The hot dishes vary from day to day, but they almost always have jerk chicken, plus four or five other stews (such as goat, oxtail, and fish). Each meal comes with two sides, and in three sizes - small is around $7, depending on the dish.  Medium (pictured) is around $9, and large $11-12.

Their beef patties are homemade and baked on the premises - and even better than One Stop's.

I was told by one of the enthusiastic fellow-patrons that I need to come back on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday when the serve grilled jerk chicken. Sure enough, there was one of those oil-barrel-cum-grills right by the front door. And to come early, as they tend to run out. I intend to do just that.

Hot Pot Under de Tree
2839 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (@ 151st St.), New York 10039

One Stop Patty Shop

Take any pastry and fill it with meat and I'm all over it (Spanish emapanada, Portuguese fohlados de carne and pastéis de massa tenra. And my partiality to spicy food should be well-known to my readers by now. So it follows naturally that I LOVE beef patties. It's pretty much the only thing One Stop Patty Shop does, and they do it very well.

What does one say about a beef patty? Light, flaky dough with a hint of curry enveloping a spiced ground beef mixture. It's all in the seasoning, and One Stop's is good. Very good. A small meal (or the perfect breakfast!) for all of two bucks.

One Stop Patty Shop
1708 Amsterdam Ave. (@ 145th St.), New York 10031

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New York Han Du (CLOSED)

Next door to my beloved Spicy Road is a space that is now home to its third restaurant in as many years. The short-lived Deyi Peking Duck House is now the much-more-satisfying-in-every-way New York Han Du.

New York Han Du is a Korean-style barbecue buffet run by northern Chinese. I haven't figured out, and forgot to ask, if it's a Yanbian establishment, but I suspect not. Their food, in any event, is excellent. A good selection of meats, seafood, chicken, and organ meat (sliced kidney, anyone?) is on hand, both marinated and fresh, spicy and non-spicy. The side offerings are minimal, but it hardly matters: the barbecue items hold center stage effortlessly.

And with the addition of the galbi (갈비):

Comparison with Picnic Garden, the best-known (only other?) Korean barbecue buffet in Flushing is inevitable: I find New York Han Du's quality a notch or two superior. And there is the added advantage here that the pleasant, attentive, and skilled wait staff tend your barbecue for you. For the time being, they are running a 20% off special at dinner - at the moment the price is $19.99 a person (regularly $24.99).

New York Han Du
43-18A Main St., Flushing 11355

(7 train to Main St.-Flushing, then 9 blocks south on Main St.)

Spicy Road (四海居), Pt. 3

Good things are still happening at Spicy Road. They continue to tweak their menu, and a new version was unveiled just this past week, with some new dishes. I was a bit dismayed to notice new prices for some of the old dishes, too, but eating here is still firmly within the "good value" category. There are many dishes here one should know about - what follows is just a small sampling.

On a recent visit, it seemed that one particular dish was on every table in the restaurant... what was one to do but order it, too? There was a reason everyone in the house had ordered it: Xinjiang Style Sautéed Sliced Beef (新疆炒肥牛 - xīn jiāng chǎo féi niú) is fantastic. Thin slices of beef belly - reminiscent of pork belly in all the best ways - are stir-fried with hot green peppers and scallions, and topped with a generous sprinkling of cilantro.

Sautéed Elbow with Seafood and Double Winter Vegetables (雙冬海鮮扒肘子 - shuāng dōng hǎi xiān bā zhǒu zǐ) is a dish that could only come from northern China. "Elbow" (肘子 - zhǒu zǐ) turns out to be pork hock, and which is braised in a brown sauce with bamboo shoot, black mushrooms, scallion, and sea cucumber - an interesting texture counterpoint - served with a ring of steamed broccoli florets. Surprisingly subtle and delightful.

Smiling Pan-broil Dumpling (開口鍋貼 - kāi kǒu guō tiē) turns out to be a generous portion of open dumplings, fried pot-sticker style, with your choice of filling. The best version of these I know of in Flushing.

Pork in Orange Sauce (鍋包肉 - guō bāo ròu) is yet another winner. Thin rectangles of pork almost the size of file cards are covered in a thin layer of batter and fried, then tossed in a sauce of orange, white raisins, currants and pine nuts, then sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Yun Gui Chuan Hot & Spicy Chicken (云貴川香麻辣子雞 - yún guì chuān xiāng má là zǐ jī) turns out to be small chunks of chicken stir-fried with dried red peppers, lots of Sichuan peppercorn, and some sort of snack mix, replete with cracker sticks and a close relative of Wheat Chex! It's the same idea as the late, lamented M & T Restaurant's Fei Hong chicken - I can only assume the Yun Gui Chuan refers to some sort of snack.

One of the new menu items is Kua Style Fish in Casserole (砂锅跨炖鱼 - shā guō kuà guā dùn yú). I must admit to being a bit stumped by the name... 砂锅 (clay pot), 炖 (stewed), and 鱼 (fish) are all self-explanatory. But 跨??  Kuà mean "cross" or "jump over". What arrives at ones table is a HUGE clay casserole of what is essentially a light, delicately-flavored hot and sour soup with egg, Chinese chives, and a a good-sized whole fish that has been previously sautéed. Perhaps this cross-pollination of cooking methods is the "crossing over" of the dish's name. In any case, it's marvelous.

It´s bigger than it looks, trust me.

Northeast Style Stew Pork (東北亂燉 - dōng běi luàn dùn) is a great dish for the coming fall and winter. The luàn of the name means "jumbled", and this stew is a jumbled riot of ingredients: chunks of pork belly, green beans, white cabbage, potato, black mushrooms, eggplant, tomato, and those wide, clear mung bean noodles (粉皮 -  fěn pí). Another quintessentially northern Chinese dish.

Make special note of the large sign in the front window with a picture of a small, metal, wok-shaped dish containing some tidbits in a reddish sauce. It lists four or five dishes in Chinese with English translations, all of the má là (spicy-tingly) variety, served in what in what one area of the menu terms a "dried wok". It comes to your table set up on a stand over a sterno burner so it bubbles away pleasantly for several minutes. The stellar Lao Gan Ma pork ribs (老幹媽香排骨 - lǎo gān mā xiāng pái gǔ) are surprisingly tender bits of spare ribs with bone, made with the famous Lao Gan Ma brand of hot sauce. Ma La Duck Neck (麻辣鴨脖 - má là yā bó), inch-long chunks of duck neck in a sauce of similar flavor, is also good, but the miniscule bones get real annoying REAL fast. And the unexpected bonus was the part I somehow missed on the poster in the window: these dishes cost $1.88! (one per table)   I'm not sure how long this special will be running, so go check it out soon.

Spicy Road
43-18 Main St., Flushing 11355

(7 train to Main St.-Flushing, then 9 blocks south on Main St.)