Isn’t it about time New York City had a Henan restaurant? Henan province, about the size of Florida, lies in the cradle of Chinese civilization. With a population of 100 million people (more than five times that of the Sunshine State) in the vast central plains, it is China’s most populated province.
Henan Feng Wei - 河南風味 or “Henan Flavors” or “A Taste of Henan” makes a good first impression. The cordial owner/chef, Mr. Wang Qiang (王強) owned a restaurant in Zhengzhou for years before immigrating to Flushing where for a good many more years he worked at a Chinese buffet joint, biding his time. Eight months ago he opened HFW and claims it is the first Henan spot in the city. With about nine tables and 30 covers, it has more of a lunchroom feel than a restaurant. But a winsome downstairs lunchroom all the same.
Henan cuisine is also called Yucai cuisine(豫菜 – Yu4 Cai4.) Henan kind say their style is “not east, not west, not south and not north.” It is also not sweet, salty, nor spicy. It is known for seasonal use of ingredients that feature lots of lamb and mutton soups, meat-stuffed buns, fried mung bean jelly, vermicelli, meatball soups and fresh dumplings; steamed or boiled and much more of course. Furthermore the province is subdivided into four culinary precincts: North (Anyang), South (Xinyang), East (Kaifeng) and West (Luoyang.)
Here at HFW Mr. Wang (he speaks some English) keeps the menu pretty simple; serving up at least a dozen cold appetizers, noodle dishes, soups, casseroles and more. Based on my two visits it seems to be a gathering place for Henan folk seeking a taste of home. The menu is translated into English on 3-4 sheets and don’t worry about the additional written Chinese characters about the place – they too have already been translated and placed in the English menu. There are some photos of some of the dishes on the wall as well.
I tried four of the appetizers and all were tasty: two different dried tofu dishes, the Green Beans, and sliced Pig Ears. Hot and Numbing Cold Noodles (麻辣涼麵 - Ma2 La4 Liang2 Mian4) were well seasoned with sesame paste, soy sauce, peanuts and hot sauce.
Big Dish Chicken (大盤鳮 - Da4 Pan2 Ji1) Simply stunning this earthy dish was. Marinated chicken pieces (on the bone) with potatoes, red pepper, Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, cumin seeds and cilantro.
Lamb Noodle Soup (羊肉燴面 - Yang2 Rou4 Hui4 Mian4) a hearty bowl with shredded tofu, hand-made noodles, vermicelli, lamb, goji berries and dry tiger lily.
Dumplings (灌湯包 - Guan4 Tang1 Bao1.) I think these are Henan’s answer to XLB but without the soup. A big comforting hug in a bamboo steamer.
Button Ball Meatball Bowl (丸子扣碗 - Wan2 Zi Kou4 Wan3)
Meatballs (made with some type of breading) in a delicate broth of ginger, Sichuan peppercorn and star anise. Keep that lid on for a spell! These morsels get better the longer they are in the broth. Then lap up the broth.
Boiled Dumplings (水餃 - Shui3 Jiao3.) Here filled with cabbage, pork and some chives.
Henan Feng Wei - 河南風味
136-31 41st Avenue
Flushing, NY 11355
Open everyday from 9 am to 11 pm.
Henan Feng Wei
136-31 41st Ave, Queens, NY 11355