Category Archives: Asian

45 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Sripraphai’s Tom Kha Gai: I Still Prefer the Other Tom

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  I still like Tom Yum Goong better.

Since many years ago, I had heard a lot about Sripraphai from my Thai friends.  I’d always wanted to try it, but it was rare for anyone to really go out there for some Thai food.  So I was glad to see that this restaurant made the list.  Now I had to go.

It was a tad disappointing to see that the featured soup was Tom Kha Gai ($4.50 small; $8.50 large) since I’m a huge fan of Tom Yum Goong ($5 small; $9 large), but at least it got me to try something new.

The first thing to note is that, while New York Magazine indulged in a large, all you need is a small, unless you’re going to share with a group of friends.  The small alone was extremely filling.  Packed with shrimp, oyster mushrooms and large chunks of chicken, you basically had your dinner entree right there.

Sripraphai's Tom Kha Gai

The coconut milk broth was enhanced by a huge chunk of galangal (ginger), chili peppers, cilantro, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, giving you a nice balance of creamy, sweet and tangy.  I expected the chili peppers to make it extremely spicy, as Thai people like to eat their food, but it wasn’t spicy at all.

It was definitely a delicious soup, but I remain loyal to my Tom Yum (which was actually really good, too) since, as you know, I prefer clear broths, not milky ones.

Sripraphai
64-13 39th Avenue
Woodside, NY 11377
718.899.9599
http://www.sripraphairestaurant.com/

—–

Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!

Advertisements

43 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Grand Sichuan’s Sliced Fish Sauce Soup: Really Just a Bowl of Chili Oil

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  *barf*

Someone bring me a puke bag because writing this might actually make me puke.  I would rather not think about Grand Sichuan’s Sliced Fish Sauce Soup ($20; was $19) ever again.

First off, yes, it was $20.  They bring out a family-style bowl of it.

Grand Sichuan's Sliced Fish Sauce Soup

Below the thick, red chili oil and bushel of red chili peppers lay some thin fillets of fish (skin on and bone in), cilantro, celery sticks, napa cabbage, leeks and squares of tofu.

Here are a few things that were said by me, TK, KF and MS:

“I feel like I’m eating oil.”

“(It’s like) pepper juice.”

“I can’t taste anything else but chili oil.”

I’d rather drink a bottle of pepto.

No one really touched the soup after the first sip.  I, on the other hand, decided that the non-fish items were good enough to eat with my rice.  Without any “broth” it was edible.

My friend told me about “twilight anesthesia” this morning – it keeps you conscious but sleepy, and you forget the entire experience afterwards.  This is exactly what we needed that night while trying this nastiness.

When the waitress came by and asked me if we wanted it wrapped, I wanted to say “hellz no, it was nasty!” but I didn’t know how to express that in Mandarin.  The best I could do was say, politely, “No, it was too oily.”  I guess that’s a good thing?

Grand Sichuan
15 Seventh Avenue South (near Leroy St.)
New York, NY 10014
212.645.2222
http://www.thegrandsichuan.com/contact/7ave

—–

Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


28 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Grand Bo Ky’s Seafood Flat Noodle Soup is a B Flat

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  If you like to take risks, and you need something that’s just a couple notches above Top Ramen, then go for it.

Have I mentioned my OCD?  Have I mentioned my weak stomach?  So what do I do when I walk up to Grand Bo Ky and encounter a “B” rating on the front window?  Say, “oh boy” to JM and walk in, of course!

Let me shed some light on this new NYC rating system.  A “B” rating means anywhere from 14-27 violations.  I didn’t realize it was this bad until my good friend JH actually frighteningly talked about it just a few days before this outing.  Anything lower than an “A” for him was a huge no-no.  And, in the case of Grand Bo Ky, the New York health inspectors cited 22 whopping violations (so a B-), which have only improved by two since February 2010.  Here are their violations (those in red are “critical”):

1) Food Protection Certificate not held by supervisor of food operations.
2) Live roaches present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
3) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.

