by Joshua M Bernstein - 90 Reviews - 13 List
New York's myriad Chinatowns cater to distinct crowds. In Manhattan, tourists assemble to snap pictures of ducks dangling in windows and snag cheap tchotchkes. In Flushing, foodies flock for fiery Sichuan treats and edible oddities. But what of Sunset Park, Brooklyn's largest Chinatown? Like its Queens counterpart, Sunset Park's Chinatown--stretching roughly from 40th Street to 60th Street, with 8th Avenue the main drag--is a diner's paradise, counting dim sum halls, dumplings shacks and shops slinging superlative banh mi. Hungry? Here are five spots to hit. (Photo by Zenobia_Joy on Flickr)
Updated: September 08, 2010
Little more than several stools and a low-slung counter, this tiny eatery (run by a husband-wife team) focuses on homemade rice noodles and spicy soups from southwestern China province Yunnan. Try the hot-and-sour sauce dumplings, which are crimped pork beauties swimming in a spicy, lip-puckering broth and the cold noodles. The bland name belies a gorgeous tangle of chewy noodles topped with cilantro, nuts, crumbled pork, hot peppers and sugar, then finished with dark vinegar and soy sauce.
Brightly lit Vietnamese storefront Ba Xuyen specializes in some of the city's best banh mi, crusty baguette sandwiches that are a culinary reminder of Vietnam's French-colonial influence. There's not a bad sandwich in the bunch, but we?d suggest the tender shredded pork or the meatball, each made complete with cilantro, a cucumber javelin and pickled carrots and daikon radish.
Searching for fresh shiitake mushrooms? Verdant bundles of bok choy? Aged soy sauce? Well, come on down to Hong Kong, the neighborhood's biggest, best and cheapest Asian supermarket--Thai curries and Vietnamese sauces included, too. After you purchase pressed tofu, pre-cut noodles and frozen dumplings, head to the dishware section to select the perfect plates and chopsticks.
When this Sichuan spot opened last year, it served as salvation for central Brooklyn's Sichuan fans. If you favor fiery flavor, Metro doesn't stint on spice--or offal. Adventurous gourmands should begin with chewy, incendiary beef tendons, before gnawing on skewers of grilled squid or lamb sprinkled with chile powder. As for mains, save room for leek-strewn, double-cooked pork belly and the chong quing chicken: Bite-sized fried chicken bits buried beneath fresh green and dried red chiles, as well as anesthetizing Sichuan peppercorns.
This relative newcomer to Sunset Park's dollar-dumpling scene is every bit the contender. The pan-fried pork-and-chive pot stickers are fine, crisp specimens, but even better are the boiled varieties counting shrimp, chicken and mushroom-packed veggies--all handmade. To complete your meal, grab a bowl of tangy hot-and-sour soup or a wedge of sesame bread that's split and stuffed with carrots, cucumbers, cilantro and fragrant, thin-sliced beef.