Finding authentic Chinese food that reminds me of home is really tough. Even Manhattan’s Chinatown doesn’t live up to expectations. But for Chinese New Year’s, my family and I added East Harbor Seafood Palace in Brooklyn (Dyker Heights) to our “Best Chinese Food in NYC” list, and I’m now happy to add Yun Nan Flavour Snack Shop. Moving to Brooklyn was definitely a great idea!
T was craving Chinese food or ramen for lunch, so I thought this was a great opportunity to take her with me on this particular soup adventure. It was a hot, hot day, but we made the trek out there (it’s a bit of a walk from the subway) and were happy that we did.
When we walked into the tiny storefront, we were greeted by the friendly owner (the husband of the husband-wife team) who recommended the cold noodles* (#6) which T ordered. Since I was here to try New York Magazine‘s recommendation, I ordered the Hot and Sour Soup with Dumplings which was actually “#27 – Dumpling with Hot and Sour Sauce” ($4.25) on the menu. Soup and sauce are two totally different things, so I’m not sure why the owners used the word “sauce” when it was actually soup. I suppose I can forgive the bad English, especially when they were telling me my Mandarin was very good, even though I know it was very bad.
In any case, what did I get exactly? A big plastic white tupperware bowl filled with nine to ten freshly-made, meaty wontons which were floating in some spicy, vinegary reddish-brown clear broth with cilantro, chili and scallions.
The wontons – the “dumplings” – were the real deal. Not from a frozen bag. You could taste the love and care that went into making them, and I felt at home. I envisioned my mom and grandmother at the dinner table making tray after tray of them.
The broth, on the other hand, didn’t blow me away, but it was still really good. Something was missing for me, and I still can’t pinpoint what it was. It lacked a bit of flavor, so, at times, I felt I was drinking something that was really watered down. I’m not sure what they use to make the broth, but, if they use meat or meat bones as a base, perhaps they should simmer it longer. Or perhaps the vinegar just threw off the taste. Or maybe that’s how it’s supposed to taste, and I just don’t know what I’m talking about. Whatever it was, I’m unhappily reporting that I could’ve done without the broth. I would’ve been perfectly happy just eating the dumplings with some actual sauce.
And, for those of you who like it spicy, even though New York Magazine declared that the soup could “clear a sinus at 60 paces,” it really is no replacement for Sudafed or wasabi. Spicy is not my friend, but I could handle this with no problem. All the soup did was make my nose run because the temperature was so hot. So leave the Pepcid at home, but make sure to bring lots of tissues with you.
Would I go back for more? Absolutely. It’s the closest thing to home right now. And, since home wouldn’t be the same without my actual family, I hope I can take them with me at some point to have a feast!
*Read more about the Shop in general and the cold noodles from my Yelp review! T and I both took a container of the noodles home for dinner!
Yun Nan Flavour Snack Shop
774 49th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)
Brooklyn, NY 11220