If you didn’t think I was dedicated to this soup journey before, do you believe me now?  Sure, I’ve eaten at plenty of unsavory-looking Chinese restaurants before, even various food carts, but being told up front that you might get food poisoning makes it impossible for me to blame the restaurant later.  ;o)

One thing to know about me right off the bat is that I don’t really gravitate towards seafood, especially if it isn’t accompanied by or cooked in some sauce, isn’t fried or isn’t raw oysters.  Big, plain chunks of seafood in broth?  Not my thing.

Grand Bo Ky's Seafood Flat Noodle Soup

So, as much as I didn’t want to order the Seafood Flat Noodle Soup ($5.25), it turned out better than I expected.  In general, I looooove flat, wide chow fun noodles, and these were cooked just right.  The broth was nice and light.  The white and black pepper gave it a nice kick.  The three measly shrimp were just sad, and their long pooplines didn’t help their look.  The big, curly squid seemed fresh enough and were as chewy and tasteless as chewy and tasteless can be.  The fish balls were, well, most likely fish balls from a frozen package, which I don’t mind.  And the bean sprouts were M.I.A. until I was almost done the bowl.  Lots more cilantro would’ve been nice, and even some green veggies (scallions don’t count).

So did I finish the bowl?  I finished all except for a piece of squid.  I was hungry!!

Did my stomach pay for it later?  Yes, it was playing a sad little tune afterwards.  And I wish it was just my sensitive tummy, but JM’s was playing its own little dramatic tune after his bowl of wonton noodle soup (which was even less tasty than mine).  Could it be some bad, bad roaches made their way into our bowls?

Here’s what I think – seafood lovers may enjoy this, but, if you’re looking for bold flavors, go elsewhere.  And, unless you’re really strapped for money and need something just a few notes above Top Ramen, easily wobbly stomachs like mine should find fulfillment in A-grade restaurants only.

Grand Bo Ky
216 Grand St.  (btwn Mott St & Elizabeth St)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 219-9228

—–

Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


23 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Soto’s Miso Soup: as Unique as a Miso Soup Packet

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  The soup was as empty as the restaurant.

It was Monday, September 20, 2010.  My birthday.  My boyfriend had set up a nice dinner at Soto, thoughtfully chosen because its miso soup was on my soup list.  My brother and sister-in-law joined us since I wanted my family around me.

We walked into a small, quiet, empty restaurant, except for two lone men sitting at the sushi bar.  After reading about the Miso Soup with Sea Urchin and Lobster ($10), three of us ordered it.  I usually balk at any miso soup that’s more than $2, but “lobster and uni broth with lobster, sliced fresh ginger shoot, chive?”  Seemed like justification for an additional $8.

New York magazine described it as such:  “Presented like a gift in a traditional urushi-lacquered covered bowl, this is one luxury miso:  witness lobster-dashi stock; uni bouillon base made with miso paste and truffle oil; and an a la minute garnish of sliced myoga ginger shoots and chives.  The umami-rich broth should be sipped directly from the cup, out of respect for both the soup and the vessel.”

So the magazine thinks we should worship this little bowl, but I think that the editors must’ve been smoking something when they tasted it.  I had taken a photo on my phone and accidentally deleted it when I was deleting other photos.  That’s how memorable and precious that bowl was to me.

My take on Soto’s miso soup?  Presented in a Japanese bowl much like any other Japanese restaurant – even the questionable ones – this is one no-frills miso with just a tiny sliver of lobster meat that you might not even notice.  Witness soup that tastes as bland as a watered down miso packet from the store and a load of thinly sliced fresh ginger and baby chives floating in an attempt to bring flavor to the flavorless.  The watery broth should remain in the bowl…and in the kitchen…out of respect for your stomach and wallet, respectively, which deserve to be eating and spent on something much better.

