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The Amazing Noodles At Uncle Zhou In Elmhurst

<em>Jamie Feldmar</em><br/>We pay very close attention <a href="http://gothamist.com/2011/10/04/noodle_soup.php">to the noodle beat</a> here at Gothamist, so when the outer borough dining enthusiasts on <a href="http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/786078">Chowhound</a> started raving about <a href="http://unclezhou.com/">Uncle Zhou</a>, a new Henanese noodle joint in Elmhurst a few months back, we perked right up. When Times <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/10/dining/reviews/uncle-zhou-in-queens-nyc-restaurant-review.html">caught wind of the tiny shop</a>, shortly thereafter, we figured the cat was out of the bag. But a recent trip to Queens to sample the restaurant's marquee noodles—knife-cut and hand-drawn chief among them—we discovered that Uncle Zhou is still as friendly, cheap (dinner for six came to $55!), and delectable as ever. Here's a look at some highlights.


<em>Photo Jamie Feldmar</em><br/><strong>Hand-Drawn Dial Oil Noodles ($5):</strong> Toothsome, thin hand-pulled noodles soak in a bath of black vinegar and splashed with hot oil. Topped with bok choy, garlic, crushed chili pepper and bean sprouts, and served room-temperature. A fantastically satisfying dish with a lot of complex flavors and textures to play with.


<em>Photo courtesy Uncle Zhou</em><br/><strong>Tomato &amp; Egg Knife-Shaved Noodles ($5):</strong> The jagged-edged noodles in this dish are made by swiftly slicing a giant brick of dough into strips, and the result is a thick, irregular noodle that's very pleasantly al dente. This version comes in a slightly sweet gravy and the traditional Chinese combo of scrambled eggs and tomato hunks, plus silky wood-ear mushrooms and crisp bok choy. Unusual and delicious.



<em>Photo Jamie Feldmar</em><br/><strong>Boiled Lamb Dumplings ($3) and Steamed Pork Buns ($1 each):</strong> The dumplings are juicy little buggers, exploding with an ever-so-slightly funky broth at first bite, tempered with a splash of black vinegar. For a buck a pop, the buns are a total steal, as big as a baby's head and filled with a savory nugget of ground pork and chives.


<em>Photo Jamie Feldmar</em><br/><strong>Braised Vegetable with Black Mushrooms ($7.95), Big Tray of Chicken ($12), Special Meat Ball in Soup ($7.95):</strong> A few non-noodle options: the vegetables are beautifully presented and cooked (but mercifully not overcooked) to a tender sweet spot; while the meatballs (far right) were the meal's only misstep: the meat was weirdly sweet and the broth was murky. The real highlight here, though, is the chicken—"big" is certainly right, as an enormous pile of hacked-up bone-in chicken and tender stewed potatoes will take up most of your table. It's swimming in an addictive, thick sauce—oily and sweet and spicy all at once, and conveniently paired with extra-wide, extra-long hand-pulled noodles to soak it all up. Ideal for groups, and if you run out of noodle, you can order more by the ribbon ($1 each).