>> [CLOSED] Zheng's Family Garden | Eat the World NYC

16 March 2011

[CLOSED] Zheng's Family Garden



Zheng's Family Garden is not the most user-friendly place, at least for someone that does not read Chinese. Their main sign to the street is pictured above, and many items on their menu only have the Chinese characters. But unlike many other Fujianese places in town, the man here was amenable to at least describing things in small detail and did not push our questions aside.

When you walk in you see two tiers of seafood tanks, and many of the dishes they serve require you to select your meal live. Fujian province is along the coast and naturally has a strong lean towards seafood in its cuisine, as well as a tendency to let the flavors of the dish be savored directly rather than masking them with spices.

Our first dish was decidedly un-Fujian, the plain noodle with peanut butter ($2, below) but beckoned with its always satisfying nature. Unfortunately this was our weakest dish of the day, unnaturally bland.

A good step up was the duck with thin noodle ($5, below), a broth that starts out tasting a bit dirty somehow, but grows on you. The star of the show are the noodles though, a massive heap that requires quite an effort to separate and eat, unless you simply just go slurping full throttle.

I would recommend turning the menu over here and ordering from the "smaller" portions sections on the back. Under the "Rice" section is the fun crab with cauliflower ($5.50, below), which is not the meatiest entree, but has enough crab to make two people happy. You are not given any crab cracking tools, so getting the meat out is not the easiest endeavor, but the pieces are broken into fairly small bits to begin with.

We were naturally curious about items #128 and #129, which are both listed as "steamed dumplings" on the menu. Upon inquiring, we learned that one is actually a special Fujian-style dumpling, so we ordered that one, which is 50 cents more expensive at $3.50.

They come in a bowl of warm water, and the shell is like the sticky rice exterior found on sesame desserts. Inside, however, is a salty beef that really defies your expectations. I would not say I like these more than other Chinese dumplings, but it was interesting to try another type.

The inside of a Fujian-style steamed dumpling.

Unfortunately, the longer you sit around in this place, the more you can notice how dirty everything is, and I started to feel a bit unpleasant towards the end of our meal. These are the things you just have to forget when eating out though, no matter where you are!

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