But, while the soup was a huge disappointment and the rest of the meal was nothing to rave about, the company was just what I wanted.  I was surrounded by love.  You can’t get that in a packet.

Soto
357 Sixth Avenue (near Washington Place)
New York, NY 10079
(212) 414-3088

—–

Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


Off the Beaten Path: East/West Ramen Fest – 5 More You May or May Not Want to Try

Ramen.  I clearly eat a lot of it.  Here are reviews of five more bowls – one in LA and four others from two new sister restaurants in NYC headed up by the well-known, Chef Hideto Kawahara.  If I die while eating ramen, I’ll be dying a happy woman.

*     *     *     *     *

DAIKOKUYA LITTLE TOKYO (Los Angeles)

Daikokuya's Daikoku Ramen (photo courtesy of website since mine's stuck on home laptop)

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  I didn’t dislike it, but I can do without it.

My last four visits to LA, I asked JM to take me to Daikokuya since I had heard so much about it.  The first three times we tried going, we either didn’t want to wait (consider an hour wait at least) or couldn’t get in since they weren’t taking anymore names before closing.  The ever-present lines at this restaurant remind me of Ippudo in Manhattan.  The fourth time, we decided to be patient and stick it out.  Luckily for us, a lot of people played our previous roles and skipped out, seeking another time that wouldn’t test their patience (good luck with that, folks!).  So, instead of waiting maybe two hours, we stood restlessly outside for an hour and ate dinner around 10:00 pm.

I went a little nuts and ordered the Combo Meal ($11.50) with Daikoku Ramen and a bowl of fried rice.  If you order a la carte, it’ll cost you $8.50 and $7.50 respectively.  Here’s when I wish I had a much bigger body because the portion sizes were more than I could handle.  I wonder if I could’ve requested the half portion of ramen with the combo meal…

Chopped fresh scallions, raw bean sprouts, menma, sesame seeds, curly noodles, three kurobuta (“Black Hog” which is as prized as Kobe beef) pork belly chashu slices, and a perfectly cooked melt-in-your-mouth whole marinated boiled egg floated (seriously THE BEST EGG ever) within and on top of a milky cloud of tonkotsu and soy sauce broth.  I had also requested the richer, kotteri flavor broth which used additional soup extracted from the back fat (according to their menu).  I can’t say if it made a difference since I’ve never had the original version.

All in all, I really didn’t have anything bad to say about it.  I just didn’t experience anything that made me want to go back and wait in line again.  I’d rather quickly grab a seat at another Japanese restaurant across the street and gobble down their super soothing udon noodles in a hot pot.

Daikokuya Little Tokyo
327 E. 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 626-1680
http://www.daikoku-ten.com/LTmnu09a.html

*     *     *     *     *

HIDECHAN (New York City)

Hidechan Spicy Miso Ramen

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  How can a chef be so inconsistent?  The ramen here is one of the worst I’ve had in the city and in no way compares to the deliciousness at its sister ramen joint, Totto Ramen (below).

My brother and sister-in-law took me to the new Hidechan in midtown east since they had been wanting to try it (and they know about my souper journey).  The whole experience turned into one big nightmare because 1) the ramen was a big disappointment and 2) immediately after we sat down, my brother (he’s older) decided he would ask me if JM was going to propose to me anytime soon.  Imagine the look of horror on my face.  I was nearly speechless.  I expected those words to come out of my dad’s mouth, but surely not his.  I’m not getting THAT old, am I?  Ok, maybe I’d been wondering the same thing from time to time, but, sheesh, no need for the added pressure from my own bro.  He’s supposed to be the chill one to tell me it’s all good, and there’s no rush…right?

