Thursday, March 3, 2011

Soup dumplings for breakfast (King 5 Noodle House)

Soup dumplings

Growing up, I never understood why American breakfast sucked so much. All I ever heard in school was that breakfast was "the most important meal of the day," and that we had to eat healthy to get our day started off right. Whole wheat toast... eggs... orange juice. Bunk. It's a huge load of crap. It's all just a ploy by your parents and the man to keep you from being a hyper little asshole during class hours. Thankfully Taiwanese people don't really believe in this whole "eating healthy" nonsense. Nope, you start your day off with deep fried sticks of dough, sugar-laden soy milk, and soup dumplings. Like a boss. If you want to eat lighter, that's fine... you can scale back your meal with some pan-fried dumplings. Breakfast to Taiwanese people isn't something to be taken lightly. It is serious business.

It's been five months since I last experienced the hot torrid affair that is fried carbs sandwiched inside of baked carbs, so when "The Girl Who Ate Everything" mentioned that she was super curious about a Taiwanese place in Flushing, I was more than happy to oblige - even if it meant getting up at 8 AM on a weekend to take a train out to Flushing. Food > sleep in my ideology. After some last minute emailing, a fellowship of bloggers - consisting of Robyn, her friend Alex, Melissa, Yvo, and Noah - was formed... to travel deep into the depths of Queens to um... eat stuff?

I was told to order anything I felt was appropriate. When you say stuff like this to me, it goes in my ear as such, but parsed as "ORDER EVERYTHING ON THE MENU." I happily obliged as my heart fluttered at the thought of being reunited with Taiwanese food.

Salty soy milk

Then the food came. All at once. It was like an avalanche of plates filled with carbs, enough to shame Dr. Atkins entire family. For some reason the salty soy milk ended up in front of me. I'm not the biggest fan of the savory variant, but in the past I've been okay eating it. I'm used to it having pork floss, scallions, and the 油條 (fried cruller), but the dried shrimp part bothers me. I know some people like it, but 1. I am allergic to shellfish and 2. they have eyes. THEY ARE CONSTANTLY LOOKING AT YOU. It creeps me the fuck out. Pass.

蟹殼黃 scallion "sou bing"

Luckily I ordered like 10 different dishes, so I wasn't screwed. We also got an order of two 蟹殼黃 (scallion "sou bing"). What's not to like? It's a layered pastry that gets shoved full of scallions and baked until flaky. Tis' beautiful ಥ_ಥ. I never really order it though... because they're kind of inadequate in size for the price. The value curve is off even if they're absolutely delicious. King 5's were... not that good? I mean they tasted okay, but if you have scallion in the name, it's kind of deceptive if there are only two pieces inside. Admittedly, no one aside from a bunch of bloggers would be idiotic enough to cut it open to investigate, but still... I feel kind of cheated.

scallion pancakes

The scallion pancakes were slightly better. I counted at least three pieces of scallion. I always preferred the thicker street cart variant... the ones that started life as a giant ball of oily dough before being pounded into a disc and deep-fried in more oil. Those things are the shit... crispy, crunchy, savory, and chewy, they have it all. The scallion pancakes served here are pan-fried, so they have more of a homemade feel, if that makes sense. I think I actually ate four of the six pieces. Sorry to everyone who didn't get to have it. You can live vicariously through my crappy description here!

pot stickers

Of course I ordered 鍋貼 (potstickers). I know some people don't consider these to be a breakfast food, but I don't care. They're sensually tasty anytime of day. I'm not going be constrained by the clock as to when I can have fried dumplings. That's just silly. Plus they were on the breakfast menu, so... it's okay. Externally they look normal. They're open-ended and elongated dough wraps glistening in oil. Everything checks out. Internally though, they blew my mind. When I get potstickers in Taiwan, I'm usually greeted by something that's 70% dough... 30% meat, but these are hefty as hell. Higher cost is offset by more meat. This is okay with me.

燒餅油條 (oil sticks and sesame pancakes)

Then the mindfucks continued! When they brought the 燒餅油條 (shao bing you tiao), I was floored by the size. These things are basically like oil sticks on HGH, at least twice as large as the ones I get in Taiwan. But wait, something else was wrong. The bread thing... why was it sitting on the side looking all sad like? And the oil sticks, why are they exposed to the air RAPIDLY LOSING MOISTURE CONTENT? King 5 Noodle House... y u no put oil sticks inside the bing? As I happily crushed an oil stick and shoved it inside the bing, everyone else looked at me like I was an idiot. Apparently no one else was aware that's how it's served in Taiwan. Everyone else was just dipping their oil sticks in soy milk. FOOLS! Everyone must know the glory of fried carb inside baked carb sandwich! King 5's were pretty decent. An okay substitute for when I'm jonesin'.

