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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

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.)

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