After this awkward moment, I was hoping that Hidechan noodles would soothe my pounding heart.  They didn’t.  The Hakata Spicy Miso Ramen ($10.50) came with straight, thin noodles that were way too soft for my taste.  It wasn’t until after we ordered that we noticed a tiny little piece of paper taped to the table’s chopsticks container that said we could specify how we wanted the noodles cooked and how rich we wanted the broth.  Sucks that we saw that too late, and the waiter never asked us.  If he did, I would’ve ordered my noodles al dente, not soft and mushy, and my tonkotsu broth rich, not super light and underwhelming like they made it.  I was also unsure about the spicy miso paste.  The medium-sized scoop sitting on top of the bowl was mushed together with a bunch of ground beef (or pork?).  It almost seemed too beefy and was definitely not spicy.  I’ve never had spicy miso served this way.  Is this typical?  Anyway, last little note, if you order a boiled egg to accompany the bowl’s standard kikurage, scallions and bean sprouts (with the crazily, tooth-hurtin’ yellow heads), add $1.  But I would really think twice about spending even a dollar here.

Hidechan
248 E. 52nd Street (near 2nd Avenue)
New York, NY 10022
212-813-1800

*     *     *     *     *

TOTTO RAMEN (New York City)

MY OVERALL TASTEFUL OPINION:  NO MSG automatically gives this restaurant a leg up on any in the city, but each ramen “flavor” has varying degrees of yumminess.

This past month my work lunches have been TOTTO-lly filled with ramen (yes, yes, very corny.  The man is rubbing off on me, to my dismay).  After my very first time, I went back for more two days later…and two more times after that…and I’ll be back again next week.  So, yes, I think it’s safe to safe that this has miraculously taken over Ippudo’s #1 spot on my list of NYC ramen houses.  Aside from the thankful NO MSG policy, you never have to wait too long, even when it seems like the sidewalk is packed with newbies and fans.  I’ve tried three out of the six noodle soup varieties already, and here are my thoughts starting from my least favorite.

—–

Vegetarian Ramen ($11)

MY TASTEFUL OPINION: I’ll stick with the good ol’ meaty versions.

Totto Vegetarian Ramen (observe the wooden pedestal in right photo)

Even though this is vegetarian, this is the second most expensive one on the list.  Most likely, it’s because they use organic noodles and other expensive items.  But I did in fact wonder if the extra costs also came from the fancy presentation – your cute round white bowl is, oddly, placed atop a wooden pedestal.  Sometimes vegetarian food does need some sprucing up to make up for a lack of meaty goodness, and meaty goodness is what I missed.

I’m no crazy carnivore.  I love my veggies.  I need my veggies.  But, for some reason, I was depressed while eating this.  I couldn’t get used to the seaweed and shiitake mushroom broth (which also had “peppery Yuzu paste,” sesame oil and a squeeze of fresh lime), even though those ingredients are some of my favorites.  Yuzu always piques my interest when I see it on the menu, but maybe I only like it in my cocktails or on cold raw fish.  The thin, soba-like noodles were a tad too soft, and I wish the raw chopped onions were softer and more cooked (only ’cause my stomach can’t handle raw onions).  The sprinkle of dry seaweed on top expanded nicely in the hot broth and intermingled with the random mix of cooked vegetables – cauliflower, zucchini, slice of red pepper, and corn.  While they were cooked to perfection, they were lacking some kind of sauce.  Think raw vegetables with no dip.  The only thing that made me happy were the slices of seasoned avocado.  I’ve never tasted avocado like this.  It tasted just like my favorite Chinese jar of fermented tofu.  I’m sure none of you know what that is (and it sounds disgusting), but it makes this lil chicky very happy.

Even though I didn’t care for this, vegetarians might.  I heard that a vegetarian friend of mine liked it.  I guess you can’t really find non-meat options on ramen menus, so Totto is smart for including this on theirs.  I do find intelligence sexy…

—–

Miso Ramen ($10.25)

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Much better than its sister’s Spicy Miso version.

