We ordered three things, assisted by bold pictures affixed to our menus. Steamed pork dumplings were heavy and nondescript. They did not bode well for the meal to follow. But oh, how wrong we were! House special fried chicken was a half of a chicken with brown lacquered skin butchered into manageable pieces. Sure, there were some bones to negotiate, but the meat itself was moist, only outdone by the transcendent skin. The experience made us wish we had opted for Peking Duck--this is the place to do it. And we'll be back for that.
Pan fried noodles neither surprised nor disappointed. The noodles were crispy by turns and gummy by others (a quality I happen to enjoy) and the sauce possessed the requisite amount of corn starch implemented in most Chinese restaurants. But, oh that chicken! All I could think was: Americans eat way too much shitty chicken.
By Wednesday I was feeling like I'd neglected the cheap and interesting restaurants of my own neighborhood, Astoria. So we moseyed down 30th Avenue to Thai Pavilion, where, this time, the dumplings were a resounding success. Vegetable dumplings came fried, texturally perfect, and with the excellent condiment of a thick soy-sweet chili sauce. Pad thai did its job but my prawns were more impressive, served in a spicy basil sauce with mushrooms, onions, and green peppers. For dessert, we got a cheap sampler plate, but the delicate litchi ice-cream is the only dessert worth mentioning. They should serve it in cones on street corners.
Yesterday, I had another Astoria adventure on my way back from the Rockaways. You would never expect life-changing sandwiches to come from a virtually unmarked deli on 23rd Avenue in Astoria. Sal, Kris, and Charlie's Deli doesn't even have a storefront sign; a piece of white paper announces their identity, below which states, "The Sandwich Kings of Astoria." They were right. I passed on "the bomb," a sandwich that includes all available cheeses, proscuitto, ham, mortadella, sopressata, and everything else besides the kitchen sink. It seemed a little crazy for my taste, so I settled for a proscuitto hero: mayonnaise, hot and sweet peppers, pickles, proscuitto (they must have put on a full pound), lettuce, tomato, and onion. The sandwich was so large I nearly had to dislocate my jaw to get it down. But the semolina bread was perfectly crunchy, even after all those wet toppings. And the sandwich's other half is waiting for me to finish my morning run, perhaps the most exciting detail of all.
801 66th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11220
3710 30th Avenue
Astoria, NY 11103
Sal, Kris, and Charlie's Deli
3312 23rd Avenue
Astoria, NY 11105