Archive for the tag 'chinese food'

chinamax

The long-lived China Max Restaurant at 2261 Emmons Avenue served its last pu-pu platter.

The business closed up some time in the past two weeks, and a “For Lease” sign now sprawls across the storefront. The business had at first placed an “under renovation” sign up, but that renovation doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.

We don’t know why it closed, though we’ve heard rumors that a proposed rent hike led to a disagreement between landlord and tenant. Employees at Siam Orchid Thai Cuisine next door said they weren’t sure, and noted that they did not share ownership and the Thai restaurant isn’t going anywhere.

Thanks to the many, many people who contacted us about this. If the sheer number of readers who took an interest in the closure is any indication, it’s clear the restaurant will be missed.

Cafe Kashkar (Source: roboppy via flickr)

Cafe Kashkar (Source: roboppy via flickr)

Respected New York City food critic Robert Sietsema took a visit to Brighton Beach to sample the local cuisine. In an article for NY Eater, Sietsema heaps praise on some of the best food joints in the area, highlighting Cafe Kashkar (1141 Brighton Beach Avenue) in particular.

Sietsema opens his report declaring that of all the neighborhoods surrounding New York City beaches, Brighton Beach has the best food options. Right off the bat, Sietsema describes the wonders of the drool worthy Cafe Kashkar:

While you may tend to think of Brighton Beach as a Russian and formerly-Soviet enclave, it is much more than that. Café Kashkar (1141 Brighton Beach Avenue, 718-743-3832) is the jewel in the crown, a rare Uyghur establishment that peddles the Silk Road food of Xinjiang, China, which means big meaty lamb dumplings called manti, homemade noodles known as lagman in soups and stir fries, cumin-dusted kebabs (pick lamb rib), and cold composed salads that are just the thing for the hot summer months. And at prices so cheap your jaw will drop.

Stops along Sietsema’s route include the supermarket Brighton Bazaar (1007 Brighton Beach Avenue), which features extensive carryout options, Kebeer (1003 Brighton Beach Avenue), a “German-themed Russian beer garden” pan fried Russian meats and burgers and sausages and Café Glechik (3159 Coney Island Avenue), a place that sports “a very nice rabbit stew.”

Other places Sietsama recommends include the street food parked in front of the Russian supermarket Tokyo Bay (309 Brighton Beach Avenue) where you can get fried piroshki with a large selection of stuffings. The critic also notes the fine selection of Turkish food available in the area:

The Turks seem to be moving into Brighton Beach in force, and there’s a new branch of the Union City, New Jersey old-timer Beyti Kebab (414 Brighton Beach Avenue, 718-332-7900). Cooked over charcoal, the ground-lamb adana kebabs are particularly fine, and so are the feta-stuffed pastries called bureks and the cold-yogurt soup, cacik. Speaking of pastries, there’s a new branch of the Istanbul coffee-and-dessert chain Gulluoglu (231 Brighton Beach Avenue, 347-577-6150) just across the street, offering more types of baklava than you can well imagine. If you’re in a kinky mood, try one of the oddly dressed Turkish hot dogs.

If you are not yet starving, you can check out the entirety of Sietsema’s report as well as his complete rankings by clicking here.

THE BITE: On a recent night I sat down for dinner at Chop Stix (3790 Nostrand Avenue, between Avenue Y and Avenue Z) with my friend Ned. Ned likes to joke about whenever someone eats in a Chinese restaurant that they spend a lot of time looking over the encyclopedic menu before ordering the same thing they always eat. Determined to prove him wrong, I suggested that we order the fried octopus leg appetizer ($6.95). We both laughed at my suggestion.

When the waiter came to take our order, I ordered Kung Po Chicken. Yes, I was trying something new; well, not exactly new, but not of my routine. When the waiter turned to Ned, he ordered his main dish, which was his default Chinese restaurant order, and then said, “and an order of the fried octopus.” This surprised me. I thought he knew I was joking with my suggestion.

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I’ll just come out and say it: I love Chop Stix. My girlfriend and I first tried their delicious food at A Taste of Sheepshead Bay event this past October, and their broccoli and chicken dish was easily one of the most memorable and satisfying bites we had that night. In light of that experience, it actually came as no surprise to me that Chop Stix made the New York Daily News’ list of the city’s best General Tso’s Chicken.

Chop Stix, located at 3790 Nostrand Avenue, is run by Chef George Wong and the Daily News tried to get at Wong’s secrets, but he wasn’t biting:

According to Wong, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, the secret to his General Tso’s chicken is the fresh snow peas, peppers, broccoli, baby corn and watercress he uses to accompany the dish. But it’s the sauce that is the most impressive. Wong won’t reveal what’s in it but admits that he lets it ferment for at least a week so “the ingredients mix in harmony.”

Keep your secrets, Mr. Wong, but keep serving up some of the best Asian cuisine in all of Brooklyn.