Totto Miso Ramen with Side of Spicy Menma

The highlight of this dish was the curly, thicker al dente noodles.  No other ramen spot that I know of serves this kind.  And, just like men appreciate women with meat on their bones, I sometimes like more meat on my noodles.  Mmm.  The two slices of pork came a tad thin and tough.  I’m not sure if they torched the meat too long that day (yes, you can watch them torching the pans of sliced pork), or if they just use a different style for this bowl.  Whatever it was, I didn’t prefer the toughness.  Like its counterpart, Hidechan, you had to mix in a scoop of miso paste and ground pork with the chicken paitan broth, but somehow this tasted a lot better.  It must have to do with the more flavorful broth.  So what about the accoutrements?  You get the typical half egg, scallions and bean sprouts, of course, with the apparently typical Totto addition of raw chopped onions.  I ordered a side of spicy menma (add $1), and will never order it again.  It was unusually salty and just not good.  I overheard two women’s reactions to the non-spicy menma, too, and they also complained about the saltiness.  Sans additional menma, I think I could order this again, especially if they let me get extra miso on the side.

—–

Chicken Paitan Ramen ($9.25) + Whole Broiled Egg ($1)

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  I might be eating this once a week…at least.

Totto's Chicken Paitan Ramen

The menu’s description: “These straight homemade noodles are cooked al dente style in a whole chicken and premium soy sauce based soup topped with scallion, onion, char siu pork, and a nori.”  You can see the ginormous pot of soup boiling with whole chickens (poor chickens), and you sorta want to dive in and bathe in it (or is that just me?).  But if I can’t bathe in it, then I’ll ingest it.  I’d be even happier if they canned all this richness so that I could slurp it at home, especially when I’m sick.  The torched pork slices were super tender, and they were joined by morsels of seasoned pork chunks that took me to another world.  Sure, this is a pretty plain bowl of ramen: a minimal variety of garnishes that are mostly a mute beige color leave the eye somewhat forlorn.  A friend who recently tried it said it was like a really great chicken noodle soup and was not impressed.  But, leaving out the vegetarians, who doesn’t like chicken noodle soup?  And who wouldn’t want one that’s pretty mind-blowing?  Personally, I think that if you can take the simple and minimalist approach, without the help of flavor enhancers, and still make foodies obsessed, then you’ve got a winner.

Totto Ramen
366 W. 52nd St. (btwn 8th and 9th Aves)
New York, NY 10019
212.582.0052
http://tottoramen.com/

—-

Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


20 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Sick of the Ramen Hype but Not of the Soft Serve at Momofuku

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Don’t waste your time or money, unless it’s for their soft serve.

For five years, I lived really close to Momofuku, and in those five years, I had only eaten there twice.  “Momofuku” apparently means “lucky peach,” but the three times I’ve been there, I have never left feeling lucky, peachy, or like a lucky peach.

The first time was clearly to try the special Momofuku Ramen which was and has been all the rave.  I didn’t like it.  Paying $16 for that made me even grouchier.

The second time was in the cold of winter.  I know you’re asking what kind of person goes there again – waiting at least an hour while standing shoulder to shoulder with other customers and being pushed around by waiters – when she wasn’t impressed the first time?  The generous kind.  Like me.  I ordered the Momofuku Ramen again.  And, again, I was extremely disappointed.  Ok, maybe stupid people like me give second chances with food.

The third and last time was just a couple weeks ago when I had to go there because it was on New York magazine’s soup list.  Yes, I had to.  Yes, sometimes this adventure is no fun.  The third time was surely not going to be a charm.  Since I wasn’t about to waste another $16 just so I could reaffirm to you that the Momofuku Ramen isn’t all that, I went against my very structured, do-everything-by-the-books nature and ordered the three-course prix fixe lunch for $20.  I’m such a rebel!  A rebel with a cause, that is.  Now I can tell you that it’s not just the magazine-featured ramen that’s all hype; the restaurant in general is overrated, especially for the price.

