Connect me to:
Yi Lan Fan (Flushing NY)
||42-79A Main Street,|
Flushing, NY 11355
Reviewed by: Michael Gray
Fall Volume: 2011 Issue: 18(3) page: 27
This Flushing eatery serves Tianjin food. Some of their delicious dishes can be seen on a slide show accompanying the review I wrote on www.chowhound.com For those without a computer, this magazine's editor asked me to repeat the review here with a few minor changes to keep it similar to others in this magazine.
Let me start by saying it has been open more than five months, and if your boss has been yapping too much at work or you have been eating too much of 'the other white meat,' consider swinging by this halal restaurant for a Chinese change of pace.
The Owner/Chef is a man named Ling Da Wei, and Da Wei is the Chinese for David. Look for his photo with Hizzoner in the front behind the till. He is Muslim and from Tianjin, so the dishes he turns out definitely have a northern Tianjin bent; no pork is present. His English is limited, but that of his ace waitress/hostess Cindy speaks perfect English and she will take care of you just fine. Apparently Chef Ling's family runs a Yi Lan Halal restaurant in Tianjin.
My first visit included the following dishes: Ox Tongue and Tripe with Spicy Peppery Sauce; it was divine; nice, spicy, and very tender.
Their Stir-fried Cake, or as my dining companion Stan called it, "Wacky Bing" was a thick pancake or bing, shredded and stir-fried with beef, egg, carrots and cabbage. Unique and delicious, look for this item in the 'Rice and Noodle' section of the menu; then ask Cindy to order yours because it is not translated into English.
The Sliced Fish with Hot Peppers, a Tianjin version of the Sichuan classic was spicy, its fish filets not 'blow out your mouth spicy,' and the red broth with it was very savory. Be sure to pick out the good bits from the bottom after you have finished the fish; nothing should be wasted.
Cabbage in Sour Sauce is stir-fried. It packed too much sweetness for us; while the Lamb with Chili Pepper, a Tianjin version of Cumin Lamb was wonderful. One could smell that cumin when the dish was delivered tableside.
Mutton Soup, a special, was hand-printed in Chinese on the in-house menu. It is listed on their take-out menu, but as Hand Teared Lamb. We were so pleased we ordered this and did note it seemed to be on every other table. A hearty lamb broth with bones and a bit of meat, at least twice during the meal they added more broth to our hot pot! Who does that anymore? Find Cindy or ask for it in Chinese, it is called Shou Zhua Yang Rou.
The Steamed Vegetable Shu Mai dumplings were filled with cucumber, egg, wood ear, and pickled vegetables; they were only sixty cents each. They, too, were in the Rice and Noodle section of the menu, and were not translated into English.
Eight Treasure Tofu, an interesting and well-presented dish came with deep-fried silken bean curd cubes topped with shrimp, squid, sea cucumber, dried scallops, and a few crab sticks in a brown sauce. The editor deemed them phenomenal, we agree.
The egg fritters, for some reason called 'Yellow Vegetable' in Chinese, was one of four types of dessert fritters listed under 'Sweet Dish.' These, too, were not translated into English. Their eggs, oil, flour, and water were mixed together to create some type of dough, then deep-fried. Some of ours did seem a bit under-cooked but dipped into the bowl of water served with them for that purpose, they crisped right up.
There are a lot of other dishes worth exploring on this halal menu. On our next visit we plan to order Wasabi Arctic Surf Clams, Tomato with Noodle Soup, Moo Shu in Sour Sauce, Sour Cabbage and Lamb with thin Noodles, also Sautéed Squid Rolls, and a couple of Tianjin House Special Dishes, to name just a few.