Posting about the wontons in red oil (紅油餛飩 - hóng yóu hún tún, or just ask for No. 6) at White Bear (白熊) is something I can't believe I haven't done... I've been meaning to forever. Quite simply, it's one of my favorite snacks in New York.
White Bear is run by a couple from Shandong, and their handmade wontons are, to this American, astonishing. The wontons are almost dumplings, really - the biggest difference is the wrapper. But what a difference it is: the wrappers are firm yet delicate, almost gossamer, and literally melt in your mouth. They enclose a pork and chive filling that is equally delicate in texture and seasoning. The red-pepper-infused oil is surprisingly mild, but the scallions, dried sumac, and the earthy-tasting chopped pickled vegetable create an overall flavor that is complex and infinitely satisfying. Every time I eat this dish, I want it to go on forever.
A bargain at $4.50 for 10 meaty wontons.
Their sesame noodles are simple and delicious, and quite popular, and they do a brisk take-away business of frozen dumplings to prepare at home.
White Bear (白熊)
135-02 Roosevelt Ave. (entrance on Prince St.),
(7 train to Main St.-Flushing, then one block west on Roosevelt)