Traditional Tuesday – Soup Dumplings

Happy Tuesday! As I was leaving the subway station I came across a Chinese restaurant in Queens that just opened up. The owner gave me the menu and after glancing the menu, the prices of the dishes appeared to be expensive. A few months after the opening, a family friend was raving about these black truffle soup dumplings ($12.75 for six). Even, Eater loved them. Therefore, I have to try them.

So what are soup dumplings?

Soup dumplings were created as a street food in Nanking, China in 1875. The dish traveled to other provinces throughout China and Japan. These dumplings are usually steamed filled with gelatin based soup broth, pork and vegetables.

Are they healthy? Well, the soup broth is high is saturated fat and sodium. However, soup dumplings are using dipped in a sauce made with soy sauce, vinegar and ginger. This concoction can be viewed a healthy combination as vinegar aids in digestion and lowers blood sugar while the ginger holds many health benefits such as anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidants.

After completing my weekend 4-6 mile walk, I decided to reward myself with soup dumplings. The Shanghainese restaurant Shanghai Zhen Gong Fu appeared to be a small Chinese takeout spot, but inside there were a bunch of tables. One of their popular dishes were the soup dumplings, so we ordered the crab and pork soup dumplings, pork soup dumplings and the infamous black truffle soup dumplings. Well, let’s just say the wrappers of these dumplings were perfectly thin and folded very well. The crab and pork soup dumplings and the black truffle dumplings were so good. The overall soup dumplings especially the crab and pork soup ones were even better than the ones I’ve had in the past. The black truffle soup dumpling were so tasty and they even have real black truffles on top of the dumplings. One can even taste the truffle oil in the soup broth.

So if you’re in Elmhurst, stop in Shanghai Zhen Gong Fu and try those black truffle dumplings. They are the best bang for your buck for an luxury street food.

Throwback Thursday- Family Style Chinese food

Ever since I was a child I would have family style Chinese food. This is not your typical Chinese American cuisine. Majority of authentic Chinese restaurant are identified based on the number of Chinese customers eating there. There are two family style Chinese cuisine I have eaten at, both in Elmhurst. Every year I always have to celebrate my birthday with Chinese food. I grew up with the belief of consuming noodles on my birthday signifying long life.  When I eat at these family style Chinese restaurants I always request an order of pan fried noodles. Recently I had a craving a found a recipe to make it on own, which was recently posted here under Traditional Tuesday. In addition to the pan fried noodles we would order a crusted t-bone steak and honey walnut shrimp.

The top collage was taken place at China Pearl Chinese Restaurant, one of the original Chinese restaurants in Elmhurst. Total meal cost including tip was $300.

The bottom collage was taken place at the recently opened Broadway Seafood Chinese Restaurant also located in Elmhurst. Total meal cost including tip was $170.

The major differences between the two restaurants is the quality of food. China Pearl had the better house special soup, steak and honey shrimp walnut while Broadway Seafood had more street food options such as lamb chops and roast pig and duck and soy sauce chicken.

The pan fried noodles with seafood is better at Broadway Seafood than in China Pearl.

Stay tuned for more eating journeys…

Flashback Friday – Pho Bang 

Happy Friday! One of my family’s favorite spots to eat on a lazy night of cooking is Pho Bang, a Vietnamese restaurant in Elmhurst, NY. This restaurant also has several locations, one in Flushing and the other in Chinatown. The restaurant accepts cash only but it is a great family spot especially for quick and cheap family dinners. The dishes are not only cheap, but it has been recognized as one of the top restaurants in Elmhurst by Zagat.

My father would end up with the bill and from my recollection of the costs the total including tax was less than $30 for three people.  Even better the portions are family style! 

The awesome thing about this restaurant is their prep and presentation of their beef and abundance of vegetables. There are variety of pho to choose from, but we usually go with the Tai Chin Nam Gan Sach without the rice noodles, which is a beef soup with fresh eye round, navel, tendon and omosa. The dish comes with noodles, but we love the flavor of the beef broth plus it is carb free. The beef just cooks in the hot broth as it is served to maintain its tenderness. The vegetables of bean sprouts and mint with lemon enhanced the flavor of this refreshing hot soup. 

Another dish that we love to order is a specialty called Nam Nuong which grilled pork hash balls that come with picked carrots, shallot and radishes along with steamed rice wrappers and green leaf lettuce. This dish is refreshing and versatile where you can use the rice wrapper and place the ingredients in it. You can even go paleo and do without the rice wrapper and use the lettuce to make a wrap. 

Pho and Nam Nuong

Other dishes to try include their spring rolls which are made out of rice wrapper. Can’t go wrong with the summer roll, bun (rice vermecelli) dishes and grilled pork chops. 

Last month a fire broke into the restaurant. The restaurant is currently closed but it is undergoing renovations. Can’t wait to return to this restaurant once it opens again. In the meantime, check out the other Pho Bang restaurants in Flushing and Chinatown. 

Flashback Friday – Ayada

Happy Friday, after a week of planning and cooking healthy meals on a budget for Cinco de Mayo, it is time to head to one of my favorite Thai restaurants to date.  Ayada Thai is a neighborhood gem and a great place to eat with a group of friends.  I usually take my relatives from out of town here and even have held small birthday parties here.

Ayada Thai is located in Elmhurst, Queens.  The restaurant offers authentic, affordable and tasty Thai food that will feed an entire family.  The restaurant received a lot of press and awards for their amazing cuisine.  They have been covered by ABC NewsNew York TimesVillage Voice, New York Magazine, and even was voted as one of the best Cheap Eats and best Thai Restaurants in Zagat.  More importantly they received recognition of  Bib Gourmands by Michelin Star.

I can definitely testify to Ayada’s success by the food portion and quality of food that is provided to us.  Below are images of my family and my personal favorite dishes:

BBQ Pork $10

BBQ Beef $10

Satay Chicken $7

Shrimp in a Blanket $5

Crispy Chinese Watercress Salad $15

Crispy Catfish Salad $15

Shrimp Pad Thai $11

Chicken Pad Thai $9

Beef Pad Cee Eiw $9

Fried Banana (only sold on Saturdays)

Thai Ice Tea $3

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1) BBQ Pork 2) Beef Pad Cee Eiw 3) Fried Banana (sold on weekends), 4) Crispy Catfish Salad, 5) BBQ Beef and BBQ Pork 6) Chicken Satay and Shrimp in a Blanket, 7) Crispy Watercress Salad, 8) Shrimp Pad Thai

Best times to go is during lunch and early dinner before 7pm.  I have not tried their lunch special yet because I work on the weekdays.  Given that half of my heritage is Thai I can testify to the authenticity and taste of the food.  Food is overall consistent and I will definitely return for another family meal.