Giving Thanks to Chinese Food – NYC
So similar to last year, we ate Chinese food for Thanksgiving again. By now, it’s pretty much a point of no return for my family. I mean, given the ease, the price, and the lack of a million dishes to wash, I have a feeling we’ll never go back to the turkey feasts of the past. I still feel Thanksgiving isn’t exactly complete without a turkey, but considering the copious amount of delicious foods in the world to fill the turkey void, it’s far from horrible. For example, this year we had fried Dungeness crab, fried chicken, fried rice, and other garlicky, fried things at Canton Gourmet. Stress on the garlic and fried.
I’m not exaggerating about the fried and garlic bit. Besides two dishes, everything we ordered was either fried and/or covered with fried garlic. It’s not a bad thing, but after a while, you develop fried, garlic fatigue.
The first dish we had was Dungeness crab, house-style ($56) or typhoon shelter-style. Before cooking, the live crab was brought over to our table for our approval. When it reemerged from the kitchen, it was fried and covered underneath a mountain of fried garlic, shallots, red pepper, and scallions. Being the first fried dish, we loved it. The crab was incredibly tender on the inside, and the mountain of aromatics were flavorful, and yes, wonderfully fried. My only critique was the crab wasn’t as spicy as I would have liked. When I had typhoon shelter-style crab in Hong Kong, I remember it being so spicy your fingers hurt while you were eating it. Still, far away from Hong Kong, this wasn’t a bad rendition.
After the crab, crispy chicken with garlic ($11.95) arrived, and it was again fried and covered with fried garlic, shallots, pepper, and scallions. This was when the fatigue started setting in. Don’t get me wrong, the chicken was indeed very crisp, and the meat was tender. It just tasted the same as the previous dish except with chicken instead of crab. I would recommend ordering one or the other, not both.
Crispy tofu ($7.95) didn’t offer any respite from the fried overload, but it was very good. It was fried perfectly; entirely crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. As can be seen, the cooks at Canton gourmet are experts at frying.
Sizzling steak ($13.95) wasn’t deep fried, but it also wasn’t great. The texture was odd, very soft and chewy like dduk galbi (a Korean version of Salisbury steak made with rice flour). I suspect the texture had to do with either extreme velveting or too much tenderizer. It wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t a fan. I like my meat to have a meat-like bite.
After all the fried foods, we were relieved to see the sauteed snow pea leaves with garlic ($15.95). Too bad we got it near the end. Pacing of dishes is a bit odd at Canton Gourmet. In any case, the vegetables were cooked well and weren’t too greasy.
The last dish, silver golden egg fried rice ($11.95), was my favorite of the meal. It’s a fried rice dish made with lots of eggs, preserved fish, and raisins topped with Canton Gourmet’s ever-present fried flurry. My mother found it too fishy, and my brother kept complaining he wished we got the fried rice earlier since we were too full at that point to appreciate it (white rice had to be ordered mid-way through the meal since the fried rice was MIA), but I loved it. The rice was fluffy, had a bit sweetness from the raisins, and the salty preserved fish gave it a distinctive flavor. With a bit of vinegar and chili garlic sauce to counter the fishiness and cut the grease, it was even better. With a fried runny egg the next day, it was phenomenal.
After our fried blowout, I took my entire family over to White Bear for wontons in chili oil which we ate standing on the street eating from a styrofoam box. Needless to say, everyone loved it. No turkey again this Thanksgiving, but no one went hungry. In this economy, that’s a hell of a thing to be thankful for.
38-08 Prince St (b/n 38th & 39th Ave; map)
Flushing, NY 11354