Talk about the power of television – after seeing this restaurant featured in Bizarre Foods America we couldn’t wait to try it for ourselves. There was something in the way the hand ripped noodles were presented that I simply had to have some – I believe the correct term is jonesing for some. We decided that we were going to their flagship location in Flushing, which turned out to be a challenge due to parking. Even though there is a municipal lot nearby, it is always full and once in the lot, doomed to long waits. What was I thinking?? The somewhat easier way to go is via the 7 line to the end which is Main Street Flushing then walking about 4 blocks. The only challenge in taking the 7 is its service interruptions/changes due to never ending construction especially on the weekend. If you are not up to the excursion to Flushing, they have other locations in Manhattan, and Brooklyn.
The restaurant itself is pretty clean, cheery, and nicely decorated in a contemporary design. It felt pretty inviting with its charcoal sketch murals, vintage incandescent lighting, small tables with bench/stool seats, and a menu wall with pictures of their dishes. The picture menu is a great idea because you can see what you are ordering.
As you can see from the pictures, the restaurant is more of a cafeteria/casual dining establishment where you order your food at the counter and they serve it up on a tray on styrofoam dishes. The cuisine here is Northwestern Chinese which is heavy on lamb, noodles, and middle eastern spices. We ordered several dishes: The Lamb Offal Soup, Spicy Tingly Beef Hand Ripped Noodles, Spicy Enoki Mushrooms, and Spicy Cucumber Salad.
The Spicy Cucumber Salad – A great accompaniment to the other dishes. Spicy, vinegary, sweet, and crunchy and cooling from the cucumber, this is a must order as it cuts the spiciness and monotone taste of the other dishes.
Lamb Offal Soup – As its name implies, this is a soup made of a Lamb’s internal organs. Ordinarily, offal has a strong flavor, however, this is not the case with this dish. The aside from it being spicy as evidenced by the layer of red chili oil on the broth, there was not much taste to it. In addition to the lack of flavor there were hardly any noodles and offal as you can see from the picture below! The kitchen must’ve run out of ingredients and just served the dish anyway. To be fair, they did call it soup, which is what is was mainly of. LOL.
Spicy Tingly Beef Hand Ripped Noodles – I was attracted to this dish because of the adjectives – spicy and tingly. As advertised, my mouth was indeed tingly from the chilies. Good thing I ordered it medium spicy. I can only imagine how spicy this would be if I went full throttle on the heat. On first bite you get the flavors of the Middle East predominantly Cumin, then beef, followed by the thick, slick, stretchy, chewy hand made noodles (which was excellent at sopping up the sauce). The sauce was pretty aromatic – tangy, pungent, meaty – but the cumin and the spiciness overrode the other flavors. The few beef chunks in the dish were really tender and full of beef flavor, however, it was rather tendony which a good number of Asians, except me, like. The hand made noodles were the star of this dish by far.
Spicy Tingly Beef Hand Ripped Noodles in Soup – This dish was much better than the Lamb Offal Soup above. It had more noodles, meat and flavor than the other soup, but like the other dishes the tingliness of the spice finally overrode the other flavors.
Spicy Enoki Mushrooms – One of the specialty dishes, the stewed Enoki Mushrooms were delicious and crunchy as Enokis are. Just like the other dishes, they had a predominant taste of Cumin and Middle Eastern spices, while tasty on the first couple of bites, the flavor quickly became monotonous.
Overall the dishes that we enjoyed were the Spicy Cucumber Salad and the Spicy Tingly Beef Hand Ripped Noodles with emphasis on the noodles. Now that we have tried this place out we can cross it off the list and move on, it’ll be a while before we revisit this place.