In “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles,” Jennifer 8. Lee laid out some parameters in her search for great “Chinese restaurants for Chinese people”: chopsticks at the table, menus in Chinese, wait-staff who speak Mandarin, house specialties written on the wall in Chinese and “fish tanks with live creatures that might end up on your plate.”
You’ll find four out of five at the new M&T Restaurant Inc. - 美而特 (Mei Er Tai - “ Beautiful and Special” in Chinese.) It is barely ten days old and the owner is Mr. James Tang (唐). He speaks very little English but his wife does and his son Tom, to some degree. They are all very friendly and welcoming. They arrived from Qingdao, the northern port city of Shandong province and have staked their claim at 44-09 Kissena Boulevard, just off the corner of Kissena and Cherry Avenue.
There are four square tables for four and two round tables for eight. As you enter, on the right there are about eight cold appetizers in trays by the counter. On the wall, to the left are listed about 30 House Specials; not all of which are available as Mr. Tang is still importing some special ingredients from Qingdao. Upon his suggestion I sampled three of these specials plus a Bean Jelly dish from the appetizer section of the menu. Before they arrived Mr. Tang served up some special Green Tea from Qingdao.
青島涼粉 (Qingdao Liang Fen) $5.95
Qingdao Cold Pasta with Special Sauce on the menu but it seems to me it is Grass Jelly with Special Sauce. A large bowl of dark black jelly cubes with cucumber, garlic and some kind of minced sea-type vegetable. A hint of vinegar offsets the slightly bitter jelly taste.
椒鹽嶗山蔘 (Jiao Yan Lao Shan Shen) $9.99
Salt and Pepper Lao Shan Ginseng
Lao Shan is a revered mountain east of Qingdao and thought of as one of the places where Taoism was born. Here ginseng is lightly battered (almost tempura-like) quickly deep fried and served with bits of sliced red and green pepper. A slightly bitter taste of ginseng is offset by the batter texture and salt.
韭菜比管魚 (Jiu Cai Bi Guan Yu) $9.99
Squid with Chinese Chives
Lightly stir fried tubes of squid with Chinese chives. Simple yet tasty.
青島小炒 (Qingdao Xiao Chao)
Qingdao Quick Stir Fry
Here slivers of stir-fried potatoes, bacon, red pepper, celery and pine mushrooms, Fist Vegetable and Chinese fiddleheads! Delcious.
松蘑 (Song Mo) or pine mushrooms are a wild, edible fungi found in northern China (as well as Sichuan, Taiwan and other places.) Also, another exotic vegetable in this dish is
拳頭菜 (Quan Tou Cai) “Clenched Fist Vegetable” or “Fist Vegetable” which is a wild herb I think is called bracken fern. The spring sprouts of young bracken fern are curled at the end like a child's fist, hence its name Quantoucai or fist vegetable. The curled fronds are also called fiddleheads.
A welcome edition to Flushing and I place I certainly plan on delving into again.
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