韭菜盒子 (chive pastries)

This was a dish that Robyn requested. It's called 韭菜盒子 (jiu cai he zi), which translates literally to chive box. Yeah, awesome name. If I had to explain what it is... it's a mixture of vermicelli noodles, chives, egg, and sometimes pork/dried shrimp shoved inside a pocket of carbs (big surprise there). It's kind of like a fart flavored hot pocket. Chinese people love stuff that smells weird, so this was a natural progression of flavors.

Oh yeah, about those soup dumplings at the top. Another reason why I love Taiwanese breakfast is the acceptance of eating pork buns at 6 AM. Too legit to quit. No, the dumplings aren't wrapped with the thinnest of skins, they aren't overflowing with pork juices, and they aren't even stuffed with quality pork, but they do hit the spot if they're the first thing you eat in the morning. Similar to the potstickers, their soup dumplings had a larger nugget of meat than I expected. That kind of upsets the balance of soup vs. meat, but whatever... I'll take it.

King 5 Noodle House isn't the greatest Taiwanese breakfast place I've been to - that'd be in Taipei of course - but considering that it's infinitely closer, it's not too bad. The food is a moderately authentic, oversized, and cheap as shit (like $8 a person). I kinda want to try their beef noodle soup now...


Evelina said...

Ahhh, looks amazing! I never really thought that 韭菜盒子 tasted like fart - but that sentence made me lol. :D I miss the Taiwanese breakfast as well - ahh my favorite has to be the 油條. :D

Danny said...

ah... taiwanese breakfast. i've only had noodles at king 5, but that stuff for breakfast does look good. crap, we need this in manhattan!

Robyn said...

I don't think chives smell like fart either (or rather, I don't think they smell weird), but Chichi said they stink like crazy so maybe my brain is missing the...chives...smelling...sense. ;_;

Anyway YAAAY, so glad you woke up early for our breakfast! Just wish this breakfast had lived up to Taiwan standards better.

Yvo said...

Nick, are you trolling me? Seriously? Fart flavored hot pockets? Larger nuggets of meat? And best: "at least twice as large as the ones I get in Taiwan"? Come on. You know it's Asian. You should expect a size differential when you come to America. :)
Also... this made me want to go back all over again! <3

bionicgrrrl said...

But is there something both sensual AND fart-smelling there?

dean said...

bro. you typo'd "like" after the salty soy milk picture and it offended my non-existing Jewish friend.

Nicholas said...

Evelina - I just don't like the pungency of the thing. It's okay when it's stir-fried in eggs or in dumplings for the most part though.

Danny - it's only 30 mins into Queens! GO. It is worth it.

Robyn - noooo, you've never experienced my grandmother's dumplings (haha that sounds dirty). She's a big fan and goes nuts with chives... fresh ones. Those smell like an asshole and a half.

Yvo - I troll everyone. That is my goal in life. Gain legitimacy in field, sneak in stupid comments. Wanna try the beef noodle soup next time?

bionicgrrrl - methinks you know the answer to that question. Durian.

dean - fixed. Of more concern is the fact that you live in NYC and have no Jewish friends...

Patrick said...

WHat about the japanese who feed their kids natto for breakfast...

whew i cant eat natto. If it really is supposed to make you smarter i should have been eating it by the gallon.

I miss taiwanese breakfast too. I havent been back to taiwan since i was in 6th grade... fml im old as shit so thats way too long ago.

Nicholas said...

Patrick - I like natto! Haha, I went back last year and I'm craving... I don't know how you resist.

sundaymornings said...

I never ate breakfast in high school, sorta began to dabble in it in college but now my day just cannot start until I have achieved a satisfactory level of food intake. As a young'un, I'd wake up precisely 20min before I need to be out the door but now that I am an old lady, a minimum of 2hrs of "coffee-toast-eggs-more coffee-newspaper reading" time is required. :-/

Nicholas said...

A+ - LOL how do you "dabble" in breakfast!? I don't know that I can legitimately wake up 2 hrs early to get my day started. I like my sleep a bit too much.

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