Saturday, June 14, 2008

Day-long Chinese feasting, part 1: Sunset Park and Pacificana

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For the longest time the two big Asian hot spots in my mind were lower Manhattan and Flushing, Queens. Between those two areas were communities of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese businesses in K-town, Elmhurst, or on St. Marks Place that I dropped in on (still do), but it wasn't until recently that I began to pay attention to Sunset Park.

The layout of New York City's Brooklyn Chinatown is funny in that most of the shops and restaurants run along Eighth Avenue in one long strip. According to some, owners all wanted their businesses on this street because in Chinese culture the number eight—which sounds like fa, meaning fortune—is considered good luck.
Several weeks ago I made plans with friends to chill in this thriving Chinatown for an afternoon. Walking around before meeting them, I dropped by the above stand and picked up two buns for later, one pork and one vegetable. When I had them the next day I found the pork filling skimpy and the cabbage-heavy filling muddled and oily, but at fifty cents each, either would still not be a bad snack.
At the glitzy and massive Hong-Kong style Pacificana—whose take on General Tso's chicken I had sampled at the Village Voice's Choice Eats event back in March—I met up with MB and BH for dim sum. Above: shrimp dumplings, shao mai, and black bean short ribs.
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Glistening baked roast pork buns; shrimp balls covered in fried noodles; pan-fried taro cake; rice noodles with dried shrimp and scallions. Thumbs up.
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A delicious scallion pancake that turned out to be made with rice flour, giving it the crispy, chewy consistency of fried mochi; noodle-wrapped crullers; rice steamed in lotus-leaf; beef rice-noodle roll; and sesame balls filled with lotus seed paste. We also got a plate of Chinese broccoli, you know, to be "healthy."

Word to the wise: dim sum is best done with four or more, especially when you want to sample a variety of items. It was impossible for the three of us to finish everything.
After leaving Pacificana we walked around for a while, taking in the scene. I was fairly miserable with fullness—and then it hit me that in just four or five hours I would be attending a full Chinese banquet in honor of MH's graduation. I was a dead woman.


  1. How did Pacificana compare to Flushing places?

  2. Comparable, I think...most of the stuff was pretty good. I'm still looking for that amazing, mind-blowing dim sum palace, but while this wasn't it, I really liked everything that we got.