The new Chinatown: Elmhurst

Elmhurst joins downtown Manhattan, Flushing and Sunset Park as an East Asian bastion.
 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
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Photograph: Filip WolakCumin beef chinger at Chinger
 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
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Photograph: Filip WolakVegtable chinger at Chinger
 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
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Photograph: Filip WolakPork chinger at Chinger
 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
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Photograph: Filip WolakChinger
 (Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson)
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonSeafood congee at Shun Won
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonSeafood congee at Shun Won
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonRoasted-duck noodle soup at Shun Won
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonRoasted-duck noodle soup at Shun Won
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonBeef chow fun at Shun Won
 (Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson)
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonShun Won
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonBig tray of chicken at Uncle Zhou's
 (Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson)
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonLamb dumplings at Uncle Zhou's
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Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson"Dial Oil" noodles at Uncle Zhou's
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonUncle Zhou's
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonUncle Zhou's
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonUncle Zhou's
 (Photograph: Lizz Kuehl)
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Photograph: Lizz KuehlDumplings at Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House
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Photograph: Lizz KuehlDumplings at Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House
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Photograph: Lizz KuehlLao Bei Fang Dumpling House
 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
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Photograph: Filip WolakHot pot at Shell Cove
 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
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Photograph: Filip WolakShell Cove
 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
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Photograph: Filip WolakShell Cove
 (Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson)
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonLamb at Sweet Yummy House
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonMinced pork with cellophane noodle at Sweet Yummy House
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonFish fillet at Sweet Yummy House
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonChicken at Sweet Yummy House
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Photo: Caroline Voagen NelsonSweet Yummy House
By Patty Lee |
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With New York City’s three major Chinatowns overflowing, a fourth has sprung up in the center of Queens. In recent years, many Chinese expats have made the move to the area—there was an 18 percent jump in Asian-born residents between 2000 and 2010—bringing their culinary specialties to a busy stretch of Broadway.

Cumin beef chinger at Chinger
Photograph: Filip Wolak

Chinger

Forget about the spot’s strange name—a mash-up of the words Chinese and burger (unfortunately misspelled as BERGER on the awning)—and concentrate on the meat-filled sandwiches known as rou jia mo. Opened last March by the owners of Shell Cove, this takeaway counter slings five tasty versions of the flatbread snacks, typically found on the streets of Xi’an. Try the cumin beef—pepped up by chopped jalapeños—or succulent pulled pork with crisp lettuce and pickled daikon (each $2.60). 718-502-6668, chingerfood.com

Salted Fried Bread and Seafood congee at Shun Wang
Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Shun Won

Cantonese fare was hard to find in Elmhurst before this blush-tiled canteen opened in 2012. Locals tuck into classic dishes like roasted-duck noodle soup ($5) and combination congee (tang jai jook, $4), a steaming rice porridge laced with minced pork, toothsome squid and a sprinkle of peanuts. Another favorite, beef chow fun, is brimming with thinly sliced meat, leeks and broad noodles, a bargain at $7.50. 718-779-3330

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Big Tray of Chicken at Uncle Zhou's
Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson
Restaurants, Chinese

Uncle Zhou Restaurant

icon-location-pin Elmhurst

Noodles are the star of this Henan-style restaurant, run by native Steven Zhou, since 2011. For the “Dial Oil” noodles (you bo mian, $5.50), spaghetti-like strands are coated in vinegar, then topped with a sizzling, garlic-infused oil and more of the minced cloves. Another Henanese specialty, da pan ji (literally “big tray of chicken,” $15), takes its cues from neighboring area Xinjiang, the dish’s birthplace. In Zhou’s rendition, stir-fried nuggets of bone-in bird cover hand-pulled noodles, wide silky ribbons ideal for soaking up the plate’s onion-and-pepper sauce. You’ll do just as well with the meaty lamb dumplings (yang rou shui jiao, nine for $3)—bursting with a sweet, slightly gamey soup—which are tasty vehicles for the house-made chili oil.

Fennel and pork dumplings at Lao Bei Fang
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl
Restaurants, Chinese

Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House

icon-location-pin Elmhurst

In 2011, chef Libin Zhang relocated his popular Northern Chinese restaurant into this airy, wood-clad spot. At a back counter, you’ll find Zhang twirling balls of dough into pliant bands for noodle soups, including one with tender slabs of beef brisket and bok choy (niu rou shou la mian, $5.50). There are also outstanding pork-and-leek pot stickers (xian rou jiu cai guo tie, eight for $2.75), but don’t miss the hui xiang shui jiao (eight for $3.50), juicy boiled dumplings stuffed with fragrant fennel-flecked pork.

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Seafood and meat combo hot pot with Sichuan broth at Shell Cove
Photograph: Filip Wolak

Shell Cove

The “one-person meals” at this chic eatery, which came onto the scene in 2011, make hot pot (huo guo) less of a chore. Unlike most restaurants specializing in the DIY feast—groups gather over a giant pot of bubbling broth to cook raw meats and produce together—each diner gets their own bowl. As Chinese pop music pumps through the room—outfitted with sleek wood panels and satin banquettes—polo-wearing staff roll up to tables with overstuffed bowls of ingredients. A surf-and-turf combo ($15.99) arrives with a generous amount of sliced fatty beef and seafood—including head-on shrimp, fillets of whitefish and squid—as well as vegetables and vermicelli. Save the noodles for last. After you’re done cooking, use the glassy strands to sop up the remaining broth—it’s especially good with the Szechuan-style soup ($1 extra). 718-502-6668

Chicken with chef's spicy sauceat Sweet Yummy House
Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Sweet Yummy House

Contrary to its moniker, there’s nothing sweet about the fiery dishes at this Szechuan joint, opened in 2010. Underneath stained-glass pendant lamps, diners dive into mouth-numbing specialties like “ants crawling up a tree” (ma yi shang shu, $7.95)—named for the ground pork clinging to cellophane noodles—and lamb stir-fried with dried red peppers and cilantro (xiao chao hei shan yang, $14.95). Take a break from the chili-laced fare with chilled cucumber tossed in garlic and sesame oil (xiang kou huang gua, $5). 718-878-6603, sweetyummyhouse.com

More to explore

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