It's not every restaurant where the architect and interior designer leave glossy business cards by the reception desk. But Jade Asian isn't just any restaurant and if a cigar-chomping hotel tycoon ever stopped by, he might well yell to his harried assistant, "Grab one of those cards honey 'cause when I build the hotel in Vegas the V.I.P. lounge is gonna look just like this!" (Yes, I've read all the Lucky Santangelo novels.) Glitzy, with pastel walls with sleek wood trim and gracefully flaring copper columns, Jade Asian bears as much resemblance to tired old Gum Fung and K.B. Garden, its predecessors at that address, as Per Se does to the mouldy old convention hall that used to occupy its tract of real estate. And platoons of waiters await, the headwaiters proudly strutting around in dark suits, other less exalted service personnel in beige shirts and brown ties.
Okay, glitzy decor inspires glitzy prose. But the style should turn more lyrical when I turn to the food. I've been there twice, for dinner.
First visit: chopped beef and dofu.($13) The waiter marched in carrying a big bamboo steamer. Inside, lovely little medallions of pillowy soft steamed dofu. On top was chopped beef with a rich savory taste, thanks to the gravy, which made a delicious pool at the bottom. A big portion. Very very good.
Second visit (an hour ago): the two menus both have English translations, but there's a card of Chinese specials at the table and I ordered from it, knowing only that it had fish and bean and that it was $16. (The waiters are quite fluent in English, but I didn't let them explain fully.) And then out came a whole tilapia! Excellent quality fish (far better than fish in Chinatown), firm, fleshy, perfectly cooked, the bottom salted and seared. Around it was a rich brown sauce studded with diced pickled vegetables, pickled in house I should add. The sauce itself tasted as if a Cantonese chef decided to combine the best elements of Shanghai red cooking, Sichuan bean paste, and Peking duck hoisin sauce. Fusion, Chinese style. Yes, it was a bit sweet and it did overpower the fish, but it was nonetheless excellent.
I used to say that Flushing was great for Sichuan and Dongbei and all the rest, but for Cantonese head to Manhattan. I don't say that anymore. Jade Asian is one reason why. And it's one reason why I'll continue to ride the number 7 train.
136-28 39 Av (right near the subway stop)
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