Photo by Lenny Markh

THE BITE: I like to eat where our readers send me. I’ve had some interesting recommendations in the past couple of years, but this is the first time I had a recommendation from a reader who also follows Serious Eats. Not only does he follow Serious Eats, he follows recipes from my friend and fellow food writer, James Boo.  This elusive reader has such high regards for the lowly scallion pancake, he actually makes them at home using James’ recipe.

This reader, who will remain anonymous at his request, highly recommended the scallion pancakes at New Star Restaurant (2212 Avenue X – between East 21 and East 22 Streets) which happens to be walking distance from my home.

Oddly, I had never been to this restaurant. Of course, I had to go.

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THE BITE: This week the Bite breaks new ground and lets you take a peak into the sausage factory. Usually we spend the week sampling various foods for the Bite and try to only bring you the best the neighborhood has to offer. Today, we bring four of the neighborhood’s Cha siu bao offerings, better known as the pork bun, into the office for a showdown.

Let’s meet the four contenders..

  1. Bing Bakery – 1415 Gravesend Neck Road – $0.80.
  2. Bliss Bakery – 1412 Avenue U – $1.00.
  3. Good Family Bakery – 1317 Avenue U – $0.90.
  4. L & U Bakery – 1405 Avenue U – $0.70.

Before we get started, let’s set some ground rules here. One: this is not a definitive guide to Cha Siu Bao. Not every Chinese bakery in the neighborhood will be represented. There’e no bias here. These buns were purchased in the normal course of my day, while conducting other important business for Sheepshead Bites. If I passed a Chinese bakery, pork buns were purchased. Two: all of these pork buns were purchased on Tuesday afternoon around 3:00 p.m. A few of the bakeries were sold out of Cha Siu Bao by that time. Three: the Chinese Bakery owners and staff were not aware of this impending shoot out.

Once back at the office, all of the buns were weighed, sliced open, photographed and tasted. Now, here at the Bite, we’re not experts in Chinese food, but we know what we like. So here’s what we’re looking for: a light, chewy bun with a texture very similar to hallah. The pork filling should be tender, moist and bursting with flavor – after all, the diced pork is usually mixed into a syrupy mixture of oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, roasted sesame seed oil, rice vinegar, shaoxing wine or dry sherry, soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch. The bun should have a nice meat-to-bread ratio, with meat in every bite.

Read on to find out the results of the Buns Off Challenge!

Photo by Randy Contello

Kung Fu Tea – sporting some very cool signage – is now open at 1422 Avenue U.

The business is apparently a part of a local chain, and a quick Google search turns up locations around the city, including the East Village, Chinatown and Flushing – not to mention one of the dumbest Youtube videos of all time (we ain’t linking it).

The business opened last Thursday, December 15, replacing Best Stop Wireless.


Welcome back to The Bite, Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

Back in the early 1980s, I was working in a small architectural firm in the city. One of my duties was working out the public assembly plans for most of the Chinese restaurants in Chinatown. At lunch time or at the end of the day, the  owners would treat me like an honored guest by rolling out their best dishes for me to sample. After my third restaurant or so, I noticed a pattern.  On my first visit, the owners would offer me something safe, something they knew this white boy from Long Island could handle. By my third or fourth visit, I’d be feasting on the true delicacies of Chinese cuisine; jelly fish, chicken feet, shark fin soup, eel, stinky tofu, thousand year old eggs and things I still can’t identify.

One aspect of Chinese cuisine eluded me — the Chinese bakery. With so many restaurants offering me their best dishes, the store front bakeries of Chinatown held no appeal. My friends in the business told me to stay out — saying that the bakeries “were like our McDonald’s.”

I took them at their word — I stayed out. That attitude stayed with me for many years. It wan’t until recently that I even set foot into one of the many Chinese bakeries in our area. I admit it, I was a snob.

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THE BITE: We’ve covered Buffalo wings previously on The Bite, but we’ve never taken on “Famous Buffalo Wings” before. So today, we head to the outer reaches of Sheepshead Bay for the “best Buffalo wings on Staten Island. ” No, we didn’t actually go to Staten Island, we drove over to Marine Park. Confused yet? Hold on. It gets worse. I’ll try to explain it as clearly as I can.

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Welcome back to The Bite, Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

This week The Bite samples one of the most suspect meal deals around – the “lunch special.” You know the meal I’m talking about. Soup or egg roll, pork fried or white rice and an entrée. It’s ubiquitous to the Chinese restaurant industry. High-end or low-end restaurant, it doesn’t matter. Somewhere on the menu, you’ll find the “special lunch menu.” Oh, some places change the offerings a little bit by adding soda or salad as options. More health conscience establishments may add brown rice, but its all the same.

Join me now as I take on Mr. Tang Coney Island Kitchen’s “Special Luncheon Menu’s” Orange Chicken, with pork fried rice. At Mr. Tang’s, the offerings are soup or soda, pork fried rice or white rice and the entrée. I usually go with the spicy dishes, so Orange Chicken ($5.35) was my choice. No soup for me! A diet coke completed my meal as it was 90 degrees outside and Mr. Tang’s dining room wasn’t air conditioned.

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