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April 30, 2017

GONG HEY FAT CHOW! YEAR OF THE RABBIT

Celebrations of the Chinese New Year continue as February 3rd marked the beginning of 4709, the Year of the Rabbit. Manhattan’s Chinatown staged their parade as downtown Flushing will commemorate on Saturday, Feb. 12th. Needless to say there are a vast amount of restaurants in this area that also offer a wide variety of Asian cuisines, one of which is Deluge, located at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel.

Let me first throw in that this hotel’s restaurant oozes of atmosphere having an atrium venue and artistically pleasing to the eyes. Throw in seating where you are not on top of your neighbor’s conversation (unless they are orgasmically talking about the food) and impeccable service (Robert Donato is obviously a great Food and Beverage Manager).

It was Deveka Leibovitz, her husband, Ernie, and Deveka’s cousin August who joined me in partaking of Deluge’s Asian menu. I have been at this restaurant before and it ceases to amaze me how Executive Chef Kevin Wong can flavor his dishes so that they taste uniquely “his’. Now, the cast of characters. Deveka is originally from Surinam (a combination of Dutch and West Indian cuisine), Ernie made his way to the US from Romania, and August popped in from Holland and got a taste of authentic Chinese food. Did I mention that Esther and Eunice, my two rubber chickens, joined us as well? Our meal began with some cold appetizers. Drunken Chicken. A whole chicken is steamed with fresh ginger, green onion, Chinese rice wine and Chinese star anis spice, served on the bone and garnished with cilantro. You only get part of the chicken, not all of it…otherwise it wouldn’t be an appetizer. I’m going to try this at home using my rice steamer. As for Esther and Eunice, they were a bit standoffish about indulging.

Five Spicy Beef. Beef shank is slowly cooked with Chinese five spices (Sichuan pepper corn powder, 8 stars spice, ginger powder, anise and cloves), sliced and also garnished with cilantro. We thought that this was extremely tender until we sank our teeth into the Sa-cha Beef (read later). Balsam and Celery. Take celery and red bell peppers, cut in strips, boil in water and cool. Marinate in sesame oil, light soy sauce and rice vinegar. Ernie doesn’t like celery and couldn’t get enough!

Cucumber Dark Mushrooms. This dish uses Chinese wood ear mushrooms and English cucumbers that are cut in a half moon and tossed in a dressing of minced garlic, scallions, chili oil, chili paste, salt, sesame oil, dark vinegar. I believe that they omitted the chili oil and chili paste for me as I don’t appreciate spicy food.

Chef Wong created a traditional New Year’s Soup called “Lucky Seaweed” made with seaweed and pig’s feet. Ernie was skeptic as he also doesn’t like seaweed. I wouldn’t have guessed that pig’s feet were used as I simply detected small chunks of meat. I saw the seaweed but the texture was not slimy nor did the broth taste like water from the ocean, if you know what I mean. Boiled peanuts were in this soup as well. As for Ernie…he loved the soup! In fact, we all did!

Here come the entrees and the Sa-cha Beef that I mentioned. Flank steak is marinated in some great seasonings Chef Wong decided on. The steak is then stir fried with this Sa-cha sauce composed of soy sauce, sugar, sherry and sesame oil. Flank steak is a tender cut already. This recipe made it so easy to chew, you could have sent your teeth on vacation!

Ginger Prawns and Broccoli. Prawns can be categorized as being jumbo shrimp. These eight prawns are marinated in egg white, oil, white pepper and salt, cooked in medium heat with a tomato base, onion, oyster sauce, honey and chili sauce. Although the dish is usually served with steamed broccoli, we got some baby bok choy instead. Yum! The hint of chili sauce added to the flavor but did not interfere with my spice buds! Young tofu (I think it might have been taken away from its mother) is cut in chunks and steamed for a dish called Moo Po Tofu (doesn’t the name sound as if it came from a poor cow?). The sauces vary with this one using a white sauce with dried scallops.

The finale of entrees was the Sichuan Fish, of which I only sampled some of the fish without any of the sauce! It’s another lucky item for the New Year being that it is fish. A whole steamed tilapia was the star of the show. Otherwise it is the “catch of the day”. I’m not sure as to what was in the sauce, but I could detect cloves of garlic and red chili peppers on Deveka’s plate. Ernie and August were thrilled to have this, no tears running down their eyes. I guess when you grow up on spicy food, your palate only reacts to “very hot”, vs “mild” and doesn’t stop one from eating it.

Of the desserts sampled, the poached pears were the best. They were poached in red wine and cinnamon with a scoop of red wine sorbet atop. The taste of the red wine didn’t detract from the sorbet as the alcohol was totally burned off giving a more grape flavor to the sorbet. Pears are one of my favorite fruits.

The Chinese New Year’s menu (available on February 12th) gives a choice of appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert for the price of $28 per person (plus tax and gratuity). If you are looking ahead to Valentine’s Day, Deluge offers a four course dinner that includes Chef Wong’s Special Sweetheart Dessert for $55 per person. Choices are Asian and Western as Deluge caters not only to the Asian population. For reservations call 718-670-7400.

Editor’s note. I have affectionately renamed this area “Flu-Shing”. It is the year 5771 of the Hebrew calendar and 4709 on the Chinese calendar. That means that Jews have been suffering for over a thousand years without Chinese food! I will make up for it.

February 10, 2011 - Queens Times

 


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