Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bland crab, delicious rice at Canton Gourmet

Inspired by FeistyFoodie's exuberant write-up, I met up with XJS and MH at Canton Gourmet for a Sunday lunch, a clean, brightly lit restaurant on Prince Street in Flushing. We were especially interested in the Dungeness crab over steamed rice noodles FF had written about; XJS had been talking about a similar dish that she'd had (and loved) with the crab served over sticky rice, and both of us were eager to see if Canton Gourmet's version was as good as it sounded.
Both the menu and the decor of Canton Gourmet feature large, food porn-quality pictures of their best dishes, and it was one such picture that inspired us to order the above dish of (golden needle? can't remember the exact name) fried rice, which was excellent. The grains of rice were perfectly chewy and coated with flavor, and along with the yellow raisins, scallions, and eggs, the shreds of scallop/dried fish lent an addictive savory note. I kept going back for more of this one.
We also got an order of sauteed pea shoots, which were delicious. The cooked greens were tender and fresh and seasoned with just the right amount of salt to bring out their natural nutty flavor.
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After we'd made it through most of the rice and the pea shoots, the Dungeness crab dish was delivered to our table. XJS and I dug in excitedly, but MH hung back, stating that she was too lazy to deal with picking out crab meat and scooping out bowls of crab-infused rice noodles for each of us instead.

Unfortunately, the most anticipated dish of this meal ended up being a disappointment (and isn't that always the case?). I had hoped for some really fresh and sweet-tasting crabmeat, but this was average, and even sort of bland. I thought the noodles would fare better, having had a chance to soak up all the briny, garlicky flavor of the crab, but as the meat and its juices were bland to begin with, so were the noodles. I added some chili paste to my bowl in an effort to punch up their flavor, but it didn't help much.

I'd passed Canton Gourmet many times before, in the past on the way to Laifood/66 (which has changed owners since and gone totally downhill) and then later when I became obsessed with the soup dumplings and stir-fried nian gao at Noodle House. Until I read about it on FF's blog, I'd never thought to enter. But now, based on this meal, I'd definitely return again…just not for the crab!


  1. Thanks for the link! I'm sad you didn't like it as much, sounds like you went during an off moment (I've gone twice for the crabs.. the garlic.. omgs...!) or maybe Dungeness crabs aren't in season (I only know when blue crab season is, if they're the same season, then, yeah, not in season)? I don't know, but I'm saddened by that... BUT, I'm excited because I've only had golden needle rice once ("gum jum" in Cantonese), homemade by a friend's mom, and I'm super excited that I can get it at CG! Dried scallops are sooooo good and you don't need a lot to flavor the entire dish of rice... *drool* I have to try making it sometime... Mmmm!!! Thanks for the tip!

  2. Ok, ignore my last comment about off season, I just looked and noticed I posted in February of last year.

  3. Yah, I was surprised, our experiences with the crab seemed totally different. The fried rice WAS really good though, and cheap (I think, ten bucks? twelve?). Huge portion too!

  4. Hey, I don't know if I ever told you, but shortly after you posted this, I wound up at CG for a family dinner, and insisted on ordering the rice you mentioned, and LOVED it! I have to say our portion wasn't as big as yours lol but it was damn tasty. I should go by there just to get some to take home to eat :D

  5. I luurrve that rice. Whenever I'm in Flushing I think about getting it for takeout too!!