Wednesday, March 7, 2012

(M)ost (V)isited (P)lace: Corner 28, Flushing, Part I

I’ll be honest, when I first visited Corner 28, I didn’t have the greatest experience. In short, I had a really bad one. I didn’t know what to expect, was intimidated by the menu, I went with someone and neither of us are Chinese, we didn’t like what we ordered, and the wait staff demanded we tip more than we did. 

Now, unless someone gives me HORRIBLE service, I leave 15-20%. I usually tip more because I have great respect for people in the culinary/hospitality/service industry. I highly recommend you do too, except in this example I was not happy eating here at all. 

Now, there were other factors at play here that I don’t want to get into, but the addition of such an experience left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. Also, I don’t understand why, in a country like this, in a place like NYC, why I sometimes feel like my skin color should determine where I can go and what I can eat. 

As far as I’m concerned, the only color anyone should care about is green, as in, I have the money and want to spend it in your establishment. Don’t pander to me because I’m white, don’t mistreat me, don’t dumb down your cuisine, don’t make me wait longer because I’m white and obviously confused as to where I am, and please, ask me first if I want a fork. 

I digress, just a tad, and it’s to give a framework to my first experience going back to Corner 28 with  The Fisherman and his parents, frequent patrons. First, as with any establishment, if you go a lot, they’ll be nicer to you. I get that. And, as much as I’d like to think they don’t care about being Chinese or not, I sometimes wonder why I’m treated much better when I go with The Fisherman and his family. Although last weekend we went and I was given a fork, something I didn’t have for at least a year of going with them. 

Oh well. Bizarre treatment aside, if you are extremely brave, or have someone more experienced (and Chinese/Asian looking), this is a good place to go to. The food is authentic and very good, the atmosphere is very nice, and if you’re adventurous, this is right up your alley. 

So, onto the fun stuff.  When we first sit down, they bring this
to the table. Glorious glorious char siu (roasted pork). Juicy, sweet jewels of porcine delight. Is this for me, or do I have to share?

They also brought tofu skin and mushroomy type things. I really enjoy the tofu skin, again I can't figure out why I like this but not other things. The fungus mushroomy things make me a little uneasy, I'm not brave enough to try them, yet. Sometimes they bring peanuts, but last weekend when we went they only brought the tofu skin. Hmmm. 

Then, they always have this special $1.00 soup. I’ve tried this many, many times, and it’s not for me. I even tried this pig brain soup they have that helps with migraines, according to The Fisherman’s mom, who also gets them. All in all, it’s not something I like, but that’s just me. The broth is very mild (but then I grew up with Lipton), and there are pieces of silky chicken (or some chicken with inky black skin). 

 A close up of my soup. Thar be interestin’ things in that thar bowl…

A picture of the menu, they do have incredible pictures, I will say. Country Style frog. Actually doesn’t look bad. Maybe I’ll request that next time. 


Then some tea. The funny thing is, some places have really nice tea, most don’t. I’m indifferent to the tea here, quite honestly. I’m surprised it’s not better, but maybe it’s just me.  

Now, onto the food. These photos are from two visits we went on, and we order a lot both times :)

Beef chow fun. One of my favorite dishes. It’s strange, because while some textures don’t appeal to me, like chewy and savory, or jelly-like and savory, but I love, LOVE rice noodles. Bouncy rice noodles, a wonderfully savory sauce, and the elusive wok hei. Wok hei is basically this incredible smokiness, but it’s not quite that simplistic. The other tricky thing about acquiring wok hei is the need for really high heat. Unfortunately, the average American stove top doesn’t get that hot, so home wok hei is hard, if not impossible.

Next, speaking of textures I don’t love to death, is boiled chicken with mustard greens. The Fisherman and I have this debate on chicken skin. He loves it soft and gelatinous, where I like it dry and crispy. To each his own, and in this case, more for him. I will say this cooking application does make the white meat incredibly tender, which I really do enjoy. The key is to eat with this incredible ginger scallion sauce. The flavor combination of this seemingly simple sauce is other worldly. I liked Corner 28’s, but I like the sauce The Fisherman’s family makes way more. This recipe from Almost Bourdain is a good starting point, but like anything else, it’s open to adaptation (like I usually see everything chopped ridiculously fine).

Here we have salt and pepper pork. Crunchy, salty, meaty, really, really good. The batter is light and crispy (not health food, but totally worth it once in a while). You taste the salt and pepper and a simple but elegant way, and then you get the yummy pork. Overall pretty tender meat, great combination.

Finally, we’ll wrap things up with sweet and sour pork (a relative to the salt and pepper pork). The texture is the same light and crispy coating, but this comes with a sweet and sticky glaze. It works nicely together, but I kind of prefer the drier salt and pepper myself. Maybe after a hard day at the office I'd take comfort in sweet and sour pork. It's a bit heavy for me, but not a bad choice.

Next post we’ll go over MORE from Corner 28, Peking Duck (yes it is as delicious as you've heard!), lo mein, pan fried tilapia, and an interesting spin on dessert. Until then, mangia!

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