Friday, October 30, 2009

Zhu Ji Guo Tie (朱记锅贴): Flushing, New York

Way back when during my college days, before my food nerd-dom really came into its own, a few friends took me to this tiny little dumpling place in Flushing and when I returned to Flushing more recently, I simply couldn't figure out what place that was and where it was.   I chalked it up to being a long time ago, my memory being egregiously terrible and/or perhaps it had closed up shop long ago.

Strangely, I had seen Zhu Ji Guo Tie recommended on Chowhound and on the NYTimes (See my Flushing overview).  Yet the last few visits, I just couldn't find the place.

We ended up parking in the MTA Long Island Rail Road Flushing train station lot next door (which btw is awesome: 25 cents gets you 15 minutes) and when I walked by this place, these mini-mysteries cleared up in a sudden miraculous aha Memento-style type moment.   Ahh, here's where you've been all these years.


Zhu Ji Guo Tie is a hard place to track down for fools w/ bad memories 
and incompetent map-reading skills.

Anyhow it's a take-out spot with dumplings, steamed buns, pancakes, soybean milk...  well, here's the menu, you can see for yourself.  It's basically a number of the Chinese foods that can be quickly served up.



And here are a few random photos of things inside.  The guy behind the counter gave me the evil-eye for taking these pictures.  I looked up from my camera and we stared at each other for a few seconds: me, confused, and him, suspicious.  Perhaps he thought I was a competitor, scoping his products out?





As for the food, well we didn't try out the guo tie or pot-sticker dumplings that is referenced in its name, so this is perhaps an incomplete review.  But here's what we did get.

Sweetened Tofu Curd (甜豆花) - This is the stuff I get at Heung Fa Chun in Philly all the time and as much as I'm loath to admit it, this might be a teeny tiny bit better, at least with the tofu.  The stuff is glossy-smooth.  I wasn't as much of a fan of their syrup, which didn't have the ginger infusion that makes the one at Heung Fa Chun a little more complex than just sweet syrup.  But, either way, I'd be happy with either.



Scallion Pancake (葱油饼) - This is your fast-food rendition of scallion pancakes.  As my Mom pointed out, scallion pancakes properly made, should have layers of dough (like croissants), whereas this version was more like a thin fried dough with scallion bits thrown in.  I suppose it may just depend on what your mood is.  If you're in the mood for a guilty-pleasure deep-fried dough, this might be your thing.  It's cheap and it's fast, but it's not really scallion pancake proper.



Warm Soy Milk (热豆浆) - Unpictured, this was served piping hot, as in we needed to let it cool down before drinking it, which was great.  But I actually preferred the stuff at Heung Fa Chun better.  This just didn't have as much character to the flavor and almost tasted like the stuff you can buy in a jug at grocery stores.

Again, I suppose it's a little difficult for me to review this place without having tried their pot-stickers and some of their other things on their menu.  But based on the stuff we did try, I'm left wondering whether their location of being next to the parking lot and the train station has driven in mostly customers in a hurry and/or on the go.  If this was the case, this might explain why some of their foods slightly emphasize quickness to serve over uhh, quality craftmanship?  Not that there's anything wrong with that - if you're in a rush, you probably wouldn't be too scrutinous over your food and would be rather happy it's tasty and piping hot.   But for those taking the more leisurely route, it's something to keep in mind.


Zhu Ji Guo Tie
40-52 Main St Flushing, NY 11354 (Map)
(718) 353-6265
(From Main st, go down 41st Ave, it will be on your right, just before the parking lot)
($Chinese, $Flushing, $NYC)

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