China's southwestern province of Yunnan remains most famous for its bold-tasting and fermented pu’er tea (普洱茶, or pǔ'ěr chá).
What far less of us know is that ethnic minorities (non-Han Chinese) such as the Ba, Dai, Miao, and Tibetan peoples constitute upwards of 34% of Yunnan's population. Also pretty cool is that Yunnan happens to border Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.
Given Yunnan’s sheer cultural and ethnic diversity, it seems near-impossible to find an American-based Chinese restaurant that could come anywhere close to offering even a sampling of this province’s range of culinary treasures.
But, Deng Ji (at 46-22 Kissena Boulevard) can be a start. Deng Ji offers Yunnan’s signature dish: Cross the Bridge Noodles (過橋米線, or guòqiáo mǐxiàn).
Deng Ji’s $14.99 Zhuang Yuan GuoQiao Rice Noodle (狀元過橋米線, or Zhuàngyuánguò qiáo mǐ xiàn) is amazing for its broth, a masterpiece that father and son (Mr. Deng and Deng Jr.) composed and revised to near-perfection.
The soup taste seems simultaneously complex yet light on oils and spices (qīngdàn, or 清淡), finishing off with notes just something shy of sour.
With the dish, you and your friends/family also receive lean chicken, sausage, shrimp balls, crab meat, tofu skin, corn, and white fungus (另加銀耳, or lìng jiā yín'ěr):
The way your bridge noodles are cooked is like an abbreviated, hands-off version of hotpot (or shabu shabu). The raw ingredients and noodles arrive in separate dishes; the soup comes in a Chinese earthen clay pot. Your server first fills up your earthen clay pot with the noodles, then arranges the other ingredients on top. She closes the lid and instructs you to wait a minute. Shortly, she returns to lift your clay pot lid, revealing a cooked ZhuangYuan GuoQiao Rice Noodle dish.
One more thing about your ingredients: you'll try (maybe for the first time) something new:
If you’re ordering delivery, there is one major procedural difference: your ingredients are pre-mixed into the soup, with the noodles in a separate container as to not become soggy during transit.
Final notes are ambience and service. The kitchen was near-immaculate, which partially explains Deng Ji's current A rating:
Service from the (non-Yunnan) servers was hands-off post cooking the noodle dish. However, both were reasonably accommodating once you waved for help.
May Flushing Food suggest:
· Asking the staff to skip on cilantro if it’s not your thing;
· Reserving the seaweed until ordering your Cross the Bridge Noodles because the seaweed is extremely salty;
· That if traveling to Deng Ji from Downtown Flushing, taking the Q17 or Q27 and hopping off at the Holly Avenue stop on Kissena Boulevard
Media credits: Helen Y.
Gadget: Sony® Cyber-shot™ DSC-RX100M2