Big Sister Zhu—whose gutsy Sichuan cooking once captivated food-court crawlers in Flushing, Queens—is back in business, having graduated to a full restaurant kitchen. She's just overhauled the formerly Shanghainese menu at Flushing's Prince Noodle House, which kept its old English name but is now known in Chinese as Lao (Old) Chengdu, scoopG reports on Chowhound.
Double-cooked pork (pictured) is deeply flavorful, balancing porky richness and nuanced spicing, Polecat says. Kung pao chicken is delicious and notably light, scoopG writes; dan dan noodles, fragrant with cardamom and other spices, don't come swamped in chile oil like lesser versions. The voracious Joe DiStefano, who's tracked Big Sister Zhu's career at Edible Queens and now on his blog Chopsticks and Marrow, singles out the house special Chengdu chicken, a spicy, sour, aromatic cauldron of meat and vegetables that'll help you weather the end of the cold season.
About a mile to the south, in Queensboro Hill's growing Chinese enclave, it's Shanghai season. The newish Shanghai Cuisine 33, though Cantonese owned, knows its stuff, says scoopG, who finds the xiao long bao (steamed tiny buns) juicy and thin-skinned with generous pork fillings. This place arrived in September with a pedigree—the affiliated Shanghai Asian Manor and Shanghai Asian Cuisine in Manhattan are well regarded—so not surprisingly, its version of the Shanghai standard kao fu (braised wheat gluten) is moist, not overly sweet, and the equal of those from 'hound favorites Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao and 456 Shanghai Cuisine, Polecat writes. Another 'hound, diprey11, agrees that 33's Shanghai snacks are better than most but ranks its soup buns a rung below those at Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao two blocks away. Further tasting seems in order, and Polecat's ready. "Glad to see this little corner of Flushing starting to expand," he says.
Prince Noodle House (Chinese characters read "Lao (Old) Chengdu") [Flushing]
37-17A Prince Street (between 37th and 38th avenues), Flushing, Queens
Shanghai Cuisine 33 [Flushing]
57-33 Main Street (between 57th Road and 58th Avenue), Flushing, Queens
Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao [Flushing]
59-16 Main Street (between 59th and 60th avenues), Flushing, Queens
Photo by JH Barbee