Had a fantastic mini-show expedition on Saturday, taking advantage of the beautiful weather and late sunset. The goal was to wind up in Homecrest's Chinatown, incorporating some culture and sights as we worked our way down from home (Lefferts Gardens), and of course a snack.
We took the Q from Prospect Park to Church Ave (a lazy 2 stops), got out and walked around the Prospect Park South Historic District (Albermale indistrial magnates vacation homes, Sophie's Choice house, etc.), looking at the beautiful homes and already-blooming magnolias, crocuses, etc. We cut over to CIA and then headed south til just before Courtelyou, where we went into Punjab (friendly Pakistani lunch counter type of place). Had delicious SPICY chicken kebabas with generous portion of salad and positively GLISTENING naan. All of this plus a bottle of water - way more than the snack we had intended - was a mere $3 per person.
We then cut back east on Courtelyou and looked around at the Ditams Historic District - more eye candy - down to Newkirk. Then it was back on the Q down to Avenue U (fyi, this was intended to be a more substantial expedition with an earlier start, inclduing Midwood, but not much point hitting that area on a Saturday afternnon...hence truncated mini-expedition. But I live so close that I may even hot some AvenueJ places after work tonight!!). We explored and gathered menus from all the restaurnats along Avenue U towards CIA, and then decided it was too early to eat and we really needed to retire to a bar to peruse the options over a cocktail. So we hit CIA and saw a place called Boom, which looked intriguing. Indeed it was. A Russian (plausibly could be Ukrainian, I guess?) establishment, with some serious Euro nightclub/lounge decor (ie snazzy pastiche of styles but with an overwhelming 90's vibe). The weirdest thing about this place was the fact that it had a SUSHI BAR in it. Totally random. They were really nice and welcoming despite the fact that we were certainly the only non-Russians there at the time and probably most of the time. We had delicious peach martinis and I have seen worse looking sushi in my life although we didn't eat any.
So the time at Boom was well spent doing some serious menu comparing - we had already decided on Chinese altho did pick up a good Vietnamese and Mexican menu - and decided on Wing Shing (referred to by Sietsema and Chowhounders as Win Sing; maybe they put up a new sign b/c it said Wing Shing. My Chinese friend who was with us said the difference might be in pronuncation of characters between dialects but who knows - she said the characters would be pronounced Wing Shing in Mandarin). But I digress...it was about 8:30 and the place was HOPPING. Mostly Chinese crowd. We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table but it was well worth it and we also had free entertainment in the form of the many fish tanks, including some very cool eels, two of which one of the waiters took forever to catch. They promptly reappeared on a plate looking even better (sorry, eels). We were seated and ordered a huge amount of food for the four of us - hot and sour soup (dull, I know but it's my fave so I have to try it), winter melon soup (apparently the characters read "8 delicacies" for that one which was a better name b/c it was chock full of stuff), roast duck, pan fried dumplings, sizzling pepper steak, jumbo shrimp with honey walnuts, chicken cooked in paper (Sietsema's rec - fyi it's called "pepper cooked chicken" on the menu), fried rice with chinese broccoli & sausage, and eggplant in garlic sauce. Everything was great. The hot and sour soup was the best I've ever had - so hot that my nose was running and bizarrely sweet like honey. Pepper steak was truly sizzling and in a wonderfully rich peppery gravy - the steak was so tender that you could cut it with the chopsticks, and cooked pretty rare. Rice was amazing but then I love anything with chinese sausage. Paper chicken actually seemed to be more foil chicken since it was served in foil and cut open, steaming hot, tableside. It was great, with huge chunks of ginger and whole mushrooms. Dumplings were not the best I've ever had - I like a thin skin and these were a tad doughy. Roast duck was out of this world good - crispy, honey-tasting, incredible. The jumbo shrimp with honey walnut was among the stranger things I've ever eaten. It was a pile of steamed broccoli toppoed with a pile of golden fried shrimp which were in turn topped with what I can only describe as a ton of honey-flavored mayo, and then walnuts on top of that. Needless to say the appearance of this much of something looking like mayo all over one's food was a bit shocking - and I love mayo - but it really wasn't may, very sweet, and somehow it all worked together quite well although I would suggest only getting it with a group because it was sickly and I could only eat three shrimp. We all agreed it was a bit much for the unsuspecting, but were glad we'd ordered it.
We were finally stuffed and got the check and left without realizing we never got our eggplant, but who cares. We were so happy. Altogether a great day and if I don't go to Midwood tonight I'll be picking up an extra large hot & sour from Avenue U.