Friday, February 20, 2009

Spicy and Tasty, Flushing

On Prince Street between 39th Ave and Roosevelt Ave, lies a modern building that is a home of Spicy and Tasty among many other restaurants. Walking into the address of 39-07 would confuse the servers next door. Pass the door, and look for 1H. That's the door you want to walk into -though the food next door may be good, too! But that's another trip. Anthony from the group suggested this place, and it turns out Frank Bruni has already been here, 2 years ago. Mr. Bruni's been to Flushing?? I guess this is something he and I(my wallet) could agree on, especially my meals are not paid by the NYTimes. Walking into the door, I immediately noticed the immaculate display case of cold dishes, no drips or spots, and all of the tongs facing the same way. If we've learned something from Chef Anthony Bourdain, among with much of his genius, that is, if the outside of the kitchen is clean, the food is clean. Dirty food ain't tasty, you just wouldn't want to put it in your mouth if you know -though I'm sure I've done plenty of that! You know what I mean?

Two of my party had already arrived, and they went ahead and order couple of the dishes from the case. Cucumber in Sesame Oil Sauce($5), and Bamboo in Hot and Spicy Sauce($6.50). Both perfect choices to start -and if you start with the bamboo shoots, then you WILL need to follow that by the cucumber. Cucumber is an essential part of the meal to cool down the firing sensation of the Szechuan spices -though beer works as well! Both tasted clean and seasoned appropriately, and I must say, this applies the same for all of the dishes at Spicy and Tasty. We looked through the extensive menu, but we came prepared with the list of recommended dishes by Mr. Bruni himself as well as other predecessors. We wanted to try broad range of dishes, including their signature dishes, as much as 4 people could share.

Sesame Cold Noodle($5) arrived at the table first. It's just a plain old looking mound of lo-mein noodles tossed in sesame oil, scallions, and seasonings. But don't let the looks fool you. The flavor of the sauce blends in beautifully with the perfectly cooked noodle. The spices weren't screaming out, but there's definitely HEAT. The balance between the ingredients was superb. Spicy Double Cooked Pork($9.95) is thinly sliced pork belly sautéed with leeks and (I think)shisito peppers in another spicy sauce. Again, the balance between the ingredients plays a key role here. The fattiness of the pork belly compliments the texture of leeks, and the flavors of all the ingredients sing in harmony on my tongue. Shrimp and Green Hot Peppers in Black Bean Sauce($12.95) was served on a bed of spinach instead. Market driven -I like that. Each of us had our own favorite dishes. It is nearly impossible to determine which one was for me, but I may just have to vote for this one. Medium sized shrimp was sautéed in fermented black beans and seasonings. The saltiness of the black bean was matched well with somewhat watery spinach. Scallions was still slightly crispy, and made a nice co-star. Smoked Tea Duck($12.95 for half), was topped with julienned scallions, served with a side of hoisin sauce. Chinese five spices were present in the seasoning of the duck. This, I wasn't too crazy about, though I was happy with the meatiness of the duck, achieving a thin layer of fat. We also ordered Beef Tendon in Red Chili Sauce($7.50), which never arrived to our table. Perhaps the server didn't hear me. We probably wouldn't have finished it anyway. I was perfectly fed at the end of the meal.

In some cuisines, like Korean, or Mexican, spiciness is used freely, sometimes as much as you can handle -or you better! When it is expected, I am a huge fan, and in a way, this was what I expected from Spicy and Tasty. However, with careful balancing of the ingredients, spices, and their flavors, they've shown me a different level of enjoying spiciness. More isn't always more.

Spicy and Tasty, 39-07 Prince St. 1H, Flushing, NY

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