So last night I was on the hunt for some spicy take-out to battle my cold with, and decided to try somewhere new in Sunset Park, where there's been an increase of new decent Sichuan places of late (nothing as good as, say, Guan Fu or DaXi in Flushing, but some solid mid-range places)
So I settled on ChuXi - a little hard to find, as the address is 705 59th St but the entrance is actually on 7th Ave - and not on the corner but about three shops in. One of the newish 7th Ave places. Their menu "signature dishes" are Sichuan, at least, but I wasn't sure what I'd be in for - there's a selection of individual-sized hotpots that lean more pan-Asian - there are ones labeled Thai, Japanese, Korean, etc though many of the ingredients are the same in all of them, just different broths. And there's a stinky tofu pot for those whose tastes lean that way.
I always get curious when an entire menu is translated into English but for some reason, one or two items aren't. Sometimes that's the "eh, no Westerner would even want this" stuff. Sometimes there doesn't appear to be any reason at all. And ChuXi had one - "墨魚汁麵" - Moyu Zhi Mian - obviously a noodle but what kind? So I did a little quick research. All the google hits seemed to be for menus of Italian restaurants in China, plus a couple cooking videos. Squid ink spaghetti.
I figured it would probably be a crappy, overcooked spaghetti nero tossed with whatever, but I took a chance because I'm always happy to try something that stands in contrast to everything else on a menu. Well, it wasn't a typical spaghetti nero (noodles colored with squid ink) turns out, but rather regular spaghetti (or maybe capellini, it seemed a little thinner) cooked perfectly al dente, tossed with squid pieces... and positively BATHED in ink sauce.
It occurred to me I've never seen ink used in a Chinese restaurant before. Which struck me as odd, since some regions use a lot of cuttlefish and squid. This appeared to be a straight-up a riff on an Italian dish, and a slightly obscure one at that. There might have been a touch of soy in the sauce? I couldn't really tell. Ate it too fast.
I mean, okay... it ain't gonna compete with Marea or anything, but for $13.95 it was kind of frickin' great. I didn't think that I was in the mood for pasta, but go figure I wound up wolfing it down. Briny, funky, rich, nice texture on the seafood dotted throughout. It totally hit the spot.
But yeah, this oddball (for a Chinese restaurant) unexpected dish is totally worth popping in for if one's in Sunset Park. I'm sure it's prettier when they plate it versus the take out container below.
Rest of the order: the Sichuan boiled beef was solid, if nothing to go out of one's way for. The not-spicy hotpot I picked (Chinese Sour Cabbage with Lamb) I thought the broth was kind of wan, didn't really have that sour cabbage flavor. Though all the stuff in it (like twenty ingredients) was very good.