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche – Smoked Duck with Lemon Puree & Pickled Mustard Seeds
The mustard seeds gave the bite a nice crunch, but the lemon overpowered the duck which became an aftertaste.

1st Course - Steak Tartare

1st Course – Steak Tartare with Chili Flakes, Sesame and Quail Egg
A perfect-looking round of chopped raw meat was drenched in chili oil, sprinkled with sesame seeds, topped with a raw quail egg, and served with a side of greens that looked like butter lettuce.  When the dish arrived, I just stared.  I had no idea how to eat it, and no one bothered to explain it to me.  I’ve had steak tartare before, but the meat and sauce were prepared and mixed in front of me.  I had to flag a waitress down who then confirmed that I was supposed to mix the egg with the meat myself.  Pretty unappetizing, if you ask me, especially when I couldn’t mix the egg well enough.

I took a bite anyway, and was surprised that, even with all the red oil, it lacked any flavor.  Salt – where’s the salt?!  Other seasoning would’ve been nice, too.  The meat was also tough to chew, and made the experience even worse.  If you want a great steak tartare, head over to EO (Employees Only).

2nd Course - Corn Ramen

2nd Course – Corn Ramen with Hand-Cut Noodles, Smoked Ham & Delfino
Thick and wide noodles sat in a small bowl with clear brownish broth and were accented with a square of dry seaweed, a few kernels of fresh-roasted corn, roasted pork chunks, scallions, and delfino (think awesome Cilantro).  The noodles were cooked al dente, erring on the side of a touch too firm.  But I did like them.

The broth had a good smokiness, but it was too salty, just like the Momofuku ramen broth.  They could afford to use some of the salt in their broths in their tartare instead.

The pork was a tad on the dry side and was more like a tough Chinese roasted pork instead of the melt-in-your-mouth thin style one usually gets with ramen.

While the fresh roasted corn was extremely sweet and crunchy, I don’t understand why only a few kernels were included in the bowl.  Seems a bit absurd to call it a “Corn Ramen” and then only use the kernels as an accessory and not the main feature.  Even if they included an ample amount, they should’ve served the bowl with thin, delicate noodles instead.   The thick noodles didn’t lend themselves to being eaten with the little round yellow pearls, unless I fished them out with the spoon and then put a tiny piece of noodle on top.

Let’s go back to the delfino, though.  FABULOUS.  I’d like to grow me some of this stuff.  The rest of the Corn Ramen can remain a memory.

3rd Course - Spring Pea and Strawberry Soft Serve Twist

3rd Course – Cousin Leroy and Arlo’s Soft Serve – Spring Pea and Strawberry Twist
Imagine me happily running through a strawberry field in the spring.  Sounds totally wrong since strawberry season is in the summer, right?  Well this is how Momofuku’s soft serve made me feel.  Spring pea flavor?  What?  Twisted with strawberry flavor?  No way!  Yes way!  It was so crazily divine…

I happen to be a green pea fan, so this was a treat to get it in ice cream form.  It tasted just like fresh sweet peas.  MmmmMMmM.  The strawberry flavor was also made with fresh strawberries – you could see flecks of the real thing.  And, while the first few bites already made up for the previous two courses, I was later surprised with something even more heavenly.  As I got closer to the center and the bottom of the tiny teacup, I discovered a mix of crunchy dried peas (think wasabi peas without the wasabi), salt and crumbled graham cracker or pie crust.  These toppings may have been at the bottom, but they remained a top highlight of the dessert.  I ate this last course so fast that I felt sick.  If feeling sick feels this good, then I always want to be sick.

Momofuku
171 1st Avenue (between 10th and 11th Streets)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 777-7773
momofuku.com

—-

Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


18 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Yun Nan Flavour Snack Shop: A Home Away from Home

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  If I lived in the neighborhood, I’d be eating here every day.

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.

Dumpling in Hot and Sour Sauce

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
(718) 633-3090

—-

Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!