Connect me to:
Rifu Restaurant (Flushing NY)
||136-77 41st Avenue,|
Flushing, NY 11355
Reviewed by: Michael Gray
Summer Volume: 2011 Issue: 18(2) page: 24
Enter Rifu Restaurant, they are open from noon to midnight every day, and one sees a large framed photograph of a magnificent mountain range on the right wall. How fitting, the interior of Rifu is like a ski lodge so take note of their dark woods. The pictured mountain chain, Changbai in Chinese and Paekdu in Korean, it straddles the border of both countries and is the mythical birthplace of both the Manchu and Korean people.
At Rifu, food reflects both cultures. Thanks to its friendly owner, a man surnamed Jin. He and most of the staff are from Yanbian, the Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China's Jilin province. Yanbian is about the size of Massachusetts and New Hampshire combined. Koreans are the fourteenth largest ethnic minority in China, their population has reached two million, eight hundred thousand of them residing in Yanbian.
After you sit down at one of the seven or eight rectangular four-top tables you are offered cold Barley Tea, a Korean warm-weather staple. Ice-cold frosty bottled beers are available for sale. The menu has about four pages of Yanbian special dishes in Chinese, Korean, Pinyin, and English; though not all menu items are translated into English, they are in Pinyin. Thus Cumin Lamb is rendered as Zilan Lamb. Both Korean and Mandarin are spoken here along with a smattering of English. Worry not, their many customers seem glad to help.
Over the course of several visits we learned to love the Potatoes Steamed Dumplings called Tu Dou Zheng Jiao. These delicate items are made with what appears to be potato flour. The Chicken Feet or Ji Zhua, for some reason is listed on the menu as Palmatum. They are larger-size pieces than normally seen at dim sum.
The Sausage or Mi Chang is a Korean dish known in that country as Soon-dae. It probably has no right to call itself sausage in the western sense as it is a savory rice mixture with mint surrounded by an organ casing. The Pork with Green Beans here known as Rou Chao Dou Jiao, is pleasantly heavy while the Slate Tofu or Shi Ban Dou Fu is sizzling hot squares of doufu atop a black slate topped with a dab of hot sauce and scallions. Their Surface Temperature Noodles or Wen Mian are sweet and spicy and served in a room-temperature broth. Fried Bracken or Chao Jue Cai are long pieces of fiddlehead cooked with pork and spicy green peppers.
Kimchi Fried Rice, Pao Cai Chao Fan, is a staple all over Korea; here it is delicious; as are the Stir-Fried Tree Ears called Rou Chao Mu Er. Likewise the Rice Dumplings or Da Mi Jiao Zi. Rice Cake, or Da Gao is somewhat akin to the Korean desert Injolmi. Its delicate rice cakes come topped with slightly sweetened ground red beans. Some of the other dishes we tried included Fried Matsuma, their pine mushrooms, Iron Plate Sheet Iron Ginseng, and Fried River Fish--rather large dried crunchy sardines. These were, we learned an ideal bar food and we were discouraged from ordering them!
These many dishes brought tastes of Yanbian foods in a restaurant here for quite a few years. Very few westerners come to sample its offerings, their error, as we did on several occasions and we will be back. You should come, too!