A Chinese Mainstay
Tung Shing House
97-45 Queens Blvd.
Hours: Noon to 11 p.m.
Credit Cards: Yes
On a busy Saturday night, five of us took a break from the Memorial Day weekend heat to enjoy a classic meal at one of the oldest and most renowned Chinese restaurants in Queens - Tung Shing House.
We've been there before. My grandmother used to hold her "Family Circle" meetings there; I've been there a few times on my own and with my family. I've yet to find a dish I haven't liked. Saturday was no exception.
We started with the most important part first - ordering the Peking Duck. You need to give them 30 minutes or so to get the meal together - it is done to order to ensure that you get that perfect balance of juicy meat and crisp skin. More on that later.
We started with a couple of simple classics - pan-fried dumplings and barbecue ribs. The dumplings are the pot stickers of old, crisply browned on one side, steamy and juicy in the middle with a great mix of soy, sesame, rice wine vinegar and hint of Szechuan pepper dipping sauce. The ribs were not the red, overcooked kind that so many take-out joints proffer, but meaty, chewy, golden and tangy. The dish of fried noodles helped round out our first course.
Though some tables got roasted peanuts and pickled beets, our table was somehow overlooked. It was a busy night.
Soon after finishing the first round, our dishes began to arrive. First, the roast pork fried rice arrived, replete with sprouts, chunks of char siu, onion and herbs. As that cooled, the duck was brought tableside, and the server prepared the wraps for us. Chinese pancakes get folded burrito-style around slices of the tender meat, which is dipped in a nutty hoisin. Crisp skin and fresh cucumber and scallion fill out the interior, and the plate of neatly wrapped, hand-held duck is placed at the table. While we waited for our other dishes, we made quick work of the duck.
The kung pao chicken arrived, generously filled with tender chicken, peanuts and ubiquitous Szechuan pepper flakes. This is the way I like it - the balance of salty, sweet and spicy caused flavors to dance along my tastebuds. Yum.
As we ate, we continued to wait for our final dish, a request that had to be made a few times before our beef with string beans arrived. Though we did feel a bit ignored at times, the dish was certainly worth the wait. Like the chicken, the beef was tender, cooked just enough without being overdone. The sauce was a sweet and slightly sour golden delight, and the beans were fresh, still with a snap on the teeth - perfectly executed.
Though the service seemed to be off that night - they didn't know we were writing a review, perhaps, I've never experienced the problem before. I knew that when I made a mention to our hostess as we left, that the issue would be addressed.
And like I said, the food was certainly worth the wait.
—Brian M. Rafferty