Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Uncle Zhou 10-11-2011

Location: 83-29 Broadway, Elmhurst, Queens
Time: 7:30pm
People: 19 Ramen and Friends: ALev, JBH, Effie & Matthew, StevenC, JLam from MeSoHungry, Rich & Friend, KarenO, Greg, MGill, Jill, SaSha, MaSha, MerryL, Yasmin, Sekita, RB and myself

Feelings: Head over to the Henan style restaurant, Uncle Zhou (pronounced Joe), located in Elmhurst immediately before all the New York Times readers ruin this place. On this unusually warm Autumn night, this group of R&F regulars devoured the following interesting Henan flavors:
  • Sichuan button, also know as sansho in Japan--commonly used spice in authentic Japanese cuisine
  • Spicy crispy rabbits
  • Big tray of chicken
  • Lamb dumplings
  • Shaved noodles with tomato and egg
  • A sixer of BYOB Miller bottles
Organizing our monthly Ramen and Friends outings could always be hectic. Just thinking about the next outing gives me ulcers. The people at most restaurants we visit have difficulty speaking English and aren't used to very large groups. Making reservations can be extremely difficult. But Uncle Zhou made the event easy breezy-- 15 people, "No problem!" More people unexpectedly showed up--"No problem!" JBH accidentally knocked over a table and broke a plate with her bags- "No problem at all!" The service was friendly and accommodating, and our server was very knowledgeable and helpful.

We started off with two cold dishes, sliced tofu skin with vegetables and sweet and sour cucumbers, which were recommended by our lovely server. They were both refreshing and a great way to start off the spicy Henan cuisine to come. Their famous regional delicacy, "Big Tray of Chicken" ($12, big enough for 2-3 people) was extremely well received at our table. Chicken chunks and and pieces of bones along with potatoes ever so gently glazed in what seemed to be the best sauce ever created and piled high with garlic and chili peppers. "The sauce was amazing, and I loved that the potatoes in the dish soaked up the delicious sauce. I would go back just for that dish!" said SaSha. Sekita added, "The big chicken of chicken delivered on its cultish reputation. I wanted to drink up the sauce."

Spicy Crispy Rabbit in Big Tray ($16.95) caused a lot of stirs and palate chaos with the use of Sichuan buttons also known as Sansho in Japan. Sichuan buttons can almost be compared to a hybrid of dried chilies and eating a slice of lemon. I grew up eating Sansho, so it was interesting to see people's reactions. "It gave it that numbing sensation-- very strange," MerryL said. "It was an interesting sensation and my mouth was buzzing," said SaSha. "Even my water had a strange 'sweet' and lemony taste for at least 20 minutes!"

Dial Oil Hand Drawn Noodle ($5) was extremely garlicky, to the point that caused my eyes to tear. Even today my purse smells of the dish, so keep your Chanel at home. MerryL thought it was "very garlicky but nice spice and texture." On the other hand, Tomato and Egg Knife Shaved Noodle ($5) was light and refreshing and similar to Hiyashi Chuka. The noodles were thick, doughy and al dente, and overall it was quite filling.

The Lamb dumplings ($3) were also a big hit. Sekita enjoyed the Middle Eastern seasoning, but JBH felt that there was a bit too much of residual juice inside. The bread of Sesame Pancake with Beef ($2.75) was seasoned with cinnamon, and RB appropriately called them 'meat Cinnabons.'

With the volume and quality of food, we could not believe it was only $10.50 each person. (20% tip included.) I unfortunately woke up with a terrible garlic breath and still tasting a bit of lemon, but my wallet and stomach were quite content from the night before.


BLee said...

So sad to have missed it! I'll be sure to make a trip after your glowing review!

Jenn said...

Awesome staff! That can make or break a place! I'd definitely go back for the dumplings, perhaps with less juices.

Yosh. O said...

BLee, we missed you!!
Yeah the staff was really awesome and so helpful.