We take pride in our many “puntastic” article titles, this one though we owe to the great chopstick sleeves at Hunan House. “Eat more Hunan Cuisine, be a Great Man”. Waiter, one of everything please?
Food snobbery can easily make us overlook this quaint little Chinese restaurant. “Hunan House” is about as generic a Chinese restaurant name as they come. Google the word Hunan and about a dozen generic Americanized take-outs pop up in any city. Many immigrants proudly named their restaurants after their hometown, but sadly couldn’t showcase their Hunan cuisine and had to resort to generic General Tsao fare.
The reason behind this dumb-down use of the word Hunan in the culinary arts is quite simple: Hunan cuisine is trial by chili peppers, certainly not for the feign of heart.
Hunan House is situated on Northern Boulevard near Flushing, in a part of Flushing where foot traffic is surprisingly light, but vehicular traffic is persistent. From the 7 train, it’s a brisk 10 minute walk past dozens of equally generic sounding restaurants. No need to stop by an ATM on the way there, believe it or not this is a Chinese restaurant that gladly accepts credit.
The menu is surprisingly organized and well printed. If you’re new to real Hunan cuisine, it’s best to ask the helpful staff for recommendations. When in Hunan House, eat as the Hunan folks do, and skip all the generic and familiar dishes you might see.
Appetizers sets the tone with a good amount of heat. I’ve had marinated beef tendons at many restaurants, but this was a different type of spicy. Szechuan restaurants focus on numbing heat with peppercorns, this was a pure dry heat created with excessive chili peppers. As for a few bowls of rice and ice water, you’ll need it.
Next I went easy on myself and got a simple home-style favorite, leek and Chinese bacon. No chili pepper symbol here, it was just a simple stir fry that blends the garlic stem leaves with the slightly-sweet flavors of Chinese bacon.
Thinking that we’ve perhaps played it too safe, we decided to kick it up a notch. (Which I’m sure is by now is already many notches above Emeril’s heat index)
A stir fry of fish stomach is perhaps one way to turn up the heat and the strangeness. The fish stomach, which doesn’t exhibit any fishy taste and provides a nice gelatinous crunch, is fried with green peppers, onions, and a serious dose of garlic and chili. The plate was overwhelmingly aromatic, and an absolute joy to eat.
To wrap up this meal, a big bowl of glass noodle (mung bean noodle) fried with scallions, ground meat, and preserved beans. There’s no delicate flavor here, it’s very much an in-your-face type of dish that makes you devour it with bowls of rice. In Chinese home-style cooking, that’s the utmost compliment.
Come, eat and be great.
What does this rating mean?
13740 Northern Blvd
Flushing, NY 11354