Chowhound discoveries in Flushing can be dauntingly foreign to some folks—bare-bones joints straight out of Beijing or Seoul, serving unfamiliar, unpronounceable dishes. Sol Hyang Lee, on the other hand, is all about barbecued meat and cold beer, two things even those unschooled in Asian cuisines can get behind.
This Chinese-Korean hybrid brings out platters of skewered meats and tabletop charcoal grills to cook them on, Lau reports (on Chowhound as well as his blog). Lamb is a must order: Chunks of slightly fatty meat marinated in sweetened soy are meltingly tender and flavorful enough that no further seasoning is needed.
Other meats—delicious beef; chewy, clean-tasting chicken gizzard or pork heart—might benefit from a dip in the house spice mix, a cumin-based blend with a gentle chile kick. birdsandtogs likes the pork ribs with their sweet-salty sauce and cartilaginous crunch. Off the grill, try deep-fried boneless chicken with chiles or sautéed shredded pork in sweet bean sauce, served with leek, cucumber, cilantro, and bean-curd sheets for wrapping, mu shu style.
Sol Hyang Lee is run by ethnic Koreans who came here from northern China, and the Korean influence is apparent in the array of complimentary banchan, but you may be in for a surprise in some of these side dishes. Ever had liver banchan? Lau hadn’t; it turned out to be quite good, nicely cooked and served with celery in spicy sauce. Other banchan—radish, cucumber, bean sprouts—are more recognizably Korean. The barbecue, though, leans toward China, transporting birdsandtogs back to the late-night grills he once haunted there. The food is authentically salty, he says, so beer flows freely here by the bottle or the pitcher (the most interesting choice: Hofbräuhaus from Munich). “This is definitely a place to kick back and relax,” birdsandtogs adds. “Maybe this will be a new trend? A Chinese/Korean version of the biergarten.”
Sol Hyang Lee BBQ [Flushing]
136-73 41st Avenue (between Main and Union streets), Flushing, Queens